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Doug Trumbull says high frame rates really are the future of cinema

Doug Trumbull says high frame rates are the future of cinema
(Image credit: MGM)

Special effects legend Doug Trumbull is convinced that high frame rates are "the next frontier of movie making". 

Trumbull, best known for creating the effects for Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, believes Hollywood will have to embrace the tech if it's to tempt people away from streaming services and back into cinemas.

In an interview with RedSharkNews, the cinema visionary claimed that high frame rates have the ability to provide audiences with a “hyper outer body experience [that] takes you beyond the limits of a TV screen and becomes totally immersive”.  

The technical wizard has thrown his weight behind a next generation high frame rate format called Magi, which captures in 4K resolution, stereo 3D and frame rates up to 160fps.

To put that in context, most modern movies use the standard rate of 24 frames per second (fps). Hollywood directors have begun to experiment with HFR but it's early days. The most high-profile films to date have been Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy (48fps) and Ang Lee's Gemini Man (120fps). 

High frame rates are said to bring the most vivid, realistic pictures to audiences. But while the tech suits fast-moving sports, critics argue that the loss of traditional cinematic motion-blur makes high frame rate films look too much like video games. Titanic director James Cameron recently branded 120fps "distracting".

The solution, according to Trumbull, is to render digital high frame rate footage in such a way that it replicates film. To that end, the Magi format introduces a 'flicker' that claims to replicate the authentic look and feel of film. 

"[Flicker] is what differentiates movies from TV," says Trumbull. "So, if you introduce digital flicker in the projection of the film [actually in the DCP file] it can look fully cinematic even if you raise the frame rate to 120 or 160."

In addition, Magi has the ability to dynamically change the frame rate throughout projection, meaning that scenes can be shot in 24, 120 and 160fps and edited together. The idea is to give directors the option to use high frame rates when it makes sense within a specific scene.

Trumbull hopes to set up a Magi demonstration centre in LA to get new technology seen by Hollywood decision makers including production heads, cinematographers and directors.

"Kubrick was trying to pave the way for a new form of immersive cinema and most people didn’t realise it. I’m trying to do it again."       

MORE:

High Frame Rate: what is it and why does it matter?

The best gaming TVs for every budget

Everything you need to know about HDMI 2.1

Tom has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Men's Health, ShortList, The Sun, The Mail on Sunday, The Daily Telegraph and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include mobile tech, electric cars and video streaming.

  • millennia_one
    Nope, the answer is lower prices AND BETTER FILM's and more spectacle, Who the hell cares about frame rates. No one will even notice they already experiance 4k 60 on a daily through youtube.

    A family of 4 can cost upwards of £30-100 in some parts of the country. A 100quid!

    The future is streaming and premier access. At those prices anyhow.

    No hassle of parking, turn the TV on, popcorn in the microwave 20 quid job done family entertained for 2-3hr's,

    In all honesty, i don't think the general going public couldn't even tell you if they where listening to stereo, 5.1 or full atmos and people go on about hi-res music.

    The public want spectacle something they have never seen before high frame is not that.

    What's special about cinema these days, there's just something there's a magic missing, i remember watching ID4 on opening night, people cueing to get it, people clapping and laughing when the aliens got what was coming. Everything these days is marvel, its boring, now there's another 10-year plan for those coming 10 jeffing years!

    I remember spending the summer with a virgin movie pass watching, fight club, tazan, ganster number one and so on.

    The bottom line is whether people like it or not the next big film spectacle will be avatar. Camaron is one of the only directors working today that still knows how to get bums in seats. The films have developed new techniques and will deliver a film experience no has ever seen before.
    Reply
  • Friesiansam
    millennia_one said:
    What's special about cinema these days, there's just something there's a magic missing, i remember watching ID4 on opening night, people cueing to get it, people clapping and laughing when the aliens got what was coming. Everything these days is marvel, its boring, now there's another 10-year plan for those coming 10 jeffing years!
    The American film industry squirts films out like a sausage machine...
    Reply
  • Morks
    Good ol' douggie again. He should finally retire his decades of advertising of high frame rate. 50 years and still no breakthrough, just leave it, Trumbull...
    Reply
  • lovlid
    Cameron calls it a distraction while still try to distract with the failing (again) 3D nonsense.
    Reply