Impact: Cameron is convinced that for the rest of his career, he may only make movies in digital 3-D: “When I first started shooting it in 2001 and I saw the images and how beautiful they were, I said, ‘I can’t go back to the way I shot before,’ ” he recalls.

What worries him is that everyone else may pile on. “If people start trying to cash in on 3-D by doing crap low-budget horror films, it’ll be hit or miss,” he says.

Working with camera designer Vince Pace and Sony Electronics, Cameron created a 3-D camera that met his exacting specs — and was light enough for the director (and occasional cinematographer) to hoist on his shoulder. The Cameron/Pace Fusion camera system has already been used to shoot the 2007 NBA All-Star Game and the feature “Journey 3-D,” a remake of “Journey to the Center of the Earth” starring Brendan Fraser, out next summer.

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And Cameron is using the new camera on the set of his first feature in a dozen years, “Avatar.” The sci-fi pic’s release date was recently pushed back to December 2009 because of the complexity of rendering special effects sequences in 3-D.

Still, Cameron expects a wider range of movies — not just special effects spectaculars — to be shot in 3-D as the number of theaters rises that can show them; 3-D television sets are also creeping toward consumers’ living rooms.

He’s also interested in shooting at 48 frames per second, since, he says, “3-D duplicates human vision so perfectly, that all the strobing artifacts (of 24 frames per second) are exposed.”

POV: “What haven’t you done yet? That’s the only interesting thing to be doing.”