Peter-JacksonThe Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is just days away from hitting the big screen this weekend, and there’s a lot of anticipation surrounding our return to Middle-earth for various reasons.

The most obvious, of course, is that The Lord of the Rings was so immensely successful, and Peter Jackson’s return to the world of hobbits, dwarves, wizards, and more has been a long-awaited one.

Another of the main reasons we’re all looking forward to it is finally getting to see the way it was shot – in 48fps. Jackson revealed some footage earlier in the year that hadn’t yet been finished, to give a preview of what the higher frame rate would look like, and it was met with mixed reactions.

Jon has seen the finished product – you can read his review here – and is full of praise for the higher frame rate. So whether you’re a fan of Jackson’s original trilogy or not, it’s a film to seek out at 48fps for the new experience, alone.

Over at 3D Focus, Jon Tustain recently had the chance to interview Gareth Daley (read the full interview here), the 3D Camera Supervisor for The Hobbit, and Daley has revealed that parts of the film were shot at an even higher frame rate on the RED EPIC cameras:

“The beauty of those cameras is that we are actually able to do 96 and even higher than that as well which was halving the speed even further. We used 96 and other “off speed 48” frame rates.  Because there was such a ceiling above 48 on the EPIC, it was essentially shooting film; there was nothing different about it.  It was a very natural filmmaking process. There is talk of even going up to 120fps. Who knows where it will stop but projection technology is only just catching up in terms of the flexibility of what they can project at. In terms of sound, 48 is a multiple of 24, so technology wise, with other peripherals coming into production, that was a reason to go 48 but I think in the future – it won’t stop at 48.”

Daley also says that the production was working very closely with RED on developing the technology for the shoot:

“For me – having two cameras in permanent perfect sync at double the frame rate as normal was the biggest challenge but RED was fantastic. Early on, when we decided in pre-production it was going to go 48 frames, we worked very closely with them. They were providing us with the firmware changes for the cameras, sometimes on a daily basis.”

Jon (of 3D Focus) has also had the chance to interview Ted Schilowitz, one of the founding members of RED, who has some very interesting things to say about various aspects of the cinema experience, from shooting through to exhibition, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for when the interview goes live.

With only a few days left before the first instalment of The Hobbit finally arrives, I think it’s reasonable to expect there’s going to be a lot of discussion about 48fps (and beyond) in the coming weeks and months.

James Cameron has said that he plans to shoot the next two Avatar films at a higher frame rate if Jackson’s The Hobbit gets a warm reception in terms of 48fps, and with two of the biggest filmmakers in the world leading the charge, it’s not hard to imagine that we’ll have more pioneering in the HFR department coming our way in the next few years.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be released in 3D in regular and IMAX theatres on 13th December here in the UK, followed a day later on 14th December in the US. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug will then land on 13th December, 2013, and finally The Hobbit: There and Back Again on 18th July, 2014.

CLICK HERE for a full list (across the US, UK, and many other countries) of theatres screening the film at 48fps.