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James Cameron looks to a 'Worlds Away' future for moviemaking

As executive producer and chief camera operator on “Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away,” James Cameron's job was to give moviegoers a view that money could not buy in a live setting.
BY GEORGE LANG glang@opubco.com Modified: December 19, 2012 at 12:31 am •  Published: December 21, 2012
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“We might have long-telephoto side-by-side rigs that could be used in football, for example, and we have prime lens, beam-splitter rigs that are used for close-ups in movies, but they're all part of a common platform that is all plug and play and uses the same fiber-optic network,” Cameron said.

“So when we look at a show like Cirque du Soleil, which is sort of part movie and part live event, we think, ‘Well, we're going to do part of this like it's a movie and part of this like it's a big concert.'”

Innovative goals

Cameron's technical innovation on films such as “Avatar” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and his undersea documentaries such as “Aliens of the Deep” fundamentally changed how images are captured or created in movies.

He said the short preproduction cycle on “Worlds Away” meant no new technologies were developed during the film that might be used in the upcoming “Avatar” sequels, the first of which is due in 2015. But Cameron said he is closely monitoring technological developments, most of which are now being driven by what home entertainment systems will look like in the next five years.

“What happens next is going to be determined by TV, and it's going to be determined by display technology,” he said. “The breakthrough, kind of the ‘holy grail' that everybody is going for, is affordable, high-quality, full-definition, glasses-free, large flat-panel 3-D TV. If you can check all those boxes and bring it to market at a low enough price point, 3-D is going to explode. The curve is going to go ballistic.”

For now, 3-D in the home requires the same kind of singular focus found in movie theaters — viewers must wear glasses and stare directly at the screen. Cameron said the technological watershed will take place when “Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away” can be seen in a living room from any angle, no goggles required.

“The breakthrough is going to come then,” Cameron said.