Books & Review | Cole Garner Hill
Updated: Sep 19, 2012 03:28 PM EDT

hobbit

In April 2011 Jackson took to his Facebook page to reveal “The Hobbit” was shot in ultra-high-resolution at 48 frames per second. (Photo : Facebook)

Days away from the book's 75th anniversary, the new full trailer for the movie version of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" has stormed the Internet castle. (See video below)

The latest trailer confirms many of our high hopes for the new film: "The Hobbit" looks every bit as epic as the films Jackson preceded it with. In the new two plus minute preview, we get taken on a serious trek through Middle Earth, and introductions to key players like Gandalf, dwarves, elves, hobbits, and even Gollum. "Why Bilbo Baggins?" Ian McKellen intones as Gandalf halfway through the trailer, "Perhaps it is because I am afraid ... and he gives me courage."

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The first of three Jackson movies based on Tolkien's "The Hobbit," which was published 75 years ago Friday Sept. 21, the movie stars Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins), Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield), and Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaug), as well as several actors who will reprise their roles from "The Lord of the Rings," including Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, and Orlando Bloom.

Also returning for the production is a significant part of the production crew. Among others, co-writers Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens, illustrators John Howe and Alan Lee, art director Dan Hennah, and cinematographer Andrew Lesnie will return. As with the original trilogy, props will generally be crafted by Weta Workshop and visual effects managed by Weta Digital. Additionally, composer Howard Shore, who wrote the score for "The Lord of the Rings," has confirmed his involvement in the first two parts of the film project.

In April 2011 Jackson took to his Facebook page to reveal "The Hobbit" was shot in ultra-high-resolution at 48 frames per second. "We are indeed shooting at the higher frame rate," said Jackson.

"The key thing to understand is that this process requires both shooting and projecting at 48 frames/s, rather than the usual 24 frames/s (The great majority of films have been shot at 24 frames per second since the late 1920s). So the result looks like normal speed, but the image has hugely enhanced clarity and smoothness. Looking at 24 frames every second may seem ok-and we've all seen thousands of films like this over the last 90 years-but there is often quite a lot of blur in each frame, during fast movements and if the camera is moving around quickly, the image can judder or "strobe." Shooting and projecting at 48 frames/s does a lot to get rid of these issues. It looks much more lifelike and it is much easier to watch, especially in 3-D."

As far as we can tell from viewing the new trailer online, that frame rate looks spectacular. However, we have to wonder what kind of reaction the new enhanced quality will receive from people in theaters. The new higher frame rate certainly approaches "uncanny valley" territory.

At an industry event screening in April 2012, the new 48 frame per second format was described as receiving "an underwhelming reaction at best". While Variety stated that the footage "looked distinctively sharper and more immediate than everything shown before it, giving the 3D smoother movement and crisp sharpness", it also reported that it lost "the cinematic glow of the industry-standard 24 fps" and that "human actors seemed overlit and amplified in a way that many compared to modern sports broadcasts and daytime television". One projectionist complained that "it looked like a made-for-TV movie".

Jackson claimed that the poor reception "wasn't particularly surprising" because "it does take you a while to get used to it. Ten minutes is sort of marginal, it probably needed a little bit more"

"The Hobbit" will also be released in the current 24 fps standard, likely in theaters that have yet to upgrade to digital projection.

On first publication in October 1937, The Hobbit was met with almost unanimously favorable reviews from publications both in the UK and the US, including The Times, The New York Post. C. S. Lewis, friend of Tolkien, writing in The Times said,

"The truth is that in this book a number of good things, never before united, have come together: a fund of humour, an understanding of children, and a happy fusion of the scholar's with the poet's grasp of mythology... The professor has the air of inventing nothing. He has studied trolls and dragons at first hand and describes them with that fidelity that is worth oceans of glib 'originality.'"

"The Hobbit" arrives in theaters Dec. 14.

 

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