After the amazing job James Cameron did managing to sell yet another conventional and not-so-original story disguised as an almost philosophical pondering concerning the future of humanity, time has now arrived for Avatar 2 to be planned. The film is due to be released in December 2014; that is, the CGI team will have enough time to mask the one-dimensional plot and turn it into a 3-D experience. Credit where credit due, the CGI experts surpassed any expectations and this is why the credits ran almost as long as the film itself.
Cameron’s desire for innovation has much potential but does not seem to go beyond a formula for money-making…
Yesterday Hollywood Reporter outlined Cameron’s ambitious idea to shoot Avatar 2 not at 24 frames-per-second as current standard for cinema is but at 48 fps or 60 fps, pointing out that 24fps is long démodé. The “potential to improve showmanship” by enhancing the reality effect is what the Lord of the Blockbusters’ main concern is. Since the technology does exists (60fps is commonly used sports productions, video games or for shooting slow motion), it is a question of embracing it as a standard. Moreover, exhibition would not be an issue since all the generation two projectors need is a software upgrade.
How charming! Now let’s pause the dream sequence for a second. Despite my lack of respect for Cameron’s films as such, I owe him much when it comes to marketing and advertising his own products. The adoption of new production and exhibition standards could lead to many changes, especially if adopted on a larger scale. First of all, bigger big budgets and thus higher expectations for smaller, independent productions (“grow or die” pressure). Moreover, new demands for smaller theatres to switch not just to digital but to expensive digital showcasing. Well, this does not mean that film will altogether disappear (I certainly hope the BFI won’t decide to give up 35mm!). However, once a new standard is set, there (is) will be no turning back.
…“enhanced sense of detail” is precisely what will feed our illusion of the hyper-real…
It is not all so gloomy, though. The idea does have some positive sides to make new media theorists excited! The 60fps will hardly make the experience “more real”. In fact, with his frame rate, a film will easily be a full-fledged video game experience. It just won’t be a game. Therefore, that 60fps will bring us “enhanced sense of detail” is precisely what will feed our illusion of the hyper-real. Since the film already has a crowd of followers loving its ability to nurture escapism, I wonder how they would react to an Avatar 2 at more frames.
What I personally fear is that such technology will produce more Camerons and Lucases that value form over content. As beautiful as Avatar might have been, one will have to wipe out most sci-fi literature written in the past 60 years to convince me of the film’s originality. In other words, as long as Spectacle (“showmanship”) dominates the scene completely, Idea might calmly shy away in the corner. Cameron’s desire for innovation has much potential but does not seem to go beyond a formula for money-making.
To finish on a positive note, two years ago the scientists in the GEO600 experiment stated that the whole universe might be a giant hologram. If they were right and all is illusion, why not support Cameron’s desire to create even more illusions and see where that takes us?