Glasses-Free 3D

You may have seen a lot of headlines in the past 24 hours about how James Cameron’s long-awaited Avatar 2 will feature glasses-free 3D technology. Cameron’s an innovative filmmaker who has been working on developing brand new tech for underwater motion capture for his ambitious sequels, and his entire career has basically been about pushing boundaries of what’s possible when it comes to filmmaking. So yeah, it’d be easy to believe the hype about glasses-free 3D.

Unfortunately, the promise of that particular bit of technology is not anywhere near as definitive as many of those headlines may have led you to believe. The truth is a lot less sexy, and much less headline-friendly.

Cameron has been hyping the possibility of glasses-free 3D since at least October of 2016, but there was never any definitive timetable for when that would happen…until, seemingly, last night, when ScreenRant posted an article entitled “Avatar 2 Will Be Projected in Glasses-Free 3D.” That’s a declarative headline that leaves no room for misinterpretation. But if you explore just two clicks deeper into this story, that headline completely falls apart.

ScreenRant is relaying the news about glasses-free 3D from a site called Inquisitr, which, upon a quick scan of their article, reads as if it’s been translated from another language into English. That alone wouldn’t be a red flag – we relay stories from non-English-speaking sites on a regular basis during global press tours – but Inquisitr’s piece, posted on June 25 and boasting the same glasses-free 3D promise for Avatar 2, cites an InsideTheMagic piece from June 8 as its source, and that piece doesn’t come anywhere near claiming that the sci-fi sequel will definitively be projected in that format.

In fact, InsideTheMagic’s piece seems to simply pass along word that Cameron and his Lightstorm Entertainment renewed a five-year collaborative deal with a company called Christie Digital that ensures Cameron will have access to a new RGB laser projection system for the Avatar sequels. That’s information we told you about here on the site back on April 3, over a month before InsideTheMagic’s piece was published.

So to sum up: there is a chance that Cameron’s deal with Christie Digital could result in a 3D experience without the need for audiences to wear 3D glasses, but A) it’s not a sure thing yet, as some sites have erroneously reported, and B) it’s still a bit murky to us exactly how that technology works and how many theaters in the world would even be equipped to handle something like that, should it be achieved in time for the film’s release. We’re not saying glasses-free 3D isn’t possible by the time Avatar 2 hits theaters in 2020, but currently, it’s nowhere near as absolute as some sites out there are claiming.

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