How May ‘Avatar 2’ Shooting in 120 FPS Affect the Future of Cinema?

By Will Ashton

By now, it’s a given that writer/director James Cameron has impacted cinema as audience members know it. Between making such hits as The Terminator, Titanic, Aliens and Avatar, just to name a few, Cameron has not only impacted the narratives of modern Hollywood cinema, but also how technology can be used to dramatically reinvent visually engagement in films.

So, naturally, as the Oscar-winning filmmaker is gearing up to make Avatar 2, 3 and 4—all around the same time, apparently—it’s not a matter of if, but how Cameron will push his boundaries this time around. If recent reports are to be believed, it will be in a fairly unprecedented way.

As IGN reports, Douglas Trumball, an Oscar-winning visual effects who has been working on a new digital patented process called MAGI for over a year, has been approached by a producer on the new Avatar movies to use his new technology for Cameron’s movies. MAGI is a 4K 3-D digital video filming and displaying processor that allows for an exceptional 120 frame per second (FPS) rate. To put that in perspective with the regular film-going experience, most movies are shot and presented at 24 FPS.

Considering the backlash that Peter Jackson got for shooting and presenting The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 48 FPS—which was was so violent that it caused the other Hobbit movies and X-Men: Days of Future Past to be presented solely in 24 FPS, despite being shot for a 48 FPS presentation— it’s rather dumbfounding how far Cameron is willing to go forward with this new technology.

But with Cameron’s status as a filmmaker and his opening of doors for 3-D movies in a mainstream light after Avatar‘s record-breaking success, is it possible that more movies will be released in a rate 5 times faster than the normal film? Also, considering how people got nauseous with just 48 FPS, will people even be able to process 120 FPS? These are the questions that will ultimately need to be explored as Cameron breaks ground on Trumball’s MAGI approach.


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