Hobbit director on the future of movie making.
DIRECTOR Peter Jackson’s decision to champion new technology in the shooting of The Hobbit trilogy has not met with the most positive of reactions.
There are fans and critics, of course, who love the 48 frames per second (fps) rate employed in the filming, citing the incredible level of detail on display, while a great many others have taken Jackson to task for that very same reason.
In 2012, when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released, Jackson was adamant that 3D and 48fps was the future of movie making and defended himself against the critical storm, stating that CDs had been on the receiving end of similar flak once upon a time.
“I remember reading something saying that The Beatles would never have their albums on CD, because it was too clear, and all the bum notes they were playing would be exposed and they would never be happy with that, so you’re never going to hear a Beatles tune on CD. There was all this hysteria. It’s just that as humans, we don’t like change,” he’d said at the time.
In a nutshell, 48fps doubles the traditional film rate and removes the slight grain, making everything appear clearer. And while that in itself is not necessarily bad, when a viewer is dealing with action sequences and CGI elements, the “video feel” can be distracting.
Two years on from introducing audiences to the format, however, Jackson appears to have softened his stance somewhat, noting that there were technological limitations he hadn’t appreciated the first time around.
“After the first Hobbit movie, I went back into the grading room and figured out little tricks to make it look less like video. I know that people criticised it the first time around, and I sort of understand why, so the second and third movies have got a slightly textured look, which I kind of regret I didn’t do in the first film, but it took a while to figure out,” the 53-year-old director says during the world press conference for the trilogy’s final instalment, The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies, in London recently.
He does, however, maintain his belief that the end is nigh for 2D films.
“A hundred years ago movies were in black and white, they were silent, and they were 16 frames per second … We don’t know what form films will be (in a hundred years) but you can absolutely guarantee that they won’t be 24 frames per second and they won’t be in 2D.
“Audiences are beginning to dwindle. It has become a very serious issue for the industry. (And) I think it’s important for filmmakers to look at the technology available and see how we can use it to make that experience in the cinema more exciting,” the Oscar winner says.
He warns, nevertheless, that the needs of the story should always come before anything else.
“If 17 years ago, instead of doing the Lord Of The Rings, I was doing a drama in a fish and chips shop, we wouldn’t have developed performance capture,” he adds.
Jackson has reiterated many times in the past couple of years that he and partner Fran Walsh hope to step away from Hollywood blockbusters for a time, and concentrate instead on smaller stories from and based around his native New Zealand.
It’s hard to imagine though that the director will be too content making small-scale dramas, with the likes of James Cameron, perhaps Jackson’s biggest nemesis on the tech front, poised to take the recently announced Avatar sequels in bold new directions.
Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies is showing in cinemas nationwide.