We start off this installment of my entertainment news with my observations on seeing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at High Frame Rate 3-D. First some background… Computer animated movies in 3-D are genuine 3-D creations because they simply re-render the movie with the virtual camera at a different location and angle. Most of the live-action 3-D movies you see these days were actually shot in 2-D although some were shot in anticipation that they would be converted to 3-D and postprocessing. Prime example of that is the most recent Narnia movie. You will notice lots of side to side camera movement in that film. That allows the computer postprocessing process to use information from successive frames to more easily re-create a 3-D effect. But a small number of movies these days are actually shot in 3-D and the new hobbit trilogy is one of them. Not only was it shot in 3-D it was shot entirely digitally and shot at a high frame rate. The standard for shooting filmed movies has long been 24 frames per second. By comparison standard TV is 30 frames per second or up to 60 frames per second for HDTV. My first introduction to a higher frame rate was when I bought my most recent HDTV’s which have refresh rates of either 120 or 240 Hz. The way that digital video is compressed the TV can actually take 30 frames percent and interpolate the motion to fill in next to frames in between. The result is a sort of hyperrealistic movement as the camera pans or as objects move across the screen. Unfortunately the conversion inside the typical HDTV isn’t perfect and you can actually get artifacts distortions around the edges of objects. Some people don’t like the higher frame rates on HDTV’s and actually turn off the feature. On the other hand I like it a lot so I was anxious to see what a 48 frame per second film looks like that wasn’t something that had been postprocess but had actually been shot at the higher frame rates.
It takes the latest digital projectors to be able to show these higher frame rates so films like the hobbit are only being shown at HFR in a limited number of theaters. The only theater in Indiana is at a 16 theater multiplex in Noblesville at the big mall up there near the Deer Creek Music Center. With this new HFR format was previewed to critics, it was widely panned. I never did hear what the critics didn’t like about HFR. It could be that they had a batch of people who like some don’t like the postprocess HFR that HDTV’s have. Or it may just a been that they didn’t think that the effect was dramatic enough to be worth the hype. I never did figure that out.
The bottom line is I did like the HFR experience on The Hobbit very much. As various creatures are being chased through the woods with fast camera movements and during many of the action sequences I think the high frame rate definitely makes for a better experience. It was easier to see what was going on. Sometimes in action scenes everything is just a blur but not so much in this film.
I think the high frame rate is especially important on very large screens and this one was near IMAX size even though it wasn’t IMAX. Let’s do the math for a minute. Suppose you got a movie screen that is 30 feet wide and you have an object quickly moving across the screen that takes for example three seconds. That means that the object is moving at 10 ft./s measured on the screen itself. At 24 frames per second that means the object moves 6 inches every frame. If you are sitting close enough to the screen to get an IMAX like experience (that is the screen fills your normal field of vision while looking at the screen center) you can actually get a strobe effect as an object moves across the screen. Your brain can no longer merge the individual static images into a fluid motion. By doubling the frame rate you get that six-inch jump down to 3 inches which when viewed from the middle of a theater is not nearly as noticeable.
As much as I liked the HFR experience and not 100% sure that I would repeatedly drive across town to see it. As far as I know the only films made this way are the hobbit trilogy. The second part will be released sometime this year and the third part not until 2014 so I suppose the crosstown trip once a year would be a nice treat. But if more and more films are shot at higher frame rate, I’m probably not going to go chasing all over the place to see it that way. An ordinary 3-D or an ordinary IMAX 3-D experience a little bit closer to home (like Traders Point) should be enough to satisfy my eye candy obsession. On the other hand the more films they get shot at HFR the more theaters will convert to that technology. It’s the classic chicken and egg problem that has slowed the move to digital and the wider promulgation of 3-D capabilities.
Now we move on to our regular news items. In the links below read about
Postmortem interviews with producers of Homeland after the season finale (which was awesome by the way)
Postmortem interviews with producers of Dexter after the season finale (which was awesome by the way)
Interviews with producers of How I Met Your Mother about midseason break finale episode
Spoilers from Michael Ausiello dated December 18
Interview with Prince Charming actor about his role in Once upon a Time
Spoilers from Michael Ausiello dated January 3
Renewal scorecard from Michael Ausiello predicts which shows will be renewed/canceled
Not in the links below but also of interest
RIP Jack Klugman age 90
RIP Charles Durning age 89
RIP Harry Carey Jr. Western movie star age 91
RIP Gary Anderson puppeteer/producer of Space 1999, Supercar & Thunderbirds TV series
Producers of Dallas JR Ewing will get a funeral in the TV series after the death of Larry Hagman at age 81
Martin Scorsese will produce and direct a documentary about Bill Clinton for HBO
Discovery Channel cancels American Guns
Season finales of Homeland and Dexter set records for viewership for Showtime
Season 2 premiere of Smash on NBC will be Tuesday, February 5
Episodes of Scandal, Haven, Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show were delayed for violent content because of the Sandy Hook tragedy
The Haven episode which included a shooting at a high school will air with the season finale back to back on January 17
Producers say episodes of Game of Thrones season 3 will be 57-58 minutes long compared to the typical 54 minutes. Some may go past 60.
Julianne Moore will return to guest star on 30 Rock to the series finale
HeroesandCovert Affairsalum Sendhil Ramamurthy will have a recurring role in Beauty and the Beast on CW
James Callas a.k.a. Gaius Baltar from BSG will guest star in an upcoming episode of Arrow
USA announced Psych has been renewed for a eighth and possibly final season. Season seven premieres February 27
The Walking Dead has been renewed for a fourth season however show runner Glen Mazzara who helmed seasons 2 and 3 is leaving over creative differences. Season 3 returns February 10
How I Met Your Mother has been renewed for a 9th season after Jason Segel makes last-minute decision to stay with the show.
TNT has canceled Leverage. December 25 episode was series finale.
NBC has officially decided not to pick up Mockingbird Lane the Munsters reboot to series. Pilot had poor ratings.
The Christmas episode of Dr. Who sent a ratings record for BBC America up 60% from last year’s Christmas special
Adam Levine will host SNL January 26
January 14 episode of Hawaii 50 will allow viewers to vote on the ending.
Jennifer Esposito’s “medical leave” from Blue Bloods is now permanent. She’s off the show.
USA has renewed Necessary Roughness for season 3 of 10 episodes
Canceled soap operas One Life to Live and All My Children will return as online shows.
Syfy Channel announced new series Defiance premieres April 15
Fox announced that Bones has been renewed for season 8 possibly its last
LA Reid will not return to The X Factor. Rumors are Britney Spears is out as well.
CBS is in the early stages of developing a new Twilight Zone series
Middle East cable company Al Jazeera purchases Current TV. Several carriers drop the channel including Bright House
National Geographic is making a documentary based on Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing Lincoln”. And will do documentary on “Killing Kennedy” as well.
HBO is being sued over alleged mistreatment of horses in its canceled series Luck
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will guest when the series finale of 30 Rock
A&E series Bates Motel (prequel to Psycho) will start March 18
David Tennant and Arthur Darvill returns to BBC America in eight episode series from ITV titled Broadchurch
Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte will get a reality series on E! Network
Commemorative postage stamps featuring all 11 doctors of Dr. Who will be issued in the UK.
This week’s winner of the Chris Young’s Sure Sign of the Apocalypse award goes to Justin Bieber who will host and perform on SNL February 9