Tuesday, April 12, 2011


For the first time in nearly 100 years, the frame rate of motion pictures is going to change. Silent films were shot and projected at roughly 18 frames per second (fps). With the advent of sound in the late 1920s, some extra frames were added to help keep sync between the picture and the audio. From then on, 24fps has been the standard. But this could be changing.

Yesterday, Peter Jackson announced via Facebook that his adaptation of The Hobbit is being shot at and will be projected in 48fps. Double the standard! As a result the film will be a much crisper and blur-free viewing experience for the audience. Essentially it is an analogue version of hi-def. And while it is admirable that Mr. Jackson is so concerned with presenting the best possible product to cinema-goers, the question begs: Will this change anything? 

Within the next decade we are likely to see the end of celluloid as a medium for commercial artistic expression. Sure some fringe artists out there will (and should) still cling go the old technology, but the studios are another ball of wax. When you shoot 48fps, not only is the frame rate doubled, so is the amount of money you have to spend on buying film. Couple this with the fact that more and more multiplexes are switching over to digital projection, and it becomes clear that the die has already been cast.

So in the end, while The Hobbit is sure to be a great treat upon its' release, don't bet on it to start any revolutions.

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