• James Cameron Wants 60p

    Whatever you think of 3-D, it's hard to deny that James Cameron took it to a new level with Avatar. Now he's talking about another innovation for Avatar II - increasing the frame rate from the current standard of 24 frames per second (AKA 24fps or 24p) to 48 or even 60fps.

    This will undoubtedly cause a similar reaction from traditionalists as the 3-D trend. 24p is hugely popular amongst filmmakers and is often considered a critical element of the genuine "film look". Many filmmakers and critics will be highly reluctant to reverse years of endorsing 24p over higher frame rates.

    Part of Cameron's rationale for higher frames rates is that 3-D really needs it, which of course will mean little to the hordes of anti-3-D activists. However Cameron is quick to point out that 2-D will benefit just as much.

    60p has been tried before, for example the technologically successful but virtually unknown Showscan. In the past, economics and existing hardware were against higher frames rates but this is no longer the case. Most new digital projectors could be capable of 60p after a simple software update.

    The main challenge for 60p now is not technology, it's resistance from filmmakers who prefer 24p on aesthetic grounds.

    Cameron claims to have supporters in George Lucas and Peter Jackson. He will certainly need a few allies - even Cameron's status won't be enough to shift the balance from 24p. The technology is already here, but moving to a higher frame could be just as much of a challenge as gaining acceptance for 3-D.

    James Cameron in 2009 (photo by Natasha Baucas)
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