James Cameron on 3D: From the Mariana Trench to 'Avatar' (Video)

James Cameron urged filmmakers to "go nuts" and not be conservative when experimenting with 3D, in a videotaped keynote conversation with The Hollywood Reporter’s Carolyn Giardina, screened in 3D at the 3D Creative Summit, last week in London. “I was probably too conservative on Avatar, and I’m going to open up my depth more on the Avatar sequels," he said.

“In my defense, I thought I might be making a three-hour movie,” he added, noting that at the time the film was in production, no 3D film had yet reached that length. “Now we know good stereo is good stereo, and you can watch it indefinitely.”

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He added: “I think a lot of filmmakers come to it, maybe pressured by the studios or genuinely wanting to do it, but as directors we are so used to having to know the answer ahead of time. You have to have the confidence to ask questions.

“I want filmmakers to embrace this technology and this art form," he said, citing the artistic
use of 3D from filmmakers including Martin Scorsese (Hugo), 
Ang Lee (Life of Pi) and Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity). “When you see a movie that was shot natively in 3D or imagined in 3D, it’s a whole new ball game.”

In additional to discussing narrative filmmaking, he talked about his work as an explorer and documentarian. That included the scientific research conducted during his record-breaking solo dive in 2012 to Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench -- seven miles below the Earth's surface. During the conversation, Cameron revealed that 68 new species (so far) have been discovered, and that 3D has helped to document the findings.

“3D for documentaries is still a challenge area,” he added, discussing technology such as a tiny 3D camera system developed for the Mariana Trench dive and upcoming documentary.

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Cameron touched on some of his additional social advocacy work, such as climate change doc Years of Living Dangerously, which premieres April 13 on Showtime.

He also expressed confidence that 3D TV will make a comeback after its "collapse," once glasses-free 3D displays become part of home entertainment. Those TVs could start to enter the market as early as this year.

Above, watch the full interview (in 2D), which was filmed at Lightstorm Entertainment’s screening room at Manhattan Beach Studios. It was shot in 3D using a Cameron Pace 3D Fusion rig, which was equipped with Red Epic cameras.