IMAX 3D vs IMAX HFR 3D – Gravity vs Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug   Leave a comment

Gravity and Hobbit marks my movie watching debut in IMAX 3D and IMAX HFR 3D respectively. Gravity –  with groundbreaking technical artistry, is a Science fiction thriller which ingeniously describes resilience for life. Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug – fantasy adventure which takes us back to the world of middle earth, dragons and dwarves, both are well known for taking giant strides in 3D technology. So with all curiosity I scooped more info on IMAX 3D, IMAX HFR 3D and this post is just a self-effacing attempt to interpret Hollywoods persistent hunger to improve cinema-going/film-watching experience.


What is IMAX?
IMAX (Image Maximum) is a motion picture film format and a set of cinema projection standards developed by IMAX Corporation.

What is IMAX 3D?
An IMAX 3D movie actually consists of two separate images simultaneously projected onto a special silver-coated IMAX 3D screen. One image is captured from the viewpoint of the right eye, and the other shows the viewpoint of the left eye. IMAX 3D glasses separate the images, so the left and right eyes each see a different view. The human brain blends the views together to create a three-dimensional image that appears to have depth beyond and in front of the screen.

What is High Frame Rate 3D (HFR 3D)?
Frame rates refer to the number of images (frames) displayed by a projector in one second. The current standard in cinemas worldwide is 24 frames per second (fps). HFR 3D productions of 48 fps record and play visuals at twice the current rate, which more closely approximates what the human eye actually sees. The higher 48fps rate provides enhanced clarity and reduces motion blur during action sequences, artifacts, judder and strobing.

For Gravity, I had no problem in choosing the viewing format because options were limited 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D, whereas for Desolation of Smaug there were plenty of choices – 2D , 3D, HFR 3D, 3D IMAX and HFR 3D IMAX, because of that I had to spend considerable amount of time to single out, understand the format. For me, Gravity is the best 3D experience till date; despite its scientific inaccuracies it was just amazing! The images are so vivid and spectacular that it took four years for Alfonso Cuar‪ón to catch up and incorporate technological necessities that the movie demanded. It’s so fascinating to read his interview, and the challenges that the movie crew had to overcome to depict realities of outer space.


Desolation of Smaug on the other hand was shot at 48 frames per second as opposed to the traditional 24 and it didn’t work for me just because it felt too unreal, it felt like as if I was watching a trailer of a video game. Plus the movie was very dull (storyline), However sweeping 3D shots of Middle Earth, battle scenes and rendering of the dragon Smaug was simply outstanding!

Gravity and Hobbit are the two distinct movies that have made excellent use of 3D to enhance storytelling. From the vast space to the tight, claustrophobic feel inside the capsule, From Smaug’s rendering, fire breathing awesomeness to expansive shots of people walking on mountains over rich green landscapes, 3D has truthfully awarded movie enthusiasts, the opportunity to enter into the story with a complete vision: depth.

IMAX 101: 3D
High Frame Rate 3D (HFR 3D)
How to film Gravity
5 Ways ‘Gravity’s’ VFX Wizards Sent Sandra Bullock Into Space
The Camera’s Cusp: Alfonso Cuarón Takes Filmmaking to a New Extreme with Gravity
The Hobbit at 48fps: Too Much Information and the Science of Eye Movement
The Desolation of Smaug shows Peter Jackson still hasn’t perfected HFR


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