EDITORIALS

Cameron Working Towards No Sick 3D Viewers & Better Framerates

by
February 2, 2011
Source: WSJ.com

James Cameron

How many got sick watching Avatar in 3D? Too much going on in too many dimensions? Well, in addition to working on the story, James Cameron is confronting that issue by focusing on the technology at movie theaters in order to improve your viewing experience. Wall Street Journal has new quotes from a Cameron interview last weekend talking about improvements. "For Avatar 2, what I'm most interested in is getting theaters to up their light level," Cameron explains. "And we want to shoot the movie at 48 or maybe even 60 frames a second, and display it at that speed, which will eliminate a lot of the motion artifacts." Read on!

If you're seeing Sanctum this weekend, which Cameron produced, they used the same 3D camera rig from Avatar, but outfitted for, "all of these different environments, water and all of that, where specific problems have to be solved that are external to the camera." But what makes people sick with 3D? Do you remember that fun graphical memo we posted after Avatar talking about how "not to get a headache" watching Avatar in 3D? Well, Cameron thinks he knows exactly why most folks aren't enjoying the 3D experience. He states:

"People talk about feeling sick or something like that, and I think it’s because the image is strobing." Cameron observed. "That's a function of the 24 frame frame rate, which has actually got nothing to do with 3D. It's just made more apparent because the 3D is otherwise such an enhanced, realistic image, that all of a sudden you're aware of this funky strobing which you weren't aware of."

That's kind of an odd way to explain it, but I think he's referring to the odd strobing effect that occurs with the alternating frames - since projectors are now spitting out a left and right frame in rapid succession that your eyes individually receive thanks to the oversized 3D glasses you're wearing. But he does make a good point, if we had double or triple framerates, everything would smooth out a lot more, it would just look like perfectly slick 3D - which would be gorgeous to see. And I trust that Cameron knows a heck of a lot about 3D, he is the modern master of the technology. I didn't get sick watching Avatar, but that doesn't mean I'm not happy to see him push for improvements. Plus I love the pressure that Cameron puts on all the theaters.

In related news, Cameron recently made a statement that I completely agree with, that Christopher Nolan should've received a Best Director Oscar nomination for Inception. Read his comments here. Additionally, it was confirmed by Cameron a week ago that Avatar 2 and 3 will shoot back-to-back and arrive in theaters in December 2014 and 2015. Cameron has a lot on his plate, but at the same time, we've got a long ways to go until we're back on Pandora for more Na'vi adventures. In the meantime, you can gape at how much money Cameron made last year, mostly thanks to tons of Avatar revenue. As always, stay tuned for more updates.

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  • Anonymous
    hahaha, he's so in love with himself its sickening Does he think he's 3-D messiah? Cameron loves the 3-D because its makes more money, imo. Just stop Cameron, 3-D is a lame money making gimmick that distracts from the film. Christian Bale said it best "Hey!? Its fucking distracting!!"
    • Anonymous
      "Does he think he's 3-D messiah?" My thoughts exactly when I read the headline. I wish he would just stfu and let his work do the talking for him. Granted, then he wouldn't have much to say every other movie, but I am getting really tired of his ego trip. -.- P.S.: Thumbs up for the Bale quote. xD
    • Anonymous
      you speak the truth, xerxex. if cam would concentrate on making his MOVIES - maybe they'd turn out better than avatar. 3D is just worthless crap that takes up resources which could have been used to make a better movie.
    • Craig
      I'm no Cameron fanboy, but honestly, he sort of IS the 3D messiah. And for the most part you're right, 3D isn't much more than a distracting gimmick at the moment. But Cameron's goal is to make 3D a seamless integration. Something that isn't distracting.
      • Anonymous
        it'll always detract from a film. I respect your opinion, but I hate 3-D.
  • FOOM
    With resopect to both above posters who, I know, are regular contributors, to me Cameron is saying "there are problems with 3D...this is what I think they are...and here is how I plan to try to reduce said problems..." I dont have a problem with that.
  • Anonymous
    So Cameron is gonna personally spend his money, or even just some time, to help out theater owners upgrade their stuff? Sure he will! 3D is a gimmick currently being milked by Hollywood, and IMAX is a gimmick milked by theater owners. Pay $$$ for IMAX, sure, just stop labeling a 15'x60' screen a "Digital IMAX" one... in fine print... at the ticket counter.
  • Oravanpyora
    @Akirakorn: Is Cameron "gonna ... help out theater owners"? Of course not, and why should he - that is not his business. IMO he is making enough of a contribution by addressing and mitigating the shortcomings of current D-Cinema technology. 3D may well be a gimmick and soon fizzle out, but IMAX is not: there *is* a difference between real IMAX and the current dual-2K Digital IMAX (aka. LIEmax)...
    • FOOM
      Absolutely! Lucasfilm pushed forward the development of SFX enormously during the development of Star Wars and look what that helped to achieve for the movie industry as a whole!! I hope Cameron's passion for 3D does the same! Personally I do not understand resistance to 3D....isnt it a bit like saying ~I want movie sound to remain as stereo rather than going Dolby 7.1?
  • cyckat
    But 3D cinema is already displayed at 48fp.
    • cyckat
      *fps
  • Hattori Hanzo
    One thing you have to say about Cameron, he is passionate about 3-D and he seems to be on a one man mission to make it work. The only problem with being the voice of 3-D is that it's either going to sink or swim on the back of his ego.
  • Is 3D a gimmick? Sure. Is it also fun and entertaining? YES. All of these people that are jumping on the "3D is a gimmick blah blah platitudes" bandwagon is annoying. It's like people being upset because Chips Ahoy came out with a cookie that had more chocolate chips that ever before. No one is making you eat the new cookie. You can still go buy the other cookie, but some people enjoy new, crazy, gimmicky things. Stop whining. 3D is fun. Fun- noun 1. what provides amusement or enjoyment
  • Voice of Reason
    The story made me sick, the 3-D was fine.
  • Dfrat64
    In the late '80's SFX wiz Douglas Trumball experimented with a 60fps format (he called it Showscan). Never got off the ground. His feature "Brainstorm" was supposed to be the showcase film for the format, but no exhibitors would spend the money to upgrade their equipment, so it died. I saw a demo reel of Showscan, and it was like seeing HD TV for the first time after a lifetime of watching analog TV. Sharp, brilliant, and damn-near 3-D in and of itself. We'll see if Cameron can do what Trumball couldn't.
  • ?????
    Yay mobile theme!!!! Sweet
  • Marty Martin
    Cameron is missing the technical problems with 3D entirely. Higher framerates simply make film look like lower-quality video, no matter what the definition of the film is (1080P, 2K, 4K). This strobing he's talking about is a natural result of 24P (I won't get into the technicalities of it), but it has never bothered the filmgoing audience, and 3D doesn't change that. What makes an audience queazy is that when we are looking at a cinema screen, we are already seeing the screen in 3D; it's how our eyes see things. BUT, when a 3D image (technically 2 overlaying images) is projected onto an already 3D object, it forces our eyes to cross more than they naturally would. We are essentially watching 3D over 3D. If you could put a big black spot on the middle of a cinema screen, then watch a 3D over it, you will notice that the black spot becomes 2 spots in your perception. 3D films are forcing our eyes into an unnatural position. So James Cameron is totally missing the problem with 3D. Basically he wants to push a terrible 3D technology further by making it look more like video.
  • Anonymous
    Maybe he should concentrate on coming with an actual original story for the second Avatar, instead of just ripping off Dances With Wolves, Pocahontas and Ferngully.
  • Anonymous
    I love how even when addressing some of the complaints of 3D he puts a positive spin on it. JC: Oh, that sickness you get from 3D, it's not really our fault. Blame the theaters that can't handle the "enhanced, realistic image."
  • You people are CRAZY if you think 3-D will fade away.. Uhhh hello what about all the 3-d T.V.'s that are coming/already out, you think those manufactures are gone spend millions on something thats gona die out??
    • Dfrat64
      Yes.
    • Marty Martin
      Hmmmm... HD-DVD... Blue/Red 3D films in theaters.... smell-o-vision... 3D as we know it will not last.
      • I hope so... and the sooner it perishes, the better! :)
      • Thanos
        It is only the natural progression of things. 3-D movies have always been inevitable. It will only improve from here. People that hate it have 100 years of film readily available. So, you can either get with the times, or live in the past. It's your call.
  • Al
    Strobbing comes from the fact that you're looking at a screen yet seeing the image "in front" of you. Its all perspective. If anything a quicker frame rate will make it even harder for your eye to realize its confusion, probably making the headache worse.
  • Here's the problem with 3D. Our eyes do two things when we look at something: 1) converge on the object based on distance (have your friend stare at your finger and move it closer to them and their eyes will cross the closer it gets) and 2) expand/squash the lens of your eye to bring the object into focus (close one eye, look at your finger and notice that everything behind it is blurry, now focus on the background and your finger is blurry). The point that our eyes converge, and the amount that they focus, are tied together. When something is close, the brain knows to go to a "preset" focus level and when something is far it's a different preset. When we're watching a movie in 3D the screen is always the same distance away. So when something appears to come close to you your brain is programed to focus your eye at a certain point -- but the object isn't actually close to you, it's still at the distance of the screen, so you need to converge your eyes to bring the two images together. But, still focus as if the object is far away. The brain never has to do this in real life, so for a lot of people it messes them up. Strobing might contribute a little bit to headaches (people using old CRT screens set to low refresh rates would sometimes complain of eye strain and headaches after watching their screens for a long time), but this converging/focus issue cannot be fixed -- our brains aren't ready to work that way. One way to lessen the problem would be to just have a very subtle 3D -- rather than objects jumping 30 feet off the screen, they jump maybe 3. This would be a very minimal amount of defocusing that our eyes would have to do and may not be as much strain on the eyes.
  • Don't be Silly
    He is stalking about the strobe from 24 frames when panning etc. You have less as the frame rate inscreases because there are more in between frames to capture the motion. I'm interested in how he will make it still feel like film, since like 30 fps which is like reality TV, 60fps is hyper real like a football game. and there is no film like motion to anything. maybe 48fps will be how he does that.
  • Anonymous
    I absolutely loved the last edition of Avatar on Robot Chicken a couple of weeks ago. I thought they nailed Cameron.
    • Do you have a link to watch it online somewhere? I'd love to see it.

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