Peter Jackson Talks Shooting 3D On The Hobbit

It’s strange now to think that The Hobbit is actually shooting, after all the mess with Guillermo del Toro and then a struggle with the rights and then Peter Jackson finally agreeing to helm the project, it seemed like all the odds were against them. Now via his official Facebook page, Jackson has shown himself shooting on set, as well as yesterday’s slate for shooting. Also interestingly in a very long statement, all of which you can read here, he talks about using the new frame rate of 48 frames per second for the 3D shooting.

A lot has come of this recently especially with James Cameron prattling on about it as the future where he sees us wearing cumbersome glasses every single second of our lives. The frame rate issue is addressed below:

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!

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.

I do trust Peter Jackson, he ensures good intentions in everything he does whether it be B-Movie schlock or the multi-million dollar The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. And occasionally the good intention does hideously backfire which was the case with The Lovely Bones. Still, I remain unconvinced by 3D, I’m not sure it’s cinema’s best possible route for every film due it only working for certain genres, most appropriately exploitation and horror. That being said I’m happy to see this coming to the big screen. No matter what format it’s in, it will be great to see Jackson return to that world.

About the author


Will Chadwick

Will has written for the site since October 2010, he currently studies English Literature and American Studies at the University of Birmingham in the UK. His favourite films include Goodfellas, The Shawshank Redemption and The Godfather and his favourite TV shows are Mad Men, Six Feet Under, The Simpsons and Breaking Bad.