SAN JOSE, Calif. – The chief executive of Google and the director of "Avatar" shared thoughts on technology, cinema and climate change in an on-stage interview at the Churchill Club here.
James Cameron talked about his use of behavior modeling in "Avatar," using video capture and image processing to create lifelike faces in computer graphics (see video here). Separately, he said believes stereo 3-D technology could go mainstream in as few as five years assuming technology breakthroughs to pack pixels into the ultra-dense displays needed for glasses-free screens (see video here).
Cameron said he is committed to his next project, filming two sequels to "Avatar." The movies will be created in tandem as part of one production flow. "Avatar 2" is slated for release in four years, followed a year later by "Avatar 3," he said.
The movies will hearken back to Cameron's earlier picture "Titanic" with some shots exploring the undersea world of the fictional planet Pandora. Just as Cameron helped advance the state of stereo 3-D cinema with "Avatar," he plans to make further technical inventions with its sequels.
Cameron said the sequels will be shot and shown at a higher native frame rate than the 24 frames/second standard used today.
"We are looking at the efficacy of 48, 60 and 72 frames/second solutions," Cameron said. "Projectors can run at 144 Hz today, but still generate 24 frames/s--the trick is how to multi-flash to display images at higher hertz rates," he added.
In addition, he hopes to develop real-time scene prototyping tools that eliminate what is today a six-month process to create realistic moving images using computer graphics.
Today in real time directors can "create what looks like a 1980's era video game product we then give to graphics companies--we want to eliminate that middle step," he said. "Fifteen years from now directors will work in real time using photo-realistic images," he added.
Cameron: Preparing to shoot "Avatar 2" in 48-72 frames/s
But the brunt of the evening's talk focused on climate change, a topic Cameron and his interviewer, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, share as a passion. In between making the "Avatar" sequels, Cameron plans to make TV and cinema documentaries about climate change.
Cameron said a two-degree temperature change in the world's oceans "will take out all the coral reefs. Sixty percent of species could be extinct in this century with climate change," he added.
"It's highly unlikely there will be [a carbon] cap and trade [law] in the next six years, so we have six more years of inaction on putting a price on carbon emissions, and that’s a fundamental problem," said Schmidt who serves on a panel of science and technology advisors to U.S. President Obama.
"All the modeling says even with the current modest reductions we are nowhere near the needed 60-70 percent reductions in carbon emissions" to halt climate change, Schmidt said. "In my view is its going to take some kind of event and a conversation among leaders [to motivate policy change], and I don’t think it will happen soon," he added.
"It's probably the toughest challenge the human race has ever faced," said Cameron whose blockbuster movie was in part a statement about the need for greater environmental awareness. "I believe ultimately this has to be approached as a children's crusade," he said.
Schmidt: Foresees no cap and trade bill for at least six years