“Watercolor” frequency 96 fps: revolution or format revolt in cinematography

    It was finished, this month the first ever film appeared, shot at 96 fps. The picture was created by Russian documentary Viktor Kosakovsky. The film was presented at the Venice Film Festival, he was warmly received by critics and professionals from the cinema. The picture was called “Aquarela” - this is a documentary art house, where the “main character” is water. The film was shot on Baikal, in Greenland, in the northern regions of Russia and other scenic places with a lot of water in different states of aggregation.

    The film is praised by Hollywood reporter, Variety, Stereo.ru and other resources. Critics separately note the cinematographic work and the director's intention, which, according to Kosakovsky, would have been impossible to realize fully without the use of 96 fps shooting. Under the cut in detail about increasing the frequency in cinema, the new film and the possibilities of human vision.

    Background: PR from Cameron and the Hobbit Fiasco

    The first picture, completely shot outside the traditional 24 frames, was The Hobbit by Peter Jackson. The director used the format of 48 frames per second. In numerous interviews, Jackson emphasized that the film may disappoint supporters of classic cinematic ideas, but it will definitely please progressive technocrats.

    As a result, the first happened rather than the second. Already after the demonstrations of the first Hobbit passages at 48 fps, film critics and ordinary viewers attacked the director with accusatory speeches. It turned out that an increase in the number of frames deprives viewers of the main thing that is expected from feature films - the illusions of realism (“cinema magic”). “The Hobbit” at 48 fps was compared to a television show, a cheap television series and noted that in the new format, some of the scenery and makeup cast themselves off, i.e. paradoxically prevents the viewer from believing.

    Another advocate for increasing frame rates is James Cameron. He repeatedly openly urged directors to abandon the 24-personnel standard and move on to a more perfect and realistic 48 or 60 FPS. Cameron, Jackson and other proponents of increasing the frequency are convinced that 24 fps are outdated and have such disadvantages as ragged movements, motion blur and picture shake.

    In the presented video, you can estimate the difference of recording with different fps when observing a moving object.

    Opponents of the approaches of Cameron and Jackson believe that the mass of the audience is accustomed to the picture of 24 fps and the use of something different in cinematography adversely affects the perception, creates the effect of “sterile” television images, “kills” the “warm tube” “magic” of the cinema.

    “Watercolor” in “cinema magic”

    Russian director Viktor Kosakovsky, having shot his “Aquarella”, won three times. First of all, he is a documentaryist, so he doesn’t bother him at all, but he is helped by the hyper-realistic scenes shot with high frequency. Secondly - the main character of his film is water, and in dynamic scenes with water, the possibilities of high frequency will not be superfluous. Thirdly, he unambiguously recorded his name in history as the first director who used 96 fps.


    Kosakovsky himself claims that the use of 96 fps was prompted by the unrealistic rain shown in the standard 24-frame movie. Before choosing this frequency, the director conducted test surveys of water with a frequency range from 72 to 120 fps. In his opinion, the most expressive shots turned out to be precisely at a frequency of 96 fps. Viktor Kosakovsky is convinced that shooting with this frequency helps to show life as reliably and realistically as possible.

    In this case, according to the director, he managed to “fool the brain”. In the commentary for stereo.ru he told about it this way:

    “Imagine that you are driving in a car or train at high speed and look out the window. Trees that are far visible are good, and those in the foreground are smeared. In the format of 96 frames per second, they are also visible. The brain does not understand this effect, it evaluates space differently, and here it is the main focus. ”

    Of interest is also the sound recording for the film, which some were surprised no less than the frame rate used. It is known that 118 tracks were used to record sound.

    I would venture to assume that such a number of channels was used to separately record and reproduce the maximum number of individual sources, which, in accordance with the opinion of Voishvillo and Eugene Chervinsky , makes it possible to minimize intermodulation distortions and, accordingly, to achieve maximum realism.

    As a result, a natural problem arises - reproduction. Demonstration of the film in a format that was created by the director and which, according to him, is able to convey the author's intention, requires the replacement of the projection and speaker system. The vast majority of existing cinema systems simply can not reproduce «Aquarela», at least in the true directorial version.

    How much is it needed?

    In my subjective opinion - need. This is a definite progress in creating a realistic picture. I remember well the “Hobbit” and I am convinced that the ambiguous (and often negative) attitude was caused precisely by the unsuitable genre for the format, where the viewer demanded “cinema magic” and illusion more than realism or the quality of dynamic scenes. In the case of documentary and the need for artistic realism, the high frame rate fully justifies itself. In order to argue my subjective opinion, I propose a brief educational program on the subject of possibilities of visual perception.

    So, the illusion of continuous movement is created already at a frequency of 13 - 17 frames per second. Standard for the cinema from the 20s became 24 fps. Depending on their physiological training, people are able to distinguish objects that appear on the screen in the range from one 16th of a second to a single 220th (according to some information, the peak value of gamers and video engineers).

    In accordance with the research of Professor Stuart Anstos (Stuart Anstis), our brain can both reduce the "delay" of visual perception to 10-15 milliseconds (which increases "fps" up to a hundred frames), and increase it to 100 milliseconds (reducing "fps "Up to ten frames).

    The inertness of retinal photoreceptors (rods and cones) is considered to be analogous to fps for our eyes. It is this characteristic that determines the magnitude of the time delay when transmitting visual information. A number of other factors can influence, for example, a change in the speed of synaptic reactions, but they are insignificant compared to the retina. Inertness reflects the time that receptors need to perceive new information.

    Due to the fact that the rods and cones are different receptors - they perceive color and movement differently. The rods are almost not sensitive to colors (one hundred times smaller than cones), whereas cones allow us to distinguish the smallest objects, but they “update” the information much more slowly. If rough, then the FPS sticks are higher.

    In the process of evolution, the cones concentrated mainly in the center of the retina (along with the rods), and the periphery was left mostly behind the rods (apparently in order to signal that “there is something running sideways”).

    When watching a movie, the center of the retina is mainly used, since we often examine objects on the screen in detail, concentrating on certain parts of the plan. Therefore, when assessing the possibilities of vision and the influence of FPS, the average inertness indicators should be taken into account. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the minimum inertness for relatively high-grade image processing was 13 ms (77 fps), according to other data, the minimum average stick-and-cone inertia is about 20 ms (50 fps).

    We also use peripheral vision for watching movies, especially when it comes to general plans, dynamic scenes on the big screen, and sticks are actively involved there. Their delay can be 5-7 ms (according to other data - even less). Thus, the maximum realism of the picture, based on the theory described, will indeed be achieved at a frequency of 90-100 fps.


    On the one hand, the use of such a frequency in cinema is a step forward, allowing us to achieve high realism of the picture. The approach will make it possible to embody interesting directorial ideas and will help in the creation of new works of cinema. And thanks for that, you should say Viktor Kosakovsky.

    On the other hand, there naturally arose problems of reproducing content (not nachem) and the readiness of the viewer (not habitually). For example, the Blu-ray format allows you to play videos with a maximum frequency of 60 fps, and the vast majority of cinema projectors have a ceiling of 48, and often even 24 fps. We all watched a movie with a frequency of 24 frames from birth and got used to the features of the picture so much that for many the advantages of high frequency are not so obvious.

    It is also impossible to exclude commercial motivation, when producers planning a promising release of new projectors finance the creation of a film in a new format. However, as far as I know, none of the projector manufacturers announced such a device.

    I would appreciate a lively discussion on the topic and participation in the survey.

    In our catalog there are no projectors that allow you to play 96 fps, but a wide range of other projectors is presented . By visiting our showrooms, you can compare products from different manufacturers and give preference to those models that meet your personal selection criteria.

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