James Cameron wants everyone to adopt "5-D," a term coined by the film and television industry to describe shooting in 2-D and 3-D simultaneously.
Broadcast 3-D is often seen as the bastard stepchild of the TV world. It's been too expensive, and 3-D operators have mostly been unable to score prime camera positions (like, for instance, right under the hoop at a basketball game). The Avatar director's company, the Cameron Pace Group, hopes to change things with a new line of cameras that broadcast both 2-D and 3-D signals and can be operated by a single person.
"3-D [television] would be stillborn if you had to do a separate 3-D production and a 2-D production of the same event," says Cameron in Wired's video interview above. "It was never going to make sense - you had to have an integrated production."
What else has kept 3-D from being widely adopted, in both movies and television? Aside from cost and camera placement, Cameron blames insecurity from certain A-list directors.
"Those guys tend to not have the confidence," he says, unlike Martin Scorsese, who is eager to find new ways of crafting his art. "He went out and did the best 3-D photography [with Hugo] that anyone had ever done, period, including ourselves," says the 3-D evangelist.
Following a Panavision model, Cameron Pace Group's new cameras aren't for sale; they are for rent only. Why? Cynics would say money, but Cameron insists it's about the technology.
"We wanted to take the specialness out of it, we wanted to take the gurus out of it," he says. "We wanted to put the basics of what you need to know into the camera itself. And then with a 20-minute briefing, you could go and make 3-D." Cameron also says the technology is changing so quickly, buying wouldn't be cost-effective: Today's cutting-edge technology will be outdated in just a few years.
In Wired's video interview at The NAB Show last month, we asked Cameron about 5-D and his recent voyage to the deepest part of the ocean in a submersible equipped with a custom-built HD camera the size of his thumb.
He says he went to the Mariana Trench to get a human story, to see how it felt - otherwise why not just send a robot? Incidentally, Cameron says he would be quite happy to visit Mars, though he doesn't possess the means to build his own spaceship - "but I'm happy to work with somebody," he says.