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Time Checks Out Avatar

Published March 20, 2009 in Movie News
By Ryan Parsons | Image property of respective holders, Time
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TIME has released a report on The Future of Movies, which comes down to using the 3D medium. While discussing the technology, the report couldn't help but conclude on a brief analysis of Avatar. While we know the film is employing all the best technology, it turns out that there are a few who have seen this technology in action.

Avatar Seen (Kinda)


Check out a snippet of the report below. You'll be happy to know that whoever saw the film claims that one can't tell the difference between what's real and what's computer generated; something Cameron was obviously aiming for. The report also states the film's budget, which goes north of $200 million. Probably an optimistic estimate.


Cameron's Avatar, due in December, could be the thing that forces theaters to convert to digital. Spielberg predicts it will be the biggest 3-D live-action film ever. More than a thousand people have worked on it, at a cost in excess of $200 million, and it represents digital filmmaking's bleeding edge. Cameron wrote the treatment for it in 1995 as a way to push his digital-production company to its limits. ("We can't do this," he recalled his crew saying. "We'll die.") He worked for years to build the tools he needed to realize his vision. The movie pioneers two unrelated technologies--e-motion capture, which uses images from tiny cameras rigged to actors' heads to replicate their expressions, and digital 3-D.

Avatar is filmed in the old "Spruce Goose" hangar, the 16,000-sq.-ft. space where Howard Hughes built his wooden airplane. The film is set in the future, and most of the action takes place on a mythical planet, Pandora. The actors work in an empty studio; Pandora's lush jungle-aquatic environment is computer-generated in New Zealand by Jackson's special-effects company, Weta Digital, and added later.



I couldn't tell what was real and what was animated--even knowing that the 9-ft.-tall blue, dappled dude couldn't possibly be real. The scenes were so startling and absorbing that the following morning, I had the peculiar sensation of wanting to return there, as if Pandora were real.

Cameron wasn't surprised. One theory, he says, is that 3-D viewing "is so close to a real experience that it actually triggers memory creation in a way that 2-D viewing doesn't." His own theory is that stereoscopic viewing uses more neurons. That's possible. After watching all that 3-D, I was a bit wiped out. I was also totally entertained.


While Avatar could be one of this decade's most anticipated films, one has to wonder when we can expect the film's first teaser trailer. I mean, it's coming ou this year!

Avatar opens to theaters on December 18th.

For more movie info, go to the Avatar Movie Page.


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Ryan Parsons
Sources: Image property of respective holders, Time
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