Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Future framerates for TV and Film

Rupert emailed me a blog entry by Stuart Maschwitz - he prefaced the message with "he is the ying to your yang" which amused me - given my love of interlaced pictures and the smooth motion they protray;

...so television engineers and home theater nerds with nothing better to do, please stop trying to find ways to make movies more like reality. As you can see from this year's cinematography Oscar winner, film is at its best when it is unmistakeably unreal.

Ignoring the guy's dislike of engineers (hey, film and TV are still both inherently technical processes) - I felt I had to respond.
This chap confuses the container from the contents - of course film makers should be able to make whatever film they like - fast motion or stuttered low-frame rates. However - is he saying that other kinds of look aren't valid? Convergence means cinemas will be re-purposed for big sporting and cultural events. Who wants to see football or operas crippled to 24P? 50P looks better than 50i and both render motion better than 25P. What other aspect of image acquisition should be subject to this 'less is more' fascism? Would he be happy with black & white film and mono audio that rolls off at 8Khz? My two favorite films of all time were shot thus and I'm very happy that modern 1080/50P displays can render them accurately.

The same argument was fashionable with vinyl audio - a CD can encapsulate faithfully everything audiophiles like about the sound of vinyl. I've tried it - I've dubbed vinyl - DAT and audiophile friends identify it as vinyl and gush about the warmth of the sound until you show them it's a digital recording.

I think we need media containers that can faithfully render whatever material the film director/TV producer wants to show. Make the container as good as it can be and then put whatever contents you like in it.

As if to vindicate me I came across this BBC whitepaper that talks about how good pictures can look at high framerates (300fps and greater) - and even how good normal-framerate stuff looks when aquired at 300fps.

1 comment:

Saul said...

ha ha ... it was only a matter of time!

I've always been a big fan of Stu's blog, but I do disagree with him on the frame rate front. I almost responded to the same posting to posit how he would have felt if the *entire film* had run at 12fps ... I don't think many people would have lasted 5 mins of that!

Did you see The Dark Knight in IMAX by any chance ... the disparity between spatial resolution and temporal resolution really struck me there, on medium speed pans it really felt like a slide show.