If it's crap ... We'll tell you
I've been trying to figure out how to explain to you why this footage looked bad. First it's worth noting that the CinemaCon honchos bragged that their projection system in that theater was the most advcanced and best ever assembled by man. That's almost a direct quote. So the presentation would almost certainly never be better than what I saw today.
Second, I must say that it's possible there will be lots of post-production work done to offset some of the lighting issues. I also assume that the few 'complete' scenes we saw will continue to be edited before release.
With those caveats out of the way, here's what The Hobbit looked like to me: a hi-def version of the 1970s I, Claudius. It is drenched in a TV-like - specifically 70s era BBC - video look. People on Twitter have asked if it has that soap opera look you get from badly calibrated TVs at Best Buy, and the answer is an emphatic YES.
The 48fps footage I saw looked terrible. It looked completely non-cinematic. The sets looked like sets. I've been on sets of movies on the scale of The Hobbit, and sets don't even look like sets when you're on them live... but these looked like sets.
The other comparison I kept coming to, as I was watching the footage, was that it all looked like behind the scenes video. The magical illusion of cinema is stripped away completely.
As I said above the landscape shots are breathtaking. 48fps is the future of nature documentaries. But if it's the future of narrative cinema I don't know if that future includes me.
I am not surprised that people have a problem with 48fps, but I personally just chalk it up to being used to 24fps.
This reaction worries me.
I hope that I get used to it after a while watching it and not have it get on my nerves, but all I'm reading makes me think I won't...
I haven't seen the footage but I have experienced what the author (and other authors) have described. I'm guessing it was a poorly calibrated TV but I've seen the "soap opera" setting that sounds like what is being described. It's so off putting that you can't help but be taken out of the movie. It's absurd to say but it looks too real. You never stop thinking "this is a movie, I'm watching a movie right now". For something like a fantasy movie, this could be a death sentence.
From what I've read, the footage was corrected, more or less.
Why would people get headaches from watching a film at 48 fps when they can play video games at 60 fps? Just asking.
Yeah, 3D is not going to work with everything, but I don't think that proves that it's just a gimmick. When used well, it's just another tool that the filmmaker uses to put his vision on screen, and tools don't need to be universal. Some are more suited for certain projects than others are. A state of the art camcorder would be less suited for a found footage film like Blair Witch than a crummy camera you can find in a pawn show. Black and white also has its advantages over colour. It all depends on the project.
Although the community already sounds divided, I won't let it worry me too much. It was a 10 minute preview, probably with quick cuts and sharp changes of environment etc. I think Peter Jackson is a trustworthy director so I believe that the completed movie and hence the intended direction and editing, would help ease the experience for the viewers. Just willing to believe that, no need to take my word for it. Still I'd watch the hobbit regardless because it's a very dear story to me, and should the same effort and ambition be put in it's adaptation as was done with LOTR, 48fps or not, It's gonna be worth watching. Still we'll have to wait till December to judge for ourselves.