Earlier this year, CinemaCon brought the news that there would be a total of four Avatar sequels. Avatar 2 is supposed to hit theaters around Christmas 2018, followed by Avatar 3 in 2020, Avatar 4 in 2022, and Avatar 5 in 2023, all around the winter holiday. However, there’s no guarantee that director James Cameron will finish the movies in time to fit that schedule, especially since Avatar 2 has been pushed back for a few years ago, and one hopeful advancement in technology could be the culprit.
While accepting his admission as a member of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, James Cameron briefly discussed the Avatar sequels, and he hopes that they’ll be able to utilize glasses-free 3D at some point.
IndieWire was in attendance at the rare ceremony that rarely honors filmmakers, and here’s what Cameron said about pushing the limits of technology, including glasses-free 3D Avatar sequels:
I’m going to push. Not only for better tools, workflow, high dynamic range (HDR) and high frame rates (HFR) the things we are working toward. I’m still very bullish on 3D, but we need brighter projection, and ultimately I think it can happen with no glasses. We’ll get there.
“I think ‘HFR’ is a tool, not a format,” Cameron told The Hollywood Reporter. “I think it’s something you want to weave in and out and use when it soothes the eyes, especially in 3D during panning, movements that create artifacts that I find very bothersome. I want to get rid of that stuff, and you can do it through high frame rates.”
The common complaint is that HFR looks unnatural or hyper-real, because it’s running so much faster than cinema’s 24 frames per-second. By using it in parts of a movie where it might make sense like flashback sequences in Ang Lee’s new war movie Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk the extra detail it provides may enhance storytelling rather than distract from it.
“In terms of that kind of hyper clarity, there may be some films that benefit from it,” Cameron said. “But I feel you still have to have a little bit of that veil of unreality that comes with 24 frames per-second. This is my conclusion now. I don’t think you do it wall-to-wall. I think you do it [HFR] where you need it.”
There have been some advancements in glasses-free 3D with films, but as of now the successful tests have only been done with small images. While scaling up to a movie theater sized screen should be technically possible, it hasn’t been done, and even if success is had, the cost of the technology isn’t commercially viable at this point.
Of course, with the continual delays that James Cameron has had in his attempts to produce sequels to Avatar would technically help aid the effort toward non-glasses 3D. The longer Cameron takes to make the films, the more time people have to perfect the technology. The question now would seem to be which will get first: 3D in your average multiplex that doesn’t require glasses or a sequel to Avatar?
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