I have a question about the movie the hobbit. People claim that the quality of the movie is way better because the movie is recorded and displayed in 48 fps. Normally this is 24 fps.

My opinion is that better frame quality only is possible with better techniques or when other settings are used. I think it can’t be because of only a frame increasement. It’s true that more frames per second makes new techniques available.

But why do they think that the screen quality is better? Is it maybe because of a higher resolution? Or do they just use other settings?

  • Can we just clarify something? When you write 'screen' in your question, do you actually mean frame, i.e. each of the 48 individual frames that comprise a second of film?
    – Nobby
    Dec 28, 2012 at 21:04
  • Ofcourse, With screen I mean the frames. So in this case it’s the frame quality.
    – Laurence
    Dec 28, 2012 at 21:07
  • It’s mainly about 24 – 48 fps, he says that 24 fps is the same as watching through a window and with 48 fps is that you stand outside. I want to convince him that this is not because of the frame rate but because of the fact that the frame rate makes it possible to use another setting or technique that makes this possible. In this case a setting.
    – Laurence
    Dec 28, 2012 at 21:14
  • 1
    I see close votes, but mainly because of the wording, I'm going to assume. Maybe make the question more about the question itself rather than convincing someone of the answer? Otherwise, this is an interesting read.
    – Tablemaker
    Dec 29, 2012 at 3:48
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    Why don't you reword your question to centre on TH:AUJ? I haven't seen the HFR version yet. But from what I read, it changes the entire atmosphere of the movie (and often negatively) as most people feel that they're watching a stage play rather than a Hollywood fantasy. Dec 29, 2012 at 5:15

4 Answers 4


There is a huge difference in the feeling of the film based upon the Frames Per Second it was shot in.

There are a number of films that were shot using a digital camera, but at a higher 30FPS that were reviewed to have a "poor quality or feel" because the faster shutter rate gave it a television feeling.

Many professional digital camera now shoot at the slower 24FPS to capture that film feeling.

Many faster 30FPS digital cameras often produced a cleaner, sharper, wider range of color image that was perceived to be to different from traditional film stock. That the color space and feel of film could not be reproduced digitally. Much of this is true.

Today, many digital cameras now use all the same lens, hardware and mounts that older traditional film cameras used. The sensors are much more refined and adjusted to give a more natural color space. Post-processing has also greatly improved to reproduce many film stocks as a digital filter.

If you were speaking to someone who was not technical, but experienced in the film industry. He may have experienced producing films at 30FPS which were much sharper and cleaner then traditional 24FPS film stock. As a result. I can totally understand his perspective that 30FPS has a higher quality image.

The techniques to produce 30FPS and 24FPS films at one time was very different. Today, it's better to clarify that the difference is not frame rate, but film versus digital.

Additionally, frames per second can have a direct impact on the type of motion blur produced in an image. The higher the frame rate the less motion blur there is. Resulting in a cleaner sharper image for objects in motion.

  • And with Douglas Trumbull experimenting with 120 fps, I feel all the current debating will become moot ;)
    – Nobby
    Dec 29, 2012 at 1:41
  • Motion blur is a very good point, but: I assume that an object cannot go faster than 30 km/h in the hobbit. I also assume that the minimum in action view is around the 20 meters. 30 km/h = 8,333333333333333 m/s A shot in 24 fps will maximum last 0,0416666666666667 seconds. This means that the object can cross the screen with a maximum of 0,005m. The screen normally shows 20 meter? This is around 0,025%. Let’s say, an object goes from the bottom to the top of the screen. 2160px is the screen height. That means the blur max can be 0,54px. I guess that that is not the problem.
    – Laurence
    Dec 29, 2012 at 9:19
  • @Laurence - You are mixing shooting HFR and projecting HFR.
    – Oliver_C
    Dec 29, 2012 at 19:35
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    @Oliver_C, indeed. My bad! I saw the Hobbit in 48FPS yesterday, now I know why all those people say that 48FPS is way better. Even more than 48FPS would be better, there were a few scene where an objects cross the screen in less than 1 second. So monitor blur is indeed the problem. Thanks!
    – Laurence
    Dec 30, 2012 at 13:51

Quoting Peter Jackson:

...it's like watching a movie where the flicker and the strobing and the motion blur what we've been used to seeing all of our lives -- I mean, all our lives in the cinema -- suddenly that just disappears. It goes. And you've got this incredibly vivid, realistic looking image.

And you've got sharpness because there's no motion blur, so everything is much sharper. And plus we're shooting with cameras that are 5K cameras, so they're super sharp.

Eliminating motion blur, even subtle motion blur we might not be consciously aware of, makes it appear sharper.

It also explains the "Made for TV look" some people are complaining about.

    Soap Opera Effect [Source]

  • But is motion blur on 24FPS really a big deal? It’s only relevant on very fast moving objects. You can look at my command on Mathew Foscarinis answer for a calculation that I made. I know that in a lot of cases this isn’t correct, but I guess that the overall view doesn’t get affected by this. Or I didn’t calculated it correct. That is also possible.
    – Laurence
    Dec 29, 2012 at 13:15
  • Motion blur is more evident in 3D, which is why HFR is currently only used for the 3D screenings of The Hobbit.
    – Oliver_C
    Dec 29, 2012 at 19:27
  • @Laurence Yes, motion blur is a big deal in the sense that pretty much everyone can tell the difference between 24 FPS and 30 FPS. Even if they don't know what they are seeing is different frame rates, the difference is clear. If you go frame by frame through any 24 FPS movie, you'll see something blurred in many of the frames. Not so much when people are talking, but even walking creates motion fast enough to blur. Remember, that the exposure time has to be slightly less than 1/24 of a second, and that's a long exposure for action. Jul 17, 2018 at 15:47

There are two key issues with higher frame rates. One is simply that more information can be transmitted at higher frame rates (if the recording was done at the higher rate: just showing the same frame twice as some TVs do doesn't really make much difference). The second is supposed to be that double rate overcomes a major limitation of 3D which is a loss of brightness on the projected image.

Other things being equal, more information should be good. But there is a problem with giving more information in a medium that is primarily about creating an illusion. Cinema maintains the illusion in many cases because of what it can hide from the audience. We don't shoot in outer space to get special effects in star Wars but join set-based action with imaginary images shot with models, computers, paintings and so on. The illusion relies on not being able to see the join. Dodgy models and make up don't matter if the image is transient or blurred. The trouble with higher frame rate recordings is that they show more and hide less making it harder to maintain the illusion and harder to hide the join between the real and the special-effect. They even make it harder to make make-up look real. So one issue with 48fps may be that it sometimes shatters the illusion: the image is better but the illusion is worse.

The other issue is more clear cut. The extra projected frames won't, if everything else is equal, make the screen brighter. The light source is the same but chopped up differently. In reality many 24fps movies are displayed with triple "exposures" of each 24fps frame now. Higher rates will probably compromise that a little but, even so, there isn't more light in total just because there are more frames.

Mark Kermode interviews a projectionist on his blog on this topic and after a humorous explanation of how things are projected gets a definitive no the the question of whether higher frame-rates solve the brightness problem in 3D.


Imagine a movie as a flipbook. Higher FPS = more pages in the flipbook. More pages doesn't affect the actual quality of each page, just the motion between the pages.

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