Peter Jackson’s return to Middle-earth has not been the undeniable triumph fans of “The Lord of the Rings” were hoping for. Not everyone has sided with Jackson’s decision to film his prequel trilogy, “The Hobbit,” with high frame-rate technology, which captures more of the action making it appeared smoother on screen.
Many have complained that at 48 frames per second, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” moves too fast and often doesn’t look like a movie. Jackson has been vocal with his support of the technology, including when he spoke with MTV News’ Josh Horowitz about it last week, and has repeatedly defended his decision to use it.
“It’s different, and it’s different in the way that — you’re probably way too young but there was a moment in time when all the music we used to hear was on vinyl with a needle scratching across the surface,” Jackson said. “People assumed that with the sound of music. You spend your life playing records, and then suddenly CDs arrive, and the clarity was stunning. A lot of people said, ’I’m not going to buy CDs. I’m just going to buy vinyl,’ but most of those people — not all of them — made the switch. I think with high frame-rate, it’s a very similar situation.”
Even though Jackson stands firmly by the technology, he has been paying attention to some of the backlash, which started largely with online bloggers after a preview of footage at CinemaCon. “Interesting enough, I am very curious about the reactions from what I have managed to glean so far is the people who think cinema can only be 24 frames per second have a bad reaction to it,” he said. “I personally don’t think we should say that we got it perfectly right in 1927, which is when 24 frames [per second] was decided upon.”
The director insists that a big reason behind his decision was to create a cinematic experience that audiences can’t find elsewhere. “I think technology exists now to make that theatrical experience much more immersive, much more spectacular,” he said. “It’s a time when young kids especially aren’t so interested in going to the cinema anymore, so as filmmakers, I think we have a responsibility try to get that theatrical experience to be the magical, mystical night-out we used to have when we were young and make it something you cannot get on your iPad.”
Jackson is getting positive reviews, despite the highly publicized controversy. He finds that it’s mostly younger audience members who enjoy the high frame-rate, even if they don’t know what it is. “What I’ve been noticing is a lot of younger people, less than 20 years-old, they don’t give a stuff about the change. They think it’s cool,” he said. “They don’t even understand the frame-rate change, particularly. So many young people who have seen ’The Hobbit’ has said to me, ’This is the best 3-D that I’ve ever seen.’ Some of that is due to the 48 frames [per second]. It almost makes the 3-D more dimensional, makes it more immersive. You feel like it’s real, that 3-D at 24 frames per second is not quite there. This completes the technical package that I think will enhance 3-D.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”