One of my most awaited films of this year, Ang Lee's Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk shot by John Toll (starring Steve Martin, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, etc) in a super experimental 4K 3D 120 fps. They apparently showed footage at NAB in the format, but only showed it in 24 fps at Cinemacon.
Apparently, they're planning on using 120 fps especially for the war sequences making it an incredibly vivid experience. Practically no theater though can project it the way it's intended to be seen right now, they had to watch the dailies on set at 2K 60 fps, and probably very few people will be able to experience the film at this framerate, resolution and in 3D, but it sounds absolutely super interesting.
Most people who saw it said it looks like video for the first few seconds and then goes way beyond. Ang Lee is not using it as a gimmick, but specifically as a story tool, ie using the HFR for the war sequences, a few people who talked about the experience said they left the experience shaken by what they'd seen.
It being 120 fps doesn't make it invalid compared to 24 fps, not if it's right for THIS story.
"“This is really the beginning of a new quest to get deeper into cinema, through storytelling and human emotion," Lee said, speaking before a standing room-only crowd. "To me there’s nothing like sitting in a dark room with an audience and sharing the mysteries of life. That was my motivation.""
Lee did his homework before embarking on the production. He said he watched James Cameron's high frame rate test, which went to 60fps; Lee called it "eye-opening."
He also visited high frame rate pioneer Douglas Trumbull, who has developed his own HFR production and exhibition system, called MAGI. "He showed me everything he had developed and gave me a brief history of high frame rates. That was an inspiration," Lee said.
"Lee said that after completing his 2012 Oscar-winner Life of Pi, he intended to make a boxing movie. But that changed when Sony motion pictures group chairman Tom Rothman presented him with the Billy Lynnmaterial. "It seemed the perfect chance to test this new medium," he said. "It about experiencing — beyond storytelling. I thought if it could bring the sensation of war and also a Dallas halftime show, that would be incredible."
Practically no theater though can project it the way it's intended to be seen right now, they had to watch the dailies on set at 2K 60 fps, and probably very few people will be able to experience the film at this framerate, resolution and in 3D, but it sounds absolutely super interesting.
Oh, not again. Not another one of these... Will this cat-and-mouse game ever end...
Ang Lee is not using it as a gimmick, but specifically as a story tool, ie using the HFR for the war sequences, a few people who talked about the experience said they left the experience shaken by what they'd seen.
I understand and I bet it looks quite interesting. However, anything that uses a non-standard presentation system is for better or for worse a gimmick. The 70mm roadshow of 'Hateful Eight' was a gimmick. The 48fps of 'The Hobbit' was a gimmick. Heck, you can even say ALL 3D movies are gimmicks as well, especially since MOST of them aren't shot in 3D. So yes, HFR playback in the cinema is nothing more then a gimmick. The main reason is MOST people will never see it that way. The few people who are lucky enough to see a special presentation of it in theaters, won't really make a big enough impact in the grand scheme of things. Also, I'm certain whoever is doing the post, is strangling Ang Lee right now. The post on 'The Hobbit' was crazy ridiculous as it was due to the 48fps, can you imagine 120fps? CRAZY!!!
They have created a unique pipeline for the film. Cameron said that 60 fps should be enough, but we'll see. They had to put together a crazy setup for the NAB showing, there will only be a few theaters, but that was the same thing for The Hobbit when it first came out or similar to IMAX 70mm showings. Lee says the benefits are still here even with lower framerates which most theaters will have to show.
But still, practically all those who saw those 11 minutes call it a gamechanger, we're talking 4K 3D 120 fps PER EYE. So who cares if few people get to experience it that way? Ang Lee is clearly trying something really interesting and breaking new ground even though Trumbull and Muren have worked on super high framerates and even advised Lee before he shot the film. John Toll shot it as well. It's experimental, the footage still had temp VFX, temp color, etc, but it really seems to be incredibly immersive.
'The Hobbit' was playing in 48fps at every 3D theater here in Los Angeles. There wasn't a special presentation of it that I'm aware of. I saw it in 3D @ 48fps and so did all my friends. I have a feeling 48fps was designed into the playback systems and projectors from the start.
60 and 120 however, these are two totally different formats. The presentation system required to playback 120fps doesn't exist today. Sure you can use a computer, but without substantial upgrades, theaters will have no capacity for playback. It's not like projecting 35mm, most theaters have projectors still, even if they aren't hooked up. This is going to require a major/significant technology update.
In terms of Trumbull, his company's business was more related to short-length movie "rides" rather then feature length films in the theater.
What I mean is that not many theaters were equipped for HFR.
The presentation system does exist since they showed it that way at NAB, they used two Christie projectors. But yes, it will be very costly and only a select few will be able to show it as it's supposed to be.
I saw this last night at the Arclight in LA at 120fps and 3D. I don't remember if it was 2K or 4K.
It took a little time for me to get used to the HFR, but after that it became immersive. Camera moves were smooth and did not have the annoying motion blur and judder that they would have in 3D at 24fps. On The Hobbit (I only saw the first one) I felt that the HFR made everything look synthetic, but this film didn't have that problem.
The 3D was also well done, with roundness and depth, and unlike many movies shown in 3D, it was clear that the the cinematography and editing were geared towards a pleasing and immersive 3D presentation.
I don't think HFR is suited to every kind of movie, but I do think it's necessary for 3D.
Edited by Ravi Kiran, 11 November 2016 - 06:32 PM.
That presentation is 4K (although the movie goes down from 120 to 60, and 4K to 2K within the movie (for emotional purposes) ) god, I wish I could see it that way but only the AMC Lincoln Center in NY, Arclight in LA and three in Asia can show it that way, that + Sony didn't go for a wide HFR release, they have 7 versions of it, but it seems the tepid reaction in NYFF scared them, and according to Film-tech, they didn't put the infrastructure in place in time, so basically, there will be the 4K 120 fps 3D version, a 2K 120 fps 3D Dolby Vision version in some select Dolby Cinemas and 2D 24 fps for everyone else. China has also the 3D 60 fps version, and hopefully there will be more HFR shows overseas.
Ang took a lot of flak for this but he's incredibly brave for having done this, it's clearly not for everyone, he said he's still learning, what works, what doesn't work, he hoped it would be a home run but knows that it's too jarring at first, he's planning to shoot Thrilla In Manila (Ali vs Frazier) in the same format, hoping Sony & Studio 8 will let him do that. He really got f***** here by Sony, it's a shame most people will see it in 2D 24 fps, although probably best, the bad publicity did a lot of harm.
I know that UHD Blu Ray can display 4K at 60 fps, so maybe we could get a HFR home release?!
I just got back from watching at the Cinerama dome, which is the only theater on this coast currently playing the movie. It's a pre-release special deal they made just for this particular theater. Ang Lee was present at the screening and had a quick Q&A afterwards about the production.
I've been wanting to check out the new laser projectors at the dome, so this gave me a great opportunity. I was VERY impressed with them, I think Arclight made the right decision. They were super bright and had excellent resolution over-all. The only failure they had was the curved screen, which is always a problem at that theater. I was hoping it was better then the last horrible digital projector they had and I was pleasantly impressed. I'd say the Dome is officially the 2nd best place to watch digitally projected movies, right next to the Chinese IMAX, which is by far the best.
In terms of the 4k 120fps experience, it didn't help the poor acting and worthless script. I actually didn't even really care about the 90's soap opera look to the movie, my attention was drawn to how poorly things were colored, framed, lit and the acting/script. Ang Lee explained that the "realistic" look was their intention and I applaud him for trying, but it's still a movie and LIFE has more contrast and depth then what I saw in this movie. My roommate who went with me, (whose spent almost his entire adult life in post production) complained about the motion of the camera. I didn't notice it, but he's right, real life has some motion blur, but this film has zero. It's so hyper crisp and hyper real, it feels fake, it feels like a computer game. As someone who spends most of their life editing and coloring, I took offense to some of the editorial decisions which just didn't work. They would have an actor looking right past the camera and cut away to the other actor, then when they cut back, the new angle was in a slightly different place. I even saw cuts that you could call "jump" cuts, right smack dab in the middle of dialog scenes. Very strange, as if they were running two cameras and were using the other angle for cut-to coverage? Strange! Color wise, faces were almost pinkish warm and very flat. There was little to no dynamics in the image, but most of that was through lighting decisions on set. I was frustrated because if you're making a movie that's suppose to be "real", why not do it realistically? Where are those dark moments without an HMI or LED panel making sure faces were perfectly lit? It seemed like the studio had a mandate that said; "If we give you the extra money for technology, it has to look like XYZ" because it's truly uninteresting to watch. Also, they did a good job casting no-names as the leads, but they FILLED the movie with B+, A- and A+ actors in bit roles. So all of a sudden you turn and see a famous actor, who is playing someone else. This is "suppose" to be realistic, so why didn't they just use no-names all the way around? I felt that was a huge mistake and honestly, those actors feel like they were forced onto the movie for whatever reason.
Now... the very brief war material, looked pretty good. I was impressed with the good camera work during that scene as well, IT worked! When they cut back to the half time show, which was 80% of the movie, it was just bland and uninteresting. It's almost like there were two camera units, one shooting the war and one shooting everything else. That's just my observation, but it's strange how drawn into the action you are with the high frame rate and 3D, it just worked. I see a lot of potential for war movie shot this way, I was very impressed with the war stuff. Though I will admit, I'm just not impressed with the F65. It does something really weird with the highlights on exteriors. It's like not over exposing, but it's clipping the imager on the whites. Detail is lost on desert shots from this very strange issue. Other movies have covered it up with clever coloring like 'Oblivion' which looked good, but was HEAVILY colored. Maybe it's a reality thing they were going after, but I see it more of a technical issue then anything else because I've seen it on other F65 movies.
Over-all, the movie isn't very good. It's an overly complex case study about what it's like to not fit in as a civilian, but do the right thing as a soldier. It's also about how Americans use and abuse soldiers for their own benefits. These two themes are very important and are the only reason to watch this movie. Yet, I couldn't help but saying, I've seen it before. The gimmick of 120fps 3D 4k, will only be seen by a few people as the vast majority of theaters will get a 48fps or 60fps 2k 3D release. People get excited by new and interesting, but they will leave disappointed, which is a real shame. Like so many movies that prop themselves up on the shoulders of technology, this one fails to do itself the justice it deserves.