How Avatar’s Remastered Re-Release Was Enhanced By This New Technology

What TrueCut Motion did for “Avatar” was twofold. First, using a very complicated mapping and visual creation technology, they converted the film from 24 fps — how it was shot — into 48 fps. Then, using their adjustable technology, they added a certain kind of visual blending that balanced the cinematic “heft” of a classic piece of cinema with the oily smoothness of a 48 fps presentation. This is not the same as motion smoothing, but a new kind of total visual alteration. The judder is eliminated, and so too is the soap opera aesthetic of a “Hobbit” movie.

To date, the Pixelogic team has only been tinkering with recent, digitally shot movies, so further experiments with older movies shot on 35mm film haven’t been done just yet. As projectors continue to evolve, however, movies may soon reach a point where a digitally rendered classic may not look as good on the big screen as it once did. The medium changes, and remastering is suddenly required. There may come a day when “Citizen Kane” will be enhanced into 48 fps and granted the same TrueCut Motion treatment.

And before any purists get huffy about the violation of a director’s intent, understand that it’s the best way to retain visual fidelity. Orson Welles likely didn’t want his film seen on a big screen with a distracting digital shimmer to it, either. TrueCut Motion is here to help cinematic motion evolve.

The result looks pretty great. It’s a good way to hold audience’s hands and guide them more gently into high frame rates, and it’s a visual compromise between movies and TV. Anyone who saw “Avatar” over the weekend can attest to its strength.

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