Of Hobbits and HFR (high frame rate)

The Hobbit

Warning: this post is going to be especially nerdy, as it involves a discussion of both hobbits and frame rates.

I went on an outing to see The Hobbit over the Christmas holidays - not because I'm a mad fan of Peter Jackson's work, but because I was interested in seeing what this new-fangled 3D HFR (high frame rate) business looked like - the film was shot at a high frame rate of 48 frames per second; 'normal' films are shot at 24.

Seeing the film was an odd experience. As you'd expect with a Hollywood blockbuster everything was exquisitely produced - expensive lighting, big sound and fancy effects etc. But despite all this, the HFR managed to make everything look less like a film production and much more like a TV show. No surprise really, as TV productions tend to be shot at around 48 frames per second and our eyes and heads consequently associate this frame rate with watching telly.

So as I sat there watching hobbits and dwarves prance expensively around the place at a higher-than-usual frame rate, I couldn't help feeling that I was watching an 1980s BBC production. Because of the TV look and feel, the film reminded me of the Beeb's version of the Chronicles of Narnia, or their stab at John Christopher's Tripods Trilogy. The high frame rate seemed to instantly reduce the quality of the production vales, and it was weird.

That said I enjoyed the film more than any of Jackson's Lord of The Rings films. Although many have criticised the decision to split a rather short book into 3 films, it gives Jackson time to focus more on the nuances of plot and character, something which - despite their length - the trilogy films arguably couldn't do, since The Lord of The Rings is such a bloody big book. Besides that, this is Jackson's fourth Tolkien outing, and he's clearly had practice at making Hobbit flicks.

I look forward to the next instalments - but I'm going to watch the 24 frames per seconds version.