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


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.

X-Men: Days of Future Past being shot in 3D – but what about HFR / 48 fps?

Bryan Singer just tweeted that X-Men: Days of Future Past is being shot in stereoscopic 3D and that he is using the Simul-Cam system that James Cameron developed for Avatar:


No mention yet of whether they are shooting in HFR – as you probably know, Singer praised the 48 fps of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey after seeing the premiere last year:


And Ian McKellen – who is reprising his role as Magneto in Days of Future Pasthinted to IGN that Singer might be making the film at 48 frames per second:

“I know [Bryan Singer]‘s a big fan of The Hobbit. He went to the opening with James Cameron in New Zealand, and he was very enthusiastic about the new technology. So whether we’ll be filming X-Men in 3D and 48 frames per second, we’ll find out.”

Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) on the set of X-Men: Days Of Future Past

Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) on the set of X-Men: Days Of Future Past

Hopefully we’ll find out soon.  Bryan’s tweet confirming the 3D went up only about an hour ago, so maybe he simply wants to give any HFR news its own tweet.  Another possibility is that X-Men is indeed shooting at 48 fps, but we won’t hear about it until much closer to the release date – Fox may be wary of letting the HFR aspect of the movie dominate the conversation, as it did initially with The Hobbit.

Check out Bryan Singer’s Twitter feed for more tidbits from the X-Men set

X-Men: Days of Future Past hit theaters on July 18, 2014.

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.

Weta Digital’s Joe Letteri talks HFR 3D and Smaug

hobbit-desolation-smaugStudioDaily.com has an interview with WETA Digital head Joe Letteri where he explains how making The Hobbit in HFR 3D affected WETA’s VFX process:

Studio Daily: What was the impact of 48 fps on post-production?

Joe Letteri: In a way, it was as simple as twice as many frames, so we had to do more work. It did allow us more creativity with animation. When you have 48 frames for every second, you can handle quick changes of motion better. You can see that in Gollum. At 48, you can really define those micro expressions. At 24 fps, the expressions are softer. We capture at 60 frames per second, so we could use more of the motion-capture data.

That WETA is already using 60 fps capture adds to the likelihood that future blockbusters they work on will be made at 60 fps.  I expect announcements of more high frame rate movies soon.  If I were to bet, I’d guess that the next announced HFR movie (beyond what has already been 100% confirmed) will be X-Men: Days of Future Past.  Bryan Singer has been making a string of exciting casting and plot related announcements on his Twitter, and he previously said he had “frame rate envy” after seeing The Hobbit in HFR. So I definitely expect to see this mutant epic in HFR 3D.

Letteri mentions realism as representing the future of visual effects:

Studio Daily: Leaving the business trends aside, what trends do you see technically and artistically in visual effects?

Joe Letteri: Generally, I see more of this trend toward realism. In a way, that’s what we’ve always done. But now, there’s more acknowledging that it is what we do. There’s more of a focus on understanding and trying to apply realism. Even though it’s more complex, it gives you the ability to standardize around a known quantity. There is less guesswork when you measure the real world.

What are you excited about now?

Smaug. He’s our next big character. You just got a few glimpses of him in the first film. I love the Riddles in the Dark, and I love Smaug. Seeing what we can do with Smaug is the next thing.

As I’ve been saying for a while now, I can’t wait to see Smaug.  His reveal at the end of An Unexpected Journey was perfect: from the thrush’s leisurely flight to the The Lonely Mountain, to it knocking the seed on the wall, then the camera taking us into the huge treasure chambers where we hear the amplified echoes of the thrush’s activity as we track over the hills of gold and treasure, leading into the final push-in on the dragon’s eye as we discover that Smaug had been sleeping under the gold coins all this time. I got chills.

Letteri’s love for Smaug and his excitement regarding Smaug as WETA’s “next big character” is very encouraging, as is the implicit promise of new techniques being used to bring Smaug and his environment to life.  We’ve never had a great talking dragon in the movies, not to mention a dragon whose belly is encrusted in dazzling golden coins and gems. Can’t wait to see how WETA plays with the lighting effects.

Even if An Unexpected Journey doesn’t win the best Visual Effects award tonight, I’d bet Smaug will win it for them in 2014.

Check out the StudioDaily.com interview for a lot more fascinating VFX-related discussion from Letteri.

X-Men: Days of Future Past may be HFR 3D

According to Sir Ian McKellen, Bryan Singer may shoot X-Men: Days of Future Past in HFR 3D. From IGN’s interview with McKellen:

“I know [Bryan Singer]‘s a big fan of The Hobbit. He went to the opening with James Cameron in New Zealand, and he was very enthusiastic about the new technology. So whether we’ll be filming X-Men in 3D and 48 frames per second, we’ll find out.”

Singer tweeted the following after watching the premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in Wellington:

It looks quite likely indeed that X-Men: Days of Future Past will shoot in HFR 3D. Will it be 48 fps, or will Singer decide to up the ante and make it in 60 fps? I’m guessing we’ll find out soon.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is a time travel story that combines characters from the original 3 X-Men films (including Sir Ian McKellen as Magneto, Sir Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier, and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine) with the younger cast introduced in Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class. It’s currently scheduled to hit theaters on July 18, 2014, which is the release date of The Hobbit: There and Back Again.

I thoroughly expect one of these films to change dates. There’s a huge overlap in audience for these movies, not to mention McKellen probably doesn’t want people to have to choose between Magneto and Gandalf. And of course there will be a limited number of HFR 3D screens. So I’m sure 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. will work something out.