Friday, January 11, 2013

The Hobbit: An Uneducated (Visual) Comparison

I've seen The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey three times so far.  The first day I saw it was also the same day of the Sandy Hook tragedy so I just haven't felt up to writing much about it.  I loved the movie, more than a lot of folks, apparently.  But I still can't think about it without my mind wandering to the families in Connecticut.  So I'm going to take a different approach to my discussion.  I saw the film first in 2D, then in 3D and finally in 3D HFR (high frame rate).  I'm definitely not an expert on the subject of frame rates, etc., but I can tell you that what we're referring to here is shooting a movie in 48 frames per second instead of a standard 24 frames per second.  I think there is some discussion out there about what the human eye truly processes per second but that's more than I need to know.  What I do know is what I like and what worked for me.  Sadly I have no actual visuals to do a comparison but I will include some pretty Hobbit pictures if that helps.  I don't think the movie stills do the film any justice but they're still nice to look at.

First up...2D.  I think the regular print of The Hobbit looked absolutely lovely.  It was bright, clear and pretty to look at.  The effects and CGI worked wonderfully. I didn't feel like I was missing out by not seeing it in 3D (maybe because I knew I would be experiencing it that way later) either.  There aren't too many occasions in the movie that things are flying around and you find yourself thinking, "Gee I wish I had 3D glasses on right now."  That said...

Seeing it in straight 3D was by far my favorite.  What was pretty in 2D was absolutely gorgeous in 3D.  It was the first time I saw a movie in 3D and didn't have to fuss with the glasses. I always feel like there are dark spots and stuff is just never clear enough for me.  Not so with The Hobbit.  Gollum looked absolutely fantastic and incredibly life-like.

Rivendell looked about the same as it did in the Lord of the Rings movies, which is to say, quite lovely.  However I wasn't struck by any noticeable improvement in scenery there.  

The 3D HFR didn't sit right with me the entire time but for the most part it was fine. I didn't actually notice a huge difference from regular 3D but then there were a few times it seemed a bit off.  What I noticed was that occasionally movement seemed wrong.  Someone's arm moved a bit too fast or the camera moved just a hair too much.  I think any tiny little weirdness in movement was exaggerated but then was gone in a flash so it wasn't a huge deal.  The fighting and running around all looked fine and I think that's because the camera was pulled back a bit. The scene where the dwarves clean up after dinner (probably my favorite one because they are actually singing) looked no different than regular 3D so that was good too .

The scenery didn't look too terribly different from the 3D either.  I guess I wanted to be astounded by the HFR so I could totally back Jackson's choice in using it.  I just didn't see what the big deal was.  However I wonder what the 2D and regular 3D would have looked like if he hadn't shot it at 48 fps.  I'm sure someone much more knowledgeable than myself would have more to say about the HFR

My good friend and Tolkien "scholar," Michael Livingston wrote a review of The Hobbit on his blog and I encourage you to check it out

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