Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a movie that needs to be seen, and it needs to be seen in a specific format. The very intimate story of a young soldier and his platoon's temporary homecoming after performing heroic acts of bravery represents not only the latest in a long line of personal stories from director Ang Lee, it's also a technical marvel in and of itself. The big reason for this is because it's the first film to have been shot in 120 Frames Per Second / 4K 3D, and in a very limited fashion, you'll be able to see the film in this cutting edge new format.
Of course, there's been a lot of unfavorable reviews of the new tech, as well as the ever present specter of the last failed experiment with High Frame Rate at the movies, the 48 FPS release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Yet despite the stumbling of Peter Jackson's foray into the format, it hasn't really come into its own until Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. It's because of this, and the following reasons we're about to list off, that make this film a must see in 120 FPS.
How Does 120 FPS Work?
Here's a quick crash course: standard movies are filmed at 24 Frames Per Second, and every other frame is blank in between each frame of film. This is what gives movies their "filmed" look, complete with the blurry effect of any motion that pushes past the 24 FPS threshold. However, if you film an image at a higher frame rate, the clarity of the object in motion becomes clearer to see. So when you start to move up to 48 Frames Per Second (FPS), or even 60 FPS, the action starts to look clearer.
Unfortunately, the side effect of this phenomenon is that at 48 or even 60 FPS, the image looks reminiscent of soap opera broadcasts, as that "filmed" quality starts to disappear and the image becomes more life-like. However, as Real-D's Chief Innovation Officer, Pete Lude, noted in a conversation I'd had with him about the new technological advances that the company had implemented for the production and showing of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, he basically explained why 120 FPS works extremely better than 48 FPS with the following nutshell statement:
The work that Real-D has done with 120 FPS owes some debt to legendary visual effects artist Douglas Trumbull, as his Showscan technique also experimented with frame rates, showcasing how much the action clears up at different film rates. Read on to learn about that process.