back to article James Cameron to amp up Avatar frame rate

James Cameron has said he's decided to up the frame rate on Avatar 2 and 3 to give the movies an "added sense of reality". Speaking at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, the director suggested that he'd crank up the movies from 24 fps to 48 or 60 fps. He explained: "When you author and project a movie at 48 or 60, it becomes a different …

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  1. Zog The Undeniable
    Coat

    What about showing the films?

    So just after investing in 3D, cinemas will also need to buy 48fps projectors? Expect popcorn prices to be a tenner a bag soon, just to fund this stuff.

    Mine's the one with the smuggled M&Ms in the pocket.

  2. Bunker_Monkey
    Thumb Up

    Thumbs Up! for 60fps

    Although shame that blu-ray couldnt cope? But full HD spec is 1080p x 60fps afterall. Everyone chooses to default back to 30!

  3. Tom Servo
    Unhappy

    THE STORY!!!

    WORK ON THE F*&(ING SCREENPLAY!

    stop pissing about with the technical stuff and realise that great films start with the screenplay.

    This clown is a long way from the 80's Cameron who wrote/ directed Terminator, Aliens/Abyss - films with ideas.

    Honestly, you and George Lucas should be ashamed.

    1. Tom Melly

      I think they did it on purpose

      I think they deliberately went very generic - they wanted something that they could sell everywhere and would offend nobody.

      1. Tom 13

        Well then they failed.

        All I saw was the trailers and I was offended enough not to pay to see it.

    2. Eponymous Cowherd
      Thumb Up

      PochaFernDeath

      Avatar : Reworking Pochahontas, throwing in elements of Fern Gulley and setting it on Harry Harrison's Pyrrus.

      Using that formula, the sequel may as well take Snow White, chuck in some bits of Open Season and set it all on LV-426.....

      Actually, that might work........

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: PochaFernDeath

        It's a simple classic storyline as befits an epic film. You know this is acceptable cinematic convention, and happens all the time, right? Every movie is not expected to be Memento.

        I sure am looking forward to an afternoon of people bleating "IT'S DANCES WITH SMURFS LOL" as if they were the first to ever think of it, though.

        1. CADmonkey
          Coat

          "Every movie is not expected to be Memento"

          Thank fuck for that

        2. Elmer Phud Silver badge
          Headmaster

          almost

          wouldn't it be more like

          " ITS DANCS WIT SMURFS LOLZ LOOSERS!"

        3. Magnethead

          RE: Every movie is not expected to be Memento

          Why not? Would demanding a higher level of originality and intelligence in our films be a bad thing? Personally I would rather Hollywood's output dropped off by 80-90% if we saw an equivalent rise in quality.

          Who knows, maybe if more films were actually worth seeing, more people might actually pay to go watch them. Radical, I know.

          1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

            Re: RE: Every movie is not expected to be Memento

            It's not about some single ideal - there are so many different types of film and you cannot expect them all to conform to one standard. That would be weird, and all films would be the same and it would be extremely dull, and you'd go on the internet to complain about it.

            Some films fail and some succeed on a creative level - it's a matter of what they set out to be and how fully they realise that. Zombieland is one of the best films I've seen in recent years - it's just a little comedy, nothing groundbreaking or thought-provoking or moving, but it's so complete and has so clearly fulfilled its own brief that it's massively satisfying. There's more than one kind of 'good'.

            1. Ministry of Truth
              Heart

              Zombieland

              It has Zombies

              It has Bill Murray

              It manages to squeeze Emma Stone into a pencil skirt

              It has a Black Keys track in the soundtrack

              "Zombie take down of the day!"

              Awesome film

              Good shout, Mistress Moderatrix

            2. Magnethead

              RE: Re: RE: Every movie is not expected to be Memento

              I think I failed to get my point across clearly. I wasn't implying that all movies should be the same as Memento, just that I would take a far smaller number of films if they were on a par with it. Not to sound like a Chris Nolan fanboi, but Dark Knight was good, though nothing like Memento, and as you say, Zombieland was excellent.

              But for every Memento there are 50 I still Know What You Did Last Summer's.

        4. CD001

          Dances with smurfs

          Well it IS Dances with Smurfs. Actually, it's more Fern Gulley than Dances with Wolves - but it doesn't have Robin Williams' bat to redeem it ... though 90% of the visual effects (particularly landscapes) were directly lifted from Roger Dean's artwork without him getting a penny.

          The original content of the film could probably be written on the back of a beermat - Cameron even plagiarised himself by bringing back Aliens-style loaders, with guns chucked on, and dropships (Sigourney Weaver doesn't count - the character WAS different). It's such a monumentally overrated film.

          That's not to say it's a BAD film - disengage brain, drink beer, eat pizza, watch Avatar - like Starship Troopers, it's fine in that context, though Starship Troopers was a little more subversive. Avatar certainly doesn't deserve the praise it's received so please, just allow us to mock in ways that have all the originality of the film itself.

    3. Elmer Phud Silver badge
      Headmaster

      "added sense of reality"

      It's too bloody real already for some.

      The only real 'blue people' are not the Smurfs, not the Naavi but the Nac McFeegles.

    4. Aramando

      It says in the article

      that digital cinemas can already cope with 60fps. No idea if this is true, but it sounds like there maybe hope for popcorn and drink prices remaining at their already-exorbitant level....

      1. Boring Bob

        Read the article

        The article says that digital cameras (not projectors) already cope at 60fps

        1. Aramando

          Strange

          I read that sentence 3 or 4 times and each time saw "cinema" where it in fact says "camera". Oops!

      2. SimonB

        Digital projectors

        All digital cinema class projectors will do a minimum of 120fps at full frame and 144fps in a reduced picture size (with the lens zooming up to full frame). Some models with newer boards will do 144fps full frame. The issue is that there is no standardised way of feeding them more than 24fps in 3D stereoscopic 2k resolution. The DCI forum are working on it, but right now no server supports decoding of JPEG 2000 at more than 48fps (24fps x 2).

        Looks like another round of server upgrades for cinemas (~$15k per screen). And very likely there will also be a 24fps deliverable for those who don't upgrade.

    5. jai

      yes but...

      ...thumbs down for someone green-lighting not just a 2nd but a 3rd film too :(

    6. Ammaross Danan
      Coat

      60fps

      60fps gives video a "soap opera" effect, according to PowerDVD. Having seen it, I quite agree. The characters move very smoothly and the colors are notably brighter. Makes it even more odd when a viewer such as PowerDVD "upscales" old DVD content not only to 1080p, but to 60fps as well. Had to pop the DVD in the normal player just to make sure the movie really was as crappy-looking as I remembered it.

    7. TelePom
      FAIL

      False Dichotomy

      It's not either/or. He can do both. There's no reason he shouldn't be pushing the technology if that's what he loves to do. Why piss on his parade?

    8. Rattus Rattus

      Oh, stop bitching

      Who didn't know what to expect when they walked in there, eh? I went in expecting some amazing eye-candy with a fairly pedestrian plot to provide an excuse to keep the pretty stuff appearing on screen. I got exactly what I was expecting, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Not every film is or needs to be Citizen Kane. In fact, just to hear the screams of the film buffs, I would even say not even Citizen Kane is Citizen Kane - I tried again to watch that the other day, still had to turn it off partway through because it was boring as shit.

      If you want amazing plots, go read a book.

      1. DRendar
        Thumb Up

        @Oh stop Bitching

        "If you want amazing plots, go read a book."

        I could not agree more.. Some of my favourite books / book series have long arcing storylines that would be impossible to convey in a 2 hour movie, or even a series of movies. I read books for an engaging story, and films to be entertained for a couple of hours.

        Occasionally you come across a fantastic film that ticks both boxes ("Fight Club" and "The Usual Suspects" spring to mind) but these are few and far between.

        I actually thoroughly enjoyed Avatar - I even took my Dad & Step Mum to see it when they visited one time and they both stayed awake all the way through - which is a bloody astonishing feat let me tell you!! :-)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    since the shutter is "closed for less time"

    well yes in the land where adding extra frames makes seconds longer...

    In order to fit more FPS each frame is displayed for less time, meaning on average the shutter, is open for..... the same amount of time...

    Plonkers.

  5. Clive Galway
    Thumb Up

    Bring it on

    Of course it will probably clog the interwebs as it will further double the size of the video files being shared via bittorrent (As if 3D wasn't enough).

    It probably won't make any difference anyway, with most action films these days it seems, the net result will just be that we will have 60FPS 3D shaky camera action scenes. Oh joy.

  6. Tom_
    Thumb Up

    Fantastic News

    That's really good news. With large cinema screens, the distance objects move between frames can be very large. This is why the whole thing looks like jerky shit whenever anyone pans a camera from one side to another.

    Not just 3D, but normal films will benefit massively from an increased framerate. It's just a shame they don't go up to 120Hz or so while they're at it.

    1. LaeMing
      FAIL

      Not really.

      Only if you don't understand the mechanics of film (and presumably digital) projectors, particularly how the shutters actually work.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Rotating Disc Shutter

        Just rotates faster, at no point do you increase the apperture, hence duration of the frame, in the disc.

        The overall exposure remains the same.

        Fail back at ya!

    2. LaeMing
      Stop

      Not as much as you might expect.

      A higher frame rate will generally have lower inter-frame difference, so will compress better for the same perceptual quality.

  7. Test Man
    WTF?

    48 or 60fps?

    Wouldn't it make it look less "filmy" and more "TV showy"?

  8. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    There is still the problem of 600 million years of evolution.

    Your eyes have to focus on the screen, but this differs from the apparent distance to the object as apparent from stereo information. This is a new situation, in the sense that in 600 million years of evolution our eyes have not had to deal with it until now.

    Alternatively, if you do not believe in evolution, GOD DID NOT MAKE US THAT WAY. 3D FILMS ARE THE WORK OF THE DEVIL!!

  9. Paul M 1

    Title

    If he's talking about the shutter being open and closed, presumably he means the old mechanical rotating shutters?

    But these already project at 48 fps for that very reason - they just show each film frame twice.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      I thought there was resistance to the higher fps for this very reason.

      Higher frame rate stuff tends to look more like TV shows and people tend to associate 'TV show' with 'cheap and nasty'....

      1. LaeMing

        You are quite correct.

        This is a major reason for resistence to higher FPS in the film industry.

        1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

          Low framerate = cinematic

          I remember a story about the MTV Video Music Awards, the first year they were shown live in HD. The producers chose 720p as the broadcast format, which has a 30fps frame rate, rather than 1080i (which is 60 fields per second)

          Afterwards, there was quite a bit of speculation that the event had not been broadcast live at all, and was in fact pre-recorded. Historically, so much pre-recorded material (especially drama) is originated on film that viewers have associated the lower framerate with material that is "not live".

          The low framerate also contributes to the scale of a cinema presentation; watch a blu-ray with your TV's motion fill-in turned on, and then turned off. To me, the basic 24fps is "better", despite the motion-compensated one being "more realistic".

          If Hollywood audiences wanted realism, Ken Loach would be a living on a yacht, and Jerry Bruckheimer would be flipping burgers somewhere.

    2. King Edward I
      Coat

      IF GOD WANTED US TO SEE IN 3D...

      ...HE'D HAVE GIVEN US TO EY... waitaminute...

      1. Oninoshiko
        Headmaster

        hrm...

        I'm glad no one gave me to eyes. Giant eyes would be creepy, twice over if the owned me.

        1. M Gale

          Who or what is "the"?

          Unless it's a pet name for yon Moderatrix. Doesn't she own us all anyway?

          Sorry, I meant "pwn".

    3. LaeMing

      Yes, except it is actually 3 shutters per frame.

      For 72 fps (but three identical frames at a time).

      Been reparing 16mm projectors the past 2 months.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Cinema vs home

    Of course, unless your brand new 3D TV / Blu Ray player can cope, you'll just *have* to go see this at the cinema.

  11. idris
    Thumb Up

    About time

    It's ridiculous that x and y resolutions have been going up and up for years but resolution of the t dimension has remained the same for decades.

    Because high frame rates remind people of cheap 70s TV broadcasts, there has been an absurd mental block in effect for just as long. If you were to play a 24fps clip to a group of people and then the exact same clip at 60fps to another group and ask them to estimate the film's budget, you'd probably find that the 24fps clip rates higher.

    Sometimes people just need to be told that their feelings are wrong.

  12. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    WTF?

    In fact, it is just reality

    In fact, it's just bollocks. In one swift move, we've achieved, hey, domestic TV refresh rates (pick your appropriate side of the pond!). That 24 fps frame rate's been a pain in the backside for telecine designers for years.

    Perhaps this time Cameron will make the right film - y'know, science fiction and all that - and give an answer to the unasked question: on a world in which every other animal has six limbs, the smurfs (thanks, Sarah - I hadn't heard that one!) only have four - and yet they can do the magic spaghetti monster stuff with the tendrils. Since the smurfs have the wrong number of limbs they're obviously imported; since they can do the tendril thing - and yet have no visible technology - they're obviously bred for the purpose.

    By whom, and why? That's the film I want to see, not yet another western-in-spaaaaaaace!

  13. ShaggyDoggy

    How about

    they run the original Avatar at 60 fps

    That way we won't have to sit there for so bloody long

    1. Jos
      Thumb Up

      agreed

      That's mostly how I watched it on DVD anyways. Still wasted a half hour of my life...

    2. M Gale

      But then...

      We'd be complaining about "Dances with Chipmunks", Shirley?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Great!

    Jolly good luck to him! The last film I managed to have the patience to sit through was Titantic 'cos I wanted to get off with the girl I went with, who later became my wife! The only film I have watched in the last 10 years has served it's purpose, cheers James!

  15. Graham Bartlett

    @Sarah and Cowherd

    Nothing wrong with a simple storyline, if it's done well. Two of my three favourite films ever are Die Hard and Aliens. Neither of those two score highly on storyline complexity - but they do score pretty well on script and characters. The irony with Avatar is that as the visuals went 3D, the characters went 1D. Conservation of dimensions, or something.

    (My third favourite film is Bagdad Cafe, if anyone cares. That's the film with CCH Pounder, not the godawful TV series with Whoopie Goldberg.)

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: @Sarah and Cowherd

      I think the characters are fine in context - we know what they want and we can empathise with them and want them to succeed, which is all you really need. It's very basic and it presses your buttons. For more subtle and enriching character development, you go elsewhere. Cameron knows exactly what he's doing with the various elements of film - he's a master.

      For seriously bad/non-existent characterisation, check the Star Wars prequels.

      1. Tom 35 Silver badge

        non-existent characterisation

        My biggest problem was with the bad guys. Giving the good guys something less 1D fight would do wonders to a movie like this. I can't tell you the name of the corporate weasel or army guy, but everyone remembers Darth Vader...

      2. Ministry of Truth

        Cringing every time he says...

        "I hate it when he does that"

        The only thing watchable about the Star Wars Prequels are the Robot Chicken piss takes

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    24fps = film

    I remember seeing an episode on ER once where a news crew were filming in the hospital. During the episode scenes would be intercut with footage from the news team's video cameras (running at 60 fps).

    When the scene changed from usual 30 fps of the 35mm film cameras to 60 fps of the video cameras, the filmic illusion was instantly shattered. George Clooney went from heroic doctor bravely risking his life on the roof of the hospital (and fledging movie star) to a television actor sitting in a fake helicopter delivering pre-scripted lines.

    Having said that, James Cameron usually proves the naysayers wrong and the higher frame-rate might be useful for 3D.

    1. ravenviz Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Blake's 7

      I always remember being impressed when Blake's 7 shot on location with film instead of in the studio set with video, it looked a lot more gritty and somehow 'serious', the scenes inside the Liberator sometimes looked a bit amateur.

  17. Graham Bartlett

    @Sarah

    Hell yeah, Star Wars prequels were bad. The originals weren't much better though - "George, you can type this shit, but you sure as hell can't say it", per Harrison Ford.

    Difference is that Cameron has a track record of decent movies.

    And it doesn't really press my buttons, any more than a Disney cartoon does.

  18. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Down

    Investment

    I do wonder why the film industry can't manage more than one development at a time.

    Well, actually, I don't wonder, I know it's just a fad to make us buy newer shinier equipment.

    First there was home video

    Then surround sound

    Then widescreen

    Then DVD

    Then flat screens

    Then HD

    Then 3D

    Now 60fps? Look soon for the new TVs in Currys with '60F READY' or some bollocks, and don't forget to throw away your now-worthless Blu-ray collection.

    Anyway, while Lucas is re-editing Star Wars into 3D, he might as well start planning to insert extra frames in between the inferior originals. I'm sure it'll make C3PO look even shinier, and therefore make the films better.

    1. TelePom
      Coat

      Eh?

      How are home video, surround sound, wide-screen, DVD, and flat screens "just fads"? Unless you're watching your visual entertainment on 8mm film, you're using these things. They're the natural progression of the technology. You sit in the dark watching blurred lack and white movies on flammable easily-degrading film if you like, the rest of us will wave to you from the future...

    2. Yag
      FAIL

      Look soon for the new TVs in Currys with '60F READY' or some bollocks

      Well... TVs are already 60FPS ready for DECADES, you know...

  19. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Done by Douglas Trumbell decades ago

    It was called ShowScan and used 70mm film at 60fps. I saw a demo in the 1980s and the illusion of solidity is astonishing.

  20. snafu

    Douglas Trumbull's Showscan process realized

    This VFX guru (2001, Close Encounters, Star Trek, Silent Running, Blade Runner, Brainstorm, etc.) investigated high fps for inmersive cinema, and found that, above a certain framerate, the brain perceived the image as "real". ShowScan was a 70 mm 60 fps process.

    Now it can be done digitally and, seemingly, quite affordably. I can't wait!

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