The Hobbit and Frame Rate

Back when The Hobbit was first released in theaters, there was a lot of hand-wringing over the higher frame rate versions. Many people were afraid that if movies began to move to using 48 frames per second instead of the most commonly used format of 24 frames per second, they would look either “too real,” causing the suspension of disbelief to break down or too jerky as the silent films of old appear to us today. Given that the human eye really only sees about 16 frames per second, I had a hard time understanding the controversy. But then, I sat down and watched a few movies that made use of 24 or 48 frames per second and I can see why there was some concern.

Higher frame rates can be a mixed blessing, of sorts. They can create much more depth in color and field and bring a new level of “realness” to the film. However, they do require the director, the set manager, and the actors be ready to make adjustments because higher frame rates means that motion plays a little differently. This problem harkens back to the original silent movies where the frame rate was only 16 frames per second and the motion in those films looks very jerky to us.

Many feared that the same thing would happen in The Hobbit. However, it looks as though Jackson has done a good job keeping the film smooth in both normal and higher frame rate versions. Have any of you seen this movie? Which version did you watch and why?