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Why did James Cameron Sign On to Make "Avatar"?

Posted: August 7th, 2008 by WorstPreviews.com Staff
Why did James Cameron Sign On to Make "Avatar"?Submit Comment
THR spoke to James Cameron about his sci-fi epic "Avatar" that's set to hit theaters on December 19th, 2009 and is his first feature film since "Titanic." Reading some of Cameron's comments, it's hard not to wonder whether he signed on to make the film simply for the studio to cover his research and development costs. He is a major player in the hardware part of the movie biz, so why not have someone else pay for the technology, which he will eventually sell back to the studios for other projects.

In the interview Cameron said that he expects the film to be about 60% CG animation, based on characters created using a newly developed performance capture-based process, and 40% live-action, with a lot of VFX in the imagery.

With "Avatar's" principal photography completed, Cameron is focused on CG production. The helmer said his team has completed the performance capture (sometimes referred to as motion capture) of the actors and is in the post process of performance capture 3-D.

The CG involved a large amount of additional R&D that afforded the director new creative options and flexibility. For one, the film used a new performance capture production workflow.

"The way we developed the performance capture workflow on 'Avatar" is we have our virtual camera, which allows me to, in real time, hold a camera -- it's really a monitor -- in my hands and point it at the actors and see them as their CG characters," Cameron said.

The actors wear leotards and a "head rig" with a tiny standard-definition camera that takes an image of an actor's face. "That is going though facial algorithms and going back into the camera as a real-time CG face of the character," the helmer said. "You see it talk; you see the eyes move. It is pretty phenomenal."

Cameron also used what he calls FPR, or Facial Performance Replacement, which he likens to the film sound technique of ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement).

To describe the process, the director relates that he recently wanted to redo a line spoken by actor Laz Alonzo. "We changed the words and he redid the dialogue. We didn't have to recapture (his body performance) and he didn't have to put the performance capture suit on again. We were just creating new words, and we were creating a new face."

Click here to read more about "Avatar."

Source: The Hollywood Reporter


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