James Cameron is a guy who loves movie technology. That is the smartest way I could think of to begin this post. He cannot get enough of it. Like, for instance, Avatar? Loaded with the stuff. Anyway, in order to step it up for Avatar 2 and Avatar 3, James Cameron is pushing the idea to film them in 60 frames per second, rather than the standard 24 or 48. From The Hollywood Reporter:

Cameron said he “fully intends” to film the Avatar sequels at a higher frame rate and he presented an extensive test showing the differences between images shot at 24, 48 and 60 fps. At that time, he said, “The 3D shows you a window into reality; the higher frame rate takes the glass out of the window.”

Some of the cons I can gather are that this would be a lot more expensive, and something about projectors needing a software upgrade (Projectors at movie theaters? Projectors used during filming and editing? The Dirty Projectors? I have no idea.) (LOL at that Dirty Projectors joke, very good one.), and then he says the main problem is: “What we have to work on is the FX workflow—primarily the render pipeline.” Hahah. I mean I understand what rendering means…So I guess the effects would take longer to render? Like, they’d have to start rendering at lunchtime rather than dinnertime? Listen, I have no idea, maybe you shouldn’t even be reading this right now, I kind of don’t even know why you still are. The truth is that this seems very complicated and either it just IS very complicated (“it” being the reason why this would be difficult) or no one has explained it in easy enough terms or I am just very stupid. In any case, I think James Cameron is overlooking a lot of easier-to-do-and-understand options for making Avatar 2 and 3 better and fancier. For instance:

  • People in Avatar costumes come through the audience like when you see The Lion King on Broadway.
  • Free Avatar 3D collectable slurpee cups, like the kind 7-11 has with the WWE.
  • When you are in the movie theater, you are served food and drinks at your seat and they are reasonably priced but high quality.
  • Put either Ryan Gosling or Aaron Paul in a main role, but never make them blue or whatever.
  • The entire movie takes place at a fancy ball.
  • You are given some sort of new drug at the beginning of the movie so it makes you feel like you’re IN the movie, or maybe just puts you in like a forced dreamlike state but the contents of your dream, aside from your role in it, are all predetermined, like a choose your own adventure Avatar themed lucid dream.
  • You have to be invited to see the movie, but everyone gets an invitation in the mail. So everyone feels special even though they aren’t.
  • You get a special gift underneath your seat that has your name on it. And it would be like, Wow, how did he know I would choose THIS seat? And I don’t know how he would know, it would be a mystery for a long time.
  • Somehow it is revealed in Avatar 2 that all of Avatar is a Notes From Underground adaptation, and Avatar 3 is pretty straightforward about it.
  • Shoot it in 100 FPS.

Either those or just explain to me why it would be so difficult to just shoot it at a higher frame rate. Because cameras don’t exist that do that? Is that it? Why is this so difficult? James? Hello?

Comments (50)
  1. I think whoever cleaned my “window to reality” used too much Windex. All the people on the other side look blue.

  2. Meanwhile I’m in the theater watching the movie and there are bugs everywhere and I’m like “Where did these bugs come from?” and then James Cameron says “I took the glass off of the window” and then I’m like “Stupid James Cameron. This is how you get bugs!”

  3. “everyone feels special even though they aren’t.” – that’s pretty much reality as it is, no?

    • Which one of us thought up the “Avatard” joke first? It is impossible to tell. Personally, I’ve been holding on to mine for MONTHS, just waiting for someone to talk about Avatar again.

  4. Sure, it can be a pain in the ass to get some formats to play well with other formats, but the dude has re-invented movie effects twice now. I actually wish he went more in depth to explain the issue. How are they going to shoot? I wouldn’t think film, but maybe? I assumed his fancy new 3D cameras would give you 60 fps by flipping a switch. And doesn’t all FX rendering software at this point allow for that frame rate?

    Eh, my expertise is a few ears out of date. Anyone able to shed some light on the tech issues he’s talking about?

    • Obvously this comment was a cheap ploy to win upvotes.

    • well special effects and 3D are done per-frame, so i would imagine the 4 hour movie [probably] would take a hell of a lot longer to “render” when you have 60 frames per second, than say 24…especially since the release dates are already in place [are they? i think so]

      also, projectors are probably uniformly designed to run at 24 fps, since that’s been the standard since forever, and nobody thought they would need to run at any other rate.

    • Most cameras right now can shoot at 48 and 60 fps already. In addition, most projectors can be updated to project at that frame rate as well without any problem. The “fx render pipeline” refers to the fact that fx people create animations and effects on a frame by frame basis. They would now have to create 2-3 times the amount of effects for the same period of time. In addition, the animation and motion capture programs that they use are based on a 24 fps standard, which would look choppy and terrible on 48-60 fps. Either way, a huge price increase is to be expected as it would require all new software/twice the work. Although I guess WETA is already working on making the switch since The Hobbit is at 48.

    • I’m not an expert, but I think he just has to install a CD-ROM drive into each camera.

    • Thanks, boys. I knew there was something I hadn’t considered. Still, if anyone can get this together, James Cameron is the guy.

    • Here’s an older interview from back when Avatar came out talking about why he’d like to do higher framerates:
      (down towards the bottom)

      But basically with digital projectors and cameras the technology is there. You need to store more data and render more frames but there’s no reason it’s not doable. It’s mostly industry inertia, and that they’ve been focused on increasing the number of pixels projected, which at this point doesn’t provide much more benefit, instead of increasing framerate.
      Also framerates really only matter for stereo 3D movies since the motion blur strobing at 24fps is much more noticeable in 3D and can give people headaches. For a normal movie a lot of people actually prefer 24fps since the strobing or judder is a big part of what we associate with the ‘film look’. It’s partly why tv looks different from film, for example. He’s right though that 60fps looks more like ‘real life’.. I once saw a test of a football game broadcast at 60fps and it looked much more realistic.

  5. TV editors can go ahead with a new dubbing!


  6. I’ve heard the Avatar sequels will look like this:

  7. Aren’t windows transparent to begin with?

  8. Oooh! Everyone should wear monocles and spats! And have cigarette holders, even if they are not smoking. And talk about brunch. There is something inherently fancy about brunch.

  9. This sounds good, because my only realy problem with Avatar with the FX workflow.

  10. Cameron: “The 3D shows you a window into reality; the higher frame rate takes the glass out of the window.”

    Reporter: “And what about the plot?”

    Cameron: “Hmm? The what?”

  11. Oh I know! How bout an original, interesting storyline with developed characters that the audience cares about, thoughtful direction, and good performances?!
    No? Ok fine, just make the pictures prettier.

  12. Will this upgrade get rid of the “cigarette burns” on the screen? Because this is a James Cameron movie, and the only holes on the screen should be in the plot.

  13. I’m glad Cameron will be able to address the REAL problem with Avatar – the way it looked.
    I hope no funds will be wasted on plot and scripting, as they were just PERFECT first time.

    “This difficult to find element is the reason we are here on this planet.”
    “What is it called”
    “That is just a very good name”
    “I agree”

  14. Under everyone’s seat is a better plot.

  15. I’ve got he trailer for Avatar 2 right here and the technology is amazing:

  16. I have been to a theater where they serve you food while you watch the movie. You would think it would be fancy, but ordering a meal and drinks while you are trying to watch a movie is just plain distracting. Plus, eating food in the dark is not so good.

    I prefer the theater I went to where you could just drink and smoke (before cigarettes were banned from bars, etc).

  17. I just have to say, Kelly, I love the bullet points in your posts. They make me happy. Keep up the good work!!!

  18. James Cameron celebrates his 56th birthday under lake Baikal.

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