Last night I got round to watching the new Peter Jackson film The Hobbit. I had the choice of standard 3D but I was really intrigued to see what the HFR or Higher Frame Rate was all about. I heard for ages that a bit like HD this was a game changer for the cinemas desperately trying to USP their product in the face of demise from people own surround system and gigantic LCD screens. Everything seems to be in 3D recently and in no small part I believe this is basically an anti privacy move, it’s ridiculous that a film like the Life of Pi is even offered in 3D, if Its a wonderful life was released today, that would be in 3D! I’m really bored of it, but HFR sounded interesting. Increasing the frame rate to double the normal speed, what would that look like.
Well it’s vivid, really detailed, however with technology and with its at the early stages its impossible to light a scene using it correctly. It’s fine it you are using CGI and animation you can render a scene differently and change the brightness and contrast etc. The actual sound stage shots were so badly lit that everything looked like an early episode of Brookside. This actually ruined what was a fairly good film, touch overlong, but then you expect that from Peter Jackson. There is a part of the film on a mountain side where the CGI is really immersive especially with the 3D, then they switch to a sound stage shot and it looks as different as early Jason and the Argonauts stuff, really hopeless.
Some of the outside shots of Bagend look like the opening shots of the Teletubbies. I have total sympathy with principal cinematographer Andrew Lesnie, lets be honest The Lord of the Rings were beautifully filmed, he deservedly won an Oscar, but how on middle earth are you suppose to master a technique and light a scene using a method of film making never used before! I’m really intrigued to see what the normal 24 frame print looks like and if he will adjust anything for the second part. However I’d never watch it at the cinema again
The only positive thing I can say about the version I saw in relation to HFR is the water looked good, there was a fluidity to it that was beautiful, however the CGI rain look fucking awful. The 3D was unnecessary. I’m sure in time someone will master this technique or it will fall by the wayside, I think it could be quite brilliant to see something like Toy Story done this way where you can control the rerender the lighting and maybe the future is in wholly CGI productions, but this ruined this film for me and I’m more than a little fucked off.