Secrets Q & A

The Hobbit on Blu-ray at HFR?

Question:
When The Hobbit is released on Blu-ray next year, will it contain high frame rate (HFR) playback capability? And what display(s) will be able to show it at 48fps?

- Brad Ruley
Tampa, FL

Answer:
Since The Hobbit was presented commercially at 48fps only in 3D, I assume that's how it would be released on Blu-ray if possible. Unfortunately, it's not possible; Blu-ray does not support 48fps in 2D or 3D. Here are the high-def TV resolutions and frame rates it does support:

- 1920x1080 at 59.94 & 50 fps (interlaced)
- 1920x1080 at 24 & 23.976 fps (progressive)
- 1280x720 at 59.94, 50, 24, & 23.976 fps (progressive)

I believe these resolutions and frame rates apply to 3D as well as 2D content, though I was unable to verify that as of this writing. I was able to verify that the same resolutions and frame rates are supported for 2D and 3D by HDMI 1.4a.

Keep in mind that in 3D, the frame rates are "per eye"—that is, each eye sees the specified frame rate. Even if Blu-ray and HDMI supported 48fps, they couldn't support 3D at that frame rate for each eye. That would mean effectively sending a total of 96 frames per second (48x2), which is beyond the capability of Blu-ray and HDMI in their current implementations.

As for displays, the question is moot, since there are no sources that can send an HFR 3D signal. I seriously doubt that any current displays could accommodate such a signal if it was available. If the format catches on for home use, I'm sure the Blu-ray and HDMI specs will be updated to support it and manufacturers will make displays that can accommodate it—but I'm not holding my breath.