The Hobbit film leaves fans with an unexpected sickness

Dec 2, 2012

Latest J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation was filmed at a higher frame rate, but the results have left viewers queasy

MOVIEGOERS who went to see the first screening of The Hobbit in New Zealand have complained a cutting edge new filming technique employed by director Peter Jackson left them feeling dizzy and sick.

Jackson filmed The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first in a two-part adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien novel, in 3D and at a camera speed of 48 frames per second, which is double the normal rate, The Sunday Times reports.

The result is supposed to make 3D look smoother, eliminating flicker and motion blur. But the results have been too realistic for some.

The first complaints came six months ago at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, where Jackson showed clips of The Hobbit in 48 fps. One tech writer summed up the general feeling thus: "It's a subtle change, but one that makes a huge difference. Your favourite shows all of a sudden look like amateur productions. It is very unpleasant."

The issue has come back to haunt Jackson following last week’s premier in New Zealand.

“My eyes cannot take everything in, it’s dizzying, now I have a migraine,” said one fan, who nevertheless can’t wait to see it again.

Another tweeted: “It works for the big snowy mountains, but in close-ups the picture strobes. I left loving the movie but feeling sick.”

One fan said watching the film was like a being on a rollercoaster. “You have to hold your stomach down and let your eyes pop at first to adjust. This is not for wimps.”

The Sunday Times attempts to explain the reason for the queasiness scientifically by quoting the work of Adrian Bejan, author of Design in Nature.

Apparently, eye movement normally combines “long and fast horizontal sweeps with short and slower vertical movements”.

However, 48fps film “requires the eye to sweep up and down faster than usual in close-ups to absorb unparalleled detail on a big screen, causing cognitive strain”.

Happily for fantasy fans with weak stomachs, hardly anyone will actually be able to see The Hobbit in its 48fps glory, because fewer than five per cent of cinemas have the necessary equipment.

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These comments were from April.