LAS VEGAS: Star Wars creator George Lucas predicts 3D filmmaking eventually will take over at the movies the way color replaced black and white.
But Lucas and fellow technology pioneers James Cameron, the maker of Avatar, and DreamWorks Animation boss Jeffrey Katzenberg said Wednesday that digital filmmaking is only in its infancy and will bring vast improvements to how movies are made and seen.
Digital technology in general is revolutionizing filmmaking the way sound did in the 1920s, Lucas said. The new digital 3D craze has had hits and misses but should one day become the big-screen standard over 2D presentation, he said.
''So now when you're watching a movie and it's not in 3D, it's like watching in black and white,'' Lucas told a crowd of theater owners at their CinemaCon convention. ''It's a better way of looking at a film... I totally believe now that 3D will completely take over just like color did.''
Lucas spoke at a digital-film panel alongside Cameron and Katzenberg. The hour-long discussion touched on new filmmaking tools, enhancements to theater sound, and how badly presented 3D movies can sour audiences on digital 3D films in general.
Such bad 3D experiences generally have resulted when studios took movies shot in only two dimensions and did hasty conversions to give them the illusion of depth so they could charge the extra few dollars that 3D tickets cost.
''You disappoint our audiences once, OK, great we fooled them. Do it twice, shame on us,'' said Katzenberg, who decided years ago that all DreamWorks Animation movies, such as last year's How to Train Your Dragon and this summer's Kung Fu Panda 2, would be in 3D.
Cameron, who shot Avatar in 3D and plans to do its two sequels that way also, is converting his blockbuster Titanic to 3D for release next year. Lucas is doing the same with all six of his Star Wars films.
Done properly, 2D movies converted to 3D can look fantastic, Cameron and Lucas said.
Lucas drew hearty applause several times from theater owners when he told them that home systems or portable video devices will never replace the movie-house as the best place to see films.
''We have our third generation now of kids who are under 12 years old who have never seen Star Wars on the big screen,'' Lucas said. ''And I am betting a lot of people will go see a movie that they have seen on television a million times and they have the video at home, and they will go and see it because they want to see it in the theater in a social experience.''
Cameron waited for years to make Avatar until digital technology had caught up to the ideas in his head for the sci-fi epic about a struggle between greedy humans and noble aliens on a distant world.
Now that the tools are there, filmmakers are confined only by their imaginations, Cameron said.
''We're really at a point where if we can imagine it, we can create it,'' Cameron said. ''There are no limitations now.''