Next Big Thing – double-smooth movies

Making 24 frames per second look downright silly, next year's blockbusters will be 48fps of smooth

Double smooth, eh? Like a hybrid of Steve McQueen and Pierce Brosnan?

You mean you actually liked Brosnan’s face-chewing remake of The Thomas Crown Affair? What is wrong with you? It’s the McQueen version for us, all the way, with its polo neck jumpers and radical multi-panel cut-scenes. But what both flicks share is that they, like almost every other movie made using film, were shot at 24 frames per second.

Oh, right. My camcorder does that.

Well, congratulations. And it probably does so in ‘cine’ mode, because 24fps makes your home movies look a bit like they’ve been shot on film. Originally, 24fps was adopted because, as the lowest refresh rate that still looks real, it saved on expensive film. With many movies now being shot and projected digitally, that’s no longer an issue. Therefore it makes sense to move to a higher frame rate such as 48fps or 60fps.

It makes sense, does it? Not to me.

What a surprise. Higher frame rates equal smoother movies, with less distracting motion blur. They’ll be particularly suited to 3D and CGI-heavy films, which may explain why Peter Jackson is filming The Hobbit in 48fps, and James Cameron is debating whether to shoot Avatar's sequels at 48fps or 60fps. It’ll be cinema-only initially – a new Blu-ray standard would be needed to squeeze them on to discs for home viewing – but we're watching with interest.

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