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April 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

At CinemaCon in Las Vegas, Peter Jackson presented a 10-minute preview of scenes from his upcoming The Hobbit that were shot at 48 frames per second, double the 24 frame rate per second that has been the standard in motion pictures since the advent of talking pictures in the late 1920s. To some in the audience it all seemed reminiscent of effects guru Douglas Trumbull’s demonstration reel of Showscan, developed in the late ’70s, a process using 65mm film shot at 60 frames per second. At the beginning of the demo, the host appears in front of a curtain and addresses the audience — but it’s not until several minutes into the presentation that the audience becomes aware that they are not watching a film — so extraordinarily lifelike was the process. (Although Trumbull had hoped that studios would employ the process in making feature films, it wound up being used mostly for “ride films” at theme parks.) Jackson’s film got the same kind of mixed notices that Trumbull’s film did — with the biggest objections being that it all looked too real. A projectionist told the Los Angeles Times, “It was too accurate — too clear. The contrast ratio isn’t there yet — everything looked either too bright or black.” A film buyer told the newspaper, “I was expecting a subtle difference, but this was dramatic.” Daily Variety’s John Dickey remarked that the sample reel was “a thing to behold. Totally different experience,” but he added, “Not all will like the change.”Deadline.com quoted one industry observer as saying, “It was like seeing Live From the Met at IMAX. Kinda cold.” But Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere remarked, “You’re right there and it’s breathtaking. … This is almost too good, I was half-telling myself.”