James Cameron Might Shoot His Avatar Sequels At 120 FPS, Just For The Hell Of It

Senior Editor
09.15.14 34 Comments

James Cameron, the bravest pioneer, has long been an advocate of shooting and projecting movies at rates higher than the traditional 24-frames-per second, believing it’s the best way to reduce the blurring and strobing effects you get with 3D. Of course, that was before The Hobbit came out in 48 fps, and looked, in the words of scientists, hella whack. But I’m willing to grant that maybe a Peter Jackson movie wasn’t the best showcase for a new technology, and now 3D pioneer Douglas Trumbull is trying to see if James Cameron might use Trumbull’s new 120 fps system for his Avatar sequels.

Trumbull told The Hollywood Reporter he has talked with Avatar producer Jon Landau about viewing the short film UTOFOG, which is a showcase for Trumbull’s patented process, dubbed MAGI, for capturing and displaying images at 120 frames per second in 4K and 3D on giant screens using conventional digital projectors.

“I know that Cameron admired Showscan [Trumbull’s earlier invention of a large-format high-frame rate projection system] and that he is a huge advocate of high frame rates [HFRs],” Trumbull said. “The use of HFRs for Avatar would be very appropriate and very successful.”

Trumbull says he doesn’t know if Cameron is interested in the system yet, because “[Cameron]’s in seclusion writing the screenplay for Avatar.” So as of now, Trumbull is just a man, standing in front of a computer, asking James Cameron to love him. But Cameron has said of Trumbull’s 60 fps systems in the past, “Doug had the right idea, It was just premature brilliance,” so this does seem like the kind of thing James Cameron would be interested in. James Cameron seems like the kind of guy who would shoot in 24,000 frames a second, just because it would require expensive equipment and expensive equipment is awesome.

MAGI is a technique that involves shooting 4K 3D, shooting 60 fps with alternate shutter speeds. This alignment means that when played back through a standard 3D theatrical projector, the picture is delivered in sync with the system’s alternating left eye, right eye cadence.

“It delivers extreme fluidity of motion and amazing clarity with no strobing, no double flickering and a viewing experience that far exceeds conventional movie quality,” said Trumbull.

I feel bad for this guy, because now every time anyone talks about high frame rates, all I can picture is Peter Jackson and his dumb dwarves.

He also got a laugh from the audience when he joked that if MAGI is accepted, “Michael Bay is going to make an even worse Transformers movie because there won’t be any motion blur.” [THR]

You know, maybe this Doug Trumbull guy is alright after all.

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