‘Hobbit’ Vets High on HFR But Others Are Wary

LONDON — Higher Frame Rate technology was a key discussion point and frequent whipping boy at the first international 3D Creative Summit in London this week.

Phil Oatley and Meetal Gokul of Peter Jackson’s New Zealand-based Park Road Post, who worked on Jackson’s ground-breaking 48 frame-per-second HFR production “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” presented a showcase on the film on Thursday (March 28).

HFR solves some of the issues with strobing, etc. It creates a more immersive 3D experience,” argued Oatley, head of technology at Park Road Post. He explained the production had chosen to go with 48 FPS since it provided a clean path to traditional 24 FPS deliverables and an easy deployment path for exhibitors since most current 4K digital projectors.

The showcase drew a lot of interest and was one of the best attended sessions of the two-day event. However, HFR cynics were out in force across other panels and “The Hobbit” was on the receiving end of much of the criticism.

“I think the jury is out,” said Drew Kaza, executive vice prexy of digital development for exhibitor Odeon. “The technology is there. ‘The Hobbit’ was a useful experiment but it was an imperfect project for it and there was poor marketing of the concept. I felt it was the wrong film. ‘Life of Pi’ rather than ‘Hobbit’ should have been HFR and you would have seen the difference.”

“As an outsider I thought it lacked conviction but it was an interesting test,” agreed Cameron Saunders, managing director of 20th Century Fox U.K.

“We’re looking at HFR,” admitted Anthony Geffen, chief executive of Atlantic Prods., responsible for the Sky 3D’s natural history skeins fronted by David Attenborough. ” ‘The Hobbit’ was not a great example of playing with HFR in my opinion.”

“HFR helps with the motion, it helps you see the picture more,” said DreamWorks Animation’s Phil McNally. “Filmmaking has to get better to match HFR.” McNally admitted DWA hadn’t done any tests in HFR. “We thought we’d let live action fight that fight. Animation led the fight on 3D.”

Tom Barnes, technical director of Aardman Animation, said the British studio is highly unlikely to consider HFR. “A higher frame rate wouldn’t make any sense for stop frame animation,” argued Barnes. “There would be very few advantages. I would much rather shoot 4K.”

“When I saw ‘The Hobbit’ in HFR I hated it so much,” added Aardman cinematography Frank Passingham. “You’re seeing too much. I thought HFR was this huge monsters fighting itself on screen and no-one was winning.”

“I think it’s generational,” suggested Kaza, offering a ray of light. “Young people, under 25, come from a gaming, hi-res experience will like it because they’re used to it.”


Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Margot Robbie stars in ONCE UPON

    Box Office: 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Pulls Ahead of 'Hobbs & Shaw' Overseas

    Sony’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” might not have hit No. 1 in North America, but Quentin Tarantino’s latest film is leading the way at the international box office, where it collected $53.7 million from 46 markets. That marks the best foreign opening of Tarantino’s career, coming in ahead of 2012’s “Django Unchained.” “Once [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Leads Crowded Weekend With $21 Million

    The Bean Bag Boys, the self-appointed nickname for the trio of best friends in Universal’s “Good Boys,” are conquering much more than sixth grade. They are also leading the domestic box office, exceeding expectations and collecting $21 million on opening weekend. “Good Boys,” which screened at 3,204 North American theaters, is a much-needed win for [...]

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content