By S3D Centre, Emily Carr University of Art + Design
To re-iterate: We are researching not only the standalone benefits of higher frame rates in S3D, but also the effect of VARIABLE HFR on aesthetic and immersion in the context of a single narrative.
On Pre-Production and Concept Development for the Research
The concept and storyline of “L’âme Soeur (Soul Mate) 3D” was created with the intent of experimenting with variable frame rates from the beginning (both standard 24fps and HFR). Variable frame rates will be referred to this point forward as VFR. We were initially inspired by the idea of HFR after hearing Wim Wenders keynote at the 2011 Toronto International S3D Conference. The accomplished filmmaker expressed his thoughts about his landmark S3D documentary “Pina” being considered a candidate for HFR capture at one point in pre-production. As Wenders explains about his decision to film in 3D: “The two-dimensional cinema screen is simply not capable of capturing Pina Bausch’s work, either emotionally or aesthetically. When I watched her dance for the first time twenty-five years ago, I was captivated and deeply moved. I was able to understand human movement, gestures and feelings in a whole new way. And this magic is what I would like to translate to the screen […] 3D gives us the possibility of taking the audience directly onto the stage, into the middle of the event.” With “Pina” already being such a shining example of the art and technical achievement of S3D filmmaking, the thought of it also being filmed in HFR was striking. Would such a graceful, raw example of dance and human emotion that “Pina” is, become elevated with the use of HFR? Or would the use of HFR, noted for its ‘ultra-real’ definition, work against the beauty and emotion of the film? It is hard to imagine now what audience reaction may have been, but we did suspect that the use of HFR might have worked both for and against the film if its use was indeed employed.
Our interest in the topic grew as it was announced The Hobbit was filming in 48fps, and a year later audience reactions from CinemaCon 2012 was widely mixed. There had been reports of the HFR implementation working both for and against clips demonstrated, but as I have noted previously, this could also be due to the fact that the clips were not shown in the context of a narrative and furthermore were incomplete in VFX, grading and audio.
The debate for HFR rages on in the meanwhile, and during this time the initial seed of thought that VFR could have real creative strengths grew into a full-fledged idea. We decided to model the story of our film around the actual capabilities of what we suspected VFR and HFR could demonstrate. The initial shot list that encompassed experiments surrounding VFR/HFR was later discarded as we realized these ‘tests’ had no meaningful relevance once they were placed into a story narrative. For example, we could not find a legitimate way to test various shutter angles, gigantism, miniaturization, refraction/reflection, and temporal frequency all within the structure of a story. If we were to complete ‘tests’, they should remain just that- TESTS that result in comparative analysis of the effects of various VFR/HFR shots. So we ended up altering the shot list to contain the priority shots:
1. What do PEOPLE look like in HFR? (CU, MS, WS)
2. What does stationary movement/fast action look like?
3. How does HFR effect reflection?
4. How does HFR effect depth (foreground/background)
5. How does HFR affect REALISM?
We built the composition, framing, staging and action all within the structure of these five priorities. And the truth is while on location, we ended up altering our shots on several occasions to respond to the observations/desires we had at that time, while in the moment. For example, the decision to accommodate a request from a crew member to attempt a hand held shot resulted in one of the more interesting compositions of the shoot. On another occasion more dolly movement was used in a scene to address concerns around strobing/blur in moving S3D shots, and test these concerns on the spot. [more…]
Source: S3D Centre, Emily Carr University of Art + Design