Fans make like Gollum over Hobbit footage

Fri, May 4, 2012, 01:00

When was the last time that a movie’s frames-per-second ratio triggered worldwide controversy? Hard to believe, but this very issue has now become the major talking point among those waiting expectantly for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

The Kiwi director recently screened 10 minutes of footage at the CinemaCom event in Las Vegas. Nobody complained about the actors. Nobody noticed any worrying divergence from the source text. But many punters were disturbed by the look of the film.

Jackson decision to shoot The Hobbit in a medium that renders 48 frames per second (twice the industry standard) was not greeted with distinctly qualified enthusiasm. Moaners argued that the super-sharp, hyper-real images suggested sports broadcasts on high- definition television.

Jackson was sufficiently discomfited to issue a defence to the Hollywood Reporter. “A lot of the critical response I was reading was people saying it’s different. Well, yes, it certainly is. But I think, ultimately, it is different in a positive way, especially for 3D, especially for epic films and films that are trying to immerse the viewer in the experience of a story.”

He also argued that the images still required some tweaking from the post- production boffins. “It does take you a while to get used to,” he acnowledged. “Ten minutes is sort of marginal, it probably needed a little bit more.”

Jackson needn’t fret. The fans will still turn out.