High Frame Rate in ‘Avatar: The Way of Water Thanks to a ‘Simple Hack’ by Director James Cameron
For his upcoming film “Avatar: The Way of Water,” director James Cameron will use a “simple hack” to enable high-frame-rate projection in conventional theatres.
Unfortunately, high projector upgrade costs and a perceived lack of cinema aesthetics have historically hampered previous attempts at the global distribution of high frame-rate versions of films.
Instead, Cameron will stick to the standards set forth by the digital cinema industry, which will allow digital cinema packages (DCP) to be screened at 48 frames per second. This is the frame rate at which the vast majority of 3D-enabled theatres are capable of projecting.
Cameron acknowledged the creative constraints of high frame rate filmmaking during a video call with audiences at the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea.
Underwater or in some of the flying scenes, we want a greater sense of presence, so we’re using [high frame rate] to improve the 3D. We can’t use [high frame rate] for shots of people just standing around talking because it creates a kind of hyper-realism in scenes that are more mundane, more normal. As Cameron put it, “sometimes we need that cinematic feeling of 24fps.”
Do movie theatres have the capability of showing films with a varying frame rate, alternating between 24 and 48 frames per second? The simple answer is that it is being played at 48 frames per second.
To achieve 48fps in any area of the scene shot at 24fps, we simply play back the frames in rapid succession. So, they show the same frame twice, but the audience doesn’t catch on. Consequently, we’re basically just employing a simple hack to make use of the preexisting high frame rate platform.
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