Saturday, December 22, 2012

Presentation Review - The Hobbit Imax HFR 3D

Tonight I screened The Hobbit at the AMC Burbank in Imax HFR 3D. (HFR= High Frame Rate) How was it? The movie is good, but long. With getting there early enough to get a good seat I was sitting there from 6:45 to 10:10. That's 3 hours and 25 minutes. 

Ahhh, you ask (or maybe not), but how was the presentation? Did the image look good? The 3D? Did the scenes look video-ish? The Hobbit was shot at 48 frames per second in 3D with the Red Epic camera and presented in Imax 4K. So how does the image stand up to a big screen, a silver screen at that?

The Imax passive 3D requires polarized glasses, which is not great considering I already wear eyeglasses, however, it is less cumbersome than the shutter glasses that Imax had used in the past.

The 3D is very good throughout, immersive and at times wonderous. However, the texture of the silver screen gives the bright areas a gritty texture (which is true of all polarized 3D). Unfortunately, shutter glass 3D is not succeeding like polarized, so everything is on a silver screen which results in a bright spot ("hot spot") in the center of the screen and that grittyness to the bright scenes.

Addressing the HFR - there is definitely something odd going on with the bright scenes and the 48fps. I don't know if I was convincing myself, or if I was actually seeing it, but in daylight skies and other very bright scenes I felt I could see the edgyness of the pixels - like TV scan lines. The overly bright sequences were mostly in the early parts of the movie, but as soon as we were in darker interiors, the movie looked great.

I have seen 70mm at 60fps and that indeed looks spectacular. The film grain just goes away and you are left with a beautiful image. Here, the 48fps images (provided they were not dominated by bright or white) looked great. The 3D was as good as I have seen it - well done and immersive. This is probably the best I have seen since Avatar, again probably due to the high res 4k image, but certainly the 48fps probably helped there.

My verdict? I think the 4k is reason enough to see the Imax version or the AMC ETX version and I would approve of the 3D as well. I would have to see it again to compare the ETX 3D to the HFR 3D to see if there really is a big difference. But... as I said, the 3D in the 48fps version was excellent.

The movie is good, the cast stellar, but keep in mind that this is part one of three... If you are a fan of BBCs Sherlock, the actors that play Holmes and Watson are both in the film.

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