James Cameron: Avatar sequels may be variable frame rate

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James Cameron tells European broadcasting company RTL that he’s deciding between making Avatar 2, Avatar 3, and Avatar 4 at variable frame rates (VFR), and making them at a single consistent frame rate:

“[We're] looking at high frame rate. I’m studying that. I haven’t made a final decision yet, whether the entire film will be made at high frame rate or parts of it. You know, we’ll be shooting at a native resolution of probably 4K and so then there should be a lot of true 4K theaters by then as well.”

I think VFR makes the most sense and I predict that’s what Cameron will choose for his Avatar sequel trilogy.  In fact, I think VFR makes the most sense for just about every movie: Why restrict yourself to a single frame rate when different scenes and shot types, or even distinct objects in a shot, may look better at different speeds?  Even if a filmmaker goes into a production with the idea that the movie will be at a single frame rate, it would be wise to keep all options open by capturing footage in a way that allows multiple frame rates to be extracted and layered over each other.

If Cameron does indeed choose variable frame rates, I’ll be very interested in the camera equipment and setup he uses.  Would he shoot all scenes at the same ultra-high frame rate using one particular camera type, and then extract different frame rates during the editing process (assuming the targeted rates are factors of the master frame rate)?  Or would he roll multiple cameras, each capturing at a different rate, for each shot?  Or something else completely?

Hopefully we’ll find out soon – Cameron and his team are currently developing the production pipeline software.  Knowing how he is going to shoot the movie would certainly make that process easier.

For more on the Avatar sequels’ current status, check out this article over at comingsoon.net

Avatar 2, 3, and 4 will release in December 2016, 2017, and 2018

Xbox One will show live NFL football games at 60 frames-per-second

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Microsoft is collaborating with NeuLion, a cloud-based online streaming company, and the NFL Network to provide games at 60 fps (in 720P) on the Xbox One.

Access will require a subscription to Xbox Live Gold and a cable television plan that includes the NFL Network.

NeuLion co-founder Chris Wagner promises that they will “deliver for Xbox fans a tremendous live sports experience on the game console.”  CED magazine reports that viewers will have the option of streaming at 7 different qualities, thereby eliminating buffering issues:

Wagner said the company provides seven profiles that range from 6 Mbps, at 1280 x 720, at 60 fps at the high end, to 600 kbps, 464 x 264, at 30 fps; the rate depends, of course, on network conditions and viewers’ bandwidth. There will be no buffering at any rate, Wagner said.

NeuLion’s cloud-based platform will capture multiple live sports feeds and then format the content for delivery to the Xbox One.

NeuLion is also reportedly working on getting their app up and running on the PS4.

This all sounds great to me – a high frame rate is essential in order to follow the quick motion of the relatively small-sized ball/puck/etc.  Hopefully they’ll get it working at 1080P soon (although I’m unsure as to whether the Xbox One’s graphics card is capable of 1080P processing of cable feeds).

I also hope other sports franchises and broadcasters get on board with HFR soon…I have a feeling that once sports fans get a taste of true 60p 720P they won’t want to go back.

X-Men: Days of Future Past will NOT get an HFR 3D release

XMenAfter many conflicting reports regarding whether X-Men: Days of Future Past would be given an HFR 3D release (most are in agreement that, at the very least, the movie was shot in such a way that a 48 fps version could be extracted), Bryan Singer has given an official denial to The Hollywood Reporter:

“Creatively, though, Singer decided HFR wouldn’t be right for his new X-Men outing, which takes place in 1973 and the present.  While he did use a Phantom 3D rig to shoot at 3,600 fps for effects sequences involving the super-speedy character of Quicksilver, he declined to use HFR for the bulk of the movie. “In The Hobbit, which takes place in a more fantastic environment, it brings a magic and brightness,” says Singer. “But the same effect that benefits The Hobbit might not benefit the look of the particular movie I’m making. Especially in the 1973 sequences, it might look a little too strange, slightly too vivid”

“I had concerns about how certain sequences would look, and there is also a cost factor in rendering the visual effects.”

The article points out the fact that Peter Jackson was able to absorb much of the cost of making the movies in high frame rate 3D due to the fact that he owns WETA.  James Cameron, who is friends with Jackson, will likely get a similarly good deal even though he isn’t a direct participant in WETA.

And knowing Cameron, he’ll likely be enthused to have the opportunity to be the first filmmaker to demonstrate the true, full potential of HFR 3D with his Avatar sequel trilogy, hopefully making it at least as popular as Avatar made 3D.

Warner Bros. distribution chief Dan Fellman is another HFR evangelist:

“Exhibitors who put it in were bullish on it, and audiences liked it…I think it’s getting better and better. While it certainly was a slow starter, it’s going to be a game-changer.”

Which upcoming Warner Bros. movies do you think might be made in HFR or HFR 3D? Potentially Batman vs. Superman in 2015?

Report: HFR 3D theater count doubles for Desolation of Smaug

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The number of theaters capable of projecting movies at high frame rates (48 fps, 60 fps) has nearly doubled since The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey arrived a year ago, according to The Wrap:

The studio is substantially expanding the number of theaters this time around. As many as 750 theaters will exhibit “The Desolation of Smaug” in the enhanced projection — up from roughly 450 theaters the first time.

Internationally, the increase in HFR 3D theaters is even more impressive, with Desolation playing on almost 2,500 screens, up from 1,669.

Warner Bros. has intentionally been very quiet about HFR 3D in the months and weeks leading up to Desolation‘s release. Last year, of course, discussion of AUJ’s 48 fps 3D was ubiquitous, with Peter Jackson, WETA and others writing articles and doing interviews about it, and with critics, movie/Hobbit fans, and tech enthusiasts all weighing in.

The response from critics leaned towards the negative, even though the great majority of movie fans seemingly either loved the experience outright or appreciated it while desiring improvements/tweaks.  So it makes sense to me that Warner Bros. wants the media’s focus to be on the movie and not its format this time (Peter Jackson told a reporter that “technology drove a lot of the reviews” of AUJ).

Press screenings for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug have all been in standard, 24 fps 3D to prevent this.

I think this is a good thing – this year the talk regarding HFR 3D will almost all be from Hobbit fans, and not fogey critics.  I’m very much looking forward to reading people’s thoughts especially given rumors that Jackson has taken steps to mitigate the most` common complaints people has regarding AUJ’s HFR 3D.

I’d bet that the overall buzz will be very good for HFR 3D this time around, thereby building support and momentum for future high frame rate movies.  Last time the negative noise from 24 fps traditionalists (most professional movie critics) was just too loud, resulting in the specious and commonly parroted conclusion that the HFR 3D experiment was a failure, an d coloring reviews of the movie.

The Wrap’s story confirms what I had long suspected due to my observations of packed HFR 3D showings: that HFR 3D was in great demand, selling out theaters many weeks after opening night:

“With the original ‘Hobbit,’ we kept selling out of tickets for our high frame rate auditoriums,” Russ Nunley, a spokesman for Regal, said. ” There was a huge demand from moviegoers who wanted to see the film exactly the way director Peter Jackson shot it.”

Regal’s HFR 3D screen count has increased dramatically, going from 100 last year to almost 400 this year.

IMAX has doubled their worldwide HFR 3D screen count to 100+, IMAX Entertainment CEO Greg Foster tells The Wrap, adding that the number will rise since IMAX is still negotiating HFR 3D locations in China.

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.

60fps @ 1080p sample video from the LG G2; GoPro Hero 4 HFR specs

Here’s another 1080p 60fps sample clip from the LG G2, from Gsmarena’s review.

http://cdn.gsmarena.com/vv/reviewsimg/lg-g2/review/camera/gsmarena_v001.mp4

Regarding the LG G2′s video camera, Gsmarena writes:

The LG G2 main camera is capable of shooting 1080p videos at both 60 and 30 fps. The 60fps videos are actually shot in 58fps, but we guess that’s the best G2 can do.

Both videos are stored in MP4 files with a bitrate of 20Mbps for 1080p@30fps mode and 30Mbps for the 1080p@60fps. Audio is recorded in stereo at 156Kbps and a sampling rate of 48kHz.

Those are some impressive specs on paper and the actual results are great too. The videos are smooth at 30fps and 60fps with great deal of resolved detail, lively colors and excellent contrast. There are no visible defects. Unfortunately, the continuous autofocus is goes off way too often if you are shooting moving objects.

Also check out these recently leaked specs for the GoPro HD Hero 4 mobile camera.  To summarize, it will shoot the following:

1080p @120fps
720p @ 240fps
4K @ 30fps

Gsmarena also reports a rumor that the Hero 4 will have two side-by-side lenses for 3D filming.

Thanks again to عمر محمد for the heads up!

60 fps example video from the LG G2 smartphone, & 60 fps clips from The Spirit

Here’s a sample of 60 fps footage taken with the upcoming LG G2 smartphone (via optimusforums.com, thanks to عمر محمد):

• http://files.futureleap.com/60fps_LG_G2_sample_optimusforums.mp4 

Preorders for the LG G2 will start on October 11, and the phone will release in time for the Holidays.  You can read more about the LG G2 and other 60 FPS smartphones here.

And thanks to Rashad for pointing me to these 60 fps videos from The Spirit:

The Spirit 60fps HFR trailer

The Spirit 60fps HFR movie clip

I’m expecting a flood of HFR footage once these phones become available.  Prepare for the deluge!

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

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The world’s first 8K, 60 fps, 3D documentary, titled To Space And Back, is set for a September debut at the FullDome planetarium at the Macau Science Center in China.

A 4K, 60 fps, 3D version will play from Sept. 5 to 7 at the Imiloa Fulldome Film Festival in Hawaii.

Sky-Skan (the maker of the Definiti Fulldome system) comments:

“This new, ultra-immersive version of To Space & Back represents digital cinema at its absolute visual peak. There are a couple of 8K planetarium shows, but none at 60 fps. There have been high frame rate 3D movies, but not at 8K 60 fps. Storytellers and exhibitors will be inspired and empowered when they see what the medium is now capable of. Raising the bar for the industry is part of Sky- Skan’s mission – while continuing to support customers at all levels. All fulldome exhibitors can select and show the optimal version of To Space & Back for their system – ranging from 1K to 8K, 30 fps to 60 fps, 2D or 3D, from one fisheye projector to 12 edge-blended projectors or more.”

ToSpaceAndBack8K60fpsPromoThe 8K picture is created by stitching together 24 high-definition video streams into one continuous picture on the dome screen. Six Sony SXRD 4K projectors are attached to Definiti HD lenses and fed by DigitalSky 2 and Definiti graphics computers. The final system resolution after blending and masking calculates up to 38 million pixels (38 megapixels).

As for the documentary itself, it seems to be getting great reviews so far.  Geekadelphia saw the 4K 60 fps 3D version:

[To Space And Back] is a stunning experience, both conceptually and in design, as it beautifully visualizes how certain technologies, originally created for advancements in space exploration, have paved the way for dozens of everyday devices in our lives. Within minutes, the audience is seamlessly transported from the inner-workings of the human eye to outer space, through the (surprisingly many) layers of satellites currently orbiting earth.

Annette Sotheran-Barnett, producer/director/co-writer, speaks about 8K:

8K rendering is challenging, as the detail required in models and textures can significantly slow down the workflow. We learned to line up the power necessary to overcome the obstacles. The results are worth it and what we accomplished will be easier to do the next time and will enrich the format and move the industry forward.

FullDome is a growing market sector, over 1,000 systems having been installed worldwide since 1998..

To Space & Back is produced by Sky-Skan in association with the Franklin Institute.

Watch the trailer:

Download the press kit (press release/photos/video):

http://www.fulldomeshows.com/tospaceandback/assets/img/TSABPressKit.zip

Blur Busters: A great website about HFR displays

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Mark Rejhon runs www.blurbusters.com, a site dedicated to eliminating motion blur in displays (with a focus on gaming). Blur Busters is also the internet’s best resource for information and tutorials for 120hz displays of all types.

It’s an incredibly useful site for HFR enthusiasts and beginners alike.  Here are some especially useful links:

 The internet’s best list of LightBoost computer monitors.  For LightBoost info, read the LightBoost FAQ

• The world’s first 100% web-based motion test (www.testufo.com).

• 120fps HFR Web Video In Real-Time  (You must be using a 120Hz monitor to view this video at full frame rate.)

• FAQ: True 120Hz from PC to TV: Make Your HDTV Accept Real 120Hz Refresh Rate

• LCD Motion Artifacts 101: learn about Ghosting, Coronas / Inverse Ghosting, Motion Blur,  PWM Artifacts

• The world’s first mainstream site to use a pursuit camera for display testing.

“This is simply a camera that follows on-screen motion. These expensive cameras are extremely accurate at measuring motion blur and other artifacts, such as ghosting and overdrive artifacts (inverse ghosting).”

I just found out about Blur Busters a couple days ago and I’m already learning a great deal and having a lot of fun playing around with the demos and tests (even with my lame 60hz monitor).

And there are a ton of tests to try out.  The default UFO test shows an adjustable number of ufos moving left to right at various frame rates. Test UFO will then tell you your monitor’s actual refresh rate as well as whether your browser is actually displaying moving images at this rate.  It will also tell you exactly how many pixels are being displayed per frame, and per second.

There are a multitude of other useful tests on the site, including tests to check for blur trails, others to check for ghosting, coronas, and overdrive artifacts, and one to test for frame skips due to display overclocking.

Blur Busters is packed with useful HFR-related stuff.  I’ve just started to explore the site and will certainly continue to visit.

It’s great that Mark and I share the same goal: the eradication of motion blur and judder across all mediums!

About Blur Busters

Blur Busters covers successful techniques of reduction and elimination of motion blur on LCD displays in a computer-compatible and video-game compatible manner.  Blur Busters was born in September 2012 from an inspiration from John Carmack of iD Softtware.

1080p@60fps smartphones arriving soon

Thanks to reader عمر محمد for alerting me to these two smartphones that will record video at 1080p60 – in other words, 1080P at 60 frames-per-second.

They are the LG G2 and the Motorola Moto X, both of which were announced within the last couple weeks.  Sources indicate that they will be the first two smartphones with 1080p60 recording ability.

GSMArena has a hands-on first-look review of the LG G2.  Interestingly, they say that the G2 cannot record 720p at 60 fps.

Video demo of the LG G2:

Taylor Wimberly (former editor for Android and Meexplains the tech behind the Moto X’s camera (via android.gs):

“As previously reported, the Moto X features a 10MP Clear Pixel camera, for enhanced low light performance. The pixel size is 1.4 microns, which is smaller than the HTC One (2.0), but larger than the GS4 (1.1). This special camera module also has x4HD Video capture, which bins 4 pixels together to create one perfect pixel. Video can be recorded in 1080p HD at 60 FPS and played back in slow motion at 30 FPS.”

GSMArena calls this technique “pixel binning”, which is “combining information from 4 pixels to reduce noise and provide clearer videos.”

Watch SlashGear’s demo video of the Moto X’s camera:

Pretty awesome stuff.  I wonder if the forthcoming Galaxy Note 3 and iPhone 5s will have 1080p60 capability?

Also check out this Moto X vs LG G2 head-to-head from CNET’s Marguerite Reardon