Nicolas Winding Refn Shooting The Neon Demon at 60 Frames Per Second

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The-Neon-Demon-60-Frames-Per-Second-sliceBack in March, Nicolas Winding Refn began production on his anticipated return behind the camera, The Neon Demon.

Elle Fanning is front and centre in the lead, surrounded by a great cast. And after recently getting a first look at Fanning, co-star Jena Malone posted a revealing photo from the set on Instagram. Taken on Wednesday, the shot is of a clapperboard from the set which shows that the acclaimed filmmaker is shooting at 60 frames per second, well over the traditional 24 frames per second we’re used to. Malone doesn’t say how much of the film is being shot in the format, but her hashtag, ‘I’m probably gonna get in trouble for this?’ suggests it could be a decent amount of footage.

Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey became the first mainstream release to hit cinemas in HFR 3D, shot and projected at 48fps. Andy Serkis’ involvement on those films has led him to plan to shoot at a high frame rate on his adaptation of Animal Farm. And James Cameron is expected to do the same with his upcoming Avatar sequels. Ang Lee is currently in production on Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, shooting in 3D at 120fps, the first film to shoot at that high a frame rate. The expectation is that exhibitors’ projectors could need updating between now and its release in November next year to be fully capable of handling 120fps.

When aspiring model Jesse (Fanning) moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.

Fanning and Malone share the screen with Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks, Abbey Lee, Bella Heathcote, Alessandro Nivola, Karl Glusman, Desmond Harrington, and Charles Baker.

Winding Refn co-wrote the script with Mary Laws, and also produces alongside Lene Børglum (Valhalla Rising, Only God Forgives). Natasha Braier (The Rover, Somers Town) serves as cinematographer.

60fps is becoming more and more frequent in the video game industry. But the arguments between film and gaming are different (this video does a pretty good job of outlining some of them), and so aren’t fully relevant when considering them in relation to each other.

Debates continue to wage among cinemagoers as to the benefits of HFR releases. There was a notorious backlash to An Unexpected Journey when it first hit the cinemas in HFR 3D. A lot of people complained that it was too lifelike, and didn’t feel right on the big screen. Nevertheless, it takes people like Jackson, Serkis, Cameron, Lee, and now Winding Refn with his venture into 60 frames per second to further the technology. If no one uses it, it can never improve.

It also likely requires an investment on cinemas to upgrade their hardware, which could be a particularly costly change for independent outfits. So it will be interesting to see how The Neon Demon fares when it heads into cinemas, and how wide a release it will get in 60 frames per second. I imagine the majority of exhibitors will focus on projecting a post-converted 24fps version, as they did with The Hobbit, assuming Winding Refn converts it as well.

The Neon Demon doesn’t have a firm release date in the US or UK yet, but it’s expected sometime in 2016. In the meantime, here is the shot Malone posted to Instagram, along with a couple of examples of 60fps on YouTube to explore. (You may need to be watching in Chrome to see them at 60 frames per second, which you can adjust under the Quality section in the Settings cog.)


I’ve never felt so deeply in school and so completely free. Gifts like Christmas from Nicolas Winding Refn. AN INCREDIBLE AND FEARLESS ARTIST. YES.

#improbablygonnagetintroubleforthis? #TheNeonDemon

And a 60fps trailer for Uncharted 4, even if the pros and cons between film and games (as mentioned) are different.

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