Mamo #284: Let’s Get Into It

The next generation of immersive cinema has arrived, and so has The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Was bundling them together a good idea? We talk High Frame Rate at 48 frames per second, our Hobbit reactions at 24 frames per second, and eat a great breakfast at regular speed. Plus: science! Join us and enjoy.

To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo284.mp3

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antho42
Guest

Superman, like Star Trek, is a postconverted 3D film. Both are shot on film.

Matthew Price
Guest

And one looks it – the other doesn’t. It isn’t about which process they choose, it’s about how successfully that process is applied.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

I saw the first 9 minutes of Star Trek in IMAX 3D and it was horribly painful gimmicky 3D of throwing things at the screen. I quickly made a mental note that I need to avoid the new Star Trek in 3D like the bloody plague!

I have mentioned that I liked say Resident Evil: Afterlife in 3D with zombie brains blowing up into your face in 3D. However, there is a gleeful over the top fun to that. Rather than unexpectedly getting items repeatedly fired into your face with Star Trek.

Overall, I wished I hadn’t seen the Star Trek footage, as while it was a nice set piece with a bit of a cliff hanger on what comes next, it doesn’t work on it’s own. It’s not like a tv show where you have seen the final episode and now need to wait to find out how it is resolved, beyond the big set piece there is a whole bunch of setting up that goes no where with no pay off.

antho42
Guest

Why did the studio even screen the film in 48 to critics?

Matthew Price
Guest

Because they would have sought it out anyways. HFR is the newsworthy aspect of this release, and critics are also entertainment reporters. By not screening it WB could have made an even bigger mistake.

Sean Kelly
Guest

Peter Jackson has confirmed that there WILL be an extended edition of this film that is 20-25 minutes longer.

Sean Kelly
Guest

I should note that I posted this comment before I finished listening to the show (hence didn’t yet get to the part, where this very fact was mentioned).

antho42
Guest

I think you are onto something, Matthew Price. In 1913, people rioted when Stravisnky’s Rite of Spring first played. A year later the same audience regarded it as a masterpiece:
Radioloab does an awesome analysis of the event. It starts in the 31:30 minute mark:
http://www.radiolab.org/2007/sep/24/

Please listen to the podcast. It is very entertaining and informative, especially starting in the 31:30 mark.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Price gets me! He really gets me!

Matthew Price
Guest

I’M SPENDING THE NIGHT WALKING AROUND IN YOUR SKIN

Matthew Fabb
Guest

Technology aside, I really enjoyed the Hobbit and look forward even to seeing the extended versions later. However, I couldn’t help but think how nicer it would have been had this movie been released in 2001. That now instead of watching the prequel we were watching the Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring for the first time. Lord of the Rings has similar structure to the Hobbit, but like a really good sequel, the stakes are higher, it is a lot more epic and builds on a lot that was set up in the Hobbit.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

Also I wonder if the Hobbit is the wrong movie to be testing HFR. That even Avatar sequels won’t do any better. That where it would really shine is say a big action movie, with no CGI and the majority of the stunts are real (once again no CGI or digital replacements) like say a Jackie Chan movie. That introducing this technology with a fantasy movie with a lot of fake props and CGI, is the wrong way to go about it. Because as some mentioned even with the detail seen in the production of Lord of the Rings, it still comes off as fake to some people.

That a real live action movie with a lot of cool stunts would translate the best, at least for people’s first exposure to this kind of film.

Note I’m adding all of this without having seen the HFR yet myself, just based on people’s reactions to the film.

Rick Vance
Guest

HFR is a game changer I was legitimately blown away by what it does.

Andrew James
Admin

Which is awesome. I’m truly glad that there are people who enjoy it (though I clearly and highly disagree). Then there are the people who legitimately can’t see the difference.

I was watching a blu-ray a few months back with my “father-in-law.” He had the auto motion plus thing turned on the TV while we watched Law Abiding Citizen (or some actiony movie) and he honestly could not understand what I was trying to describe with the “soap opera effect.” I turned it on and off and it made a HUGE difference to me; but he just couldn’t see it.

Matthew Price
Guest

Andrew, you should read Jason Gorber’s piece on twitch. He nicely covers the difference between actual HFR capture and the auto motion setting on a TV.

Andrew James
Admin

Thanks Matt. I actually have read that piece (and don’t fully agree with some stances he takes) and do understand the difference pretty well. But the aesthetic between the two is pretty darn close to the same (HFR is worse actually in my opinion) so I feel justified in comparing the two.

Andrew James
Admin

This piece (also at Twitch) and his follow-up comment is more where I’m coming from.

Andrew James
Admin

@Matt Price – here’s a fantastic piece on 48fps and what it means to be human or not human. How it is perceived. How it could be used in the future. It’s just a great read:

http://www.theverge.com/2012/12/18/3780274/48-fps-how-we-accidentally-invented-impressionist-filmmaking

Voncaster
Guest

Neat Article.

I like the idea that in the digital world of movie making that FR is a choice that film makers choose to create a desired effect. Impressionist to Hyper real and everything in between. FR choice becomes like color correction or cross processing or any number of other visual techniques applied to films.

rot
Guest

digital was a choice once too.

I just hope it stays a niche technique, and that we don’t reach a manufactured tipping point where it is the norm because younger audiences are being saturated with a kind of expectancy of this frame rate.

Andrew James
Admin

Yeah it’s sort of a different angled look of what I was talking about (somewhere) before. I like the ART of cinema the way it is. No it’s not perfectly realistic, but I don’t want perfectly realistic. I like motion blur. I like seeing the use of speed ramping and slow motion for the effect it gives. I like the inadequacies and imperfections that film/cinema/35mm provide.

The same could be said about a lot of the music I listen to. Sure, I like some really over-produced, glossy tunage. But I also like The White Stripes and The Black Crowes.

HFR is a technique that can/should be used as an aesthetic choice. NOT because the industry demands it or just because we can. Then it just becomes commerce or a gimmick.

Voncaster
Guest

@rot Digital is a choice.

But not using digital has ease of use and economic implications. Cutting physical film vs editing in a computer. Producing film reels vs sending digital files over the internet.

I love the analog warmth and feel of celluloid films. I like physical books too. But the writing is on the wall for both film and books.

For better or for worse, the world is by and large transitioning to digital production and distribution.

**
But I also agree with you rot that more than likely FR will not be an artistic choice. Some standard will more than likely win out and be applied to the vast majority of films.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

Did 3D really need an “Avatar moment’ or was it’s higher prices pushing it along good enough? As many people still don’t make the choice to see 3D, but simply pick a movie and then look up when and where it is playing. That even enough Clash of the Titans bad 3D movies would have pushed it along.

That said, despite the backlash of HFR I’ve still heard that theatres with HFR made more money than those without on opening weekend of the Hobbit. Is it because of curiosity or just because pre-sales have pushed people towards it? Either way, it sounds like enough to push the format along for now.

Andrew James
Admin

“I’ve still heard that theatres with HFR made more money than those without on opening weekend of the Hobbit. Is it because of curiosity or just because pre-sales have pushed people towards it?”

Probably because theaters with HFR are generally really big, chain theaters in urban areas with many screens. Probably doesn’t have much to do with the HFR.

antho42
Guest

I think it has to with curiosity. Lots of people are interested in seeing the so called “future” format. It does not meant that High Frame Rate is going to continue pull high a high attendance rate, though.

Andrew James
Admin

re: hijacked threads.

We’ve always maintained here at RowThree that it is good to let a conversation go wherever it needs go or evolve into (I believe this is even in the faq).

So I would never consider a “thread” “hijacked.” Notice I put both of those terms in quotes.

If there is a post about the brilliance of Chris Rock and the conversation moves into talk about Ford vs Chevy, then so be it. I like allowing the conversation to naturally flow into what it wants to.

rot
Guest

anyone know if there is anything to this notion that if saturated with 48fps viewing it degrades the experience of 24fps? Read somewhere that Peter Jackson said from spending so much time editing in 48fps when he watched 24fps they felt strobed and jumpy.

I am not a gamer, but don’t people who play 48fps games repeatedly and then switch over to watching a film able to accommodate for the difference? Or is it about seeing movies projected that is key, and unless you were gaming on projected screens the impact cannot be adequately gauged?

Just wondering if we are fucking over future experiences of the movies we love for a gimmick that nobody asked for.

Rick Vance
Guest

Games are typically 60 or 30 actually.

I have been thinking if my more common exposure to that along with movies made it easier for my eyes and brain to acclimate to HFR in the opening 5 minutes and love it but I am not sure.

Matt P
Guest

I’ve seen 6 24fps movies since, and 2 of them were on actual 35mm film. I had zero problems with any of them. Learning new visual language doesn’t delete the old visual language. Stop underestimating everyone’s brains.

rot
Guest

wait Gamble sort of answered it on the other thread. Apparently because of expense this should stay a niche thing, if so then niche away!

antho42
Guest

I would not mind a 1 hour lecture by Gamble on exhibition tech. Enlighten us, Gamble!

Matt Gamble
Guest

I can’t really go into much depth about it, unfortunately. Letting people behind the curtain sort of thing.

antho42
Guest

“HFR will work better when the sensors improve and latitude gets more powerful. A lot of video feel came from crap highlights.” -Joseph Khan (dir. Torque and Detention).

Matthew Fabb
Guest

“THE HOBBIT is just like rice pudding: good to the last drop” by the Beat a comic website and a huge Tolkien fan is my absolute favorite review of the Hobbit:
http://comicsbeat.com/the-hobbit-is-just-like-rice-pudding-good-to-the-last-drop/

Note it is all about the movie itself as the reviewer didn’t watch it in what they refer to as “crack-head frame rate”.

Take her dislike of Radagast, with my slight annoyance of the mountain trolls that became mountain monsters the size of mountains and it is close to my view of the movie.

Sean Kelly
Guest

After nearly a week, I’m getting a bit tired of the whole Hobbit/HFR debate. I’m ready to move on to other things.

antho42
Guest

Sean Kelley, we are still missing the Gamble vs James shouting match in the upcoming Cinecast.

Kurt Halfyard
Guest

…where Kurt will be curiously silent because he simply cannot work up the energy to get to a cinema for either The Hobbit or HFR.

3 Seasons of Louie were great though…

Gerry
Guest

You thought season 3 of Louie was great?

The first two seasons were but there were only 2 episodes from season 3 that lived up to that high standard, in my opinion.

You were clearly delerious from your illness.

Goon
Guest

I’m going to help Kurt outnumber you by saying Louie season 3 is at least as good as season 1.

Gerry
Guest

Sounds like you got an early Christmas present of some happy baccy there Goon. Or maybe you put some in a pipe in honour of Bilbo.

Kurt
Guest

The first episode of Season 1 of Louie is pretty much terrible on every level. I’d say the show is steadily improving with each season, S3 being the best of the bunch.

Goon
Guest

Gerry, you’re acting as if hating on Louie season 3 is somehow a concensus opinion out there…

Even over at the AV Club, completely consisent ratings from season to season

http://www.avclub.com/tvclub/tvshow/louie,116/

I’ll count that as 3 to 1, for now.

Gerry
Guest

Because this is a forum for talking about film and TV maybe?

Matt Brown
Guest

It’s clearly not. But even besides that, Kurt’s ref to Louie doesn’t seem to have precedent.

Goon
Guest

Forget it Matt, it’s Rowthreetown.

antho42
Guest

Speaking of Louie, Rick Vance, is Rebuild Evangelion worth watching?

Kurt Halfyard
Guest

It came up due to HFR, honestly.

Gerry
Guest

That was actually really good Goon.

Sean Kelly
Guest

Please stop spelling my last name with an “ey”

More on topic, I’m sure the Cinecast debate will be epic, but HFR has been beaten to death this week and I don’t really want to be bothered anymore with all the pros and cons.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

I’ve been knee deep in the debate and I haven’t been able to find time to see the movie in HFR myself! 🙂

Of course, by the time I manage to do so (maybe sometime after Christmas?) the discussion will have likely moved on.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Ditto Matthew F. I’ve not been able to see the film in any format, and my enthusiasm is far on the wane with Holiday treates (and Django) on the horizon. A similar thing happened with Tron: Legacy which I’ve still not seen.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

While I hope to see HFR Hobbit before the end of the year, I do hope that similar to the Lord of the Rings movies, that the Hobbit has a decently long stay well into the next year. As I really do love Peter Jackson’s Middle-Earth movies and there is nothing like seeing them on the big screen.

Jandy Hardesty
Guest

We saw the 2D version last weekend (wanted to experience the film itself and the story first without thinking about tech) and quite liked it. We’re planning to go back this weekend for the 3D HFR version out of curiosity, but in the meantime, I just read this pretty interesting article comparing all three versions and his emotional immersion (or lack thereof) in each:

http://blog.vincentlaforet.com/2012/12/19/the-hobbit-an-unexpected-masterclass-in-why-hfr-fails-and-a-reaffirmation-of-what-makes-cinema-magical/

Andrew James
Admin

Nice Jandy. Good, if a bit long-winded, read. I like one of his opening statements:

“In my opinion, film is not necessarily about WHAT you see – but it’s almost more an exercise in what you DON’T or CAN’T see.”

This is such a great way to put it. Film is about cheating and lying. HFR exposes the cheats and lies for what they are and it’s difficult to stomach.

Jandy Hardesty
Guest

I also like his sentiment that increased “realism” can and often does take away something of the magic of cinema – I know that’s romantic, but that’s kind of the undercurrent of my love for 35mm over digital, and likely 24fps over 48fps. People talking about HFR continually bring up that older frame rates from the silent era look weird, and they do to some extent – but they look MAGICAL to me. Those really early hand-painted films with slow frame rates – those are much more pure and wonderful cinema to me than the hyper-real look that people seem to be going for now.

But I still haven’t watched The Hobbit in 48fps, so I’m trying to reserve judgement.

Andrew James
Admin

That’s EXACTLY how I feel (see this comment). Perhaps the “magic” of cinema is a better term than the “art” of cinema. I’ll bring it up on tonight’s Cinecast, but it’s sort of the same feel I got when watching Star Wars on Blu-ray. It’s likely I’ll never watch those movies again that way because all of the flaws are now visible. Robots don’t look like robots anymore; they look like hunks of styrofoam and cardboard painted with magic markers.

Voncaster
Guest

I just got back from the Hobbit in High Frame Rate.

Reading reaction about HFR, I didn’t really know what to expect from HFR. I was expecting the worst: dizzy sensations, long adjustment periods and ugly visuals.

For me, it was neither ugly nor hard to adjust to. I thought HFR made the movie look crystal clear. Probably the sharpest and clearest CGI work I have seen yet. I have no doubt that this is the future for fx-based movies.

Studios pour all kinds of money into making the fx wizardry and I think HFR puts the fx wizardry in the best possible light. I don’t think this is a gimmick. I think this is the real game changer for fx-based movies.

David Brook
Guest

I’ve been avoiding joining in this conversation as I saw the film late on and didn’t want to stick my oar in after everyone was sick of the topic, but I thought I may as well give my brief thoughts on the Hobbit and HFR.

HFR: During the first 30 mins I thought it looked horrific – so TV like and cheap-looking, but I did adjust to it and as the film got literally darker, the quality improved and like Voncaster said, the film looked so sharp and crystal clear I did think elements of the film looked incredible in HFR. In some brighter and fast moving scenes later on the issues did rear their ugly head from time to time though. Plus although I thought the CGI looked amazing in HFR (Gollum looked photo-realistic other than his eyes), some of the compositing/keying looked terrible. That sled chase with the Waargs in particular was one of the worst examples of modern special effects I’ve seen in a long time (plus that sequence was shit in general).

In my opinion it’s a format that can work well in certain situations, but it looks like a bit of a wild beast to tame and I don’t want to see it used all the time. What I kept thinking as I watched was that it is an amazing format for nature documentaries. I would kill to see a David Attenborough film on the big screen in this format.

Film: As for the film itself, I felt it was too drawn out and not as fun as a Hobbit adaptation should be, but it had some great moments here and there. The slower pace made all of the set pieces seem tacked on and random whereas in the books the constant barrage of sticky situations Bilbo gets into is the drive of the story. Jackson seemed to be trying to give this the gravitas of LOTR but it should be a simple fun ride.

It never reached the heights of LOTR, but it did have its moments – Gollum was great as always for instance. It’s a shame he’s not in any of the next films (as far as I remember from reading the book), unless they play around with the story.

Jandy Hardesty
Guest

Went back and saw the 3D HFR this weekend. Here are the thoughts I posted about it on Letterboxd:

The HFR was a mixed bag. It was really noticeable to me in the first thirty minutes or so (the prologue with Bilbo and Frodo, the flashback to Smaug’s arrival at Erebor, and the dwarves coming to Bilbo’s house), and while I can see the soap opera/Masterpiece Theatre comparisons, what it looked like to me was historical re-enactments in made-for-TV documentaries (History Channel type stuff). I guess I got used to it later on, but that look and feeling would flood back now and again, especially on interiors and inset close-ups. Wide-angle exterior shots looked much better.

Probably the only time I’d say that I noticed the HFR in a GOOD way, though, was in the dwarf/orc fight outside Moria. That looked amazing, and I think it looked amazing because of the HFR. Later action scenes didn’t quite benefit as much – the goblin fight was rather difficult to see, but I think that was because of the 3D and quicker editing (I didn’t see the 3D non-HFR version, so I can’t say whether this would’ve been worse in 3D without HFR or not – possibly the HFR made it better than it would’ve been without).

Based on this single example, I’m not willing to totally dismiss HFR, but neither am I convinced that it’s unequivocally better than 24fps. It seems to have specific shot types that it works better for, while other scenes are served just as well or better at a lower frame rate. I’d also like to see a feature-length example of it divorced from 3D, because a lot of the visual discomfort and distractions I did experience I think were due to the 3D (despite its overall subtlety in the film) rather than the HFR.

Rot
Guest

I think I had the HFR built up in my mind, all this talk of it being like looking through a window, how the sets and make-up are jarring from how impossibly real the image looks… Having now seen it I didn’t find it particularly special. Motion was a mess, and the sound seemed off, and the acting uncomfortable, but as for what is supposed to be value added the best I can say is the 3D is smoother and the picture is sharp… But did it immerse me? Absolutely not, although that may have to do with what a terrible movie The Hobbit is.

Deus ex Machina much?

antho42
Guest

In preparation for MAMO 285, Grindhouse: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo78.mp3 and Inglorious Basterds: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo147.mp3

antho42
Guest

Dear Matt Brown,

Since you are a film lover and a toy aficionado ( I think), I want to ask you this question: Do you know how the merchandizing deals works with in a situation like The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings? To be more precise, does the studio need to get the Tolkien Estate approval (and vice-versa) when it comes to licensing toys, video games, and other stuff? Also, does the Tolkien Estate gets a huge fee from the merchandizing? For instance, say Tolkien Estate provides a license to a comic book company– is the comic book company then able to draw inspiration from the films– especially in terms of character designs–or do they also need to get a license approval from the studio?

Sincerely,
Anthony Macedo

Matthew Fabb
Guest

Perhaps, Matt Brown can answer more in-depth, but I do know that the Tolkien estate doesn’t have approval over licensing. Because the Tolkien estate is suing the various studios for releasing a Lord of the Rings slot machine. They don’t like Lord of the Rings or Tolkien name being used together with gambling (I don’t blame them) and think that is a breach of contract. They want it stopped and want $80 million for damages. You might be able to find more information about what kind of merchandising deal they have in place by looking up articles about that lawsuit.

antho42
Guest

Even though they are not in a position to approve, does the Tolkien Estate still get money from the slot machine licenses? Interesting..

Thanks Matthew Fabb for the information.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

Looks like there is still life in the Hobbit box office yet, as estimates have the movie making more money *this* Friday than it did last Friday:
http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=daily&id=hobbit.htm
It has now passed $200 million domestically and $600 million world wide.
Perhaps word of mouth is better than expected, or now that most people have more time post-xmas, they can go see it.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

Damnit, looks like I miss my opportunity to see the Hobbit in High Frame Rate, as it doesn’t seem any theatres in Toronto are playing it in HFR 3D anymore. I wonder if it’s because it’s the best theatres that have this and the Hobbit has been moved to the smaller screens now? Either way, the window for HFR seems really small and looks like I missed it. 🙁

Andrew James
Admin

You’re not missing much. The televisions here in Tobago are set to Auto Motion Plus. We watched The Crucible and parts of Mr. Deeds the other day and they both looked like a high school stage play.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Auto-Motion Plus is totally different from HFR.

Andrew James
Admin

People need to stop with this anti-argument. Of course it’s different. But if you missed Hobbit HFR, televisions with that ridiculous setting has a VERY similar aesthetic.

Rick Vance
Guest

I can’t tell if you are being serious or trolling anymore about this.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

I’m curious how this will all transfer over the TV. As it’s well known that televisions can easily show 48 or even 60 fps. So will there be an option on the blu-ray disk to choose the 24 or 48 fps version? Or will they keep that only for 3D?

Matthew Fabb
Guest

Apparently I missed out on HFR by just 3 days. Had I know that the previously Thursday was the last day they would be showing it in the format I would have gone to seen it.

After all this talk and debate about the technology, I’m going to have to wait until the next Hobbit movie to find out. Hopefully, my schedule next “holiday” season won’t be so jammed packed and booked up.

Anyways, instead of seeing HFR Hobbit, I ended up seeing Django Unchained with my wife and we both loved it. Easily makes it up onto my top movies released in 2012.

Andrew James
Admin

Django Unchained over Hobbit? You had a major win in many many ways.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

LOL! Yeah, Django Unchained is a great movie, but it’s not going anywhere and I could have put it off for another weekend.