JAMES CAMERON – AVATAR ON 3-D
IT’S THE FRAME RATES, STUPID
Making Avatar, his first narrative film since Titanic (1997), James Cameron is a
convert to 3-D and believes cinema could all be that good but people have been
asking the wrong question – counting pixels and lines, that they have forgotten about frame rate - and losing out on marketing values and piracy
negation. Here is how he sees it.
Our current generation of digital projectors can currently run up to 144 frames
per second, and they are still being improved. So right now, today, we could be
shooting 2-D movies at 48 frames and running them at that speed. This alone
would make 2-D movies look astonishingly clear and sharp, at very little extra
cost, with equipment that's already installed or being installed. I've run tests
on 48 frame per second stereo and it is stunning. The cameras can do it, the
projectors can (with a small modification) do it.
So why aren't we doing it, as an industry? Because people have been asking the
wrong question for years. They have been so focused on resolution, and counting
pixels and lines, that they have forgotten about frame rate. A 2K image at 48
frames per second looks as sharp as a 4K image at 24 frames per second ... with
one fundamental difference: the 4K/24 image will judder miserably during a
panning shot, and the 2K/48 won't.
If every single digital theatre was perceived by the audience as being
equivalent to Imax or Showscan in image quality, which is readily achievable
with off-the-shelf technology now, running at higher frame rates, then isn't
that the same kind of marketing hook as 3-D itself? Something you can't get at
home. An aspect of the film that you can't pirate.
Of course, the ideal format is 3-D/2K/48 fps projection. I'd love to have done
'Avatar' at 48 frames. But I have to fight these battles one at a time. I'm just
happy people are waking up to 3-D. Maybe on Avatar 2.
* This is an extract from an email interview with Variety’s David S. Cohen.
Published April 17, 2008
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Avatar; written & directed by James Cameron
Stars Sigourney Weaver, Giovanni Ribisi, Michelle Rodriguez, Zoe Saldana, CCH Pounder.
A band of humans are pitted in a battle against a distant planet's indigenous population.
Releases : 2009