"The Hobbit," Peter Jackson's prequel follow-up to the widely beloved "Lord of the Rings" films, opened across the country last night, but some viewers in Chesterfield were transported to a decidedly sharper-looking Shire.
That's because Wehrenberg's Chesterfield Galaxy 14 Cine is the only movie theater in the St. Louis area showing the film in dual-projection 3D using a new visual effect championed by Jackson called High Frame Rate (HFR). Ronnie's 20 Cine in South County has also received the HFR version of the film, but won't be using dual-projection.
For non-cinema geeks out there, let's explain. "The Hobbit" is the first movie ever to be shown in HFR, which means it was shot at 48 frames per second instead of the standard 24 frames per second. According to a press release from Wehrenberg, the result is that viewers see a sharper image because there is less flicker, motion blur and stuttered movement.
It's particular noticeably in 3D, which frequent movie-goers may have observed seems to lack the visual fidelity of its 2D counterparts. The other piece of technology in play, the dual projection, doubles the light outputs, which also helps produce a sharper 3D image that is easier to see.
"The improvements to 3D movies are dramatic, creating ultra-realistic movie-going experiences," Wehrenberg said in the press release announcing the HFR showings.
However, early reaction from film viewers isn't rather mixed. Some are praising the new technology for making a richer picture, but research conducted by The L.A. Times found that "48 frames per second is by far the most common complaint about 'The Hobbit' on social media" sites.
The critics of the new technology say that the sharper image quality is almost too much, making the props and sets look fake. A story in the Wall Street Journal said it can create a "soap opera effect" similar to some super HD TV sets.
Some fans have also that instead of wowing them, the effect had made them feel a little sick (although it's something Jackson himself has heatedly refuted). However, FOX2 reported that the "Hobbit" enthusiasts at the Ronnie's Theater in South St. Louis were feeling just fine after the midnight premier.
Did you go see "The Hobbit"'s midnight premiere in HFR? Do you think the 48 frames per second creates a more rich visual picture or is the clarity distracting? Tell us in the comments below.