Higher frame rates in 3D digital cinema

Theaters show 3D movies at 24 frames per second (FPS), but actually flash each frame image three times. Called triple flashing, this technique means viewers are actually seeing 144 frames per second, of triplicated content.
Triple flashing
In order to project standard frame rate 3D with minimal viewer discomfort, the projector “flashes” a frame for each eye, three times as fast. This tripling of the frame rate (from 24 FPS, per eye to a total of 144 FPS) provides a smoother look and gives standard frame rate content the best motion rendition possible.

Unfortunately, flashing the same frame three times takes some of the inherent flaws of standard frame rates and accentuates them when done in a 3D image. Producing and showing feature films at higher frame rates will minimize or stop the motion blur, judder and strobing audiences see today, providing a more picture-perfect 3D display.

Now some of Hollywood’s most notable directors such as James Cameron, George Lucas and Peter Jackson, are pushing Hollywood Studios to bring high frame rates (HFR) to the big screen -- in 3D.

Peter Jackson is filming a two-part prequel, “The Hobbit”, at 48 FPS and in 3D. The first of two parts is targeted for release in December 2012 and Jackson’s Park Road firm will be using the latest Christie Solaria projectors for post-production of the much anticipated film.

Directing colleague James Cameron, an outspoken HFR proponent, has said the 3D sequels to “Avatar” will be shot at HFR. Film-technology buffs are speculating “Avatar 2” and “Avatar 3” will be shot at 60 FPS.

Shot at higher frame rates, new 3D movies will be double-flashed by projectors to remove any hint of flickering. Fans watching a film produced at 48 FPS will see the same frame flashed twice per second, resulting in 96 FPS seen by each eye and 192 FPS overall. Films produced at 60 FPS, and then double-flashed, will result in moviegoers seeing a 3D film at an ultrasmooth 240 FPS.
Double flashing
With feature film content shot and produced at high frame rates, high frame rate-capable projectors will “double flash” or duplicate each frame. This increases the overall frame count to 192 FPS or 240 FPS without increasing the number of repeated frames. Doing so, removes any hint of flickering, strobing and judder and creates a more compelling and engaging movie-going experience.

>> For more information about high frame rates, download the High Frame Rate Technology Overview for exhibitors.

James Cameron at IBC 2011

"If watching a 3D movie is like looking through a window, then [with this] we’ve taken the glass out of the window and we’re staring at reality."

- "Avatar" director, James Cameron, on higher frame rate movies