So if you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard, The Hobbit is available in several different formats in theaters. Peter Jackson shot the film at a higher frame rate than the industry standard 24 fps with the idea that the image would be much clearer for the 3D experience.
I took it upon myself to test out all the versions to see which one did in fact create the most immersive experience. What I discovered was somewhat ironic.
HFR (48 fps) 3D
I was really excited to try out the new frame rate that Peter Jackson was advocating. I had my reservations about it going in, but I really had an open mind about it. That is, until the first shot appeared on the screen.
The high frame rate does exactly as promised: it makes the image look more realistic, like it has been plucked straight out of reality. However, the reality of it is that these are a bunch of people dressed up in costume running around on a set. And that is EXACTLY what it looked like to me.
I found myself not being able to take anything seriously. I missed all the jokes, the beauty of Rivendell, and the all-around fun that makes up the movie. The music sounded like it was laid underneath some cheesy soap opera. I couldn’t connect to the story at all.
24 fps 2D
I went into the next showing desperate to reclaim the Middle Earth that I once knew and loved. However, after the first viewing I didn’t have much hope for it.
I’m so glad I was wrong. This time I could actually see and enjoy the story. The characters came to life, and it felt like returning to a familiar place.
Seeing the two versions back to back led me to believe that seeing a story in a slower frame rate than the way eye would naturally perceive it actually helps to suspend disbelief for a few hours of entertainment. When I go to see a movie like The Hobbit, I don’t want it to look as realistic as possible. I want to travel to a storybook world that isn’t like the world I live in every day.
The only drawback to this version was the fact that it was shot in 48 fps and converted to 24fps. Some of the aerial shots of the company traveling through Middle Earth are a bit jerky.
24 fps 3D
If you like 3D, this isn’t the worst option in the world. However, the problems that the 48 fps fixed are still there. The movie looks more like a movie, but motion blurring in 3D does strain the eye.
I don’t think 3D was worth it for this movie. If it wasn’t for the newest trend of making movies in 3D, the idea to shoot a movie in 48 fps probably could have been avoided. I think I’ve given 3D a fair shot, but after seeing this movie in 3D, I’m done with it forever.
The most immersive way to experience The Hobbit is at 24 fps in 2D. Sorry Peter. I was really rooting for you.
Which way did you see the Hobbit? What was your preferred format?