What is HFR?
HFR is an abbreviation of High Frame Rate. The industry standard for film has been 24 frames per second since the introduction of Synch Sound in the mid-to late-1920s. 24fps was chosen because it was the lowest frame rate possible which would produce a smooth motion. It was also cost effective to film in the lowest fps possible to limit the amount of film used, thus, saving money.
Peter Jackson and The Hobbit
Peter Jackson’s newest film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has been shot at 48fps, double the industry standard. What are the benefits of shooting in HFR? From the outset it’s obvious that a HFR eradicates ‘Blurring’ during tracking shots, it also vastly improves the 3D, giving a superior depth to landscapes that was previously not possible in standard 3D. So far, so great.
Having seen The Hobbit in 2D and 3D HFR, the first thing i noticed in the HFR version was how ‘Live TV’ the Shire looked. Once we move out of the Shire, the whole picture looks a lot better and comes into its own during the escape from the Trolls and the treetop battle with Azog the Defiler.
Cinematographers are going to face more scrutiny than they ever have before in HFR. It will also prevent the lazy, blurry, fight scenes we have seen in Michael Bay’s Transformers. There will be films and filmmakers that will revel in HFR, for instance Tron, Avatar and Tin Tin looked great in 3D, and pictures that are reliant on CGI should be great when shot in HFR. It will be a learning curve for pictures not shooting on green screen, however, instead mixing costume, CGI and sets to get the balance right.
I’m looking forward to the next few HFR films, James Cameron has already changed how we view blockbusters in the cinema by shooting Avatar in 3D and the news that he is shooting the Avatar sequels in 66fps will surely mean we can expect the next generation of Marvel films and summer blockbusters to be HFR.
HFR adds value to the 3D experience and at no extra cost to the regular cinema-goer (at present). It’s here to stay and will probably become the industry standard within the next five years.
Virtual Reality headsets next? Johnny Mnemonic? It might happen, here’s to the future.