Filmmaker James Cameron says 3D television broadcasting is set for a period of explosive growth now that networks can simultaneously shoot both stereoscopic and 2D at minimal cost.
The filmmaker – who re-popularised 3D with his film Avatar in 2009 – said 3D had now unified the world of movies and television in terms of equipment, which allows development costs to be amortised over a broad spectrum.
"We're ahead of the curve in movies relative to broadcast but we're dealing with the same transition now – the growing pains, the questions and the uncertainty, the doubts, the naysayers, the scoffers – and the success stories," Cameron told an audience at this year's NAB Show alongside his business partner Vince Pace. "We have triumph after triumph when we're out there as practitioners of this art."
CPG's stereoscopic equipment and methodologies have been used over the past year to produce 3D broadcasts of the US Open tennis, which was recognised with an Emmy, as well as the US Masters golf and Winter X Games, which have garnered Emmy nominations.
It marks a change for the broadcast industry which only recently had viewed 3D production as a costly experiment, which sat outside of their existing workflows, Cameron said, while the 3D industry had done itself a disservice by making 3D production "mysterious".
"We realised there was a disconnect – the message that was coming out of the 3D community was you don't know what you're doing, you therefore need us."
Cameron referred to his methodology as 5D – simultaneously producing 2D and 3D output – and unveiled several new CPG products at the show. "The future of 3D is broadcast and that's where we're going to see explosive growth over the next few years."
Meanwhile, Cameron also said he continued to run tests on whether to shoot his Avatar sequels at either 48 frames per second (fps) or 60fps. Shooting at such higher frame rates rather than the current 24fps standard, would improve the picture quality of 3D films. Peter Jackson has already started shooting The Hobbit films at 48fps, which will prompt exhibitors to upgrade their projection equipment this year.
"The projector technology is there; the major projector manufacturers are moving toward high frame rate capability," Cameron said. "The cameras already do it – the EPIC, the ALEXA the others, they'll all run the high speed rates so we're essentially there technologically, we just have to look at the impact to visual effects and post-production."