Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Digital Grunt

A day in the life of a post-production artist. This is pretty much what we go through, except we sweat a little bit less than this fellow.

I especially like the part with the client asking them to zoom in, and what happens next.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

James Cameron's AVATAR

Some three, four years ago I downloaded a script for a film called Avatar, written by James Cameron.

The fact that the script was available online led me to believe the project had been abandoned - but now Avatar is in production, slated for release in 2009. I am very happy to hear that.

Here's how the story goes in the script I have (I won't spoil things, even though there's not much to spoil, really.)

It's the future. A paralysed, embittered ex-marine is offered the chance to be part of a colonising effort on another planet. He agrees because the colonisation program involves humans using their minds to control another physical body - the body of a three metre tall alien. (Thus the film's name.)

The movie deals mostly with how humans treat the planet and how the aliens treat the humans. I'm not gonna elaborate but there are prominent elements of environmentalism, Gaia spiritualism, and other themes that can easily veer into the cheesy. I *really* hope the film doesn't get preachy about all this. There's a fine line between making people think, and making them roll their eyes and say something like "laaame."

However, the reason I was still able to enjoy the script - and the reason I am so excitedly anticipating the film - is not the plot, but the character and location design. Cameron goes to great lengths in describing the various creatures and landscapes of the alien planet, and it's clear that he's put much thought into all of it. It was a pleasure to imagine all this in my mind, and I have no doubt the film will be a visual feast.

Another reason why I'm looking forward to Avatar is Cameron's decision to release the film in 3D. When I say 3D, I'm not referring to CGI - obviously, there will be a lot of that - most of what you see onscreen will be computer generated imagery.
No, by "3D film" I mean the kind where you have to wear those blue and red glasses in order to watch it, and things seem to jump out at you from the screen.

My only experience with 3D films so far has been Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over. At the end, I was thinking, "the freaking Spy Kids franchise came up with a 3D film, why aren't other producers doing this?"

Here's a snippet from the Avatar script:

Now the shuttle is passing lower and lower over the highland rainforest. The tones range from purple-blue, through violet to magenta. Twinkling like tiny flecks of ash on the wind are what look like birds... manta-like flying creatures of various sizes.

A flythrough scene like this, viewed in 3D, is going to be pretty sweet.

Now let me throw some names your way of the people participating in this project. Apart from James Cameron, we have Sigourney Weaver, Giovanni Ribisi, Michelle Rodriguez, and Weta Digital on visual effects (if this name doesn't ring a bell, think Gollum.)

Oh and, just in case you didn't know, James Cameron is the creator and/or director of Terminator, Terminator 2, Aliens, The Abyss, and the Dark Angel TV series (with Jessica Alba), among many others.
He also wrote and directed Titanic, a film that is often viewed as sappy and cheesy, though I think this is largely a reaction to the eventual kitsch status of "My Heart Will Go On".
But if you've seen Titanic (the highest grossing film of all time, by the way,) just think of the part where the ship breaks in half. That was one intense sequence. Cameron knows his stuff.

Avatar is my most anticipated film right now (above Iron Man and The Wolf Man.) I hope it meets, if not exceeds, my expectations.

Here's a crappy sketch I made back in the day. It's vaguely inspired by descriptions in the script. Click it to enlarge.
(I don't need to tell you that the film will look much, much better than this, do I?)

This image of a Na'vi alien was made by someone else. It's not very accurate to the script, and the aliens will look very different in the film, according to James Cameron. Click to see.

image sources:
Avatar poster:
3D glasses:
Na'vi portrait: unknown