HFR XD 3D 1080p HD WTF

December 15, 2012 // Tagged in: technology, review

Last night I went to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in HFR XD 3D. The XD seems to just be Cinemark's name for their new theatre style, because HFR 3D was available not in XD. In any case, we saw the movie in 3D, filmed and played at a high frame rate (HFR) of 48fps vs the usual 24.

Before seeing the movie, I was waiting in line and listening intently to the comments of viewers of the previous showing. Most of them had comments along the lines of it messed with me and it was a little weird. One woman compared the lifelike-ness to watching a soap opera.

This reminded me of my first experience with full 1080p content on a large screen. We were watching an episode of Dexter on a friend's large tv in a small apartment. My wife didn't like the HD, because the detail was so great that sets actually looked like sets - similar to the obvious and shoddy sets of soap operas. I remember understanding the sentiment, but I enjoyed the detail and embraced it. I appreciated the elements of high detail that enhanced the show and accepted/ignored those that may have detracted. By now, I'm very used to the super high definition, and love it. I would be very interested to see viewer reactions and sort them by "watches 1080p content at home."

One of the comments about the HFR in The Hobbit was that it made things look unnaturally fast and jerky - particularly, the first scene, with Bilbo gathering his books. When I saw this scene, it did look a little fast, almost like it was sped up. However, another article I read mentions that the effect makes things like Bilbo putting a napkin on his shirt feel like an acid trip. This one was just ridiculous. I don't know if there is an HFR adjustment period of sorts, but by the scene with the napkin reference (still very early in the movie), everything just kind of seemed more HD. By this I mean that it didn't feel wrong or sped up, it just seemed to have great detail, and I liked it.

The big negative for me was not the HFR, but the 3D. I have never enjoyed 3D movies and I hope that they phase out. The HFR was only available in 3D, so we went to experience it. I won't be doing it again. I'd be willing to pay the same 3D premium for an HFR 2D movie, but I won't willingly see 3D movies anymore.