Ever since filmmakers Peter Jackson and James Cameron announced they’d be shooting at higher frame rates on future projects, audiences have been wondering just what this might look like. One of our own fxphd members was so keen to see how Jackson’s The Hobbit may appear that he converted the film’s teaser trailer from 24 fps to 48 fps. Luke Letellier, who joined fxphd in the October 2011 term, used Nuke, Kronos and After Effects to complete the conversion. Check out the results below.
Luke’s research, it should be pointed out, is not part of any official role on the film, nor is this test anything but a technical exploration by Luke himself – he is just keen to explore this hot topic for the future of feature film production, and it shows what one motivated individual can do when they set their mind to it.
To complete the conversion, Letellier took the source footage – the trailer – and in Kronos reduced the speed by 50%. As he explains in his blog posting on the process, “Kronos examines the original frames before creating new frames. The source frames are then discarded so that flickering doesn’t occur in the new footage.”
The settings in Kronos had to be tweaked to deal with distortion seen in the converted footage. Where there was too much motion between the frames, Letellier relied on SplineWarp nodes inside Nuke, “which allow the user to ‘warp’ between two master frames, thus allowing the creation of additional frames in between.” This was a time consuming process – on average it took Letellier 15 minutes to complete one frame this way, or 12 hours to convert two seconds of footage. Other distortions were fixed with hand painting, and finally exporting and sound syncing was done in After Effects.
Letellier says he used The Hobbit trailer as a fast way to dive into Nuke after he had got some basics from fxphd training. “I wanted to learn more about compositing and visual effects, as there wasn’t a suitable study path at my school,” he says. “I went all in, taking Intro to Nuke, Intermediate Nuke, and Advanced Nuke all in the same term. At the time I didn’t have the hardware to actually get hands on inside the program itself, so I immersed myself in the lectures, soaking up everything I could.”
“The first time I actually used Nuke was when I began this Hobbit project in the latter half of May,” he adds. “It was kind of funny, researching a never-before-done technique and at the same time trying to remember that you have to press “Alt” to navigate around the node graph.”