The TV and film industry often set the pace for advancements in video capture, a lead that many smartphone manufacturers tend to follow. Most recently, OmniVision announced plans to create smartphone image sensors capable of capturing video in 4K resolution—a digital format most often used for TV and film. But could these sensors bring an entirely new frame rate as well?
Typically, when you see a movie in the theaters, each second of video actually contains 24 still images. Video for television has typically been captured at either 30 or 60 still images per second, which makes motion feel smoother and more life-like. Capturing movies at the slower 24 fps gives video that slower, dramatic look. Film director Peter Jackson explains that 48 fps “gives you an illusion of life that's so much more vivid than 24 frames does… You suddenly have no strobing, no motion blur, no flicker."
This past weekend, San Diego’s convention center housed the international comic book convention, “Comic Con.” During this four-day event, it’s not uncommon for studios to debut some footage from their upcoming sci-fi movies, and it’s also not uncommon for these movies to be using bleeding-edge technology. One such movie was Warner Bros. studios upcoming film, The Hobbit, filmed in 48 fps, which USA Today calls “the first major theatrical movie that’s not 24 fps.”
In order to see a movie in 48 fps, you’ll have to go to a movie theater with a special compatible projector, but for many, there’s a strong possibility that their first experience might be on a smartphone. Currently, many smartphones offer 24- and 30-fps recording. Just last May, OmniVision announced an image sensor for smartphones that could capture video at 60 fps. It’s possible that the smartphones that use these sensors could offer video captures at either 24, 30, 48 or 60 fps.
A portion of The Hobbit’s 48 fps footage was screened for critics in April, prompting The Huffington Post to write, “the new technology has not received a warm response.” Despite naysayers, moviegoers are encouraged to form their own judgment. But if you can’t make it to a 48 fps theater when the film debuts this December, then keep an eye on the smartphone market—some day soon you just might be able to make your own 48 fps movie.