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'Avatar: The Way of Water' will be screened in up to 48fps HFR, 3D, 4K, Dolby Vision, Atmos

09 Dec 2022 | Rasmus Larsen |

Avatar: The Way of Water debuts in cinemas next week and will use a "simple hack" to enable 48fps HFR presentation on some existing cinema equipment, explains director James Cameron.

The word soup: 48fps HFR, 3D, 4K, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos. To get the full taste you must visit Dolby Cinema which is how James Cameron intended for Avatar: The Way of Water to be shown.

24fps, 48fpsVideo in 24 or 48 frames per second
HFRHigh Frame Rate, meaning higher than 24fps in cinema
Dolby VisionAn HDR format from Dolby. High Dynamic Range is an expanded dynamic range for luminance and color
Dolby AtmosDolby's object-based audio format with more accurate and immersive sound
3DRequires 3D glasses. IMAX screenings are in 3D
Dolby Cinema is Dolby Vision certified but is not technically HDR (High Dynamic Range) like the HDR you get with, for example, OLED TVs at home. Industry members like to refer to it as EDR (Enhanced Dynamic Range). At the next step down the ladder, we have IMAX's most advanced laser projector installation that will screen Avatar: The Way of Water in 48fps HFR, 3D and 4K. There is no EDR but on the other hand IMAX screens tend be huge. Less advanced IMAX installations will screen the movie in 3D 2K at 48fps HFR or 3D 2K at 24fps. Alternatively, you can watch it 3D HFR or in standard 3D or 2D without HFR (24fps) in other cinemas. Details about the home release of Avatar: The Way of Water will be announced later by Disney.

48fps HFR, but variable

Unlike Ang-Lee's Gemini Man and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, which were shot and presented in up to 120fps HFR, James Cameron has not asked exhibitors to upgrade their projector installations. Cameron previously announced a partnership with Pixelworks to use a so-called TrueCut Motion approach to HFR where only some scenes are in 48fps while other scenes, for example dialogue scenes, are in 24fps to avoid the uncanny effect of things looking too realistic. This approach fits within the existing DCP (Digital Cinema Package) format that most 3D cinemas support. - "Can theatres support variable frame rate, switching back and forth within the movie between 24fps and 48fps? The answer is no, they just run it at 48fps. In any part of the scene that we want at 24fps, we just double the frames. And so, they actually show the same frame twice, but the viewer doesn’t see it that way. And so, we just we’re essentially using a simple hack to use the high frame rate platform that already exists," James Cameron explained earlier this year at the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea. Also read: HFR – The one UHD technology you rarely hear about - "We’re using HFR to improve the 3D where we want a heightened sense of presence, such as underwater or in some of the flying scenes. For shots of just people standing around talking, HFR works against us because it creates a kind of a hyper realism in scenes that are more mundane, more normal. And sometimes we need that cinematic feeling of 24fps." The right approach to HFR or a compromise? We shall see. How will you be watching Avatar 2? - Source: Own sources, Disney, Pixelworks, Variety

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