He’s been called a genius, a visionary and a master storyteller, and with Avatar he almost single-handedly ushered in a new age of 3-D movies. Although we’re still waiting to see if this is actually a good thing, James Cameron is already pushing ahead to the next technological breakthrough. Speaking at CinemaCon in Las Vegas this week, Cameron demonstrated what he believes will be the next major step in shooting and projecting movies: higher frame rates. Ever since sound was added to motion pictures in the late 1920s, movies have run at 24 frames per second. Is it time to finally stray from nearly 100 years of history and agree upon a new standard?
To help make his case, Cameron showcased footage that was shot at both 24, 48 and 60 fps, citing “enhanced sense of detail” and “enhanced clarity” in 48 and 60 fps. Although there apparently isn’t as much of a difference between 48 and 60, he thinks that one or the other should eventually be adopted by the industry. He wanted to shoot Avatar at 48 fps, but didn’t think the world was quite ready for it. He is planning to shoot Avatar 2 and 3 at one of the higher frame rates, however.
So is this just another unnecessary upgrade that will only be noticed by film aficionados, or is it something that will greatly enhance the viewing experience of the average moviegoer? That still remains to be seen. Cameron claims that many of the newer digital projectors out there can already handle the higher frame rates with a software update, so he’s not necessarily asking theatre owners to spend even more money. He also says that George Lucas and Peter Jackson are both on board for the change. What do you think, does James Cameron know what he’s talking about, or is he messing with tradition for no good reason? And if this raises ticket prices even higher, would anyone even be willing to pay for it?