24 fps vs 48/60 fps in movies

I watched the trailers of The Hobbit at 48fps and Avatar’s at 60fps (as their directors wished), and I really don’t like the smoothness. Originally, in principle, I was a high frame rate advocate for cinema movies (thinking that 24fps is simply a relic of a century old tech requirement), however, now I’m against upgrading the temporal velocity for regular film. The difference between my old opinion and my new one, is that now I know why 48 or 60 fps don’t work as well as 24 fps. I had to become a collage artist to understand why.

The reason is that high frame rate becomes extremely distracting. When there are more frames, it means that there is way more information on the screen. The eye and the brain gets way too tired to follow and analyze it all (it follows it by default, you can’t turn off that natural process). Because of that, the brain runs out of steam to follow the story fully, and so the movie fails because the story doesn’t shine through.

The same is true for color: if you look at Hollywood color grading, except for black & white, only 1 or 2 more color families are actively visible. For example, you will get red, yellow, and that teal color that covers both green and blue. Basically, the fewer color families that are on screen, the less processing the brain has to do, resulting in the viewer dipping into the story more.

It’s the same in collage: the fewer the color families used, the more successful a collage is. Otherwise, it looks like a mess.

Having said all that, there is a future for high frame rate (and more colors), but that’s only in VR, or in futuristic systems where the image is projected directly on the brain. Then, yes, there’s a requirement for “more”, since the whole point of VR is to “fool” the brain about the reality it displays.

But for TV & film, which is projected away from ourselves, and perceivable by only one of our senses (so it must provide less information in order to be processed fast-enough), “less is more”. That’s why 24fps is here to stay for these mediums in particular.

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