‘The Hobbit’ to be Released at 48 Frames Per Second

    April 19, 2012

Cinema’s are scrambling to get their equipment up to date ahead of The Hobbit’s December 14 release, The Hollywood Reporter notes. The film is supposed to be released in a high frame rate of 48 frames per second; most theaters are only equipped to run the standard 24 frames per second.

Peter Jackson and James Cameron have advocated a change to the higher film rate as a solution to exhibition problems, eliminating judder and other motion artifacts.

video artifacts
This is an example of extreme digital artifacts courtesy of digieffects.

Judder is a video screen artifact that occurs when content recorded on film is shown on a digital format that causes the picture to “jitter” about.

Theaters using digital projectors are not equipped to support 48 fps, but efforts are being made to upgrade equipment.

Individual projector companies will have their own methods for dealing with the high frame rate, but the majority will be using an upgrade to current equipment as a cheap(er) solution. Projectors from Christie, Barco and NEC will be using hardware called an Integrated Media Block (IMB) and a software upgrade. The IMB is expected to cost around $10,000 for each projector.

The high frame rate requires a ton of data support. The Hobbit was shot at a high frame rate, using up 6-12 Terabytes of data per day. The filming schedule for parts one and two of The Hobbit involves 265 days of shooting. Obviously, the final product will be much less, about twice as much as current exhibition data requirements.

48fps may soon become the norm. James Cameron has said that he will be using the high frame rate on Avatar 2 and 3. With such high profile backing of this new technology, theaters will have to keep up if they expect to make any kind of profit from these huge blockbusters.

It’s relatively easy for the producers, only having to buy one or two new cameras that shoot at the high frame rate. It’s a different story for the cinema’s, whose 60,000+ projectors have to be upgraded to accommodate them.

New technology is great, giving movie goers a more enjoyable experience. It’s just a shame theaters are left with the bill on this one. Many small cinemas have already struggled to keep up with digital and 3D. Requiring new technology only a few short years later may be the straw that broke the camel’s back. If a higher frame rate was such an obvious solution to making digital projections function properly, why wasn’t it introduced from the very beginning?