See “The Hobbit” in HFR

It turns out they weren’t kidding when they said the new Century RiverPark 16 theater at The Collection is state of the art. According to a list of HFR-capable theaters on The One Ring Oxnard’s new movie theater is the only one in the area (and one of only 450 in the world) capable of playing the upcoming prequel to The Lord of the Rings in the High Frame Rate video it was intended to be exhibited in.  What exactly is HFR, and why should you care?  Hit the jump to find out.

Without getting too technical, typical films are shot at a rate of 24 frames per second (fps).  That means that when you watch one second of a movie you’re really seeing 24 still images shown in rapid succession to create the illusion of motion thanks to our persistence of vision. Think of it as one long flipbook.  High Frame Rate video (or HFR for short) uses 48fps instead of the traditional 24fps.

So what’s the benefit of doubling the amount of frames shown in the same amount of time? There are a couple, actually. For one, action and motion on the screen will appear much more fluid and life-like.  That makes a movie with a lot of action (like The Hobbit) perfect for showing off the benefits of the higher frame rate. Here’s an excerpt from an article on red.com about how HFR helps minimize motion artifacts:

HFR also minimizes the appearance of motion artifacts — especially when viewed in a theater. Moving objects may strobe or have a “picket fence” appearance as they traverse a large screen. At 24 fps, a 50 foot screen shows an object as jumping in 2 foot increments if that object takes one second to traverse the screen. This can appear as “judder” with fast panning and other types of camera movements.

Another benefit of the new technology is that it can reduce eye-strain and fatigue. Typical 3D projectors darken the image in order to reduce flickering. With HFR the projection can be brightened, thus reducing fatigue.

So far I haven’t been a huge fan of 3D. I’ve found the images to be too dark and blurry to really enjoy. I much prefer the higher image quality of a great 2D theater. However, I’m definitely intrigued by the improvements to 3D utilizing the new HFR format and am excited to give it a try. I’ve always wanted to like 3D.  Maybe now I’ll finally be able to.

What do you guys prefer?  3D or 2D?  Are you excited to check out The Hobbit in the new formats at Century RiverPark 16?  Sound off in the comments below!

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4 Responses to See “The Hobbit” in HFR

  1. Adrian says:

    The new Century Theater at The Collection does not have ATMOS. The info at the link you provided only indicates the new theater has HFR 3D, 3D, and 2D. The nearest ATMOS theater is in Burbank.

  2. KavanM says:

    Thanks for the heads up, Adrian. I edited the post and removed the references to ATMOS. That’s a bummer. Still, HFR is nice to have and hopefully will make 3D more enjoyable. I’m looking forward to trying it out.

    • Mig says:

      Yes it would be great to have the ATMOS, but with all the speakers they already have lining the XD auditorium, I’m not sure I’d be able to really notice the difference. One thing I’d for sure be able to notice however is the picture quality difference with the HFR and like you, I’m very eager to see it in person and am very glad I can do it here at the Century Riverpark. So if I had to make the choice, my vote is for the HFR.

      Cinemark’s publicity tout’s their modern XD projection equipment as being flexible enough to accommodate many different types of digital formats, which is one thing they brag about over competitor’s such as Imax, etc. which are limited to their own individual specs and can’t easily show a wide range of media. They use the same projectors and media servers in all 16 auditoriums so perhaps they could continue to show The Hobbit in HFR even after it was gone from the XD auditorium after one week.

      This may be one strong reason that Cinemark chose to close the Century on Johnson Drive and move shop over to a new from the ground up location here. It would be cost prohibitive to remodel the old place to bring it up to state-of-the-art conditions. On my first visit to the new place, I had a nice little chat with one of the managers and we talked about the movie theater business. I asked if Cinemark wanted to, could they retrofit an XD theater into, say, the downtown Ventura Century 10. He said it would be really a lot of cost, effort, and hassle, for one thing, and if the auditorium didn’t already have stadium seating, they probably wouldn’t even attempt it because it would be unreasonable to carve that high a slope into a building that wasn’t designed for it. And they only put stadium seating in XD auditoriums.

      So when Ventura folks lament that Cinemark closed the Johnson Drive location and moved across the river to “Oxnard”, the bottom line is that Cinemark had to, if they wanted to have a state of the art location here in Western Ventura County. Or from a strictly technical standpoint at least, anywhere in Ventura County, or even Santa Barbara County for that matter.

      So where Century Riverpark may be lacking in amenities, looks like they make up for it in technical aspects, and since the majority of the moviegoing experience is had while sitting in the dark staring at the screen for two or more hours, I’m glad we have the best place to do that here at The Collection. And while I might wish we had a nice upscale restaurant/cafe and gift store right there in a big, spacious lobby, it’s not like those things aren’t going to be readily available just a mere few footsteps away right outside the front door.

      • Mig says:

        I’m changing my opinion of Dolby ATMOS after hearing it being discussed as a topic on the radio this weekend, and then further researching it online and learning more about it. I think it sounds (no pun intended) awesome, and very much hope that it gets installed here at the Century Riverpark 16 before long. But it is still very new, only having been introduced earlier this year, and only 15 or 16 theaters worldwide are outfitted with the extra speaker arrays. Only two Cinemark theaters have it, the one in Fremont (Bay Area) California, and their flagship cineplex in Plano Texas where Cinemark is based.

        Dolby said they were hoping to have 60 or more theaters be ATMOS equipped by the time The Hobbit is released in a few weeks, but that doesn’t look like it will happen. But Dolby is also saying that they hope at least 1000 theaters get outfitted for ATMOS by the end of 2013, so hopefully that will come true, and hopefully you’ll be able to post a new blog entry by this time next year that the Century Riverpark 16 is now featuring ATMOS enhanced audio!

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