The Avatar sequels will not be shot totally in a high frame rate. James Cameron is not a supporter of using the technique wholesale which caused a headache for Peter Jackson with The Hobbit and was among the many criticisms levelled at Gemini Man.
When a man who can be considered a technical master, who has introduced so many new VFX tools and techniques to the wider world, passes judgment on something like this does it mean Hollywood will follow? He is, after all, the man responsible for the single greatest flying man-eating fish movie sequel of all time.
Between 2021 and 2027, Cameron plans to release four more Avatar films. There are many jokes and comments doing the rounds online asking who wants or needs these movies? However, the fact remains Avatar was the highest-grossing movie of all time until being recently dethroned by Avengers: Endgame over a decade since it was released.
It was a cinematic event that basically launched the now aborted 3D cinema revolution that was going to save theatres and sell millions of TV’s. Analysts say as much as 40% of its box office was due to the extra revenue from 3D screenings.
During the recent interview, Cameron admitted that while he hadn’t seen the troubled Ang Lee and Will Smith effort, Gemini Man, with its 120 frames per second issues, he sees high frame rates as a single solution to particular problems, rather than the answer for an entire movie:
“I’ve seen some clips from Gemini Man. I haven’t seen the picture yet because I’m down here in New Zealand. I’m interested to see it.
I mean, I have a personal philosophy around high frame rate, which is that it is a specific solution to specific problems having to do with 3D. And when you get the strobing and the jutter of certain shots that pan or certain lateral movement across frame, it’s distracting in 3D.
And to me, it’s just a solution for those shots. I don’t think it’s a format. That’s just me personally. I know Ang sees it that way. I don’t think it’s like the next 70 millimetres or the next big thing.
I think it’s a tool to be used to solve problems in 3D projection. And I’ll be using it sparingly throughout the Avatar films, but they won’t be in high frame rate. But I am curious to see what they came up with. Have you guys seen it? And you saw a high frame rate screening?
Yes. Actually, underwater stuff in particular stood out.
Well, this is the thing. The more mundane the subject, two people talking in the kitchen, the worse it works, because you feel like you’re in a set of a kitchen with actors in make up. That’s how real it is, you know?
But I think when you’ve got extraordinary subjects that are being shot for real, or even through CG, that hyper-reality actually works in your favour. So to me, it’s a wand that you wave in certain moments and use when you need it. It’s an authoring tool.”
So, use the technology, but do so sparingly. It seems like he has an understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of the technique.
This is an important distinction to make. Whatever you think of Cameron as a filmmaker, as far back as Terminator 2 he has been bringing new tools and technology to the filmmaking table. Does this mean once again that the Avatar sequels will be ahead of the game and you will just have to go to theatres to see them?
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