Klaus Burton is the author of the InterFrame software which was used to create those 48 fps and 60 fps Avatar and Inception videos. According to Klaus InterFrame is what most people use to convert regular framerate videos to HFR.
Klaus tells me that InterFrame is integrated into Universal Media Server (also programmed by Klaus) for realtime conversion and that there is a third-party GUI called InterFrameGUI, and that he wrote a conversion tutorial for those unfamiliar with how to use it.
In our email interview Klaus elaborates on his software, gives his thoughts on The Hobbit in 48 FPS, contemplates the future of HFR tech adoption and shares his thoughts on how high frame rates should go before we reach the limits of the human eye:
1) Do you or InterFrame have an official website?
I publish all my software on spirton.com, the InterFrame section is http://www.spirton.com/interframe/
2) Where can I find the tutorial?
http://www.spirton.com/convert-videos-to-60fps/ It’s called “convert videos to 60fps” because I made InterFrame and the tutorial before The Hobbit was widely known (first release was around 2010)
3) Any other examples created with InterFrame that you would like me to link to?
The examples in the conversion tutorial are pretty good (http://www.spirton.com/uploads/InterFrame/20110618-Sample-Original.mkv and http://www.spirton.com/uploads/InterFrame/20110618-Sample-InterFrame.mkv)
4) Can InterFrame be used to create any frame rate? I.E. if you used it on source video that is already 48 fps (either native 48 fps or interpolated) could it output 96 fps?
Yes, any framerate. By default it will convert 25fps content to 50fps, and everything else to 59.94fps, since these are highly compatible with TVs, but you can specify any framerate by using NewNum and NewDen (standing for new numerator and new denominator)
5) How does InterFrame handle cuts in footage? For example, I would think you wouldn’t want to create an interpolated frame between the last frame of one shot and the first frame of a new shot (i.e shot one being a close up of a character’s face, and the second shot being a mountain or something).
InterFrame automatically estimates scene-changes. It occasionally makes a wrong guess that is unavoidable but in my testing it gets it right 99% of the time.
6) Is InterFrame being sold or licensed commercially? Do you see a market for post-converting regular frame rate movies, TV shows, or personal video into HFR?
It’s all free and semi-open source. InterFrame itself is all open, and we use some DLL files from another project SVP which is semi-closed source but still free.
7) What are your future plans for InterFrame?
In the near future I will continue to optimize our “tunings” and “presets”; presets control the speed of conversion at the cost of quality (useful for realtime conversion on slower computers) and tunings tell InterFrame what type of input you are feeding it so it can make better decisions with its interpolation, for example there is an “animation” tuning. I will also continue to improve quality and decrease artifacts.
8) What did you think of The Hobbit at 48 fps? What is your “ideal” frame rate for Hollywood movies? Is 60 fps enough, should it be even higher?
I love 48fps compared with 24fps, I thought it was amazing and a lot of my friends said the same; the common feedback I’ve seen is that it looked weird for the first 10 minutes but then they adjusted and it was better than 24fps. However there was still judder compared to the 60fps content I’m used to. I think the best goal at first is 60fps because of compatibility; all TVs can already display 60fps, whereas they can’t display 48fps without conversion (nor do blu-rays currently allow for that framerate), so I think that was an unfortunate choice by Peter Jackson. Most sports are already broadcast at progressive 60fps and they look great, so it shows the infrastructure is already there with TV stations as well.
In the future I think the highest we will want to go is probably 240fps. I think the average user can tell the difference between 48 and 60, but probably can’t tell the difference between 60 and 240. However for people who have trained their eyes to notice these things I think 200fps or more is the way to go, and 240 is nicely divisible with most common framerates so it seems like a good candidate for the far-future. It is possible that we will eventually want to go beyond 240fps but I think by the time there is demand for that there may be video recording techniques that no longer use framerates.
I think the process will be like going from VHS to blu-ray; right now we’re in the VHS stage of framerates and 48fps is like VCD (an improvement but destined to be short-lived), with 60fps being like the DVD which will reign supreme for a long time.
9) Do you think HFR in Hollywood will catch on?
Absolutely. The response to 48fps from critics has been terrible, but film critics are famously slow to adapt to change and have never had much influence on the vast majority of the public, and it is the general public who generate the income for movies. A quick look at the user reviews of The Hobbit on IMDB reveals overwhelmingly positive response to the higher framerate. That response coupled with upcoming movies like X-Men and Avatar at HFR will solidify public demand for HFR film. I think it will come to be seen as the mark of a modern film in the same way 3D is becoming – already if a Hollywood film isn’t released in 3D it’s a bit weird; in the near future I think people will think that if a film isn’t released in 3D and HFR then it clearly isn’t a high-end production.
I think Peter Jackson will go down in history as a pioneer of film. He was already going to be famous for LotR but that type of fame is fleeting in history, but he has initiated a process that will change film forever which really solidifies his name in history.
Thanks to Klaus Burton for his time, and for enabling the creation of those cool Avatar and Inception trailer videos!