High Frame Rate Movies and Human Vision


Andrew Watson

(NASA Ames Research Center)

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Date: 3/19/2013


“High Frame Rate” is the new big thing in Hollywood. Directors James Cameron and Douglas Trumbull extoll its virtues. Peter Jackson’s movie “The Hobbitt,” filmed at 48 Hz, twice the industry standard, has recently been released. In this talk I will provide a scientific look at the role of frame rate in the visual quality of movies. My approach is to represent the moving image, and the various steps involved in its capture, processing and display, in the spatio-temporal frequency domain. This transformation exposes the various artifacts generated in the process, and makes it possible to predict their visibility. This prediction is accomplished by means of a tool we call the Window of Visibility, that is a simplified representation of the human spatio-temporal contrast sensitivity function. With the aid of the Window of Visibility, the movie-making process, including frame rate, can be optimized for the eye of the beholder.

Created: Tuesday, March 19th, 2013