(Caveat: I have not seen The Hobbit in any form, I’m just reporting based on similar experiences)
Chapter I: The Story So Far
A lot of people over the years have touted the advantages of a faster frame-rate. In games, frame-rate has almost become something of a status symbol – games boasting a high frame-rate get a special place in gamers’ hearts, even if the game is no good. Gamers with the system powerful enough to achieve high frame-rates are demi-gods to whom us lesser nerds must bow down.
But many of us, myself included, have felt that this whole discussion is a bit… absurd. Let’s face it, the human eye is okay with 24 frames per second. If it wasn’t, movies wouldn’t have survived as they have, and at that frame-rate. Beyond that, some people feel the picture gets more fluid or realistic or whatever, but there’s always been debates about the value of high frame-rates.
Finally, those debates hit the mainstream. Gamers can jerk themselves off over their $5000 gaming rig’s 240fps capabilities all they like, but it’s the average person who can finally prove once and for all that high frame-rate is not only unnecessary, but potentially problematic.
Chapter II: The Hobbit: HFR
Not so long ago, The Hobbit was released in a so-called “high frame-rate” format, and much to the dismay of the geniuses behind this technological marvel, it has received a great deal of criticism. I didn’t get involved back then, as I wanted time for the dust to settle before I voiced my opinion. (Also, I’m lazy. Really lazy. I actually had about 60% of this written over a year ago.)
If you feel like doing further reading, check out Studio Daily’s reviews. Otherwise, trust me when I say this movie was UTTERLY RUINED by the high frame rate.
And if you’re not convinced about the Hobbit in particular, well… you must not believe in SCIENCE at all. That’s right, high frame-rates have been scientifically proven to be evil.
“It’s psychological: we need suspension of disbelief, and suspension of disbelief comes from the lower frame rate.”
“The Uncanny Valley says that, statistically, if you map out a consumer’s reaction to something they’re seeing, if they’re seeing something artificial and it starts to approach something looking real, they begin to inherently psychologically reject it.”
I’ll avoid these high-level discussions, however, and allow you, gentle reader, to See For Yourself!
Chapter III: The Proof
Need hands-on proof that a higher frame-rate causes problems? Bear in mind that many people have already proven many times that a high frame-rate isn’t even actually noticeable to the human eye. Couple that fact with the dangers of watching a high-frame-rate animation, and you’ll understand why the HFR madness must be stopped.
A concrete example: a spinning and bouncing cube. DO NOT WATCH THIS ANIMATION YET!
Okay, take this slowly. Watch the 15fps and 30fps versions at your leisure. I would highly recommend not watching the 60fps version unless you are at home and have very easy access to a bathroom. You can easily find yourself nauseated, especially if there’s a lot of background noise around you, as the high frame-rate can really mess up how your brain perceives sound.
Okay, now GO! Hit the 60fps cube. I’ll wait. I’ll be here for you when you get back.
Notice anything? Like how you literally just shit your pants in terror? Yeah, I know. I would apologize for that, but you need to understand first-hand how dangerous this technology is.
Chapter IV: My Experience
My first experience isn’t all that uncommon, but it was absolutely horrible. It’s the kind of thing that stays with a person for the rest of their lives, and is really hard for me to talk about.
I spent something like ten times the price one normally pays at a movie theater in order to witness the technology I’m about to describe. It has been touted as an “unparalleled 3D experience”, and I’ve heard some claim that it boasts a “virtually infinite frame-rate”.
So back on topic: I spent 10x what I’d have spent to see a movie. I went to see this technological marvel, and I spent something like FOUR HOURS on the edge of my seat. The experience was indescribably awful, probably worse than being brutally tortured and murdered by a trusted relative and her wacky sidekick.
What I saw I can’t easily express with words, but I can definitely attest to the technology. While awful, the technology was also amazing. I seriously felt like I could step into the story if I wanted to. It was an absolutely genuine three-dimensional experience. The frame-rate… I don’t know. It was certainly higher than that 60fps cube. I couldn’t stop defecating throughout the entire show.
Trying to listen to the soundtrack and the actors was worse than impossible. My ears wouldn’t stop bleeding as my mind kept working to focus on the insane frame-rate and overly-realistic 3D. I think my hearing actually just shut off at one point so I wouldn’t have a stroke – the human brain simply cannot tolerate this kind of bombardment of senses!
At one point, during some foggy scene I can’t really recall, I could actually smell the fog machine they used, lending even more credibility to claims that you feel too much like you’re on the set.
It didn’t stop. It didn’t let up. Hmm, come to think of it, they actually did stop the production at one point so that the members of the audience could have a brief break, so that’s gotta tell a person something about how dangerous this shit really is.
The scary thing is that these happen ALL THE TIME, all over the country. All over the fucking world, in fact. I believe I heard somebody refer to the technology as … what was it?
Oh, yes. It was called a “live play”.
Chapter V: Conclusions
There are people saying 3D movies are “too real”, or that HFR movies are “too real”. This means that live performances, one of our primary forms of entertainment for centuries, are “too real”.
Maybe the way they did The Hobbit was all screwed up, but it’s not because 3D and higher frame rates are an issue. It’s because the technology is being used improperly or else it isn’t yet real enough.
I might be willing to believe that we’re simply doing it wrong, or that the technology isn’t quite “right” in terms of how our brains can be tricked into perceiving reality. But to state that HFR or 3D are a problem because either (a) they’re too realistic, or (b) they’re more than the human brain can process… that’s just absurd. There’s just no getting around how utterly stupid you sound when you make such a broad, over-reaching statement.
If being “too real” ruined a performance, movies wouldn’t have existed because plays never could have been tolerated.
Then there are some saying the higher frame-rates confuse the brain, cause nausea, etc. Perhaps the cinematography caused nausea or confusion, but higher frame rates are something gamers have dealt with for well over a decade. The human brain absolutely can handle higher framerates, otherwise we couldn’t handle LIFE.
Think about what you say! Really, people, this just makes me sad to be human.