The Hobbit: 3D, 5K, 48fps

Don’t worry if you’re not up to speed with the more technical terms here because Peter Jackson and team do a fantastic job of explaining everything. The fourth production vlog for The Hobbit has been released and gives us an exciting look into how they are using RED Epic cameras (the brand) to shoot at 5K (the resolution) in 3D (you know what that is) at 48 fps (the frame rate, discussed concerning Tintin recently; this is the first major feature film to shoot this high). It’s a great video that explains not only what they are doing but how they’re managing to get the makeup, costumes, and even the concept art to all jive well with the new formats.

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It’s awesome that Jackson is taking the time to do these because there’s no contractual incentive for him to do so. It’s the decision of he and his team to take time to keep loyal fans up to date with what’s happening. Such a great director. And while we’re on the subject, 48 RED Epics?! Really?! That’s crazy.

Well, I’m excited, and hopefully people will be more trusting of 3D and higher frame rates when shown it being used artistically as opposed to gimmick-ly. Expect a trailer for The Hobbit: There and Back Again sometime in the summer.

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8 thoughts on “The Hobbit: 3D, 5K, 48fps

  1. Do you think 3D can be used artistically rather than in a way that is gimmicky? When 3D is used to create depth in a movie, sure it looks great but I hardly find it worth the extra three dollars added to the ticket price. At least when 3D is used gimmicky (objects flying out, etc.) you get your monies worth. What exactly would be using 3D in an ‘artistic’ manner be?

    1. It’s an interesting question that doesn’t, right now, have a single answer. Instead, I’ll answer by talking about something else! lol

      Color in film dates back to the 1910s. Back then it was hand-drawn frames, HUGE amount of work, but it existed more often then you’d think. It was used, however, as a “gimmick.” It was a neat trick that would get people to come to the theaters to watch colored moving pictures and be amazed at the illusion.

      When Technicolor film stock was invented in the 30s, color started being used for entire films (Disney animation, Wizard of Oz), but still it was used, for all meanings of the word, as a gimmick. Disney colored some of its animations to entice people in seeing them. It specifically did NOT color its Mickey Mouse cartoons until over ten years later because the franchise sold just fine without the added appeal. Live-action feature films used color, but not as a realism tool but rather as an ANTI-realism tool. The real world in Wizard of Oz is black-and-white whereas the fantasy world is color. “Real world” films continued to be shot black-and-white into the 50s despite color being quite common. Moreover, look at any color film poster back then and you’ll see a huge “Filmed in Technicolor” banner in one corner. Marketing ploy.

      My point is that color started out as a gimmick and only over time did it become mainstream. Realizing you can put the camera at a certain angle to get a cool framing is purely artistic, but technological advances like camera, like digital, like 3D and soon like higher frame rates, start out as gimmicks. Moving pictures were popular in the 1890s because it was the newest thing. This awesome piece of technology at the height of industrialization that everyone wanted to take part in. People tend to think modern moviegoers see films differently because we grew up with them, but that’s understanding it’s impact. We still love seeing new technology and are willing to pay for it. Only over time was color used not as a gimmick but as a creative choice. You didn’t just shoot in color to achieve realism, filmmakers thought about how they could manipulate color.

      I see 3D as no different then color. An illusion of depth, first of all, adds a layer of realism to it. It’s also pretty damn cool and amazing to watch. When I saw my first 3D IMAX film, A Christmas Carol, I didn’t know what to expect and was as such blown away by it. Personally, I disagree that depth is worth less then swords sticking out of the screen, but that’s besides my argument. I’d also point out that swords sticking out of the screen IS depth, except it’s forward motion instead of backwards. The Hobbit vlog explains this issue of focal point.

      To finish this long comment up, how we use 3D artistically is still being decided. Yes, it’s a gimmick. In my opinion a worthy one, but that’s a personal preference. However, it’s films like The Hobbit and filmmakers like Jackson or Spielberg who are setting trends in what 3D can do. Avatar set a standard (hence…um…almost $3 billion). Now we’re nearing the time when we’ll start seeing films that went into production knowing what they had to reach.

      Maybe, also, some indie director just needs to make a super niche experimental psychological ego-trip film in 3D to truly test how “artistic” it can be, heh.

  2. Interesting point. As for the depth vs. swords flying at you part, depth looks much more ‘professional,’ then swords, but at the same tme its so subtle that I find it hard to justify spending the extra money for something that is only slightly better visually. Other than that I don’t really think there is much for me to say in retaliation, but I will say this: that indie psychological ego-trip film in 3D sounds AWESOME.

    1. Also, the extra money spent for 3D tickets is because of the theater chain, not the studio. Studios’ incentive to release 3D is that it encourages more people to see the film at all, hence more tickets sold (studio box office is built not on people who see the movie in theaters, but on people who see multiple screenings). 3D tickets are more expensive because theater chains have to buy special projectors to run them. It’s a cost that will decrease with time (or…at least equalize with 2D screenings).

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