Monday, May 7, 2012


So, having been to see the One Man LotR last weekend turned my thoughts back to a post I'd been wanting to make for a week.

The latest news about the Peter Jackson HOBBIT movie(s) is interesting, but not altogether reassuring. Recently he showed a ten-minute segment to film buffs at a con, and about two-thirds of those viewing it disliked what they saw.

Not the acting, not the story, not the music: the actual film quality. For the better part of a century, films have been shot and shown at 24 frames per second. No doubt in the beginning this was because that represented the upper level of the technology of the time: running nitrate and cellulose through projectors -- just like films tend to have distinct breaks every twenty minutes, that being the size of the reel for the standard projector for decades. Think QWERTY, the odd arrangement of letters on the keyboard most of us never think about, which originated as a way of slowing down typists so they wdn't hit keys faster than the old manual typewriters cd actually process the results: it took time for each stroke to hit the paper.

What those who were lucky enough to be there in the audience for this new footage saw didn't match their expectations. Ironically, the film quality was so good that it looked fake. That is, the resolution was sharp enough that actors didn't look like characters: they looked like actors wearing make-up. Scenery looked like v. obvious sets. As with any shift in quality of resolution (lord know we've gone through enough of them in music formats, from transistor radios on down), in time viewers will adjust. But it's kind of rough for a movie I want to see so badly to be the test case.

However, the following piece (which, be warned, is full of spoilers) ends with an encouraging note: not every theatre will re-tool to the new technology by this December, meaning that those wanting to see it in standard (24 f.p.s.) format will be able to do so; likewise those who want to go for the new (48 f.p.s.) format, just as you can go to (most) movies now in standard or 3-D.

I did love one line in this article that deserves to be repeated:

"be prepared to tell your non-Tolkien reading friends what really happened"

--Although I'm still trying to get my head around the idea that this piece's author thought Slyvester McCoy put in a really good performance. That thought calls for greater mental re-adjustment than processing higher-speed images.

--John R.
current reading: ALEXANDER AND THREE SMALL PLAYS; "Atalanta in Wimbledon"

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