James Cameron tells European broadcasting company RTL that he’s deciding between making Avatar 2, Avatar 3, and Avatar 4 at variable frame rates (VFR), and making them at a single consistent frame rate:
“[We're] looking at high frame rate. I’m studying that. I haven’t made a final decision yet, whether the entire film will be made at high frame rate or parts of it. You know, we’ll be shooting at a native resolution of probably 4K and so then there should be a lot of true 4K theaters by then as well.”
I think VFR makes the most sense and I predict that’s what Cameron will choose for his Avatar sequel trilogy. In fact, I think VFR makes the most sense for just about every movie: Why restrict yourself to a single frame rate when different scenes and shot types, or even distinct objects in a shot, may look better at different speeds? Even if a filmmaker goes into a production with the idea that the movie will be at a single frame rate, it would be wise to keep all options open by capturing footage in a way that allows multiple frame rates to be extracted and layered over each other.
If Cameron does indeed choose variable frame rates, I’ll be very interested in the camera equipment and setup he uses. Would he shoot all scenes at the same ultra-high frame rate using one particular camera type, and then extract different frame rates during the editing process (assuming the targeted rates are factors of the master frame rate)? Or would he roll multiple cameras, each capturing at a different rate, for each shot? Or something else completely?
Hopefully we’ll find out soon – Cameron and his team are currently developing the production pipeline software. Knowing how he is going to shoot the movie would certainly make that process easier.
For more on the Avatar sequels’ current status, check out this article over at comingsoon.net
Avatar 2, 3, and 4 will release in December 2016, 2017, and 2018