Peter Jackson debuted ten minutes of new Hobbit footage earlier this week, and a new presentation technique the director is using caused some to compare the look of the new material to a made-for-TV movie.
The new footage aired at CinemaCon, a convention for theatre owners, earlier this week and the feedback wasn't what Jackson expected. Jackson is shooting his two new Hobbit movies at 48 frames-per-second. They would be the first major releases to be delivered at such a high frame rate. The current industry standard is 24 frames--per-second. Viewers complained the faster frame rate made Middle Earth look too glossy, and they preferred the dirtier look of the first Lord of the Rings movies. The picture wasn't "cinematic" enough. Some theatre owners grumbled about the money it would cost to upgrade their equipment to comply with the faster picture delivery. We were suspect of the new Hobbit trailer when it first debuted for its lack of grand adventure set pieces, when they opted for a bunch of dwarves sitting around smoking instead.
Jackson isn't budging, though. He's urging people to at least give the new technology a chance. “Just like I can’t say anything to someone who doesn’t like fish. You can’t explain why fish tastes great and why they should enjoy it," he said. “There can only ever be a real reaction, a truthful reaction, when people actually have a chance to see a complete narrative on a particular film."
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Jackson said the ten minutes of preview footage wasn't enough to get used to the new look. "Ten minutes is sort of marginal, it probably needed a little bit more," he said. "Another thing that I think is a factor is it’s different to look at a bunch of clips and some were fast-cutting, montage-style clips. This is different experience than watching a character and story unfold.” He also told THR they were planning on doing extensive post-production work that would give the film the same atmosphere of the three Rings movies.
The best way this writer can explain the difference in picture quality: some HDTVs have faster processors and can process images at a higher frame rate than your usual television, and during scenes with a lot of movement the blur of a lesser TV isn't there and the movements on screen are clearer. It can throw a viewer off. The first time this writer watched a movie on a television that powerful, Ryan Gosling's brooding in Blue Valentine was unsettled him. On a bigger screen at 48 frames-per-second, it would have a similar effect. Movements would be extremely clear, and there would be almost no blur during action scenes. We got used to it
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.