James Cameron's new film promises to take 3-D cinematography to an unrivaled level, using a more nimble 3-D camera system that Cameron helped invent.
20th Century Fox/AP
SAN DIEGO — When James Cameron directed his first 3-D film, "Terminator 2: 3-D," for Universal Studios theme parks more than a decade ago, the bulky camera equipment made some shots awkward or impossible.
The 450-pound contraption — which had two film cameras mounted on a metal frame — was so heavy that producers had to jury-rig construction equipment to lift it off the ground for shots from above. The cameras, slightly set apart, had to be mechanically pointed together at the subject, then locked into place like an unwieldy set of eyes to help create the 3-D effect.
At $60 million, the 12-minute film was the most expensive frame-for-frame production ever.
Now, five months from its release, Cameron's "Avatar," the first feature film he has directed since "Titanic" (1997), promises to take 3-D cinematography to an unrivaled level, using a more nimble 3-D camera system that he helped invent.
Cameron's heavily hyped return also marks Hollywood's biggest bet yet that 3-D can bolster box office returns. News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox has budgeted $237 million for the production alone of "Avatar."
The movie uses digital 3-D technology, which requires audience members to wear polarized glasses. It is a vast improvement on the sometimes headache-inducing techniques that relied on cardboard cutout glasses with red and green lenses and rose and fell in popularity in the 1950s.
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