Warner Bros showed off some footage from “The Hobbit”, director Peter Jackson’s highly-anticipated “Lord of the Rings” prequel, at CinemaCon in Vegas today.
The response? Mixed at best, apparently.
Jackson screened 10 minutes from the film, showing off what he believes to be the next big thing in filmmaking – the format of 48 frames per second.
It’s that new technology, which many said watered down the cinematic look of the film, the drew the lukewarm response.
Collider says : ” I’ll admit the footage is such a radical change from what I expected, it’s going to polarize audiences. The first thing to know is that the actual Hobbit footage looks brilliant. The ten minutes that Jackson showed us featured Bilbo and Gollum getting ready to play a riddle game, plenty of Gandalf, Orlando Bloom as Legolas, the Dwarves and the group walking across mountaintops, plenty of action, and many other returning faces. Also, the 3D looked great and the new 48fps drastically reduces eye strain. That’s the good news.
The bad news is the 48fps is so jarring that I’m not sure casual moviegoers will enjoy it. While I figured the image quality would improve at 48fps, it’s like looking at real life on a movie screen and not in a good way. You no longer have motion blur. You no longer can hide stuff in the darkness. While watching Bilbo fight the trolls (which looked great), it looked like nothing I’ve ever seen projected on a movie screen. Granted the visual effects weren’t done and the lighting wasn’t finalized, but it was such a change that by the end of the presentation, I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch the entire movie in this new 48fps format. This is definitely not what I expected to say. Ultimately, it just didn’t look cinematic and it sort of looked like HD TV. Perhaps shooting at 48fps and then projecting at 24fps will solve my issues. Who knows.”
First Showing says : ” The entirety of CinemaCon has been buzzing since seeing The Hobbit about how bad, or how awkward, it looked. 48FPS is a big change, a drastic change from the 80 years of 24FPS footage, that we’re used to, and it will take a while to get into it. But I noticed problems where it seemed like movement was running at double the speed as the rest of the footage, even though it was all in sync. It was odd, even awkward, and a bit weird to see, and a bit weird to get into. But was it just unfinished, raw footage? Will it look better finished by December?”
The Wrap says : ” Based on the buzz that accompanied the exit from the Caesar’s Palace theater, at least some theater owners and film bloggers were unimpressed. It should be said that much of the footage Jackson screened still needed effects work – some of it had green screens in the background – but the impact was more Spanish telenovela than “Avatar.”
There will be plenty for fans to savor. However, the richness of Jackson’s imagery, while beautiful, was marred because the 48 frames made each scene too crisp, if that’s possible. It looked more real, in fact — too real. Instead of an immersive cinematic experience, Middle Earth looked like it was captured as part of a filmed stage play.”
Bad Ass Digest says : ” As the presentation started I gasped. The footage began with sweeping helicopter shots of mountains, and it was like I was floating over them myself. It looked stunning (this was also in 3D, by the way) and I truly felt like I was seeing something new, something that would redefine the theatrical experience. And then the rest of the footage played. I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain to you why this footage looked bad. First it’s worth noting that the CinemaCon honchos bragged that their projection system in that theater was the most advcanced and best ever assembled by man. That’s almost a direct quote. So the presentation would almost certainly never be better than what I saw today.
Second, I must say that it’s possible there will be lots of post-production work done to offset some of the lighting issues. I also assume that the few ‘complete’ scenes we saw will continue to be edited before release. With those caveats out of the way, here’s what The Hobbit looked like to me: a hi-def version of the 1970s I, Claudius. It is drenched in a TV-like – specifically 70s era BBC – video look. People on Twitter have asked if it has that soap opera look you get from badly calibrated TVs at Best Buy, and the answer is an emphatic YES.
The 48fps footage I saw looked terrible. It looked completely non-cinematic. The sets looked like sets. I’ve been on sets of movies on the scale of The Hobbit, and sets don’t even look like sets when you’re on them live… but these looked like sets.
The other comparison I kept coming to, as I was watching the footage, was that it all looked like behind the scenes video. The magical illusion of cinema is stripped away completely.”
The L.A Times says : ” An opening aerial shot of dramatic rocky mountains appeared clearer than the images in most nature documentaries. But the effect was different when applied to scenes with actors dressed in period costume, whose every move — and pore — was crystal clear.”
“It looked like a made-for-TV movie,” said one projectionist, who requested anonymity because of his affiliation with a competing studio. “It was too accurate — too clear. The contrast ratio isn’t there yet — everything looked either too bright or black.”
So… looks too real, like a badly calibrated TV set? Doesn’t look like the big, sweeping epic that it should? Not one favorable response from anyone leaving the theater!? Yes, I think there’s going to be some big meetings happening at WB this week!
Warner Bros also screened snippets from “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Great Gatsby”, both got a much more rousing response from the attendees. Still, this doesn’t fare well for the first of the two-part “Hobbit” movie series, especially considering it’s one of the most anticipated – or was – movies of the year! Ouch!