The Avatar director urged filmmakers to “go nuts” with 3D and predicts the medium will come “roaring back” to the home market.

James Cameron delivered a rallying cry to the film industry in an exclusive pre-recorded interview, screened to a packed audience at London’s 3D Creative Summit.

The director of Avatar urged filmmakers to “go nuts” with 3D and admitted that he was “probably too conservative” on his 3D blockbuster.

“I’m going to open up my depth more on the Avatar sequels,” he revealed. “In my defence, I thought I might be making a three-hour movie and nobody had ever gone more than 90 minutes so we didn’t know if people were going to go crosseyed and have their eyeballs melt. Now we know good stereo is good stereo and you can watch it indefinitely.”

He pointed to the approach of Ang Lee, Martin Scorsese and Alfonso Cuaron who were confident enough to ask questions before making Life of Pi, Hugo and Gravity.

“Ask questions on day one and day two – and then run with it on day three,” he suggested. “Incorporate it into the storytelling in ways that aren’t gimmicky but are fun and seductive to the eye.

“I want filmmakers to embrace this technology as an art form. People like Martin Scorsese, Ang Lee and Alfonso Cuaron are artistically using that third dimension versus studios forcing filmmakers to do post-conversion where the shots weren’t composed with 3D in mind and it just doesn’t feel right.”

He also called on exhibitors to “make sure the quality is there in the theatre”.

“Until we get laser projection, keep those light levels as high as you can. Don’t turn them down to save bulb life because you’re just hurting the experience for the audience.”

Home market

Cameron also predicted that the home 3D market will make a comeback. “I think the consumer electronics companies went off too early… and we had a big contraction and collapse in broadcast 3D,” the director acknowledged.

“But I think it’s all going to come back because people turned their attention to 4K, which is a great technical base for glasses-free 3D.

“People are going to be cautious this time in terms of producing content but once those sets are out there – and if it’s just in the chips in the TV – then the content makers will have a place to show their broadcast 3D content and I think it is all going to come roaring back.”

Future optimism

The director of Titanic and Terminator was also optimistic for the future of 3D cinema. “We’re averaging 35-40 movies a year now, releasing in 3D, and have about 45,000 digital 3D theatres worldwide, which is up 25-30% just on last year so we’re still rolling out like this huge wave around the world which is pretty exciting,” he said.

The interview also highlighted his upcoming 3D documentary Deepsea Challenge.

“The 3D for movies hasn’t changed that much but documentaries is still a challenging area,” said Cameron.

“We were able to crack the code on the Deepsea Challenge film by creating our own cameras… about the size of my thumb. We were trying to revolutionise how you shoot a documentary in 3D.

“These tiny [camera] systems could be used on Formula 1 race cars, MotoGP motorcycles, helmet cams or when jumping out of an aeroplane.”