An unexpected debate


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At the end of last year I went to a screening of The Hobbit, or rather the first volume of The Hobbit, as An Unexpected Journey is the first part of a trilogy.
I say I went to a “screening” not because that is the way that we trendy media types talk, but because it was a private showing to some of the great and good of the industry in the UK, organised by the very, very nice people at SGO, the Spanish company that provided the post production tools and workflow.
As with Peter Jackson’s other epic movies, the post work was largely carried out not in London or Hollywood, but at a lively and innovative post house in Wellington, New Zealand: Park Road. Apart from the quality of the creativity, they had to contend with a staggering amount of data, and just managing the project was an enormous challenge.
First, it is of course in 3D, so you have twice as many cameras. Then it was largely shot with 5k cameras, so you have five or six times as much data from each camera compared with 2k. Oh, and those cameras were set for high dynamic range output, giving you 16 bits per colour rather than 10 bits. And finally – famously – the film was made at a high frame rate: 48 frames a second rather than 24.
Given that in some of the big battle scenes they had 16 camera pairs working simultaneously to cover all the action, there were days when they created seven terabytes of data just in the raw footage. Once the shooting started the systems to handle all these ones and noughts had to be running perfectly or they would never catch up, so the clever people at Park Road had to have a pretty robust plan.
According to Dave Hollingsworth, head of picture at Park Road, “When the decision was made to film and post The Hobbit in 48fps 3D there was no one product on the market capable of delivering what was needed. SGO had by far the best stereo toolset available, and they had a passionate and highly skilled development team that demonstrated an absolute commitment to developing everything else we needed to deliver this film.”
So SGO Mistikas were everywhere, from creating viewable playbacks on set through managing the workflows to the final compositing and colour grading.
But you really do not care about any of this technology, I know. You really want to know what the movie looks like. Because it is fair to say that the press gave it a hard time for the look of the high frame rate. Hollywood critics slammed it for looking like a BBC television drama, which is harsh talk on a number of levels.
The opening sequences of The Hobbit do look very un-movie-like. But does it look unnatural to us – perhaps even alienating – simply because it is not what we are used to?
The film look grew up because that was what the capability of the original technology. 24 frames a second was as fast as it was practical to move the delicate celluloid. Early film stocks needed a lot of light to convert the silver halide crystals, and wide apertures meant a narrow depth of field.
Over the decades, the great directors and cinematographers created the language of movies by taking the enforced slow camera movements and differential focus and making virtues out of them. But do we need to stick to these conventions now that technology has moved on?
For what it is worth, I thought the high frame rate technology was wonderful. It made virtually no difference to the early part of the movie, where the camera was doing traditional film-like things. In the big action sequences in the second half of the movie it allowed the camera to hurtle around in a way which would have been thoroughly uncomfortable at 24fps. Traditionalists would say the camera should not have been jerking around; others would say that this is a movie for gaming fans who are used to fast changes of viewpoint.
I thought that the odd look of the opening sequences was more down to the high dynamic range acquisition, giving the director more latitude to work with in post. He then chose a bright and brittle look which, it cannot be argued, comes as a shock to the system. The important point, though, is that he chose that look, and maybe in the future he will choose a different, less startling one.
So The Hobbit should maybe be seen as just the first step on the road to a new way of making movies, with lessons to be learned. Technically, you should certainly see it. I would be lying, though, if I said I could understand why people care so much about orcs and trolls, and I still cannot remember if elves are the good guys or if that is dwarves.

Tags: iss074 | the hobbit | an unexpected journey | martin freeman | peter jackson | technology | cameras | 3D | 5K | SGO | higher frame rate | [author]
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    Phabrix TAG at NAB 2014

  • Pixel Power at NAB 2014

    Pixel Power at NAB 2014

  • Polecam presents award to AMS Pictures at NAB 2014

    Polecam presents award to AMS Pictures at NAB 2014

  • Pronology at NAB 2014

    Pronology at NAB 2014

  • Quantel Pablo Rio at NAB 2014

    Quantel Pablo Rio at NAB 2014

  • Quantel Enterprise sQ at NAB 2014

    Quantel Enterprise sQ at NAB 2014

  • Quantel QTube at NAB 2014

    Quantel QTube at NAB 2014

  • RTW at NAB 2014

    RTW at NAB 2014

  • SGL at NAB 2014

    SGL at NAB 2014

  • SIS LIVE product range at NAB 2014

    SIS LIVE product range at NAB 2014

  • SIS LIVE ManPak at NAB 2014

    SIS LIVE ManPak at NAB 2014

  • Softron MovieRecorder updates at NAB 2014

    Softron MovieRecorder updates at NAB 2014

  • Sony Alpha7S at NAB 2014

    Sony Alpha7S at NAB 2014

  • Sound Devices at NAB 2014

    Sound Devices at NAB 2014

  • Studio Technologies at NAB 2014

    Studio Technologies at NAB 2014

  • Telestream Enterprise at NAB 2014

    Telestream Enterprise at NAB 2014

  • Telestream Switch at NAB 2014

    Telestream Switch at NAB 2014

  • Thomson Broadcast at NAB 2014

    Thomson Broadcast at NAB 2014

  • Perception at NAB 2014

    Perception at NAB 2014

  • Visual Unity at NAB 2014

    Visual Unity at NAB 2014

  • Volicon at NAB 2014

    Volicon at NAB 2014

  • Calrec Summa at NAB 2014

    Calrec Summa at NAB 2014

  • ChyronHego PowerClips at NAB 2014

    ChyronHego PowerClips at NAB 2014

  • ChyronHego at NAB 2014

    ChyronHego at NAB 2014

  • Cinegy at NAB 2014

    Cinegy at NAB 2014

  • Clear-Com ProGrid at NAB 2014

    Clear-Com ProGrid at NAB 2014

  • Clear-Com HelixNet Partyline at NAB 2014

    Clear-Com HelixNet Partyline at NAB 2014

  • Cobalt Digital at NAB 2014

    Cobalt Digital at NAB 2014

  • CueScript Prompters at NAB 2014

    CueScript Prompters at NAB 2014

  • Dalet at NAB 2014

    Dalet at NAB 2014

  • Dejero at NAB 2014

    Dejero at NAB 2014

  • DPA Microphones at NAB 2014

    DPA Microphones at NAB 2014

  • Editors Keys at NAB 2014

    Editors Keys at NAB 2014

  • Elemental Technologies Software-Defined Video at NAB 2014

    Elemental Technologies Software-Defined Video at NAB 2014

  • Elemental Technologies HEVC solutions at NAB 2014

    Elemental Technologies HEVC solutions at NAB 2014

  • Elemental Technologies Multiscreen Solutions at NAB 2014

    Elemental Technologies Multiscreen Solutions at NAB 2014

  • Ericsson at NAB 2014

    Ericsson at NAB 2014

  • Facilis at NAB 2014

    Facilis at NAB 2014

  • GB Labs Space at NAB 2014

    GB Labs Space at NAB 2014

  • Glensound Atomic Copper at NAB 2014

    Glensound Atomic Copper at NAB 2014

  • Guntermann and Drunck at NAB 2014

    Guntermann and Drunck at NAB 2014

  • Haivision at NAB 2014

    Haivision at NAB 2014

  • IMT at NAB 2014

    IMT at NAB 2014

  • Inmarsat at NAB 2014

    Inmarsat at NAB 2014

  • JVC GY-HM850 and GY-HM650 at NAB 2014

    JVC GY-HM850 and GY-HM650 at NAB 2014

  • JVC concept products at NAB 2014

    JVC concept products at NAB 2014

  • Libec ALLEX slider system at NAB 2014

    Libec ALLEX slider system at NAB 2014

  • Matrox Mojito at NAB 2014

    Matrox Mojito at NAB 2014

  • Matrox Capture Card at NAB 2014

    Matrox Capture Card at NAB 2014

  • AQ Broadcast at NAB 2014

    AQ Broadcast at NAB 2014

  • ATEME at NAB 2014

    ATEME at NAB 2014

  • Atomos Shogun and Ninja Star at NAB 2014

    Atomos Shogun and Ninja Star at NAB 2014

  • Atomos Operating System at NAB 2014

    Atomos Operating System at NAB 2014

  • Atomos at NAB 2014

    Atomos at NAB 2014

  • Blackmagic URSA at NAB 2014

    Blackmagic URSA at NAB 2014

  • Blackmagic Studio Camera at NAB 2014

    Blackmagic Studio Camera at NAB 2014

  • Cintel Film Scanner: Blackmagic Design at NAB 2014

    Cintel Film Scanner: Blackmagic Design at NAB 2014

  • Brainstorm Multimedia at NAB 2014

    Brainstorm Multimedia at NAB 2014

  • Haivision on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Haivision on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Wowza Media Systems on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Wowza Media Systems on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Broadstream Solutions on the Oasys stand at IBC 2013

    Broadstream Solutions on the Oasys stand at IBC 2013

  • Oasys Chameleon at IBC 2013

    Oasys Chameleon at IBC 2013

  • Loft London Solutions with Cubix on the Oasys stand at IBC 2013

    Loft London Solutions with Cubix on the Oasys stand at IBC 2013

  • AC Entertainment Technologies at BVE 2013

    AC Entertainment Technologies at BVE 2013

  • Jonathan Harrison at BVE North 2011

    Jonathan Harrison at BVE North 2011

  • Gekko at IBC2011

    Gekko at IBC2011

  • Marshall Electronics Miniature Cameras at NAB 2018

    Marshall Electronics Miniature Cameras at NAB 2018

  • Den Lennie considers what kit and cameras to buy for 2015

    Den Lennie considers what kit and cameras to buy for 2015

  • Sony Camcorders at BVE 2014

    Sony Camcorders at BVE 2014

  • Vision Research at BVE 2012

    Vision Research at BVE 2012

  • Bradley at IBC2011

    Bradley at IBC2011

  • 3D Storm presents LiveXpert and NewTek products at IBC 2018

    3D Storm presents LiveXpert and NewTek products at IBC 2018

  • 3D Storm discuss IP and NDI for Live Media Server and Live CG Broadcast at NAB 2018

    3D Storm discuss IP and NDI for Live Media Server and Live CG Broadcast at NAB 2018

  • LiveCG Broadcast and LiveMedia Server from 3D Storm at BVE 2018

    LiveCG Broadcast and LiveMedia Server from 3D Storm at BVE 2018

  • NDI and Newtek Products from 3D Storm at IBC 2017

    NDI and Newtek Products from 3D Storm at IBC 2017

  • LiveMedia Server and Live Xpert from 3D Storm at NAB 2017

    LiveMedia Server and Live Xpert from 3D Storm at NAB 2017

  • 3D Storm with LiveXpert at BVE 2017

    3D Storm with LiveXpert at BVE 2017

  • 3D Storm at BVE 2016

    3D Storm at BVE 2016

  • Brainstorm Multimedia: Aston3D at NAB 2013

    Brainstorm Multimedia: Aston3D at NAB 2013

  • SGO at IBC2011

    SGO at IBC2011

  • BRAINSTORM VIRTUAL SETS at NAB 2015

    BRAINSTORM VIRTUAL SETS at NAB 2015

  • Brainstorm on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Brainstorm on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Brainstorm with Aston demonstration at IBC 2013

    Brainstorm with Aston demonstration at IBC 2013

  • Brainstorm at IBC 2013

    Brainstorm at IBC 2013

  • Featured Clip: Geoff Boyle comments on NAB 2012

    Featured Clip: Geoff Boyle comments on NAB 2012

  • Brainstorm at NAB 2012

    Brainstorm at NAB 2012

  • VIZRT at BVE 2012

    VIZRT at BVE 2012

  • Newtek at BVE 2012

    Newtek at BVE 2012

  • Sony at ProVideo2011

    Sony at ProVideo2011

  • Sensio at IBC2011

    Sensio at IBC2011

  • Panasonic at IBC2011

    Panasonic at IBC2011

  • Doremi at IBC2011

    Doremi at IBC2011

  • Matrox at IBC2011

    Matrox at IBC2011

  • Blackmagic at IBC2011

    Blackmagic at IBC2011

  • Marshall Electronics at IBC2011

    Marshall Electronics at IBC2011

  • IMT Vislink Air Pro 75Ka and NewSwift 240HD Antenna at IBC 2018

    IMT Vislink Air Pro 75Ka and NewSwift 240HD Antenna at IBC 2018

  • Combo Live 55 Pedestal from Miller at NAB 2017

    Combo Live 55 Pedestal from Miller at NAB 2017

  • Glasgow TOUR!

    Glasgow TOUR!

  • Look Listen Experience in Glasgow

    Look Listen Experience in Glasgow

  • Pixelution at BVE North 2011

    Pixelution at BVE North 2011


Related Shows
  • ADDER Technology LIVE at BVE 2016

    ADDER Technology LIVE at BVE 2016


Articles
Peli Air 1507 Review
Phil Vinter Originally named after a bird that carries its precious cargo through the skies, it was, perhaps, only a matter of time before Peli released its Air range.
Tags: iss133 | peli | peli air 1507 | trekpak | Phil Vinter
Contributing Author Phil Vinter Click to read or download PDF
Fast-moving productions need multi-cam RF reliability
Darren Bilton Wireless acquisition creates a level of freedom not possible with any other form of filming yet only a decade ago the technique was barely possible. The technology enabling live real-time connections over radio frequencies has advanced leaps and bounds such that there is barely an entertainment, documentary, sports or news format today that doesn’t benefit from at least one link system. That means the demands on the kit continues to rise and includes the need for fail safe multi-camera operation, ease of use and backwards compatibility all within a small, lightweight and budget-friendly package.
Tags: iss133 | boxx tv | wireless | mpeg-4 | multicam | rf | multi-cam | Darren Bilton
Contributing Author Darren Bilton Click to read or download PDF
DJI Ronin-S Review
Tim Bearder

If you read my review of the GH5 in Issue 129 at the beginning of the year, you know I’m a filmmaker that is all about small form factor. My basic setup combines the tiny yet powerful mirrorless Panasonic GH5 with the wonderfully compact Sennheiser AVX wireless mic system. Together you’ve got a run and gun set up to die for.

Unless you actually run!

Tags: iss 133 | dji | ronin-s | gh5 | Tim Bearder
Contributing Author Tim Bearder Click to read or download PDF
The Biggest Toy Shop in the World
Emma Morrison When Nigel Woodford started his career at BBC Wood Norton in 1962, television was black and white and BBC Two had not yet been launched. In 2018 Nigel will retire, and Richmond Film Services, the pro-audio equipment rental company set up by Nigel in 1973, can count numerous contributions to iconic moments in British cultural, sporting and film history over this time.
Tags: iss133 | richmond film services | audio rental | auction | liquidity | go-dove | Emma Morrison
Contributing Author Emma Morrison Click to read or download PDF
Perimeter LED screens management
Nicolas Houel Opened in January 2016, Parc Olympique Lyonnais, also known as Groupama Stadium, is the new home of Olympique Lyonnais football club, one of the most popular clubs in France. Since its inauguration, the stadium was a host of UEFA Euro 2016, and was also chosen to stage, among other important events, the 2018 UEFA Europa League Final and football at the 2024 Summer Olympics.
Tags: iss133 | 3dstorm | graphics | groupama stadium | liveexpert | livecg | deltacast | Nicolas Houel
Contributing Author Nicolas Houel Click to read or download PDF