Video Game High School: a 48 fps web series

trailerthumb_rj1

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

Peter Jackson blogs the last day of Hobbit shooting!

"The photo: yes, we did actually just film this. Please don't ask me to explain! Let's get that WB filter activated! Thank you Hannah and Dusty!" -PJ

“The photo: yes, we did actually just film this. Please don’t ask me to explain! Let’s get that WB filter activated! Thank you Hannah and Dusty!” -PJ

Peter Jackson has been posting updates to his Facebook today chronicling the last day of scheduled shooting on The Hobbit movies.

Here’s the first one:

Our last day of shooting.

Ever since starting these blogs, there’s been something I thought I’d like to try one day (as well as answering the other 19 questions I owe you!) – blogging throughout a shoot day in real time. Try to give you all a feeling for what we deal with on an average day.

Today is not exactly “average”, given it’s our last day of shooting, but if I don’t do it today, I never will!

So here goes … I’ll try to update as much as I can during the day. At least with a quick photo. Text will depend a little on how busy it gets.

Right now, it’s just gone 6.30am here in Wellington. I’m in bed, about to get up! I didn’t get much sleep – too stressed about how we’re going to get through everything we need to shoot. I kept running it over in my mind.

We’re shooting scenes for Film 3 today. Stuff you will see in Dec 2014, so I’m going to try and make this honest, but spoiler free.

1074233_10151749496026558_1959965082_oI’ve been lying here in pitch darkness, watching fight rehearsals over and over again. Our stunt co-ordinatior, Glen Boswell, worked with the actors last weekend, designing some climatic battle moments. He filmed them, and I have them on my iPad, in an application we wrote called “WingNut TV”. It’s a program that allows a huge amount of material to be catalog used and updated each day over the Internet. It contains all our dailies, edited films, previs, music, and much more. I’m looking at the fights, figuring out the angles I’ll need to film them today. A huge amount to do, and it needs to get done.

Our shoot day starts at 8.30am, and is supposed to finish at 7.30pm. I suspect we’ll be working late. Whenever we work a long day, I joke with the crew that I’m just softening them up for when Jim Cameron shows up in Wellington to shoot Avatar 2 and 3. Well … It’s not really a joke.

I’ll try and update often today.

I love that he mentions James Cameron and the Avatar sequels, since Jackson is one of the few who likely knows the exact status of that project and this hints that things are on track to start shooting, likely relatively soon!  Hopefully it won’t be very long at all before we hear more about the future of Avatar–casting in particular will be interesting to watch unfold as it will give us a bit more of a window into what Cameron has planned storywise.

Anyway, check out all of Jackson’s ongoing updates over at his Facebook page!

Martin Freeman is wrapped on The Hobbit

MartinFreemanWrapsTheHobbitPeter Jackson has posted to his Facebook page that Martin Freeman has completed his work as Bilbo Baggins:

Tonight Martin Freeman finished his last shot as Bilbo Baggins. The end of an incredible two and a half years. I cannot imagine anyone else in this role – a character that Martin has nurtured and crafted with love and great skill.

We have said goodbye to our elves, humans, wizards and now the hobbit. We now enter our final 2 weeks of pick-ups, and it’s wall to wall dwarves. These pick-ups have been gruelling and intense, but I’m so happy with what we’ve been shooting. These next two movies are going to be pretty great!

Bilbo Baggins joins Gandalf, Tauriel and Legolas as having completed the additional scenes that were added to the script when the decision was made to take The Hobbit from a two-parter to a trilogy.

But I doubt this is truly the end of their work since new shots, angles, etc are frequently deemed necessary as the master cut of a movie evolves during postproduction.  And sometimes even lengthy sequences are added at the last minute.

Jackson also just posted this picture of Benedict Cumberbatch admiring Martin Freeman’s hobbit feet – or, perhaps most likely, trying to piece together Bilbo’s history through deductive reasoning.1074788_10151722848426558_1725376922_o

The Hobbit will be shooting again from late May through July

Martin FreemanIn an interview with Hollywood.com Martin Freeman has revealed that he will be going back again to playing Bilbo Baggins for a little over two months: “I am going back at the end of May for all of June and July.”

Freeman talks finishing the The Hobbit story this summer:

“I suppose the thing is, this is not finished. We literally have to go and finish it. It’s not a new adventure like on a television show. It’s the same story. It’s the same gig I started in January 2011. I think it’ll be really fun because the crew is quite close and the cast are close and we like working on it. I’m anticipating it.”

He also tells Movieline that he hasn’t yet seen a shooting script for the additional filming and as such doesn’t know exactly what performance challenges await him this summer.

I’m most curious about two aspects of the additional shooting: First, will Peter Jackson adjust the cinematography, set design, wardrobe or makeup in wake of the feedback to the HFR 3D of the first movie?  I’m sure he’s learned a thing or two regarding how to maximize the shoot so that the 48 fps product looks as good as possible.  And second, how much of the additional footage is intended for There and Back Again, and how much will be for The Desolation of Smaug? On the one hand, Jackson and co. have said that they already have a rough cut of “Desolation.”  On the other hand it would seem likely that, in order to allow it to stand on its own, film 2 would require some newly envisioned scenes/shots that weren’t captured during the initial shoot.  So I’d very much like to know the breakdown in terms of the amount of required additional footage for parts 2 and 3.

The Hobbit: There and Back Again moves to December 17, 2014

HobbitThereandBackAgainJust as I suspected, The Hobbit: There and Back Again has changed its release date to December 17, 2014, thus falling in line with every other LOTR and Hobbit movie.

The original July 18, 2014 release date (the same day that Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past is currently scheduled) never made sense financially, in relation to WETA’s VFX schedule, or in terms of tradition. And two huge blockbusters were never going to go head-to-head like that. As an added benefit this date change frees up plenty of high frame rate screens for Days of Future Past if Bryan Singer follows through on all the hints and indeed makes it at 48 or 60 fps.

Moving to December is simply the smart thing to do: December blockbusters almost invariably have miniscule competition for months after they debut, thereby allowing for stratospheric grosses (see: Avatar, Titanic, Return of the King).  Late summer is a time at which audiences often start becoming fatigued of all the visual effects and spectacle, especially in terms of epic sci-fi, action, superhero and fantasy, and the grosses rarely stretch much higher than a billion even for the most highly anticipated event pictures.  By December, however, and after an August-November gap in epic escapism, audiences are ravenous for movies like The Hobbit.

I’m glad that Peter Jackson, MGM and Warner Bros. will reveal the final epic installment of the trilogy where it was always meant to be: December.  It just wouldn’t have felt right at any other time.

First look at Bilbo in Smaug’s lair from ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’

Hot on the heels of their premiere photo of Legolas and Bard from There and Back Again, EW has debuted an exclusive first look at Bilbo in Smaug’s lair from The Desolation of Smaug:

This is the scene I’ve waited my entire life to see in a blockbuster Hobbit movie. I can’t wait to see the venal, proud, and ancient Smaug in all his jewel-encrusted glory. Judging by comments made by Jackson and Del Toro, Smaug will (rightly) be the dragon to end all dragons.

Meanwhile, Philippa Boyens explains to EW that the thrust of the Hobbit story doesn’t end with the dragon:

“The dragon is a huge, wonderful, amazing part of the story, but it doesn’t end there. Everyone can suspect there’s a rather large battle in film three.”

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug hits theaters on December 13, 2013.

Photo of Legolas and Bard from The Hobbit: There and Back Again

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hasn’t even opened yet, but here we have the first official image from the third Hobbit movie, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly:

Legolas isn’t in the book, but it makes sense for him to feature in the expanded version of the tale that Peter Jackson is weaving. Jackson explains:

“He’s [elven king] Thranduil’s son, and Thranduil is one of the characters in The Hobbit. And because elves are immortal it makes sense Legolas would be part of the sequence in the Woodland Realm.”

As for Bard’s role in the movies, Writer/producer Philippa Boyens explains:

“Bard is an interesting character, but [in the book] he’s kind of a random character who comes in after the fact. We take more time introducing him. We know from what follows that he was a father, so we [explore] that. I don’t think we take liberties, because it’s all there in the storytelling.”

The Hobbit: There and Back Again will release on July 18, 2014