The Hobbit: Video Technology You Can Do at Home – Businessweek
Filmmaker Peter Jackson’s new installment from Middle Earth has so much sexy technology you’d think reviewers would swoon: 3D; high def; 48 frames per second. Instead, we’re hearing a big yawn. Where did The Hobbit go wrong?
Welcome to the Q Curve. Consumer technology has gotten so good that the professionals we once paid to produce something startling now have difficulty staying ahead. I call this phenomenon the Quality Curve, where the rising quality of what you can produce with the iPhone (AAPL) or Samsung (005930) in your hand, if drawn as an upward line, now often surpasses the quality of professional producers. If the excellence of what you or I create rivals that of pros, our demand for their wizardry starts to slip.
Bilbo Baggins is a case in point. Jackson, whose brilliant The Lord of the Rings series won 17 Academy Awards, decided to solve one of film’s biggest flaws with this new preinstallment about the One Ring to Rule Them All—the flickering effect we get from a film speed set 90 years ago. When movies were first produced, film stock was expensive, so the standard rate of celluloid rolling through a camera was set at 24 frames per second. This means, for every second of a movie, 24 images flash rapidly on the screen to create the illusion of motion. The pace was set not for visual smoothness, but rather to conserve film—24 frames per second was the minimally viable option that gave users an acceptable moving image while holding down film costs.