Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor


Peter Jackson “I thought I’d address the news that has been reported about us shooting THE HOBBIT at 48 frames per second, and explain to you what my thoughts are about this.

We are indeed shooting at the higher frame rate. The key thing to understand is that this process requires both shooting and projecting at 48 fps, rather than the usual 24 fps (films have been shot at 24 frames per second since the late 1920’s). So the result looks like normal speed, but the image has hugely enhanced clarity and smoothness. Looking at 24 frames every second may seem ok–and we’ve all seen thousands of films like this over the last 90 years–but there is often quite a lot of blur in each frame, during fast movements, and if the camera is moving around quickly, the image can judder or “strobe.”

Shooting and projecting at 48 fps does a lot to get rid of these issues.  It looks much more lifelike, and it is much easier to watch, especially in 3-D. We’ve been watching HOBBIT tests and dailies at 48 fps now for several months, and we often sit through two hours worth of footage without getting any eye strain from the 3-D.  It looks great, and we’ve actually become used to it now, to the point that other film experiences look a little primitive. I saw a new movie in the cinema on Sunday and I kept getting distracted by the juddery panning and blurring. We’re getting spoilt!

Originally, 24 fps was chosen based on the technical requirements of the early sound era. I suspect it was the minimum speed required to get some audio fidelity out of the first optical sound tracks. They would have settled on the minimum speed because of the cost of the film stock. 35mm film is expensive, and the cost per foot (to buy the negative stock, develop it and print it), has been a fairly significant part of any film budget.

So we have lived with 24 fps for 9 decades–not because it’s the best film speed (it’s not by any stretch), but because it was the cheapest speed to achieve basic acceptable results back in 1927 or whenever it was adopted.

None of this thinking is new.  Doug Trumbull developed and promoted a 60 frames per second process called ShowScan about 30 years ago and that looked great. Unfortunately it was never adopted past theme park use. I imagine the sheer expense of burning through expensive film stock at the higher speed (you are charged per foot of film, which is about 18 frames), and the projection difficulties in cinemas, made it tough to use for “normal” films, despite looking amazing.  Actually, if anybody has been on the Star Tours ride at Disneyland, you’ve experienced the life like quality of 60 frames per second.  Our new King Kong attraction at Universal Studios also uses 60 fps.

Now that the world’s cinemas are moving towards digital projection, and many films are being shot with digital cameras, increasing the frame rate becomes much easier.  Most of the new digital projectors are capable of projecting at 48 fps, with only the digital servers needing some firmware upgrades.  We tested both 48 fps and 60 fps.  The difference between those speeds is almost impossible to detect, but the increase in quality over 24 fps is significant.

Film purists will criticize the lack of blur and strobing artifacts, but all of our crew–many of whom are film purists–are now converts.  You get used to this new look very quickly and it becomes a much more lifelike and comfortable viewing experience.  It’s similar to the moment when vinyl records were supplanted by digital CDs.  There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re heading towards movies being shot and projected at higher frame rates.”

R. Norter “You get used to this new look very quickly and it becomes a much more lifelike and comfortable viewing experience.” Peter Jackson would say that, wouldn’t he? Having seen ‘The Hobbit’, I can tell you I did not get used to the new look at all. The viewing experience is so lifelike as to rob the film of all magic whatsoever: you see very clearly it is a bunch of actors in costumes in front of often wobbly sets, with every rubber prosthetic appearing extra rubbery. Add on 3D, which at times is less than convincing, and the viewing experience is anything but comfortable. I don’t get motion sickness in 3D, this time I did.

Just to add: the film is 169 minutes long, the script is dire, there is no tension or drama as the characters simply run from one set up to the next, the majority of the cast (the dwarves) merges into one indefinable clump, the SFX are at times of very variable quality and the colour palette is overwhelmingly dark. For the record, I really enjoyed ‘The Lord of the Rings’, this is nothing more than a money grab. Avoid.

HDW : It seems within the film industry that filming at the higher frame rates is going to catch on remembering that 24 fps has only been standard because at the time it was introduced technology could only produce a 24 frame rate recording and it became industry standard.

It’s not getting very good press and by our own readers experiences the 48 fps version is to be avoided at all costs, I think James Cameron who has said his next production will be shot at 48fps should fully assess the Hobbit before filming his next film.

3D at high motion has always caused certain people to feel sick so there is nothing new here, it seemingly takes about 20 minutes for the brain to accept the 48fps before you start to view it at “normal speed”.

DVD playerys and televisions will need a firmware upgrade if we are to be able to watch 48fps Blu-ray DVDs.

Cinema audiences will dictate if 48fps is to be the future and I can assure you the last thing a hot auditorium needs is a child puking up their MacDonalds causing mass sickness throughout the theatre.



Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

12 thoughts on “The Hobbit filmed at 48fps “Causing motion sickness in 3D”

  1. I’m interested to see this film. I used to not like 24p until I realised that it contributed largely to the suspension of disbelief in cinema story telling. Cinema is supposed to be make believe not reality. When I watch a film, I want to be taken away on a magical journey not watch a reality show.
    I thought historically 24p was chosen because it was the most economical (cost of film) speed at which the brain perceives smooth motion. Known as persistence of vision.
    It was also chosen for it’s compatibility with 60Hz lighting.

  2. “It’s similar to the moment when vinyl records were supplanted by digital CDs. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re heading towards movies being shot and projected at higher frame rates.”
    Above comment comes from someone who does not visit record stores today. LP’s are back and CD’s are getting less and less. There are people always stunned with every new technology regardless what its use or not. Killing film for silly reasons and replacing it with digital tech, 2K, 4K, higher frame rates…(what else to come), is just another lunatics dream to come true. Should good win in the end, one day we are likely to see film coming back just like the LP records.

  3. Well at least someone gave it a go, if it does prove unpopular the film can be watched in a 24fps version anyway, so i don’t see what all the fuss is about. Personally I don’t like the look of 50p unless its used for sports, but there’s no harm in trying something new. Also what’s stopping people mixing 24 and 48 in the same timeline? 24 for narrative sequences and 48 for fast action, best of both worlds. Also, a lot of the complaints leveled at the picture being to detailed, being able to see imperfections in sets and make up etc, probably has more to do with the film being shot and displayed in 4k.

  4. Vinyls are not “back” in any mainstream way. It will always be fashionable to a scene to gravitate to vintage technology, but it never takes hold in a large way. Does your car play LP’s? CD’s are less because of internet downloads, not a hipster fad for LP’s. And to say higher frame rates are a ‘lunatics dream’ is fairly ridiculous. As jarring as 48fps may be to audiences at the moment, there is nothing unusual about seeing more frames.. you think our eyes see the world at 24fps? Admittedly it is more unforgiving for the movie world (makeup etc) but I see this as a starting point.. towards less make up, more believable sets, etc. I don’t think 24fps will die completely either. It’s just the possibilities are broader now, so perhaps.. just deal with it? 🙂

  5. I’ve just been to see the 3d version and I didn’t have a problem with it. I personally think 3d is a gimmick and treat it as such. 48fps makes it look like very clean film to me, a bit like Skyfall looked. Like 48fps dislike 3D…

  6. The reason for the 24 frames per second is that it is the slowest speed at which motion appears fluid to the human eye.

  7. I have seen this in 3D, and I didn’t get sick, nor did anyone else in the theater get sick.
    I didn’t mind the 48FPS, change will happen. How many people sat there and complained about wide screen having bars at the top and bottom of the screen when we switched over? Now it’s all we use. It’s standard. People don’t like change but they will get used to it. We as viewers need to realize, that this is the first time it’s been done for a motion picture at this speed so just like anything that is new there will be mistakes, and adjustments to be made, but as far as myself I’m just fine with it. To Chris Wilby, as far as your comment about 3D being a gimmick, I believe you are right, and your are wrong. Right now it is a gimmick, and the only person who I have seen that has used it properly is Martin Scorsese in Hugo. Filming a movie so that you have knives and blood flying at you, or choosing to film a specific scene just to do a cool 3d effect is disgraceful. I hate seeing it. If a true artist would use it in a subtle way instead of throwing it in our faces so that that’s all we see then it would be much more effective, but right now everyone is so 3d happy (it also ups the price, so they can make more money with it) that it’s become more about quantity, than quality.

  8. There is really no way to know whether someone got sick or not as most of us are smart enough to get out of the theater when experiencing symptoms. I became quite ill, left once, tried to go back and was unable to return without feeling sick. It was no fun sitting in the lobby for 2 hours waiting for my family. I will not go to a 3D or IMAX movie again, even if that is all there is to see. PERIOD.

  9. Saw it today in 3D 48fps. I have never suffered from travel sickness, sea sickness or similar. But I have never felt so ill as I did watching this film. In fact some parts I just could not watch. Perhaps it’s because I was not moving at all that I felt so ill? It’s family law that I am never motion sick, so now they all think it very funny.

  10. I saw it in 3D and 48 fps. The first note at the top is the only person who in my opinion understands the reason 48fps doesn’t work. Because it is too clear and you lose the needed “persistence of vision” that is required at 24 fps. The slower frame rate forces your brain to fill in the blank spaces and this helps to allow suspension of disbelief. At 48 you can see everything including the spearmint holding on the fake beards and other makeup. Change is not necessarily better. Years ago I went to the Dough Trumbull 60fps Showscan demo and I thought it was great because it looked so real. But real is not what you want for a fantasy film.

  11. have just seen this in 2D at 24fps. lasted 20 mins as motion sickness from blurry shots made me very, very nauseous. why?

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