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Editor's View: Hyper Reality in the Real World

12/20/2012 6:44 AM Eastern

I was sitting at the dog park with some friends and we were discussing the high-frame-rate 3D used for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. This was one of the first times I could remember—maybe even since the release of Titanic—that something that was incredibly interesting to me was even mildly interesting to people not in my universe … otherwise known as the real world. (My dog park friends have a median age of 70. I’m not kidding—Cloris Leachman is the unofficial mayor of this park.) This time around, literally everyone and his Bubbe has an opinion.

HFR 3D is now in the real world, not just the province of people who follow sensor size, 4K content or RED’s development cycle .

The New York Times published “The ABCs of HFR 3D,” a primer that one of my dog park friends had brought (along with a stack of papers containing a week’s worth of NYT crossword puzzles and an article ominously titled “For the Old, Less Sense of Whom to Trust”).

Here are the highlights of the dog-park digital cinema panel:

“It sounds like it’s going to look like a Spanish-language soap opera.”

“I see reality all day, and I don’t care for it. Why would I pay for more?”

New York Magazine critic David Edelstein said, “How nice it would be to weigh in on Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit without having to lament its newfangled double-speed 3D 48-frames-per-second projection rate, which must be seen to be disbelieved,” while Times Richard Corliss surmised, “It was still like watching a very expensively mounted live TV show on the world’s largest home TV screen.”

Conversely, Hugh Hart at Wired titled his review “The Hobbit Is Insanely Gorgeous at 48 Frames Per Second.” Everyone I know who had seen test footage in advance, or followed Peter Jackson’s posts, has had a different reaction. Is it a matter of knowing what you’re looking at? (I’ve compiled a ton of articles about The Hobbit for you, accessible here, and I anticipate that I’ll be adding to it for a while.)

Leaving the park, Walter, who I’m pretty confident is on the other side of 90, caught my sleeve and confided, “I don’t like the bald fellow who’s always after the ring. I mean, who wants anything that bad?”