• Image about Titanic
Cameron and DiCaprio watching footage during filming
Merie Weismiller Wallace/Paramount Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox

“Jim has an incredible eye, and he’s passionate about this project,” says Pace, who serves as co-chairman of the Cameron | Pace Group. “Jim’s will and sheer determination make this movie as close as humanly possible to what it would have been like if he’d shot it in native 3-D.”

Cameron hopes that Titanic’s dramatic moments will showcase the true power of the third dimension. After all, a well-shot action movie plays great in 2-D as well as 3-D. “3-D definitely enhances small human interactions,” he explains. “Intimate moments are powerful in 3-D because you feel as if you’re really there. You feel as if you’re in these amazing spaces in the ship, or you’re going through the jeopardy of Jack and Rose. It takes it up to a whole other level.”

If Titanic becomes a 3-D blockbuster, as analysts are predicting, it could pave the way for other classic film makeovers. George Lucas already has Industrial Light & Magic converting his six Star Wars films into 3-D, with Episode I: The Phantom Menace released theatrically in February with the added dimension. Cameron believes that if you love a movie like Jaws or the Indiana Jones trilogy, it will be a better experience in 3-D, as long as the conversion is done well and the original filmmaker makes the creative decisions. There could even be more 3-D conversions of Cameron’s own library of hits down the road.

But for now, the director is focused on Pandora, with Avatar 2 expected to debut in 2016. He’s also working closely with Walt Disney World Imagineers in building an Avatar theme park in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park in Florida, with construction scheduled to begin in 2013.

With each project in his illustrious career, technology has played an integral role in bringing Cameron’s visions to the big screen. And he loves the never-ending challenge of pushing filmmaking forward.

“We’re like backyard drag racers,” he says. “We build the car, then we race the car and work on the engine. We’re gearheads at heart. We’re constantly competing with the laws of physics and thermodynamics in an attempt to make the 3-D cameras smaller and lighter and easier to use.”

JOHN GAUDIOSI has covered technology and games for outlets like Forbes, The Hollywood Reporter and Gamerlive.tv for 20 years. He enjoys watching 3-D movies and playing 3-D games on his 3-D TV at his home in Raleigh, N.C.