Archive for December, 2008

First official set photo from Avatar

December 23rd, 2008

James Cameron and Sam Wortington

20th Century Fox has just released the first official set photo from the movie Avatar. Not that much to say about it other than it looks to be some kind of craft James Cameron (on the left) and Sam Wortington (on the right) are sitting in. But its really exciting to finally see some movement from Fox, hope to see much more promotion material in the coming weeks/months.

Avatar – latimes.com

The buzz surrounding James Cameron’s big-budget return to science fiction has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. The film, a mix of CGI and live action using new techniques Cameron himself helped to develop, was shot with a special 3-D camera (also developed by Cameron). Mix that with the promise of large-scale, hard science fiction that hasn’t been attempted much in the past few years, and you have a project that seems guaranteed to live up to the hype and expectations that are riding on it. The only question (and fear) is what is to become of the cinema geeks overwhelmed by the images that Cameron and his effects crew are putting in front of them. For those with weaker constitutions, we fear the worst.
(Mark Fellman / 20th Century Fox)

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James Cameron talks 3D in general and some Avatar movie news

December 9th, 2008

Another interview with James Cameron (and Vincent Pace) from the 3D Entertainment Summit that was held a week ago.

James Cameron Talks about Avatar and 3D | Studio Daily

At a two day summit devoted to all things 3D, conference founder Robert Dowling sat down with director James Cameron and 3D cinematographer Vincent Pace to talk about their perspectives on the stereoscopic movie-making.

“If I could have shot Titanic in 3D I would have,” declared Cameron. “Any spectacle would benefit from it.”

Pace, who supplies 3D camera systems and post production, noted that there’s a knee-jerk reaction that only big players in Hollywood will attempt 3D movie-making. “The proof of concept and visionary aspect happened eight years ago with the documentary on the Titanic,” he said, “Not big budget films but people committed to changing entertainment. There’s nothing in the entertainment palette that can’t be considered in 3D, whether it’s nature, documentaries, sports…it’s been proofed out and we’ve seen successes across the board.”

Camera systems are now mature, said Cameron and Pace. Cameron mentioned that the first day of shooting Avatar, Hannah Montana was also shooting, on a different continent. “The question came up, were there enough cameras and crews?” he says. “We put a stake in the heart of that argument. Anyone contemplating a feature shouldn’t be concerned about availability of cameras or crews. They’re all operational at this point.”
With regard to how creativity is impacted by working stereoscopically, Cameron emphasized that “you have to make a good movie first.” Stereo is tertiary, he says, behind story, cast, design. “It has to be value added so the 2D experience is a good movie and the 3D movie is its own experience for those who want to seek it out.”

Dowling pointed out that many viewers are leery of 3D, remembering the red/green glasses of the 1950s. “There’s still misconceptions in peoples’ minds,” he says. But Cameron’s rejoinder was that 3D is “more mature by miles from the 1950s.” And he scolded 3D producers who might create a production that reinforces the negative experiences of yesteryear. “All it takes is one bad experience and people are turned off by 3D,” he said. “Anyone contemplating a long-term strategy has to think about any dumb short-term experience. Anyone using anaglyph glasses is not going to have a good time unless they’re a 5 year old on Ritalin. You’re creating a marketing challenge you have to dig yourself out of. We have to hunt those people down and take them out back because they’re hurting it for the rest of us.”

Dowling asked if exhibitors are excited about 3D movies. Pace replied that they can’t ignore the numbers for some of the recent 3D movies. “People are beginning to embrace it,” he said. “But exhibitors have to see really good 3D movies out there. Cameron’s point of view is that, since the “stereo renaissance,” all the films from Chicken Little onward have looked great, even when they were converted from 2D.

With Avatar gaining in buzz as it nears its release date (Dec. 18, 2009), Dowling asked Cameron, does he feel “an added sense of pressure”? “Yes, it can’t possibly meet expectations,” said Cameron. “I went out, got drunk and got over that. But it’s what we set out to do with Avatar that’s exciting. Look, here’s a big studio picture being shot in 3D. We’re taking the gamble.”

“It’s groundbreaking even without the 3D, he continued. “We’ve got digital performances in realtime. The movie might suck. I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid and I think it runs pretty well. As with any 3D film, there’s no stinkin’ screen. For the audience, it becomes a window into a reality, unfettered by what the director wants to put into that window. The stereoscopic illusion fires more neurons in the brain. Peoples’ brains are more active and it becomes a visceral experience.”

Cameron noted that he’s challenging Fox to be creative about how they market Avatar. Trailers will play at IMAX 3D shows, he added, saying that “the studio marketing machine will kick into gear and figure out how to make it work.” But he also noted that, although people will seek out the 3D experience, Avatar will be sold in every other manner. “It has to live and die on its merits,” he said.

For filmmakers contemplating making a 3D film, Cameron urged that they first talk with Pace. “Do your homework if you want to shoot in 3D,” he cautioned. “It’s not daunting. You can be demystified quickly. But there’s a lot of conflicting information out there.” Pace agreed, adding that a filmmaker contemplating 3D should ask all the questions and evaluate the answers. “We have real world examples whether it’s a feature film, sports or a concert to give him or her the confidence level needed to move forward.”

As to how much 3D would add to a film budget, Cameron noted that “as a producer you have to deal with everything and 99 percent of them don’t have to do with 3D. The 3D is a small specialized area.”The bigger the movie, the more the 3D’s incremental costs hide in the budget, says Cameron. Except when visual effects are involved. “They get more expensive in 3D,” he said. But it isn’t double the work: after roto, paint and whatever else is done to one eye, the changes are applied to the second eye and rendered. “If you want to number-crunch, y9ou can show that the additional cost is always off-set by the additional revenue, which has been the case for the last three years,” he said. “And I think it’ll get even better. It’ll get to the point where 3D is just another line item.”

Last word…”If you’re serious about exploring the idea of making your movie in 3D, get the camera for a day and play around. Every director will treat stereoscopy slightly differently. Develop your aesthetic with it.”

Avatar movie trailer confirmed to take a while to hit theaters

December 3rd, 2008

James Cameron talked at the 3D Entertainment Summit where he said that we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see the first footage from the movie Avatar, even he doesn’t seem to know for how long. I hope we’ll see it sooner than later, I’m can’t wait…

James Cameron Talks Content Driven 3D and Avatar Trailer Details « FirstShowing.net

Earlier today I caught James Cameron’s keynote presentation at the 3D Entertainment Summit in hopes of potentially catching a first look at some actual footage from Avatar. Unfortunately we weren’t treated to any footage, but as always, Cameron dished up some fascinating discussion, including panning some major industry decisions. Anyone who reads this site already knows my opinion on 3D, but I’ll continue to say that it is Cameron who I believe will finally show us what 3D is truly capable of. Unlike Jeffrey Katzenberg’s more broad beliefs in the future financial benefits of 3D, Cameron believes that we will eventually get to the point where 3D is used like sound or color – just another standard filmmaking technique.

The reason I believe that Cameron is such a brilliant mind and the true leader of the 3D revolution is because of his approach to it. He explained that he went into Avatar with the goal of making a big blockbuster movie in 3D and hoped that there would be enough theaters to show it in. Since it took so long to make, that isn’t a concern anymore, Cameron joked. But it was more important for him to “think like a filmmaker” and not like an executive. “3D has to be content driven” was his most valuable message. While most of the industry is still experimenting in 3D, Cameron says that his “proof of concept” was the two documentaries that he and Vince Pace have made – Ghosts of the Abyss and Aliens of the Deep.

Cameron believes that ultimately a good movie should come first, not 3D. He adds that 3D shouldn’t occupy the minds of filmmakers while they’re shooting, but should just be another item on the agenda, in theory. And that is exactly what everyone else is doing wrong. To the rest of the industry, 3D is a way to make money, a gimmick designed to attract audiences and sell tickets, not as a filmmaking technique. Cameron believes so firmly in this idea, that he goes as far as to say that Avatar would still be a groundbreaking movie even if you took out the 3D. And that’s because from the very ground up, he focused on telling a good story and making a good movie before worrying about the 3D aspect.

When asked about his opinions on other filmmakers, specifically Tim Burton and his work on the upcoming Alice in Wonderland, Cameron openly criticized Burton’s decision to convert to 3D after the fact. It “doesn’t make any sense to shoot in 2D and convert to 3D,” Cameron said. And that’s not the only industry decision that he panned, the other being meager attempts to provide a 3D experience at home by releasing DVDs with anaglyphic glasses (meaning the red and blue cardboard ones) in the packing. It is “stunting 3D growth,” he said, and hurting the progression of the format. Cameron’s agenda wasn’t to attack these decisions, instead he felt they weren’t helping progress the 3D when that’s what we need the most.

So when will we ever see a trailer for Avatar? Our friend at MarketSaw caught Cameron in the hall after his keynote and got an explanation as to why we haven’t seen anything yet. Apparently there are a few lengthy scenes from various parts of the film that are complete, but they do not have enough finished material from the film to cut a representative teaser. He hasn’t yet spoken to Fox regarding trailer placement, but he mentioned there are a few good 3D releases next year that would be perfect to debut a trailer on, including Monsters vs Aliens next March. Will we finally see a trailer then? All I know is that Cameron still has 12 months of work left on Avatar, so maybe we should stop pestering him and let him finish!