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VFX pioneer Douglas Trumbull sees HFR as the future of cinema

23 Jul 2021 | Rasmus Larsen |

Legendary visual effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull sees High Frame Rate – 120fps or higher – as the future of cinema, and he thinks that he has found a way to make it look right – look 'cinematic'.

The secret is... flicker?

Douglas Trumbull served the role as visual effects supervisor on movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek and Blade Runner. He has had a special focus on technical aspect of movies. In an interview with RedShark, he laid out his vision for how to make HFR (High Frame Rate) work in cinema, and how to avoid the soap opera effect. - "Very few people in Hollywood understand how movies work. They aren’t aware that in all the digital projectors installed there are no shutters – there is no flicker. (Yet flicker) is what differentiates movies from TV. So, if you introduce digital flicker in the projection of the film (actually in the DCP file) it can look fully cinematic even if you raise the frame rate to 120 or 160," Trumbull told RedShark. He said that he came to the conclusion only recently and added that all "all the elements are here and available" for HFR to make cinema more immersive, with reduced blur and improved motion. - "... those digital projectors in cinemas today are running at 144 flashes a second. Just to show a 24fps movie we are repeating the frame 5-6 times with no shutter. The potential for HFR is already built in to the industry. All the tools to upgrade the industry are already in place," Trumbull explained.

Gemini Man HFR

'Gemini Man' was projected at 60fps in most cinemas that advertised HFR screenings

HFR has a bad reputation

Filmmakers Peter Jackson (The Hobbit) and Ang Lee (Gemini Man, Billy Lynn's Halftime Walk) have experimented with HFR, but they did not get it right, argues Trumbull. Also read: HFR – The one UHD technology you rarely hear about The 79-year old veteran is now planning to demonstrate his decade-in-the-making 4K 3D HFR "MAGI" technology to SMPTE, cinematographers, directors, and other decision makers. - Source: RedShark

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