First off, thanks to the good folks at Cinematic Attic for allowing me to post here. I'm sure it will be the beginning of a long and fruitful, er... should be fun... well, um... discussions will be had, I'm sure.
I had two movie reviews sitting in my back pocket, which I'll write up in the next few days, but something just came to me which is seemingly much more pressing. Hopefully everyone here has heard that Peter Jackson filmed The Hobbit not only in 3D, but also at 48 Frames Per Second. No doubt, 3D is a plague on our society and should have been eradicated at the start, but 48 FPS is something much worse. It devalues cinema. Never before has someone spent so much money in order to make something look cheap.
If you're asking a lot of questions that begin with "Why" right now, let me run you through the basics of 48 FPS. Since the beginning of time (or at least since the beginning of geared film cameras), movies have been filmed at 24 FPS. The reason this was chosen is because it's the slowest frame rate at which a moving image can be viewed by the human eye without it noticing the actual skips in time as each frame is illuminated by the projector. By finding the slowest possible frame rate, this means that the fewest number of frames are exposed, which helps keep the cost of film down, since it's so damned expensive.
Then, one other phenomenon which greatly plays into this equation is something called "persistence of vision". The easiest way to demonstrate P.O.V.? Look at a light source. Now close your eyes. You should still be able to see a ghost image of the light source. That's persistence of vision, and it's what allows our brains to fill in the blanks between each frame of film while the gate is closed.
Fast forward to today, when this comes out. Peter Jackson (and it looks like his good friends Bryan Singer and James Cameron) are messing with the tried and tested formula, trying to amp up the frame rate in order to create a more realistic experience. Their thought process is that by filling in the gaps between frames with MORE frames, our persistence of vision won't need to take over... the information will already be there for our brains to process. This reduces motion blur, so it must be "real", right? It's not like we see motion blur in our everyday lives, right?
Oh, but we do. Wave your hand in front of your face. Is it smooth or blurry? Mine looks pretty damn blurry, and yes, I did just wave my hand in front of my face one more time to make sure I couldn't be called out. This is the same phenomenon which newer TVs tried to correct by adding "Motion-Flow", a higher refresh rate, which also reduced motion blur.
I guess this all sounds pretty great. So what's the problem? The problem is that it looks like shit. And apparently it's making people sick. Higher frame rates don't make things look more realistic by making them smoother, it makes them look cheap. In fact, I'd say that it makes video look more than twice as cheap. It makes it look like it was filmed on a freaking etch-a-sketch cheap. The number one complaint from viewers is that it looks like "BBC on Crack" or that it makes "costumes look like costumes". That's the thing. Costumes aren't supposed to look like costumes, they're supposed to look like 10,000 year old Orc clothes or gigantic gorilla suits (oh wait, Peter Jackson, that was CG, huh?), but when the filming techniques become so "real", that it can't cloud the area which lets our imagination take over in the necessary places, the illusion of film is ruined.
First, the invention of HDTV destroyed our taste for film grain, then 3D redefined our perception of movement in space. Now, 48FPS is looking to take away one of the last real bits of true cinema which we have left. What's next? Hyper-saturation? This is one trend which can't possibly catch on. Not only will it ruin the movies themselves, but it will also ruin the way we go to see movies, giving us 6 (six!) different options of screening to go to: 2D 24FPS, 3D 24FPS, 3D IMAX 24FPS, 2D 48 FPS, 3D 48FPS, 3D IMAX 48FPS. It gives me a head ache just trying to write it all down on the page. Imagine reading it in a ticket booth. God forbid if someone chooses to show 2D IMAX movies. The main thing is that it doesn't give you more variety, it gives you fewer opportunities to see a movie the way you want it, because it will have to compete with itself. Not to mention that it's costing theaters thousands of dollars to update their equipment in order to follow the trend, giving smaller independent theaters just another reason to go out of business from competition.
I can't think of an industry which is more desperate for a change that they're screwing up everything that ever made them great. And the American people will probably eat it up.