Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why Does This Trailer Look So Good? -- or -- It's Not Fake Looking Enough!

I'm watching this wondering why it looks so good when it dawns on me -- it's because it was shot at 48 fps. There's certainly more crispness, which would be expected when shooting at twice the normal shutter speed (1/100th of a second vs. 1/50th [the speed used for capturing 24 fps]), but there's also more dynamic range. Put the two together and, on an image level, it's very attractive, very easy to look at.

Yes, there are those who say the cinematic standard 24-frames-per-second produces a softness, a 'veil' between picture and veiwer, which allows the audience to remain once removed from the 'reality' of the movie's setting and, thereby, makes it possible for us to better enjoy the story. They maintain this separation is needed so that the story takes place on the other side of a 'wall', enabling the audience to lose themselves in the plot. They say that without this 'fuzzy looking glass' the image is too real to keep at arm's length, that the imagery imposes itself upon us with such immediacy the magic is swept away and we're left trying to enjoy scene after scene as if we were sitting in the room with these characters, spitting distance from the dramatic goings on, perhaps wishing we were somewhere (anywhere) else.

These purists contend that, by shooting a faster frame rate, you tear away this veil exposing a too-clear too-sharp image that is so real it melts away suspension of disbelief and makes the movie more like 'looking out your window' than escapist entertainment. However, given time, I'll bet we get used to just that level of clarity and the 'softness' of 24 fps will look, well...mushy -- too imprecise to hold interest let alone encourage immersion in fairy tales.

This new clarity, this lifting of the veil, it would seem, is (or will soon become) the new cinematic standard.


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