James Cameron and George Lucas have made their names and careers as filmmakers, sure, but in a lot of ways they feel more like tinkerers and inventors, constantly looking for the newest technology not just for their own films, but to change the movie industry entirely. Both are currently working to convert their previous hits into 3D-- Cameron Titanic and Lucas the full Star Wars series-- but today they showed up for a lunchtime discussion at Cinema Con to talk about something a little more basic: digital cinema.
The way they see it digital filmmaking leads to digital projectors, which makes the kind of 3D Cameron and Lucas want to make possible. Along with DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg the two spent an hour talking up not only all the reasons for switching to digital projection, but all the new technologies they're coming up with to make the digital and 3D process even faster. To be honest, it was very technical and sometimes hard to follow, and it's only getting tougher-- tomorrow morning Cameron will be giving an entire seminar on his plans to increase the framerates in film. But here are a few highlights from the conversation:
-- Cameron wasn't divulging too many details on the two Avatar sequels, though there's still hope he'll spill some beans at tomorrow's presentation. He did hint, though, that he's already inventing new technology to use on the film, and some of that will surely involved the increased frame rates technology that he promises "takes the glass out of the window" when you're looking into a 3D world.
-- The only mention of Lucas's proposed plans to make three more Star Wars movies came at the end, when Katzenberg asked him if he'd be shooting them in native, not converted 3D. He responded, "Yes. And by then I'll be shooting it as a hologram." It was a joke, sure, but maybe an indication that Lucas isn't as dogged about making the film as he used to be.
-- Cameron had some surprisingly sharp words for the post-conversion 3D process, even though he's at work converting Titanic as we speak. he reiterated that it takes 6-8 months at minimum to do a proper job with post-conversion, and without naming names, said that with quicker jobs "You're not getting 3D, you're getting 2.2D." Maybe most surprisingly he said that there are only about 20 to 50 films in the entire history of movies that are worthy of the conversion process-- a pretty bold statement for a trend that's just kicking off thanks to something he's working on.
-- James Cameron made the strangest blue/blew joke that might have also been a reference to oral sex. When moderator Michael Lewis, President of 3D Company Real D, said he "blew people away with Avatar," Cameron responded "Blew people?" As in, "Blue people" like the Na'vi, or maybe also "I blue myself" like on Arrested Development? It was a weird joke, but given how dry a lot of the conversation was, quite welcome.
--Finally, when talking about Avatar Lucas admitted he initially had reservations about the movie with the "blue cats." In good humor, Cameron responded "At least you didn't call it Thundercats." So he does read the Internet!
For more Cinema Con coverage, including what's going to be a very busy day tomorrow, go here.