James Cameron, the director of path-breaking films like Avatar (see: The Technology Behind Avatar), Aliens and Titanic has announced that he has plans to make Avatar 2 and 3 at frame rates higher than 24 fps. This change, he believes, will give a more realistic feel to movies whilst reducing the effect of strobing or blurriness seen in many movies. The sequels for the groundbreaking movie will be shot at either 48 fps or 60 fps and Cameron believes that this change will revolutionize the way movies are normally shot.
Speaking at Cinemacon, the Academy award-winning director said that 24 fps, the current standard, is very outdated and that there hasn't been any changes in it since the film “The Jazz Singer” which released in 1927. He emphasized that increasing the frame rate from 24 to 48 or even 60, across all film genres, will make images crisper and clearer. To prove that he was right, he even screened four different scenes at various speeds -- 24 fps, 48 fps, and 60 fps. Cameron pointed out how, at 24 fps, the images appeared blurry and almost 'strobed' when compared to the much crisper images at 48 and 60 fps. According to Cameron, shooting films at more than 24 fps will give them an added sense of reality.
Cameron starts shooting Avatar 2 in about 18 months and the only thing he hasn't decided upon yet is whether to shoot the film at 48 fps or 60 fps. Other film making masterminds like George Lucas and Peter Jackson are already loving this new concept. George Lucas, who is busy converting all the Star Wars movies in 3D, has shown keen interest in the concept so far. On the other hand, Peter Jackson, at one point, was even considering shooting 'The Hobbit' at 48 fps, but as the technology wasn't popular yet, he decided against it.
For Avatar, James Cameron had to wait a long time before turning his Pandoran dream into reality just because the theaters weren't capable of handling the technology. Fortunately, this time, it seems like he won't have to wait that long as, according to Cameron, with just a “minor software update” all the projectors will be able to play higher frame rate movies. Speaking more on this new technology he said, "When you author and project a movie at 48 or 60, it becomes a different movie. The 3D shows you a window into reality; the higher frame rate takes the glass out of the window. In fact, it is just reality. It is really stunning."
Fps, which stands for frames per seconds, is a unit to express frequency at which an imaging device produces unique consecutive images known as frames. In simpler words, a movie can be compared to a flipbook in which a series of pictures are flicked rapidly to give a sense of motion (hence the word motion picture). Increasing the frame rate simply means increasing the speed at which those images move. When it comes to frame rates and the human eye, there has been a longstanding myth that humans won't be able to see anything faster than 24 fps. This, however, is completely untrue, as the visual system doesn't see in terms of frames; it works with a continuous flow of light information. In fact, many video games are played at frame rates much higher than 24 fps. Higher frame rates come in handy when fast-moving images are involved, which usually appear jarred or choppy at 24 fps. A good way to compare frame rates is by using this web application, which shows 3 images at varying frame rates, to demonstrate the difference between the frequencies. Another thing to note is the fact that 48 fps technology has been around for quite a while, but it never really took off. Many directors have previously considered increasing the frame rate but have ditched it, opting for a standard format instead.
James Cameron has been a pioneer as far as filmmaking is concerned. With Avatar, he has made one of the very few 3D films that don’t leave the audience with a headache or terrible eyestrain. However, as with every new technology, one can never be too sure of its success. Being a new technology, there would be some who will just hate it and some who won't even notice it. However, if it works, it could mean a whole new change to modern cinema --cinematic utopia maybe?