Saturday, May 05, 2012

Deep Immersion Triggers Deep Thought

So you've got Peter Jackson doing The Hobbit at 48 frames per second, and James Cameron gearing up to do Avatar the second at 60 fps. And Doug Trumbull saying this:

... Jim Cameron’s idea of doing Avatar 2 and 3 at 60 frames is a stellar, excellent idea because Avatar is kind of a flying dream adventure.

... The movie I’m developing is a science-fiction space movie; I’m trying to pick up where I think 2001 left off. I’ve actually built a stage where I’m experimenting with 3-D at 120 frames a second projected on a deeply curved hemispheric screen that is silver, so it reflects the light back to the audience. It’s three times the brightness of a normal movie. I want to make something that goes as far into this very intense immersive experience for the audience that I possibly can. ...

Why stop at 60 fps if 120 is better?

But this raises a question, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. The higher frame rates kind of kick hell out of the idea of doing hand-drawn features, don't you think? Unless, of course, computers do the lion's share of the inbetweening and breakdowns.

I'm assuming here that rendering speeds continue to increase and technology keeps moving forward. Even so, the bean counters at our fine entertainment conglomerates will be pushing back against the higher frame counts because ... one way of the other ... it will mean higher costs.


David said...

"The higher frame rates kind of kick hell out of the idea of doing hand-drawn features, don't you think? "

I don't know Steve, doesn't also kick the hell out of doing key-framed CG animation , too ... all those extra frames to render ? It's going to cost more.

Here's an experiment to try: you know how standard motion pictures run at 24 fps ? Try animating a scene "on 2's" , which is 12 drawings per second. Looks pretty good , doesn't it ? Now try putting the same scene , the exact same drawings, on 4's , but project it at 48 fps . Guess what ? It looks exactly the same as 2's projected at 24 fps. At 48 fps "4's" are the new "2's" and "2's" are the new "1's" .

Chris Sobieniak said...

I suppose you're right Dave in that regard (hopefully Hollywood could make sense of it).

I still miss the classic 24 if the higher frame rates simply kill my enjoyment of going out to movies anyway.

njen said...

Trumbull has been shopping his Showscan technology for almost a decade, so technically, Trumbull isn't "one upping" everyone else, he is the original supporter of higher frame rates. Jackson and Cameron have jumped on Trumbull's bandwagon.

Alan Krows said...

"The higher frame rates kind of kick hell out of the idea of doing hand-drawn features, don't you think?"

Not necessarily. From the Trumbull interview: "If you send a 24-frame [movie] to a digital projector, each frame is being shown five times." The same could apply to a hand-drawn feature. The question is whether the audience's emotional/aesthetic reaction is affected by the technology. Maybe not so.

It all seems like a load of techno-hogwash that caters (and contributes) to an attention-deficit world that needs to be entertained MORE! and BETTER!! all the time. But if that's the reality of the business, adaptation is the order of the day. We will be assimilated.

Steven Kaplan said...

Had a discussion about this topic yesterday. This is what caught my attention:

I’ve designed the technology with a very clever idea — that I’ve applied for patent on — that you can use a digital camera and shoot at 120 frames a second, but if you want to get back to 24 frames, you blend three adjacent frames together to recover the blur that you need for 24 frames — and then you delete the next two frames to get back to 24, because it’s a five-to-one ratio.

So I can make a version of my movie that looks like every other 24-frame movie ever made in history. It’s exactly the same, exactly just as good, and completely compatible.

I've been skeptical about higher frame rates. Mainly because I'm pretty partial to 24 and most anything higher just means more work. However, the elegance of being backwards compatible by shooting at 120 seems intriguing. Using "frame blending" you'll not only be able to get back to 24, but 30 and 60.

It also points out the glaring need to restructure the flow of money in the film making process. More frames will always mean more work. Generally that means more expensive, but we all know how hard our entertainment conglomerates work at not spending a great deal on their movies.

Hmm .. wonder who will end up paying for all that extra work.

R Fischer said...

We will have higher "time resolutions" availible but, just like pixels, we don't need to use them. Its an economic and aesthetic choice. Sometimes we're forced, as in black and white vs color. Sometimes artists take advantage of limits cleverly, as happens in anime.

Site Meter