Ang Lee showed preview footage of his upcoming film, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, at an event in Las Vegas on Saturday. Unlike most previews, the plot or characters weren’t the centerpiece of the movie, but instead the advanced photography and projection techniques used to screen the movie, which the director believes may be the future of the filmmaking industry in the digital age.
The showing was part of the National Association of Broadcasters trade show, where Lee showed off 11 minutes of 3D footage from the film. It wasn’t presented in the typical fashion however, the show making use of a pair of laser projectors that were able to project a full 4K image at an amazing 120 frames per second per eye. This puts regular movies to shame in a number of ways, with the framerate alone being five times that of a typical film with Lee explaining that the jump to 120 FPS 4k allowing for crystal clear images without many of the negative visual artifacts that appear in traditional films.
This isn’t the first time a director has tried to make use of higher than standard framerates in their films, with Peter Jackson making use of 48 FPS recording in his 2012 film, The Hobbit. There were mixed feelings on the use of the higher frame rate with many feeling it stripped away the pseudo-realism that 24 FPS invokes. Lee, however, did not cite Jackson’s use of the technique as part of his reasoning for using it himself.
Whether the use of these techniques will catch on remains to be seen, but Ang Lee and his team feel that it is worth experimenting with new techniques to bring the film industry forward. Lee believes that employing technologies such as those that allow for higher frame rates is not just a case of mindlessly applying new technologies but instead requiring it’s own creative development. “This will be a long journey. I think we’re at the beginning of finding out what digital cinema means,” he said. “We’re not quite there yet, but it’s a strobe-free dimension.”
Unfortunately, for many, they will not get a chance to see the film as Lee showed off this weekend as no cinemas in the world have the ability to project the same way it was at the NAB show, with the film instead being shown in a variety of formats when it is released in November, including HFR versions.