48 Frame-per-Second Shooting is Changing the Film Industry

It’s always interesting to see how innovative technologies revolutionize certain industries. Way back at the beginning of the 20th century, the internal combustion engine moved transportation forward in leaps and bounds. More recently, the benefits of an internet radio have allowed us to pick and choose what we want to listen to anywhere in the world. It seems the further we move into the 21st century the quicker the advances come, and the film industry is no exception. One of the most exciting advances in the film industry in recent years is the switch from 24 frames-per-second to 48 frames-per-second. Here’s why we think that’s the case.

Peter Jackson is the Game Changer

When a new technology is introduced to the world there are always a few first adopters, and that applies whether we’re talking about the average Joe or someone famous. Think about when the DVD player first hit the stores or when the iPod took the world by storm – there were always a few individuals that were ahead of the curve. The same applies to the film industry, and when it comes to high frame rate filming, Peter Jackson is the ultimate pioneer.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was one of the first big screen films to use 48 frame-per-second filming in place of the more traditional 24 frames-per-second. Intuitively, we always think bigger is better, but not everyone was on board with this change in technology. There were quite a few movie purists who felt that Peter Jackson was making a mistake, but in true Peter Jackson fashion he basically snubbed his nose at the critics and did it again in the follow up Hobbit movies. This type of insistence on pushing forward with advances in film technology in spite of intense criticism is the type of bold decision that has kept the film industry moving forward over the years.

Intense Realism

Why is Peter Jackson so sold on high frame rate technology? Well, if you haven’t seen one of the Hobbit movies I highly recommend rectifying that oversight soon. When you increase the frames-per-second in a film, the end result is an intensely realistic motion picture that starts to blur the line between make believe and reality just a little bit. The colors seem sharper and each individual blade of grass seems to jump off the screen at you. When you view this on the large screen in a movie theater, it’s pretty easy to imagine that you’re traveling right along with Bilbo on his quest.

If this is the first time you’re hearing about this technological advancement in film, you’re probably thinking it sounds like a no-brainer, but believe it or not there are critics that feel the change from 24 fps to 48 fps is a mistake. You might call these folks traditionalists – they like to keep the lines between reality and film clearly separate. They argue that things become just a little too real at the 48 fps rate and something is lost in translation. This seems like a strange argument to us, but any new technology is bound to have its critics.

Towards 120 FPS

For those of us that do like the higher frame rate productions, the obvious question is “What comes next?” Well, the first step is seeing what other directors are able to accomplish while filming at the higher frame rates. There’s no doubt it’s a great way to film movies that have a lot of majestic outdoor scenes, but what about movies filmed largely indoors? The jury is still out, and it will be interesting to watch what all those creative Hollywood types can come up with.

It doesn’t seem likely that we’ll stop at 48 fps, though. As more and more directors began filming with this higher frame rate, there are even some that are looking to take it up a notch by experimenting with films at 120 frames per second. It will be interesting to see what the critics who prefer the traditional films will think about movies filmed this way. One thing’s for sure – these are exciting times for the film industry.