High Frame Rate (HFR) is Here at 48 fps

High Frame Rate (HFR) is the faster than normal rate being explored by some producers. Normally, films are shot at 24 frames per second (fps), and have been for about 80 years. American television is broadcast at 29.97 fps. The HFR films are being filmed at 48 fps.

Doesn’t look like it’s catching on yet, but it could. The film industry is just now trying it out. The first major studio film shot using HFR is”The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

A preview screening of this film at CinemaCon, produced a mixed reaction, Some audience members thought it was more lifelike, others though it too lifelike or cold. That could break the suspension of disbelief upon which the film industry and the art form relies. One critic said the preview “looked much more like visiting the set of a film rather than seeing the textured cinematography of a finished movie.”

Unless you want slow motion, the projector must use the same frame rate as the camera. So the projectors must project this at 48 fps just as it was filmed.

The advantage of a higher frame rate is smoother motion and less blur. It is thought to be especially good for 3-D production. Of course it takes twice as much light so cameras will have to improve their ISO ratings.

According to HFR Movies, there’s only one theater in my area that can project 48 fps. So I may not be seeing it for a while. I could watch some 48fps on the Internet, but our Internet is not that fast to begin with.

There’s a web series called “Video Game High School” which is available on a YouTube channel The series mixes real footage with video game playing. It’s getting a lot of attention because it’s the first web series to use HFR footage. You can see the HFR footage only from the second season on and not all of the footage is 48fps. They shoot the “real life” footage in 24p and the game footage in 48p. File sizes are larger so you’ll need fast Internet.

Director Joseph Kahn tweeted about the use of HFR 3D, noting the sensor of the RED camera shows its limits in The Hobbit. “HFR will work better when the sensors improve and latitude gets more powerful. A lot of video feel came from crap highlights” and concluded “I suspect 48fps on HOBBIT pushed the ISO up … Never seen RED Epic look that bad.”

Does improved clarity and resolution have anything to do with making better movies? Look at the AFI 100 best films and ask yourself if any of them would have been better in 48 fps. Sorry, but I think it’s all about the script, the director and the actors. I love cinematography, but know it exists to serve the story.

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