Eminem’s video for The Monster is shooting at 48 fps!

Eminem48fpsTheMonsterI’m a huge Eminem fan, so I was happy to learn today that he’s in Detroit with Rihanna shooting a video for his single “The Monster”, which is currently smashing the charts. But when I clicked over to Eminem’s Instagram page and saw the above photo of the slate revealing that it’s being shot at 48 fps, my excitement increased tenfold.

Eminem24fpsRapGodThere’s no news yet on whether The Monster will be released at 48 fps. But director Rich Lee obviously chose that frame rate for a reason since his most recent video for Eminem (“Rap God”) was shot at the traditional 23.976, as you can see on the slate to the right.  He also shot Eminem’s video for “Not Afraid” back in 2010 at 24 fps.

The version of “The Monster” that will be on YouTube/VEVO will almost certainly be 30 fps, since for whatever reason YouTube still doesn’t support anything over 30 fps.

Unless….YouTube will be using this video to debut an upgrade enabling HFR videos!

This could very well be the case, as the Monster video will no doubt be hugely popular – Eminem and Rihanna’s last video together, Love the Way You Lie, has wracked up 623 million views. Youtube could hardly choose a better way to show off a new 48 fps playback feature.

The 48 fps could also be for some kind of album promotion where the music video would be played before trailers in theaters that support 48 fps.

Em and Rihanna on the set of 'The Monster'

Em and Rihanna on the set of ‘The Monster’

Or maybe none of this will happen, and they decided to shoot at 48 fps to future-proof it or because it will be packed with slow motion scenes.

In any event, I’ll dig into this and see what else I can learn.

“The Monster” (featuring Rihanna) from The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is currently skyrocketing up the charts. It’s #2 on today’s new Billboard Hot 100 list and widely expected to reach the top next week.

HFR Movies is now on Twitter!

HFR Movies is now on Twitter! Here’s our twitter page:

twitter.com/HFR_Movies

I’ll always tweet when a new article goes up.  And as we approach The Desolation of Smaug I’ll be tweeting about any new theaters that will be showing Desolation in 48 fps 3D.  I’ll also tweet any theaters that for some reason either are no longer HFR 3D capable or won’t be showing the second Hobbit movie in HFR 3D.

I’ll also use Twitter to liveblog from events like The Hobbit Fan Event and HFR-related conferences / trade shows, and to share my thoughts regarding any news – and whatever pops into my head!

A huge thanks to everyone reading this site, and for being such insightful, intelligent commenters.  And, importantly, thanks for helping to push the world towards a motion blur and judder-free utopia.

If you want to keep up with all things HFR, please follow HFR_Movies!

My Thoughts on the The Hobbit Fan Event

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Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel) tries to remember the size of the fish she caught…or something.

I was lucky enough to get a last-minute spot at the Hobbit Fan Event at the Grove theatre in LA, where I saw about 20 minutes of scenes (in 2D) from The Desolation of Smaug, along with a new production blog and a music video for Desolation’s end credit’s song - ”I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran. You can check them both out below:

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Production Diary 12:

Ed Sheeran — I See Fire — The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug:

As you may have read, this event, hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, consisted of 4 satellite-linked theaters (LA, New York, Wellington and London) that had live Q&A’s with cast and Peter Jackson, with many more theaters worldwide linked into the feed to watch the happenings.  Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel) was at my location.

Technically and logistically things went very smoothly.  I have to say that experiencing an impromptu competition over who can cheer the loudest between fans thousands of miles apart while simultaneously reading a scroll of live tweets from the thousands tuning in gave me a bit of future-shock, as it was a potent reminder of the amazingly connected world we live in these days.

As soon as I entered the theater and saw so many wearing obviously painstakingly assembled costumes I knew I was in the presence of some of the most devoted fans of Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth. Several women cosplaying Tauriel looked so good clad in their intricately detailed elven garb sewn from expensive-looking materials that at first I thought I was running into paid models wearing wardrobe from the movie itself (they all turned out to be fans).

The event also drew a sizable contingent of people with New Zealand accents whom I’m guessing travelled here to see Lilly / Tauriel in person.  Lilly, by the way, was very funny and easygoing throughout the event, cracking jokes and interacting with the audience.  She also exuded passion for Tauriel and Tolkien’s world in general.  Since reading the Silmarillion she’d loved how badass the elves are, so this role was a dream come true.

As for the extended scenes that were screened: they were all great.  The action – particularly the badass moves pulled off by Tauriel and Legolas – was impressive, and the humorous moments were at least as funny as the best funny parts of An Unexpected Journey.  Lilly went through a ton of movement training in order to attain the fluid fighting style of the elves, and it shows.  I bet she’s going to be a huge crowd-pleaser this December.

Despite Peter Jackson and the WB representatives making a very big deal about the fact that very spoilery plot elements would be shown for the first time, it turned out that the screened scenes were all teased in the latest trailer (maybe they chose not to show the super-secret scenes at the last possible second?).

Here’s what was shown:

1. Bilbo climbing to the top of the forest canopy and then fighting with the spiders (who have great voices by the way).

2. The interrogation of the orc by Thranduil, Legolas and Tauriel.

3. Bilbo and the dwarves escape from the elves’ lair via barrels.

4. Bard, the dwarves and Bilbo have some moments of distrust while approaching Laketown by boat, before settling on a plan to smuggle themselves past the gates.

5. Outside the tunnel to Smaug’s lair, Balin remarks to Bilbo on the courage of Hobbits.

6. Bilbo descending the stairs inside the dragon’s lair, then walking (noisily) upon the seemingly endless pile of gold coins and jewels. (by the way, the treasure looks amazing, and the physics of how all of the small pieces of treasure interact is spot-on, mainly because most of it is practical rather than CG).

7. Finally, they showed the first few minutes of the Smaug reveal sequence.  This is done PERFECTLY – it’s obviously one of the most important sequences in the trilogy, and Jackson nailed it.  I had goosebumps.

The acting and action were uniformly great, and the tone/mood was consistent.  If Jackson manages to keep this tone and level of quality throughout the film we might end up getting one of the greatest adventure movies of all time.  In short, the most recent trailer rekindled my excitement for The Desolation Of Smaug, but this event sent me over the top.

3rd trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the best yet

This new 3-minute 3rd trailer reveals new shots and scenes from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, so keep that in mind when deciding whether to watch it.  One shot in particular seems to be a significant plot spoiler.

But you never know with Peter Jackson: his intention could very well be misdirection, which in recent years has (thankfully) become much more common in trailers.

That said, for me this is the most hype-inducing piece of promotional material we’ve gotten so far.  The posters have been lackluster, and, most importantly, the first two trailers didn’t properly tease Smaug.  This trailer is the first that does – and it has rekindled my hype embers into a fire.

Check it out below:

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opens on December 13 in the United States.  Click here for a list of worldwide release dates.

Desolation of Smaug fan event announced for November 4

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New Line/Warner Bros. and MGM have announced a fan celebration and preview event for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug scheduled to take place on Monday, November 4 at 5:00 pm EST and simultaneous times around the world.

Peter Jackson and various cast members will unveil new footage and answer questions in front of live audiences at satellite-linked theaters in Los Angeles, New York, London and Wellington.

The event will be hosted by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who will be at the New York location along with Richard Armitage and Orlando Bloom.  Los Angeles will host Evangeline Lilly, London will have Lee Pace, Luke Evans and Andy Serkis, and Wellington will have Peter Jackson.

Fans will also be able to follow the proceedings at theaters accross the globe, including Brussels, Belgium; Hamburg, Germany; Madrid, Spain; Mexico City, Mexico; Miami, Florida, USA; Paris, France; Rome, Italy; Sydney, Australia; and Toronto, Canada. Check out the complete theater list at thehobbit.com/fanevent.

There will be an online live stream of the event at YouTube.com/TheHobbit, but the stream will contain an “edited version of the extended footage debut.”  My guess is that the theater audiences will get to see footage of Smaug himself.  If the Smaug scenes turn out to be as spectacular as we all hope, then WB/MGM no doubt will want to show off at least a glimpse of them to select audiences in hopes that they will buzz about it online afterward.  This way they can build hype from these scenes without spoiling them in trailers or TV spots.

No word yet as to whether the footage will be presented in HFR 3D.  I’d bet it will be though since all but two of the announced locations are on the HFR Movies list of 48 fps / HFR 3D theaters – the only theaters that will have the fan event that I haven’t confirmed to be HFR-ready are the following:

PARIS, FRANCE
Max Linder Panorama, Paris

ROME, ITALY
The Space Cinema Moderno

If you know whether or not these theaters have been upgraded to play movies in HFR 3D, please let me know!

Regarding tickets, The Hobbit’s facebook page says: “We’ll be giving away tickets for fans to attend the event in Los Angeles, New York and Miami! Stay tuned for further details on the upcoming ways to win tickets.”

In other news, Warner Bros. has released two new TV spots:

Advanced tickets for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug will go on sale November 21. The movie opens in the United States on December 13. Click here for a full list of international release dates.

For updates on the fan event visit thehobbit.com/fanevent and facebook.com/thehobbitmovie 

Video Game High School: a 48 fps web series

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The web series Video Game High School (VGHS) is pioneering high frame rates online: every episode of the second season, which premiered July 26, has been shot and released in 48 fps 1080p.

Described as “an action/comedy web series about best friends, first loves, and landing that perfect head shot”, VGHS uses 48 fps for the scenes that take place within the game world, and 24 fps (with each frame shown twice) for the “real life” parts.

VGHS co-creator Freddie Wong sees the show’s HFR, which he says evokes the feeling of gaming, as a vital drawing point: (via startribune.com)

“There’ll be a reason to come to our site. What 48 (frames per second) brings is a gritty realism to it. It feels hyper-real.”

The show has become quite popular– the first episode of the second season has so far drawn 3.6 million views on Youtube (which still cannot play videos at high frame rates) and 300,000 views in the first two days alone on Rocket Jump, which Wong co-owns.

Wong and his co-creator Matt Arnold had to invent their own embedded video player in order to display their show in HFR.  So far, that player only exists on Rocket Jump.

What’s especially interesting to me is that Wong and Arnold employed various techniques to counteract the negative elements of the HFR in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. From StarTribune:

Some movie critics who saw “The Hobbit” said the format revealed too many details, exposing the fakery of costumes, makeup and props.

Actors can appear to move at high speed unintentionally in what co-creator Matt Arnold calls the “Benny Hill” effect, referring to the sped-up scenes common to the British comedy TV show.

To address these issues, the creators of “VGHS” added back some blurriness that high frame rate recording had eliminated in some scenes. “VGHS” actors also wore less makeup than actors in “The Hobbit,” so there’s less chance that the format’s extra detail will be distracting, Arnold says.

I’m eager to hear something official regarding the rumored tweaks made to The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug‘s HFR 3D post-production pipeline.  It’s also quite possible that Jackson, like the VGHS creators, optimized the makeup, and perhaps set design and lighting as well, during this past summer’s shoot for Desolation and There and Back Again.

• Watch the HFR (48 fps) version of Video Game High School at Rocket Jump
• Follow VGHS on Facebook
• Follow VGHS on Twitter

Dueling claims about HFR and X-Men: Days of Future Past

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There are dueling assertions regarding what’s going on with HFR and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

If you’ve been following, you know that director Bryan Singer really liked the 48 fps 3D experience of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – but that he never confirmed anything.

• assertion #1, from Variety via Devin Faraci of badassdigest.com, is that Fox is straight-out denying that the movie was shot in 48 fps.

Devin speculates that perhaps they shot the movie in such a way that a 48 fps version would be somehow captured alongside a true (not extracted) 24 fps version and the studio would make the decision later, but he casts doubt on the feasibility of this due to the cost of doubling the VFX for the 48 fps version.

assertion #2, from Eric Vespe of aintitcool.com, is that the movie will indeed be released in the 48 fps 3D format but that the studio is waiting to make the announcement because of perceived negative reaction to The Hobbit’s high frame rate.  Eric claims to have heard this from two credible sources.

• meanwhile, Drew McWeeny of hitfix.com wrote a story about Fox’s denial of the rumor, which included this tidbit:

Even the studio seemed a little surprised and confused by the story overall when contacted about it, hardly the slick denial that they normally have ready when they’re not yet prepared to announce something.

Drew later updated his story with the following:

I am hearing now that the film was shot in 48 FPS, which would suggest that this decision about whether or not to release it that way was one they made during post.

So basically this whole story is a mess, and no one seems to be clear on the issue.  Devin and Eric speculate that they shot it at 48 fps to future proof it, but won’t actually release it in HFR.  This is certainly possible.

Confusing, right?  Anyway, I’m still holding out hope for a 48 fps release.

Desolation of Smaug trailer #2 at 60 fps

Thanks to Nic727 for creating this interpolated 60 fps version of the new trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and to Joel May for providing fast hosting.

Nick727:

I’ve made this 60fps version of the trailer. Hope you will enjoy.

Desolation of Smaug trailer #2 at 60 fps

PS: It’s in English with french subtitle (because I’m french)

It’ll be interesting to see how much the press (and Warner Bros.) will talk about the HFR 3D this time around. The scuttlebutt is that the Hobbit team treated the HFR aspect of An Unexpected Journey (and the criticisms) as a learning experience, has worked out all the kinks, and is now primed to deliver, with their work on Smaug, the same sense of wonder and dazzlement people got from movies like Jurassic Park, Avatar and the newest addition to that list of classics – Gravity.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug trailer #2 is now online!!

Warner Bros. has just released a brand new trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

This trailer gives us a taste of the conversation between Bilbo and Smaug, so avoid watching past the 1:53 mark it if you want to keep Smaug’s voice a surprise. I will say, though, that Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice is perfect and gave me goosebumps.

From what I see in this trailer the sequence in the dragon’s lair has a solid chance of topping the incredible “Riddles in the Dark” scene from An Unexpected Journey. The Bilbo/Smaug scenes are iconic and, for many fans, they’re the best part of the book. So I expect Peter Jackson to put tremendous care into making them perfect.

Check out the trailer below, or, if you want to watch it in HD, head over to thehobbit.com and choose 720P/1080P.

I hope we get to see an HFR version of this trailer soon!

Why 8K isn’t the endpoint for resolution

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I’ve been greatly enjoying following the progress of visual fidelity over the past 15 years.  For such a long time TVs were just TVs, and most people never really thought about them changing.  But, of course, ever since 720P/1080i HDTVs hit store showfloors in the late 90s advancements have been happening at a staggering rate.

For a while now it seemed that 8K would be the resolution endpoint for the popular television sizes (mainly due to the fact that NHK and others set 8K as the goal as far back as 2003).  And for tablet sized devices on down it seemed that 8K would be more than sufficient to reach “retina” status.

But when we’re talking about virtual reality, even an 8K-by-8K screen isn’t enough pixel density to create true verisimilitude.

Oculus VR founder and CEO Palmer Lucky recently explained why this is so in an interview with Ars Technica. In short, the reason is thin diagonal lines:

“There is a point where you can no longer distinguish individual pixels, but that does not mean that you cannot distinguish greater detail.  You can still see aliasing on lines on a retina display. You can’t pick out the pixels, but you can still see the aliasing. Let’s say you want to have an image of a piece of hair on the screen. You can’t make it real-size… it would still look jaggy and terrible. There’s a difference between where you can’t see pixels and where you can’t make improvements.”

Since 16K+ resolution would be necessary for perfect VR, it follows that a perfect “life wall” (a screen that doubles as a wall in a room that can display any desired scenery) would need to be made out of thousands of 16K-by16K head-mounted display sized screens tiled together. That’s an obscene amount of K’s.

Luckey also explains why 8K resolution in screens of the small size required for a head-mounted display will be possible 10 years from now:

“To get to the point where you can’t see pixels, I think some of the speculation is you need about 8K per eye in our current field of view [for the Rift],” he said. “And to get to the point where you couldn’t see any more improvements, you’d need several times that. It sounds ridiculous, but HDTVs have been out there for maybe a decade in the consumer space, and now we’re having phones and tablets that are past the resolution of those TVs. So if you go 10 years from now, 8K in a [head-mounted display] does not seem ridiculous at all.”

The article’s top comment calculates that “perfect” VR for someone with 20/10 eyesight would require a display with 108,000 horizontal pixels, or 108K per eye, which is significantly higher than most estimates I’ve read (most calculations fall somewhere between 8K and 32K).

There’s also an in-depth discussion about resolution over at the Oculus VR developer forums.  And, for a slightly more pessimistic take, Valve’s Michael Abrash has a blog entry arguing that 8K screens aren’t just around the corner.

You can read more about some of the various criteria that scientists/engineers have come up with to figure out the limits of the human eye at this page over at 100fps.com.

And it’s always good to get a reminder of how amazing “mere” 8K resolution is (and keep in mind that this video shows an 85-inch screen!):

Here’s some recent HFR Movies coverage of the march towards an 8K world:

• 8K, 60 fps, 3D documentary: To Space And Back

• NHK Shows Off Compact 8K Camera

• Major Transformers 4 sequences will shoot with new 8K+ 3D IMAX cameras

• Japan plans 8K broadcasts in 2016 – 2 years ahead of schedule

• 4K dubbed ‘Ultra HD’ by the CEA, but Sony sticks with 4K