SILENT RUNNING Director Douglas Trumbull to Helm New 3D, High Frame Rate Feature

     April 11, 2011


Director Douglas Trumbull, whose past credits include Silent Running and doing the effects work for 2001: A Space Odyssey, is planning to direct a new film that will be in 3D and utilize higher frame rates.  As James Cameron recently explained at CinemaCon, films that shoot in 48 or 60 frames per second can provide a greater clarity and picture than movies that shoot at the traditional 24fps.  Trumbull planned to shoot his last feature film, 1983′s Brainstorm, at 60fps but eventually it was shot at 24fps.  THR reports that there are no plot details regarding Trumbull’s new film, but he is currently at work on the screenplay and he has formed a new production company, Magnetar Productions.

Hit the jump for my thoughts on higher frame rates and a quote from Trumbull on why he wants to shoot at a higher frame rate for his new film.

Here’s what Trumbull had to say about using higher frame rates:

“Higher frame rates create a sense of realism,” Trumbull said, suggesting that these frame rates should be another tool in the filmmakers’ toolbox. “We are now at a time when we can have any film texture we want. But it’s not an either/or situation.”

I like the idea of filmmakers shooting at an improved frame rate that allows them to provide better detail and clarity.  However, I’m still not keen on 3D and that comes from A) I haven’t seen a film yet that really made a compelling case as to why it’s better than 2D and not just a gimmick; and B) as long as the bulbs on 3D projectors remain expensive, the picture will look dim.  Even if the cost of bulbs decreases, there’s no incentive for theater owners to project 3D at the proper setting since it’s in their financial interest to make the bulbs last as long as possible.

Unfortunately, while I’m excited to see what 48 and 60fps features can provide, it looks like they’ll always be saddled to 3D.

  • Nomis

    You can always watch the movies in ’2D’ at home :).

  • aaronsullivan

    Very interested to see how this looks. I really don’t enjoy the frame interpolation on TVs that add the extra frames, but that doesn’t mean it won’t look great if originally filmed that way. It may also enhance the 3D effect which I do enjoy in most films (especially CG kids films) and miss at home.

    Worst looking picture I ever saw was a standard definition broadcast of Lawrence of Arabia letter boxed on an already widescreen HDTV with frame interpolation on. Looked like it was filmed on a consumer VHS camcorder from 1985 and compressed with quicktime 1.0. Amazing how it cheapened the film. I couldn’t watch it for more than 10 seconds at a time.

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  • PhoenixNewMedia

    Trumbull invented the concept back in the early 1980′s. By 1983 Trumbull had perfected a method of filming called Showscan which shot movies at 60 frames per second. He couldn’t get funding. Showscan was described as 3D without the glasses. See “New Movie Technology Thrills Audiences But Fails to Win Financing From Industry.” The Wall Street Journal, September 14, 1983, Section 2, page one. Cameron used his own funds to perfect the dual-camera 3D technology he introduced in Avatar. The studios are willing to flush millions of dollars down the toilet backing crummy franchise movies but won’t risk any money on innovation. if someone had backed Trumble we could have been watching 3D movies for the last twenty-five years.