Ang Lee, the director of Life of Pi, is creating the first film in 120fps HFR – five times the normal 24fps. At the screening of 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' attendees described the picture experience as “absolutely spectacular”, “stunning” and “amazing”.
The first film in 120fps HFR
'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' is about a war veteran who survived the war in Iraq but it is not the plot that people are most intrigued about, but rather how new technology can take the picture experience to new heights.
- “It was like being there, which I anticipated. It looks like he will be delivering a stunning movie experience. I'm trembling," said Douglas Trumbull who created special effects for movies such as ’2001: A Space Odyssey’ and ’Blade Runner’ to The Hollywood Reporter.
”It was literally as if you were there”
- “Absolutely spectacular” said Dolby’s VP of technology, Pat Griffiss to Variety, and added; ”... it was literally as if you were there. This is undoubtedly the best 3D I’ve ever seen.”
‘Billy Lynn’ is the first full-length film to be produced in 120 frames per second - also called HFR (high frame rate). For decades movies have been shot and reproduced in 24 frames per second. The movie was further shot in 4K resolution and 3D, and it is the combination of these three factors that made the crowd go wild.
- “I’m stunned. It’s a really powerful film, and a really clear presentation. It’s the best 3D I’ve ever seen in my life. The 3D is really, really good on this thing. Absolutely amazing,” said Howard Lukk of Society of Motion Picture Engineers (SMPTE) to Variety.
Ang Lee, best known as the director of Life of Pi, said in an interview with Variety that it was his dissatisfaction with 3D on Life of Pi that made him explore new technologies.
Ang Lee did not mention Peter Jackson who was first to shoot a film in 48fps with The Hobbit, but said that it was James Cameron, the creator of Avatar, who convinced him that high frame rate can take the movie experience to new places. James Cameron calls the combination of 120fps, 4K and 3D "the new platinum standard".
James Cameron calls the combination of 120fps, 4K and 3D "the new platinum standard"
A few people at the screening expressed concern that the film had a hint of the “video look” that many viewers criticized after watching The Hobbit, but the same people acknowledged that 120fps looks much better.
No way to watch it in 120fps HFR
Attendees at the screening enjoyed a 11-minute sequence from the movie, including war battle scenes that some later described as ultra-realistic and somewhat upsetting. The team used a custom-made twin-projector setup to reproduce video in 120fps, 4K and 3D.
The bad news is that no movie theatres are capable of reproducing the film in 120fps/4K/3D. It would require an entirely new projector installation and there is currently no roadmap that leads to this. The movie will be distributed by Sony Pictures who is believed to target a 60fps HFR release in 2K resolution. Insiders claim that HFR will be prioritized over 3D if something has to be left out. However, no final decision has been made.
In regards to living room TVs the latest 4K TVs are capable of reproducing video in up to 4K at 60fps, but not 120fps. At present, the industry is focused on delivering 4K, HDR (high dynamic range) and wide color gamut but the roadmap includes 120fps HFR. It may become reality in the living room within a few years from now.
Even if we never get the opportunity to experience Ang Lee's movie in its original format, it begs the question; is it time to move on from 24fps? It is also worth noting that Billy Lynn is made on a relatively modest budget of $44-48 million dollars, which proves that it is possible to use the latest cutting-edge technology to create movies without breaking the bank.
'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' will premiere on November 11.