According to Variety, 20th Century Fox has stated that X-men: Days of Future Past will not be in 48 fps after all. While the new film will not be released with a high frame rate, the format’s value still merits discussion.
The much debated high frame rate format that divided critics and fans with The Hobbit might be used in another high profile film. Aint It Cool News is reporting that X-Men: Days of Future Past will be released in 48 fps.
First a little background on film formats. Films have traditionally been shot at 24 frames per second, which means that 24 still frames rapidly pass by your eyes during each second to create the moving image. This has been the standard for film for so long that we’ve come to expect our films to look a certain way, even if we don’t consciously realize it. This is why films have a certain film-like quality that videos shot with your phone or certain television shows don’t have. We’ve also come to associate 24fps with quality since film has always used that format while entertainment that we deem as cheaper or more disposable (soap operas) use different cameras with faster frame rates.
The news that director Bryan Singer is interested in releasing his film in 48fps is interesting considering the decidedly mixed reception that The Hobbit received due to its use of the model. Is this a good move for Singer and his X-Men film? We’ll break it down with a good ol’ pros and cons list.
Experimenting with New Technology
For all the wiz bang CGI effects and 3D glasses and IMAX cameras and other new technologies that have changed the way we watch and make films, one aspect of film that hasn’t been meddled with or experimented on is frames per second. Altering number of frames that pass by our eyes can be one more way a director can manipulate his art to communicate certain ideas to the viewer. “Twenty-four” has been the go-to number for a long time; maybe it’s about time we shake things up a bit.
Breaking Out of the 24 Per Second Rut
The reason The Hobbit looked weird to a lot of people is because we’re so used to associating films with 24 frames per second. That’s why some critics and fans compared the look of the film to a daytime soap. We’ve come to view higher frame rates with cheaper forms of entertainment, but that’s a problem with our preconceptions, not the format itself. It would actually be healthy to get accustomed to a new standard.
More Frames = Less Blur
Since there are more frames of actual information being processed by our brains when we watch a film in a higher fps, It allows for a crisper and smoother image, and the effect is especially apparent in heavy action scenes with a lot of motion. With a movie like X-Men: Days of Future Past that is bound to have tons of mutants bouncing across the screen, having a smoother image can be very beneficial.
You Can Still See the Regular Version!
Fans that prefer to see the film in the traditional format still have that option at virtually every theater. No one is forcing you to watch X-Men in 48 frames, but the new format is there for people who want it.
If It Aint Broke…
Filmmakers have been able to do amazing things with 24 frames. Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy still holds up wonderfully, even without all of those newfangled extra frames. Also, all of the most beautiful films ever made have been shot on 24 frames. Maybe this technology is just change for change sake instead of actually being something truly expansive or revolutionary. The Hobbit didn’t change film forever by doubling the number of frames.
The projectors necessary to play a movie at 48fps aren’t in every single theater in the world, and many people would be missing out on the experience that Jackson is trying to create. Is there a point for theaters spending loads of money on upgrading their equipment for the few films a year that will use the technology? Especially considering they will be showing the 24fps version alongside the 48fps one. High frame rates also mean more expensive ticket prices for moviegoers, fans who are already growing tired of watching 3D movies. It still remains to see whether this whole thing is just a fad or not.
It Made The Hobbit Look Weird
While 48fps did make the action in The Hobbit look smoother, it also made everything look like it was moving in fast-forward. This took many people out of the movie. It also caused The CGI used into the film to look extremely conspicuous, especially when situated next to real life elements in the same shot.
Most Movies Are Still Going to Be 24fps
As stated before, the reason why 48fps looks “off” to some is because we’re so used to seeing films in 24fps, and our brains just need some adjusting to seeing films that way, but when exactly would our brains get this supposed adjusting time? The overwhelming majority of films will still be 24fps, at least for the time being, so people still wouldn’t see enough of these films to truly get used to it. Most likely, 48fps will always (or for a long while) be just a novelty for the people that enjoy it.