HFR Projectors Likely to Be Implemented for 'The Hobbit' in December

April 19, 2012
Source: THR

Peter Jackson - The Hobbit

Get ready for the birth of a new acronym in Hollywood - HFR. It stands for High Frame Rate, referring to high frame-rate projectors capable of showing 48FPS or 60FPS, and they're coming soon. The first film to be released in 48FPS will be, of course, Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, breaking ground with technology once again. Leading up to the industry convention CinemaCon next week, THR has posted an article discussing the exhibition world's attempt to get projectors upgraded to 48FPS in mass by the time Hobbit is released in December this year. It may be a fairly tough challenge for the typically hesitant-to-evolve theater chains.

While THR initially states that "most manufacturers—at least publicly—are taking a far more conservative wait-and-see approach," there is certainly pressure and demand to get them implement. Not only by December, when The Hobbit is released, but even earlier in as many locations as possible. They drop this tidbit: "some upgrades might be needed even sooner, since there is speculation that a 48 fps trailer for The Hobbit might be released as early as this summer." Maybe on The Dark Knight Rises, perhaps? But, of course, this may just be a test. If people go crazy for it, they'll be everywhere by the time Hobbit is out.

So what is needed to transition projectors to HFR? Oh, not that much besides a ~$10,000 chipset upgrade called an "integrated media block" (IMB) that provides 48 fps (and 3D) support. That's if you have a "Series 2" project from Barco, Christie or NEC, built using Texas Instruments technology. So essentially they don't need to change out the actual projector, just pay for an upgrade piece. Which is good news, but bad because it still costs. There are also roughly 13,000 Sony-built 4K projectors worldwide, and "we expect the majority of those screens to have high frame rate support enabled by the time The Hobbit is released," Sony told THR. Good to hear, let's hope everyone follows in suit, as long as it really looks as stellar as we're hearing.

Speaking of which, many people I've heard from seem a bit hesitant about 48FPS, or unsure of whether or not it'll even be a noticeable/worthwhile difference. While we've quoted people like Peter Jackson before (and I've seen a James Cameron-lead demo of HFRs and it looks stunning), our friends at Collider got The Hobbit star Luke Evans to talk briefly about the 48FPS Hobbit footage he's already seen: "Even if you're not a nerd you can absolutely see the difference, it's extraordinary." He continues about what he saw:

"Yeah, I've seen myself in action and it's incredible. It really is. It's the closest to your own eye speed that we've ever seen on screen. And it takes a while, when you first put the glasses on, to just appreciate what it actually is that's going on. Because you're eyes are not deceiving you, there is no blur, it's absolutely so effective. Especially for the lack of blur, which is something that we've always had to deal with in shooting in 3D, and now we don't. So, yeah, we're making history with technology as well as with film."

Who couldn't trust what Bard the Bowman has to say? I think we all need to see it for ourselves to believe it, and really see it perfectly projected the way it's meant to be seen. And what better way to showcase that then identify some 48FPS theaters to show a special Hobbit trailer? Then again, that's just introducing another confusing choice for moviegoers, who are already choosing between 3D, 2D, IMAX, XD and now HFR, too. But then again, maybe audiences will appreciate the 48FPS more than the 3D leap, though The Hobbit is combing both of those technologies for a fully immersive experience - and I can't wait for that experience.

I'm sure this is only the first of many industry updates we'll be hearing about 48FPS and HFR. There are a few presentations from studios like Warner Bros planned at CinemaCon, so who knows, we could get a 48FPS trailer demo next week. In the meantime, keep an eye out for updates, and learn the details on 48FPS from our CinemaCon recap last year, the Hobbit video blog on filming in 3D, or straight from Peter Jackson himself. I'm excited to see what the future of cinema looks like in 48 (or 60) frames. What about you?

Find more posts: Development, Hobbit, Movie News



As long as it does not start looking like a Soap Opera, I am all in on 48 and 60 frames-per-second movies. THE HOBBIT is going to be a masterpiece.

DAVIDPD on Apr 19, 2012


Ah....that would ruin it all, the "soapopera look". Besides that, 48fps or 60fps sounds like a really good idea. Our eyes will be happy.

David Banner on Apr 19, 2012


 I'm not too worried about the soap opera look. I'm sure they have done tests during pre-production, plus all the dailies. I can imagine Jackson would continue filming if it was going to look like soap opera.

rad on Apr 19, 2012


I really experience this movie with the whole shibang. 3D, 48fps...NO LESS! Here! Just take my money!! >.<"

LosZombies on Apr 19, 2012


So pleased to see this groundbreaking tech happening in my home town!

Cinemabandit on Apr 19, 2012


I can't imagine world without Jackson, i was 15 that I see braindead. It was same as evil dead was to me. I become crazy with bad taste. I totally fell in love with frighteners and heavenly creatures. I very like lovely bones. And I see more than 1000times lord of rings and of course KING KONG Although I appreciate for tecnology ascending must i say for I no matter you deliver 48fps or higher, only thing is important to me is you was healthy and safety. World without you was a little worthless Salute you mr. Dear Jackson, salute you

Ehsan Davodi on Apr 20, 2012


This has nothing to do with the article.

Angie3452 on Apr 20, 2012


Mentioning Peter Jackson has more to do with the article than your reply.

Max Renn on Apr 22, 2012


High frame rates are great... IF you like 3D movies. The entire reason for the industry's push for the 48fps benchmark is solely because it makes 3D films less blurry. Regular film at 24fps have motion blur (it's what gives it the "film look" and not like a sports event or soap opera). However, when you put two images like that together during the 3D process, that becomes more pronounced. So the real reason they want to move to this format is just to keep 3D movies around as a viable medium. Theaters and filmmakers have spent so much money trying to convince us that 3D is the way of the future that they simply can't give up on it, even with the majority of theater-goers actively disliking it. Moving to 48fps has nothing to do with image quality or creative vision. It also won't drastically change the look of regular 2D film - they're shooting at a higher framerate, but with a MUCH wider shutter angle (almost 270 degrees, according to Jackson himself). For non-techies, this INCREASES the amount of motion blur captured in a frame. So essentially, they're filming at 48fps (which reduces motion blur because frames are captured faster in the camera) but then increasing the shutter angle to compensate and give the image just enough blur to still look "like film". Most people won't even notice the difference in the 2D showings, even with the upgraded cameras. So yeah, if you like 3D (which personally I don't, full disclosure) this is a good move. But, if you don't like 3D, this means that they're going to keep making 3D movies, and ticket prices are going to continue to rise (because theaters have to recoup that 10 grand per projector they're shelling out, and guess who gets to pay the bill?).

Fungusmonkey on Apr 20, 2012


It would be interesting to see the feedback from critics who have universally hated 3D. Cameron has been supporting this format as well. It would be nice to see the "gimmick" handle removed from it's reputation. I think 3D can be used as a storytelling tool when put in the right hands, done correctly.

Genevieve Okupniak on Apr 20, 2012


Awesome news for those that sell the equipment to watch 3D films! If you want to enjoy HFR: 1. Theaters upgrade projectors (Maybe Glasses too) = $10,000+ 2. Home user upgrades their 3D T.V. to a HFR 3D TV (I'm sure there will be some reason why a current tv could not handle 48 or 60FPS)=$3,000+ 3. Home user upgrades their Blu-Ray Player.=$200+ 4. More than likely a new HDMI format, so new cables.=$20+ 5. Which means new Audio receiver.=$600+ As I was reading this article, I kept thinking of how Christopher Nolan said the whole 3D thing was just to push the sale of equipment to produce, post, and present 3D material. 

Andrew Madson on Apr 20, 2012


Actually, most current HDTVs and computer monitors support 60-120fps.

Adam on Apr 21, 2012


It's not a matter of them supporting higher FPSs but rather them having the refresh rate to eliminate clipping. And most at their native resolutions do not support 120Hz. They will tell you in the product name if they do though.

Jerkoff_guy on Apr 21, 2012

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