High Frame Rate (HFR) and the Future of Video

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    • #49716

      I came across the following article which talks about the upcoming Hobbit movie, the use of 3D and High Frame Rates (HFR). The industry standard 24 fps doubled to 48 fps.


      Questions that come to mind are:

      Will this mean we all have to shoot in 48fps? In other words, will that become the new “standard”? Will it mean we won’t be striving for that “film” look any more? (I suspect all of this is a “no,” but I’m curious what others think.)

      The article shows the difference between 25 and 50, but where does my 60i (29.97 fps) come in to play? It looks “like video” compared to the film look of 24fps, but will it look odd compared to 48fps?


    • #203452

      Well, you got me thinking and I believe a parallel in the world of fine arts suggests where we’re going.

      Lets imagine a group of painters who are all looking out a window at a landscape; one paints in guache, one in oil, another in water color and one in aniline dyes. Each uses his own medium to paint a representation of the scene.

      Behind the painters are a group of art lovers; some prefer the hard finish of guache, some the slick surface of oil, some the soft lushness of watercolor and some the vibrant dazzle of the dyes. Each buys what appeals to his or her taste.

      Finally, lurking behind them all, are the manufacturers of pigments and binders, the gesso makers, pigment grinders and paint chemists. Each of them is trumpeting the virtues of his products: “Guache is better than oil. Your patrons will love it.” And, of course, the painters in guache will agree!

      When Leonardo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel his goal was to create a work of art that pleased both himself and the Pope, that would last for some time, that was economically feasible from the Pope’s point of view and would earn Leonardo a little beer money. As creators and consumers of moving images, we’re in a position similar to Leonardo. When we video tape a wedding or a high school graduation, for example, we try to make something we’re proud of, that’s affordable and will please our client, we hope that our DVDs will last for a least a few years and we look forward to the check we’ve earned.

      But behind all that we do as videographers there is another driving force: the manufacturers, whose raison d’etre is to sell equipment. This force often trumps creativity. Film noire, for example, worked beautifully when shot with black and white film stock. It changed radically when shot in color. The lights necessary for color filming all but obliterated the contrasts between light and darkness so characteristic of the genre. While you could argue that this is my subjective opinion, many directors who could shoot in color chose not to, purely for aesthetic reasons and the literature of film abounds in examples of this. Ultimately, owing to pressure from the “manufacturers” of films — i.e., the producers — and the film stock manufacturers, color won out in the major film studios.

      HD is different from SD, just as 4K is different from 640×480 and guache is different from water color; and each has aesthetic qualities radically different from the other. But to argue that one is better than the other is a matter of taste. I think that at the moment videography is being driven by manufacturers, companies that hype the format de jour as better than yesterdays’ technology. Why don’t we have affordable video cameras with interchangeable lens, rather than HDSLRs? Why are we wrestling to shoot video with a hybrid still camera? Patrons don’t care what we shoot with. Most don’t even know. They only care that Daughter Mary is in focus as she stands at the alter. Technology, even when it’s hyped, doesn’t trump the consumer’s taste and pocket book. During the past five years I’ve had only one customer who asked for delivery of their project on Blue Ray discs, for example, yet manufacturers have hammered us with the assertion that this is a “better” medium. Different, yes. Better?

      We’re out there shooting landscape pictures through the window, having our work bought by clients standing behind us whose tastes vary wildly (and widely), and being pushed and prodded to abandon one medium — i.e., one camera or camera format — for another by the manufacturers of all the new media that appears every six months. Based on what I’ve seen of my client’s preferences, I’m not going to head for 48fps any time soon.


    • #203453
      AvatarMoab Man

      I can’t comment one way or the other on where the standard will or will not be moved to, but I LOVED the clarity and sharpness of 50 fps during movement. I’m sold, tossing all my cameras in the trash… ok, maybe not yet but I do love the look of 50 fps.

    • #203454
      AvatarMoab Man

      One more comment, I have NEVER understood the allure of the “film” look. When I see people moving my vision doesn’t ghost so I don’t want a movie to ghost either. I want to be immersed in the film I’m watching, in other words, see it as close to how my eyes would actually see the events of the movie happen – assuming I’m wearing my glasses :).

    • #203455

      From the article, it appears to be more suited to 3-D rather than for conventional video. Since the test footage was not a real test, down converting 50fps to 25fps using the same footage is not a true scientific or for that matter a visual test. I would like to see two or the same cameras shooting the same footage together and compare from there. I personally do not see 24fps going anywhere for a long time, if anything 30fps would probably become standard as that is what I have to submit when making promo’s for theaters.

    • #203456

      Insecurity does a lot to sell new-fangled gear. I fell into that trap when I was building my sound recording business in the mid-60’s. Buying a $ 6700 two track stereo tape machine may have got me the ” best “, but at that timeI was not nearly skilled enough to take advantage of its capabilities. Eventually, I made the most money with a semi-pro machine and a home-brew machine!

      Hardware manufacturers have to keep new products coming to market, just as software designers need to sell new features in order to stay in business.

      Why obsess over the ” film look ” when so much production, from major feature films to TV reality shows, is shot in video? Haven’t audiences been conditioned to the ” video look ” by now? Do audiences yearn for strobing movement? Will one’s story-telling abilities appreciably improve if they use a RED ONE Cinema camera? How many clients will be won on the basis of your hardware arsenal and not on the basis of your ability to ” capture the moment “?

      How many of you loyal readers work as dramatic videographers? How many of you work moreas ” documentarians “?

      Rick Crampton

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