Technology companies whiz new things up, but it’s not until a famous movie director embraces it does a new technology in cinema take off. This journal has taken up significant mind space discussing the difficulties to be faced with the introduction of high frame rate cinema. But Peter Jackson has a movie to be released in this format within a year, and Jim Cameron has his own plans for a high frame Avatar 2. So challenges or not, the show must go on.
To do this right, an acceptable limit on compression bit rate for the high frame rate image must be established. Ten years ago, when learning the limits of compression for 24fps images, the industry had available the Digital Cinema Lab, courtesy of USC’s Entertainment Technology Center. But the DCL has long since been abandoned. DCI cannot get involved, as any effort on its part to reset the compression bit rate for digital cinema will cause grand economic problems for its members, who are betrothed to their digital cinema deployment agreements. That leaves SMPTE. A study group was formed within SMPTE for this purpose, but up until recently, it’s sole chair was a cinematographer, whose heart was in the right place, but whose ability to organize this effort was minimal. In fact, nothing was happening at all.
So, to your author’s great surprise, who should know much better, the phone rang with the solicitation to co-chair the high frame rate study group. The first meeting will be held in Burbank on December 9. Keep those letters coming, folks.