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3D experts weigh in on The Hobbit’s usage of HFR 3D | 423 Digital

December 6, 2012

Lively international debate arising from the 12/3 post from UK Mail Online entitled “Hobbit 3D film wizardry left us feeling sick” that discusses the benefits and drawbacks of the newer high frame rate (48 frames per second) 3D technology. Since feedback has come from several discussion boards, I’m consolidating and reposting them (unedited, un-spell checked, beginning at the top).


Alexander Lentjes • A great indicator that variable framerate might be the better way to go. 24fps on close-ups, 48fps on traveling camera shots and action shots and up from that of course as well – depending on where we end up with new standards (60, 96, 144fps for 3-D etc.).

Ronald Tolley • Several quick thoughts come to mind, noting that I have not seen anything in the HFR format:

Congratulations to Peter and his team for pushing the limits of stereographic sequential image capture. I have my own opinions about why this will turn out as a win for all of us in the future; for now, props to the team.

Second this seems to be a very individual issue. As Alexander seems to suggest, I might someday soon be able to walk into a theater and with my smart phone select whether I want the 24 fps version or some upgrade. During the presentation, if I wanted to upgrade or downgrade I could with a touch to my smart phone screen. Perhaps in the near future, this would only be possible on an individual screen rather than an “audience of hundreds” theater.

Third I remember during an “ordinary” theatrical screening of Pearl Harbor (2001) during one of the battle scenes, that the whole field of vision came across as — I struggle to find the right words to describe — total visual saturation. There was no 3D, no HFR but the other tools of cinema such as focus, lighting, perspective, point of view, clarity, motion all played into this experiential saturation.

Finally this seems to be a learned and learnable behavior. Perhaps like motion sickness in the first motorized vehicles, we have to provide a training regime so that audience members can learn how to handle the HFR experience.

Dmitriy Vatolin • How can they tell that migraine and all the rest were because of 48 fps? Did they compare it to 24? No. Very true that it actually might be the case because of stronger immersion feeling, but, all in all, this is a hearsay based on practically nothing. The people might have problems with stereo in general.

Paul Johnson • I’m certainly going to go see it in both HFR-3D, and Imax-3D, and make the comparison. For one thing I want to see what is lost on the wide screen compared to the taller Imax version, and also see what is gained from 48 fps. Maybe I should bring an air sickness bag along for that one, JUST KIDDING! The real way to make a true comparison is to watch a sample of them side by side, or split screen to really tell which is better. But that’s not going to happen for the average spectator now is it? So I’m just going to have to go see it twice.

Bryan Ray • Does anyone know what kind of projection was used for the premiere? I seem to have some trouble with active shutter, but RealD doesn’t generally bother me. I have no idea whether increasing the framerate with active glasses would help or hurt me. Maybe I’ll find out soon.

Alexander Lentjes • It’s to do with the triple flash on 24fps 3-D becoming double or single flash on 48fps. Projectors need to be upgraded to do triple flash on 48fps and up.

Jason Vreeman • Bryan, here is the press release on what was used. They used dual projectors.

Pompeu Soares • I do not think the HFR be blamed for injuries.

I believe what causes headaches are differences between the focal point and focus. Differences between parallax and perspective too. Small differences occur when you shoot with two cameras and rig. When have these differences the nerve and the brain work hard to compensate.

It may be that the HFR has amplified these problems. But I think the HFR is an revolution in terms of image and certainly not guilty. Nvidia 3d Vision works very well on higher frequencies and without headache.

Richard Connew • Great to see someone pushing the boundries and that can only be good for all of us. The thing I’d say is that when I shoot 2D at 50fps compared to 24fps it looks very video ish and very real. Bit like anologue music, still love the sound of it best over the much harder although technicaly perfect digital. And ultimately that is what I think we have here.

Rafal Kaniewski • > Alexander Lentjes It’s to do with the triple flash on 24fps 3-D becoming double or single flash on 48fps.

Please explain? are you referring to the Bucha effect (Flicker vertigo). This conversation does question the responsibility of filmmakers to make stereo movies in such a way not to ‘distress’ the consumer. If there becomes a legal precedent in this area then i expect a HardingFPA sort of device will need to be implemented. If so I expect such a device would also have to check for what Pompeu Soares highlighted, and that is directors abusing cross-eye viewing or creating cross-eyed jump cuts. The only other issues that i can think of that might be discussed as having ‘health’ implications is when things go wrong with the stereo i.e. window violation, or possibly the projectors timing malfunctioning.

Alexander Lentjes • No no, it’s all to do with the frequency of the chip driving the projector / 3-D adapter. Triple flash is the old film dtandard carried forward to digital projection: L1,R1,L1,R1,L1,R1,L2,R2,L2,R2,L2,R2, Etc. becomes L1,R1,L1,R1,L2,R2,L2,R2, Etc. at higher framerates. This impacts on perception-related temporal stereoscopic artefacts like moving objects shifting in Z-depth: the more flashes, the less the artefacts due to the reduced time the left and right brain sides have to argue about where an object resides in depth. It’s projection hardware limitation, not camera layout related.

Pompeu Soares • Alexander, the ocular persistence does not allow that to happen because it merges the frames… HFR only increases the brightness and sharpness to it. HFR only brings benefits to the image. DLP projectors with active glasses started using HFR (120hz. .. 60hz per eye) just to create a hardware “Flicker Free” and brightr.

Let’s talk about serious things.

Most movie theaters in the world do not have a comfortable distance between the screen and the first chairs. Would have to take at least 6 rows to ensure a good 3D with negative parallax. This lack of distance determines the pattern of parallax down.

However it would not be economically acceptable. I would like to propose this discussion. This will impact much on the result of what we’re doing.

Pompeu Soares • Mathematically, for a room with 12 meters of screen, it would take 18 meters away from the first row. But I see rooms with much less than that. The average is between 6 and 10 meters.

The 3D need a standardization in cinemas. But …

Alexander Lentjes • Pompeu, stereoscopic volume and depth placement persistence really does break down below a practical 72fps (24fps with triple flash). I am not talking about flicker perception but stereoscopic continuity, which can make the observer queezy as well. But OK, you don’t consider it to be a serious subject so do with the understanding what you will.

Pompeu Soares • Yeah, I do not consider seriously because I’m sure the refresh rate does not interfere with anything in 3D. And if with Domestic equipment we can do 240Hz (60p) per eye. Smoothly. I do not believe professional companies such as Christie have problems in this way. But I know how this works. Even with powerful digital equipment, some directors still dazzle with the glamor of 24p.

Pompeu Soares • Using two projectors and circular polarization, whatever the frame rate or number of frames.

Alexander Lentjes • Ah, but who is going to install twin projectors eh? Have you considered cost? It would be really nice, but I doubt it’ll really happen.

Pompeu Soares • This can be cheaper than a single 3D projector, but more difficult to operate and and automatically control the sessions… Anyway, Christie’s HFR digital can play up to 60p/per eye and I’ve seen one of these working… As I said, a company like Christie would not make a profissional projector that did not work and I see no connection between high frame rates and any issues relating to stereoscopy.
It would be unbelievable that the professional circuit can not do something that we do easily at home… It is so poor so the film industry? And I insist that the position of the viewer is much more important to be discussed.
Posted by Pompeu Soares

Mark Bennett • its usually slower frame rates that have that problem. My first shutter glasses on a PAL tv did that. With high refresh rates on LCD etc flatscreens I’ve not had the issue.

Ben Dolphin • 5-7% of the general population cannot see Stereographic Images. Within this percentage demographic some are compromised due to hardware….their eyes and some, software, their brains may not converge disparate images. Whose to say that those reacting negatively to HFR3D don’t have the same or worse challenges with “Normal” 3D imagery.

Then there are the multitude of “Bad” 3D shots created which would make anyone’s head spin and stomach turn no matter how acclimated to the medium. What do you think?

John Travers • Something to get used to I think. Most viewers are used to processing 24fps of 2D and 3D. Suddenly they’re expected to process 48fps of 3D. That will be a challenge for some. But like the difference in look between film and digital – I still prefer film – an audience could get used to Peter’s ‘new’ 3D. I’m anticipating bringing the cooperation of my visual cortex to the Hobbit and I’m hoping it meets the challenge. I saw the first session of Dredd in 3D on Imax in my hometown. It was just too big and having to shift my attention to the edge of frame sometimes kinda spoiled the show for me. 3D is so particular compared with 2D but I’m glad I’m not in the 5-7% who can’t process it at all.

Argyris Theos • According to Rob Enggle and others it depends on the falsh rate. For single projector venues, if the projector is not modern enough, it might not be able to perform double flash. Single flash projection even at 48fps appears to cause artifacts. Modern venues with fast projectors are better, whille those using the Sony 4K system show no artifacts. I have no personal experience, expecting Hobit to be released here in Greece and make my own opinion.

Tom Koester • Looking foreward to seeing the 48fps. WIll comment then, but in the past I have loved the higher frame rates (30fps Todd AO in “Oklahoma”, Cinerama at 26 fps, Showscan at 60 and the prototype at 72fps, and the brief period of shooting 16mm film at 30fps for music videos). Hard to imagine that people would have an accomodation problem with FASTER frame rates.

David Rivero Martín • Haven’t seen at 48fps, but for those who said that it is too many frames, too “TV”, and other similar things, they need to understand that it is not the future, but already the present, right now.

My generation has seen al the very least, even film lovers, 10 times more TV/PC/videogames than cinema. Even 2D at 24 fps is too slow for me (can’t stand panning at that frame rate).. Ok, some might think that’s the sweet “point” of the cinema. But, hey, also the weaving was, the grain, the black and white, etc. You can still keep doing that things and you´ll surely find a public and recognition if it is well done and with sense (look at ¨The Artist¨), but most of the public, nowadays, and even more in the future, want more fps, just because it is only natural for them.

Even most of the public doesn´t know the difference about and 3D converted movie and a 3D shot movie; or that the motion flow (or whatever other name it may be called) is activated in their TVs -hate that, by the way-. They´ll look at the 48fps and they won´t notice. However, if they are shown both 24 and 48 to compare, I bet most would choose 48 for the reasons I said.

I´ll do it myself, see both versions.

Pompeu Soares • I do not understand what you are talking about… I’ve always used 120hz DLP projectors and shutter glasses. Nvidia 3D Vizion works well with higher rates. (60hz per eye). HFR definitivamete improves image quality. They are wanted to justify some complaints that occurred in Hobbit movie as being the fault of the HFR.

Bullshit! That was a mistake of the stereograph.

Simon Brereton • Apart from the small minority of population as mentioned by Ben above. Nausea and Headaches experienced by a majority of viewers in Stereo Imagery is usually a fault of the image production/reproduction either at recording, CGI, post production or playback (video player, projector or monitor). Incorrect left eye/right eye separation, swapped left/right images, imbalance between playback and display frame rate and probably a dozen other issues all come into play. It may have been recorded in 3D, 48fps but was it really shown in 3D 48fps ? Human eye persistence and LCD shutter glasses persistence also matter – cheap, slow reacting shutter glasses or poor quality polarizing screen and glasses all affect the viewers experience. There are so many factors to consider, that no-one can really comment authoritatively without all the facts.

However, my first feeling is that someone like Peter Jackson with all his experience and knowledge would not have made an error in filming or post production/CGI and a simple error in setting up the match in playback device frame rates and display device frame rates or something similar is to blame.

Ed Lantz • Higher frame rate visuals appear more realistic, resulting in a greater “sense of presence.” The higher degree of immersion makes it harder to distance ones self from the action, both perceptually and emotionally. Many filmmakers have refused to use 30 fps, preferring the film-like look of 24fps as better for storytelling. It could be that the 48 fps content is being taken more literally by the brain so that camera pans and tilts feel as if the room is actually moving and cuts become more nauseating. Higher frame rates have been used for years in visual simulators and theme park rides such as Disney’s Soaring Over California (15 perf/70mm at 48 fps). This simulator ride tricked my brain so well that I recall involuntarily lifting up my feet to avoid hitting trees!

Denise Quesnel • This article ( contains major inaccuracies and is badly written.

Quoted from the article:”When you watch a film, explains Adrian Bejan, a professor of mechanical engineering at Duke University, your eye combines “long and fast horizontal sweeps with short and slower vertical movements to process the picture.” But this faster camera speed “requires the eye to sweep up and down faster than usual in close-ups to absorb unparalleled detail on a big screen,” causing a significant amount of cognitive and eye strain. ”

I am not sure if they messed up the quote from Adrian Bejan, because it is very confusing the way they formatted it. Bejan is right about the eye taking in more detail at the higher frame rates. But the part about the higher frame rates causing ‘cognitive and eye strain’ is very contrary to what vision science and projection research on true HFR states. The author may have written this very badly, and unfortunately now anyone reading this article will take that inaccuracy as gospel. If I was Adrian Bejan, I would be very upset about my quote being re-purposed by the author in an inaccurate way.

Bob Hannent • I do wish people would get away from this ancient format of 24fps, it really infuriates me that people want to get emotional about degradation of temporal resolution. If people want an ‘effect’ then consider what can be done in post, afterall many films have colourisation to give them an atmosphere, so if you want to soften something then either do it in post or apply filters at production.

Unnatural temporal resolution isn’t a feature it is an artefact.

Tony Koorlander • I’ve been shooting full HD at 59.94P since I started over two years ago. The problem with nausea is partly the insistence on using DOF to control user viewing and inappropriate zooming. The rest is down the the nature of the movement mentioned by Denise and others. My own ‘realistic’ intepretation is based on an in depth study of the eye / brain interaction and a load of unseen background behaviour associated with our comfortable perception in 3D. Film makers still have a lot to learn IMHO, as indeed do I. The results that I’ve achieved so far without exception, cause less irritation with the high frame rate than when down sampled to 23.976. This would obviate the cause being a higher frame rate. The smooth and gradual movement is an absolute. Our brains have been attached to our eyes for literally as long as each person can remember. A HUGE learning cycle of the interaction between movement and perception, allied to an input of balance from inner ear contributions. Remove the latter and still activate at higher than acceptable velocities and nausea WILL result. It’s all SO logical .. but your logic has to accept all the invariable issues and when you shoot .. shoot to thrill – not to kill?

I’m also getting an incanny feeling that closeup 3D with un natural angle of lens perception can cause image distortion based only on what we expect to see. Specifically the brain tries to translate the distance thing into a misappropriation of object dimensions. Very interesting. Our eye lenses are flexible .. I’m wondering if we have variable angle of vision when we get presented with closups in 3D? There’s more to this than meets the eye. As they say .. try it and see .. this is the real way to substantiate the theory and move forward … which is how I’m doing it. Learnt a lot in two years! Methinks the film makers are limited by historical actions and methodology based on strictly 2D perception.

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