Avatar's Cameron tips Hobbit to spark film tech revolution

Oscar-winning director James Cameron on Wednesday predicted Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" would do for high-definition film-making what his own hit "Avatar" did for 3D movies.

Jackson has filmed "The Hobbit" at a groundbreaking 48 frames a second rather than the standard 24, a move that drew mixed critical reactions when a preview was screened in Las Vegas in April.

But Cameron, a surprise guest at the premiere of the first instalment of "The Hobbit" in Wellington on Wednesday, said he faced similar scepticism pioneering modern 3D techniques on "Avatar", now the highest grossing film of all time.

He said Jackson's latest movie was destined to be a hit, making it easier for him (Cameron) to employ 48 frames a second which eliminated the "strobing" seen in standard films.

"If there is acceptance of 48, then that will pave the way for Avatar (sequels) to take advantage of it," Cameron told reporters.

"We charged out ahead on 3D with Avatar, now Peter's doing it with the Hobbit. It takes that kind of bold move to make change."

Jackson this week likened the higher shooting rate to the introduction of compact discs, saying it was the way of the future for film.

"I personally think it's fantastic, but it's different," he told Radio New Zealand.

"I remember when CDs came in and there was a nostalgic feeling that the sound of a needle on vinyl was what music should sound like -- suddenly you've got this pristine clarity and a lot of people were nay-saying it."

Cameron said Jackson was a singular film-maker who had turned the New Zealand film industry into a global force.

"He's elevated the industry to a global level, where people from all over the world -- artists, film-makers, special effects technicians and so on -- come here to work, that's unique," he said.

"It's really only happened a couple of times before, in Los Angeles and maybe London... it's the first time it's been done by a single film-maker."

Cameron, who owns a farm in New Zealand, said he was on the property working on scripts for sequels to "Avatar", complaining: "Unfortunately it's too damn distracting because it's so beautiful".

He said he hoped to have the scripts completed by February and begin filming by the end of next year.

"I want to get these scripts nailed down, I don't want to be writing the movie in post production," the director said.

"We kind of did that on the first picture, I ended up cutting out a lot of scenes and so on and I don't want to do that again."

Cameron, originally from Canada, said he was enjoying the relaxed lifestyle in New Zealand.

"We knew our immediate neighbours in a couple of mile radius a heck of a lot better in the first few weeks than we did in Los Angeles in 10 years," he said.

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