‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’: Peter Jackson Addresses 48 FPS Controversy

Published 2 years ago by , Updated February 16th, 2014 at 9:23 am,

There were a handful of recurring complaints about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey throughout the first wave of reviews that hit the ‘Net. One that was repeated ad nauseum concerned co-writer and director Peter Jackson’s decision to shoot the movie so it can be projected in 3D at 48 frames per second (fps), which is twice the normal frame-rate for regular theatrical showings.

Of course, only a select number of theaters will show An Unexpected Journey in 48 fps 3D (at no extra charge, either); thus, this aspect of the film won’t even be brought to the attention of the average Hobbit ticket-buyer. Nonetheless, Jackson addressed the controversy while attending a NY press conference for the eagerly-anticipated first installment in his new Middle-earth trilogy.

Such adjectives as “blurry,” “plastic-y” and “weirdly sped-up” were thrown around a lot, in response to the 48 fps element from an early Hobbit screening. Similarly, the reactions to An Unexpected Journey footage shown in 48 fps at CinemaCon earlier this year were also decidedly negative, when it concerned the crystal-clear perspective afforded by the ultra-HD format.

Here’s what Jackson had to say, about the general response so far:

“I’m fascinated by reactions. I’m tending to see that anyone under the age of 20 or so doesn’t really care and thinks it looks cool, not that they understand it but they often just say that 3D looks really cool. I think 3D at 24 frames is interesting, but it’s the 48 that actually allows 3D to almost achieve the potential that it can achieve because it’s less eye strain and you have a sharper picture which creates more of the 3-dimensional world.”

Indeed, the higher frame rate should (in theory) befit 3D more than 2D, by offering a better imitation of the human eye – which perceives its surroundings at a higher frame rate – and thus, lend the stereoscopic format a heightened sense of realism. However, as we’re seeing with these Hobbit reactions, the 48 fps raises similar issues as HD televisions with the “smooth motion” function - as the removal of graininess is often jarring and uncomfortable for first-time viewers.

That’s not to say complaints about the 48 fps screening of An Unexpected Journey are “wrong”; rather, they might be indicative of a new division among cinephiles, similar to that between the proponents/opponents of 3D, be it native and/or post-converted. In other words: it might be both a matter of preference and due to the 48 fps format being in the early stages of refinement (a la 3D pre-Avatar).

The Hobbit Wont Charge Extra for 48 FPS The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Peter Jackson Addresses 48 FPS Controversy

Jackson doesn’t seem too worried about getting bloody as the first man through the wall, when it comes to 48 fps. As he told the press conference crowd:

“Warner Bros. were very supportive.They just wanted us to prove that the 24 frame version would look normal, which it does, but once they were happy with that, on first day, when we had to press that button that said ’48 frames’ even though on that first day we started shooting at 48 FPS, you could probably say there wasn’t a single cinema in the world that would project the movie in that format. It was a big leap of faith.

“The big thing to realize is that it’s not an attempt to change the film industry. It’s another choice. The projectors that can run at 48 frames can run at 24 frames – it doesn’t have to be one thing or another. You can shoot a movie at 24 frames and have sequences at 48 or 60 frames within the body of the film. You can still do all the shutter-angle and strobing effects. It doesn’t necessarily change how films are going to be made. It’s just another choice that filmmakers have got and for me, it gives that sense of reality that I love in cinema.”

Overall, the sheer consistency of criticisms aimed at the 48 fps format for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey implies there is indeed room for improvement; not to mention, changes when it comes to how film personnel go about designing sets, costumes and props – much like shooting in 3D requires (check out Jackson’s fourth Hobbit production video, for more information about that).

Moreover, it’s not just movies projected at twice the normal frame rate that need to evolve. Any filmmaker who relies on ultra-HD technology has to adjust, as that likewise reduces the ability to mask flaws or weaknesses in the production design or CGI (see: the less-than-convicing practical/digital effects in the trailer for Jack the Giant Slayer, which Bryan Singer shot with cutting-edge HD cameras).

Here is the official trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens in theaters on December 14th, 2012.

Source: Peter Jackson [via Coming Soon]

TAGS: The hobbit
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  1. Screw off, Peter Jackson. Why is 3D such a priority? It’s not like it attracts a viewer to a film anymore if it isn’t 3D. Was The Dark Knight Rises 3D? No, and it turned out to be both a great film and number seven highest box office grossing film of all time. This 3D fad pisses me off.

    • Wholeheartedly agreed.

      • And you are?…

        • Highest grossing film ever (I.e. #1) is Avatar, which is 3D. Third highest grossing film ever is The Avengers, again in 3D. Where did you say the 2D The Dark Knight Rises was in that list?

          • The only reason they got to that level was because 3d costs twice as much as a normal ticket so it would be like seeing the movie twice in one go. So by you stating that, it further solidifies how much of a scam 3D is. It is nothing but a gimmick. Something Christopher Nolan refused to be a part of.

            • Why is 3D a gimmick and IMAX is a creative choice? Both are unneccery in the strictest sence, but if used properly can be a great tool for a film maker. Yes, The Avengers had a higher price for it’s 3D tickets, but most cinemas had 2D viewings as well. People choose to pay more to see it in 3D. In the end it still made more.

            • You know Nolan was going to film Inception in 3D but didn’t due to lack of time, right? If not look it up before you make such claims.

            • Are you kidding me? In which cinema chain does 3D cost twice as much as 2D? It’s $2-4 more where I am. And, if you know what you’re doing/where to go, even less than that.

        • Who are you to ask me who I am? Move along…

          • What’s in the box?!

          • Dude why is everyone all down on TheLostWinchester? I think he has a right to make his voice heard like everyone else, even if I personaly dont agree with him .

    • Chill dude. I don’t think Jackson is out to grab money with 3D. He’s looking to present the Hobbit in interesting and immersive ways. He thinks the 3D could help with that immersion just like it did for Hugo. Give the guy a break. He’s a great director

    • N I can’t stand 3D if I ever become a director I want to avoid 3D as much as possible

    • I think this is spoken to by the point of the article; 3D, in the current form, leaves something to be desired; after all, you’re splitting the definition of the film.

      In 48fps, you’re able to give a full 24fps to each eye.

      For me, the biggest problem with 3D has always been the forced perspective, forced out-of-focus. After watching The Hobbit, I didn’t have any of those issues because anywhere on-screen I looked was pleasantly in-focus and clear. For that reason alone, it was amazing. Everything else I watched for a few days after was very lackluster. Conversely, after every 3D movie before it (Avatar included), everything else I watched was a welcome relief.

  2. Anyone know if a theater has specifically equipped with special tech to show a movie at 48 FPS or is it just a matter of preference to them?

    • No special tech is required (beyond that needed for projecting 3D images), showing a film at 48fps is no different to showing one at 24fps.

  3. I hate 3D. It simply detracts from the experience, is mentally and visually disorienting, and those glasses are an annoyance to wear. Never mind that ’3D’ itself is a gimmick- we already see the word in 3 dimensions, so any live action movie is already in 3D.

    The bogus distinction between 2D and 3D is just an excuse for movie studios to charge more for tickets, which is why they love it so much. I have no clue what this 48fps thing looks like, but if 3D is any indicator, it might just be another pointless ‘innovation’ to make directors and studios happy at the expense of the viewer’s experience.

    • Agree.

      This is the third time in my 28 years of existence that 3D has been “the hot new thing” at the movies (and it’s been going for decades longer in cycles) and honestly, the glasses are a pain in the ass for me to wear without the bridge of my nose and eyes hurting and other than Dredd 3D (which I had no choice to see because they didn’t have a 2D version), I’ve tried to see movies in regular format where possible.

      3D just looks like a flat image in front of another flat image and not true 3D to me. Besides, as you said, we see in 3D anyway so it’s pointless.

      • The thing is: if the 3D is well done you forget after a short while that it’s there, which makes it completely pointless, because you could just as well watch the movie in 2D, just with proper brightness and less strobing/ghosting (48fps is supposed to counter the latter, I assume). And if it’s done badly it constantly detracts from the experience and it’s just as pointless.

        No matter how you twist and turn it, 3D is nothing but a pointless gimmick that is purely designed to screw people over by charging a premium for something that doesn’t improve the viewing experience one bit.

        • Nonsense. I forget a movie is in color, does that mean that color doesn’t matter??? The very best 3D is the 3D that you forget entirely about. Then it’s done its job: to pull you further in to the *storyline* (not the scene). If 3D shows up for 3D sake and you’re aware of it being 3D then you’ve been pulled OUT of the storyline and are looking at the movie AS the nuts and bolts of a movie. People want to be engaged *into* the story.

          You have completely oversimplified things.

    • I disagree, I think STUDIOS use it as a gimmick to jack up ticket prices, but I think some film makers use it as just another tool. Good examples are Life of Pi and Cave of Forgotten Dreams, there are some sequences that would only work in 3d and without it would detract from the experience of the film (and I’m not talking about things being shoved in the audiences face)

  4. Wow, why is everyone getting all up in arms about 3D? I know it’s the cool thing to be against 3D, but the real issue here is the framerate… If the high framerate looks as crappy as HDTV’s with the high refresh rates, then count me out. All of those tv’s with the high refresh rates make movies look like garbage. I really wish you could turn that off…

    • Yeah right, we are against it because that’s the cool thing to do, and not because it genuinely annoys the crap out of us. Sure.

      I secretely loooove wearing a second pair of glasses over the ones that I already have and I loooove that these glasses make the picture 70% darker than normal, suck out all the colors and completely crush the contrast. I loooove my highlights being a muddy grey and the mid-tones being almost black. I looove the strobbing effect during fast motions that give me a headache after a while. What not to like? You caught me!

      • @Whinchester, are you sure you’re not describing a Nolan film?

        • Not even a close comparison…a film MADE to be a dark reflection of our world (or a dark illustration of such) versus a film that is darkened simply as a consequence of the format used…3D concerns have NOTHING to do with Nolan’s films (or those of others who create/direct darker-themed films).

      • Wacky random thought. Don’t like 3D? Dont watch it. Most people do like it. It’s not going anywhere. At least until it stops being profitable. Until that day, do as I do. Watch the 2D viewings. No 2D veiwings? Wait till DVD/blu ray. Unless it’s The Avengers. Than it’s awesome in any dimension.

    • I can actually switch my Panasonic plasma to “movie mode” and it shows the movies in 24fps. Pretty cool.

    • TheLostWinchester is right. I hate wearing two pairs of glasses in a theater. Especially when the massive 3D ones keep sliding down my face. 3D is just a cash grab by Hollywood since they keep coming out with terrible movies, and nothing more.

    • You can turn it off

  5. 3D films are in actuality artificial 3D. An artificial depth of field is created in the
    process which imitates not duplicates the human eye and brain perceived 3D.
    A so called 2D film provides a more accurate depiction of three dimensions.

  6. I’m glad one of my local theaters will be showing the movie in 48fps! Very interested to see how it looks. :)

  7. Wait – is the 48 fps only to be found in the 3D version, not 2D? I’m really keen on judging for myself, and need to find out if it’s only the 3D. . . .

  8. Fimed in 3D = Brilliant, Post-production 3D = worthless.

  9. Sometimes, you just don’t make a good film. Not saying Hobbit will end up like that, but this is the director. Of course he’s going to back up something he was in charge of, who wouldn’t?

  10. 3D films generally appeal to children. Their target audience now is kids. That’s why movies are dumbed down now a days, and are put together fast and halfassed. Adults can complain all we want becuz the odds are, if you have children, and they wanna see a movie, you’re gonna take them. If they want the toy that goes along with movie, or the video game adaption, you’ll get it. And the only way for hyper kids to sit still in a theater now a days is if they’re tricked into thinking craps jumping out at them. 3D movies aren’t aimed at us, they’re aimed at our kids, unfortunately we have to pay

    • I’m sad you lost the kid in you….

  11. Regardless of what the critics say I will be there opening day. Also for people praising TDKR, remember that critics also complained about that movies as well. Seems like if it’s not a movie called “The Artist” or “Black “Swan” then they are not satisfied. I personally thought TDKR was awesome even though a lot of movie critics thought the movie was awful, long, and the worst of the trilogy. I also didn’t think The Artist was all that good as critics made it out to be. It was an okay film but I wasn’t calling it the “best of all time” either. That is why I don’t really listen to critics but I listen more to the general audience and from what those general audience are saying is that the 48fps isn’t perfect but once you adjust everything looks amazing.

  12. “a better imitation of the human eye – which perceives its surroundings at 60 fps”

    The human brain starts interpreting motion (much the same way TV sets add frames for “smooth motion”, just much better) after about 10 FPS, but can see somewhere between 300-400 FPS.

    The eye’s photoreceptor aren’t the bottleneck, it’s the visual cortex.

    NASA has the most reliable research on the subject in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force. They measured jet pilots’ ability to discern movement at different speeds.

    The historic reason movies are 24fps is not because it’s ideal, it’s because back when audio was analog if they sped the film up the audio’s pitch would change and it bothered people’s ears. Thomas Edison even said when he was inventing moving pictures anything less than 46 FPS tended to make people sick.

    This is why 24FPS movies are flashed 2 or 3 times per frame to trick the brain. If it didn’t people would have very bad headaches.

    Ideally they would have 240 or even 480 FPS. But that’s a long way away.

    There’s also the problem of there not being enough data on a Blu-ray disc to fit 48 FPS Frame-packed 3D. They barely fit 24 FPS Frame-packed. Titanic even had to be split onto 2 Blu-rays and that was just a post-production 3D film.

    If Blu-ray lasts as long as DVD, it will be around until 2016-2017. We’ll see what happens w/ the Hobbit 3D on Blu-ray because that will be out w/in a year given the speed of 3D Blu-ray releases being so fast (due to the market being anemic & demand being high).

  13. IS SMAUG IN THIS????

  14. if you don’t like 48 fps and 3D , then by all means, watch the Hobbit on 24 fps. Your choices are all in front of you. Just pick one. Problem solved.

  15. Maybe pouring truckloads of money towards Peter Jackson’s every whim doesn’t always work out. Maybe if they stretch the number of movies out further it’ll smooth out.

  16. So many mixed reviews coming in. Just have to wait and see it myself before I judge. Some people hate 3-D and that’s fine, but, “The Avenger’s looked great in 3-D. Now “Prometheus” on the other hand, was a waste of time to shoot in 3-D. My opinion was the movie did not benefit from 3-D at all, I could not see any difference from 2-D to 3-D. All in all, I believe it should be the director’s choice as to utilize the 3-D or not. We’re not talking about forking over a lot of cash to see a film in 3-D. $3 extra? C’mon.

  17. I don’t know why people are freaking out so much. It is new tech and you are always going to have those “tech phobic” people who are always afraid of new innovations.

    I am actually quite optimistic for 48fps. I have booked my tickets for the 48fps screening and from what I have read, one of the main issues is that it is too HD and too real and I honestly do not see that as a problem.

    Lastly, to everyone who keeps complaining about the film being shot in HFR 3D, please do us all a favour and stop complaining about it. There are millions of ways to watch The Hobbit, pick one that suits you and be content.

  18. I get a kick out of how Jackson was so adamant about making sure Gollum looked like what he did ten years ago instead of using all the advances made in the last decade to make him even more phenomenal, for consistency’s sake, and then decides to shoot the film at twice the framerate, which, whether’s it’s better or worse, is quite obviously different to the eye.

    • I for one am glad that he went was adamant about consistency in the look of the film. So many times in so many film series that changes are made to characters… like in the Underworld series… they change Michael… he looked much different in the 2nd one than he did in the first… which frankly aggravated me. If it’s part of a series done by the same director and similar crew… why on earth would you change the look and feel of your already existing characters?!? I never really understood that. I’m glad that he was insistent.

  19. Facts:
    1. When a new technology is first introduced, it is not going to be perfect (i.e. 3D glasses darken image, strobing, etc.).

    2. If no one supports a new technology, then these certain issues will not be solved. E.g. Perhaps the original Nintendo console should’ve been dismissed back in the 80′s because it wasn’t in 1080p. It was accepted, and many graphical advances have been made in the name of video games.

    3. While some Hollywood companies are profiting from terrible movies/sequels with “3D” in the title, other, respectable directors are choosing to shoot their films in 3D as well (Nolan, Jackson, Cameron, etc.). It’s not to make more money. It’s the direction the industry is moving in. It’s an advancement of technology, and the people involved in furthering it are excited.

    4. 3D is the new HD. When 3D compatibility started being utilized in TVs by big name manufacturers, it was decided.

    There’s a high chance that sometime in the next 15 years, 48/60fps will be the focal point. You may think it looks like garbage, but that’s because you’ve grown up with 24fps your whole life. You’ll get used to it– it’s the way things work with people and adjusting to new things.

    • Or it could just suck. That’s also a possibility

  20. Why is everyone so mad at Peter Jackson? He decided to take a risk and branch out into new territory, and I commend him for it. You don’t HAVE to see the film in HFR 3D. There will be 2D options. It’s not like he’s chaining you to the cinema chair. And when it comes to Blu Ray it won’t be in HFR either, and there will again be the 2D option.

    If you hate 3D, don’t watch the movie in 3D. If your cinema doesn’t offer it in 2D, complain to your cinema.

    When studio execs delay a movie to post convert it to 3D then that’s another thing. I don’t mind 3D if it’s done right. If it’s forced, then I won’t watch it in 3D (e.g. GI Joe 2). If it’s done well (e.g. Life of Pi) then I’ll support it. Simple as that.

  21. I won tickets to check out the advance screening of the movie last night and it was great. The movie is long though. I think maybe 20-30 minutes of the beginning could have been cut down but overall once you get past the beginning portion of the movie it is awesome. The movie does follow the same paths of that of the LOTR trilogies so to people who were expecting something different will be disappointed. Freeman is tremendous as Bilbo. I had some reserves about the dwarves before the movie but after last night I have grown to love the characters as they were shown. On to the HFR. The good is that the scenery is just epic especially in 3D. Everything shown was very smooth and lifelike. The part where Bilbo, dwarves, and Gandalf are at his place is awesome because you feel like you are actually there. The fight scenes are smooth and the blur factor is very slim. The 3D is done rather well with the exception of some things could have been done better but overall I would say it’s the best 3D experience I have had since Avatar/Tron 2. The bad thing is that if you are not used to this HFR(TV’s at 240hz,480hz) then you will most likely feel like you are at a play. It does take about a couple of minutes to get used to the HFR in 3D. The clarity is very high and you will be able to see things like some of the props done inside a studio rather than the outdoor side of NZ. Some of the fight scenes still has the same “blur” factor that would be in 24fps.
    For people who are skeptical of the HFR I would recommend watching the 24fps 3D first. Watching the movie at regular will give people the movie experience that is normally done and then check out the HFR in 3D. There are still some flaws that needs to be worked out for HFR but overall I enjoyed the experience. One person last night said it best, “This was like watching standard television for soo long and then being introduced to HDTV. I expected some kinks to be here and there but the clarity of the movie was just amazing”.

  22. I scanned some of the previous comments and I was rather surprised by them… especially considering what Peter Jackson was quoted as saying in this article. He stated that this was another option for film makers. Just like everything else if the film industry is trying to better themselves and technology. How can and why is that be a bad thing? I really give serious kudos to these cutting edge directors like Peter and James Cameron for doing what they are doing.

    I have seen The Hobbit twice already… once at the midnight showing in 2D and tonight in the new HFR 3D. Both were absolutely wonderful in look and feel. The HFR 3D version was as I suspected… it was much brighter and a much crisper picture. I have actually seen the format before although I didn’t know what it was at the time. I’ve seen it on BBC America and also PBS. All’s I knew was that it was much cleaner looking than what we’re used to seeing. I for one look forward to seeing the next two in this same or even better format.

  23. I love 3d. maybe thats because i have a 3d projector, 120″ screen and a 5.1 HD audio surround sound setup. People sitting in their living room with a 40-60″ tv i’m sure dont think 3d is all that great. When it comes to a home theater, it’s quite the experience.

    It amazes me how much hate for 3d is in these comments. I watched world war z the other day in 3d and it made me jump more than a couple times. great experience. Certain movies are great in 3d.