We're still hearing loud debates about 3D in film, from the bitter and the unopposed, all while 3D technology continues to plod along. But we have yet to see a bitter divide on movie technology providing 48 frames-per-second that's close to permeating movie theaters, starting soon with "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." However, the chances of this tech meeting an early death seems to start with the fact that very few theaters will show "The Hobbit" in 48 fps this December.
While the simple reason is because many movies theaters simply don't have the equipment to show 48 fps yet, there's a definite public divide on its use. When "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" previewed at Cinema Con this last spring, the response was one of incredulity in how a faster frame rate could affect an audience's equilibrium. Depending on how your brain is wired, the demarcation is one of some feeling ecstatic watching 48 fps, and others running to the nearest loo after experiencing something resembling seasickness.
Why it affects some in the positive and others in the negative are questions you'll be hearing asked much more in coming years. And, so far, that same debate should be taking place with high-definition TV's where faster frame rates are now a built in option to give you that so-called "soap opera" effect on Blu-ray movies and cable broadcasts. Go read some of the customer reviews of those TV's and you'll see many split down the middle with confused thoughts of the tech being either major enlightenment or cinematic anathema.
For those who find it disorienting, the option can easily be turned off on all TV's. However, those who do turn it off seem to think something is missing on their TV when watching movies. We now have a strange and maddening middle line developing that places faster frame rate tech in a position where we can't seem to live without it, yet ultimately repulsed when we see it.
The bright side of faster frame rates is in how vivid it makes movies look for those who want more cinematic reality. It works compellingly well when watching older movies from the 1930s and '40s on TV where you gain a feigned feeling of watching a live, black and white video playback from the film set. For those older and opposed, though, it could be the ultimate blasphemy in creating an unnatural look from how they grew up accustomed to cinematic motion at 24 fps.
If those protests become too loud, don't be surprised to see 48 fps have a fate we all thought would happen to 3D first. Or, it could be very much like 3D where it goes in and out of style every 25 years in movie houses. The same could be had with faster frame rate options on our TV's, despite that aforementioned option to turn it off at will.
There may be a compromise available on your TV, at least going by the ability to tweak settings on your TV menu. If you ever take time to do that, customize your faster frame rate option. Different settings exist that can give you a slight feel of removing motion blur without disorientation, but still giving you a film effect.
This may be why faster frame rates will always be popular on TV's. There, we can adjust our options rather than taking on the sometimes nauseating and full throttle 48 fps in a movie theater.