James Cameron Gives Fans an Avatar Update

VFX gnomes working overtime.

First, the bad news: Someone's been circulating fake promo art for James Cameron's Avatar lately. Now for the good news: Cameron has given the good folks at Ain't It Cool News an update on progress behind the scenes of his latest sci-fi epic.

After dismissing the artwork (which you can see by following the link at the end of this post) as "not from us" but "not bad," Cameron got down to the stuff that inquiring minds want to know:

I'm in New Zealand right now, working on effects, while Steve Quale shoots some second unit. We've worked together a lot (he did the engine room scenes on "Titanic," plus co-directed "Aliens of the Deep" with me) and he's the only guy I trust to shoot stuff for me, especially in 3D. We still have a little performance capture work to do with Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana in March, when we get her back from Star Trek. And we have a couple of days with Stephen Lang in April or May, to shoot his character's last scene, which is so technically difficult it will take us until then to figure out how to do it.

With principal photography wrapped, Cameron and crew have started the long process of making stuff look pretty -- always a difficult task on an effects-heavy sci-fi film, but an even thornier prospect for Avatar, given the newness of the technology being used:

Most of my time now is spent editing, because on this type of film you edit every CG scene twice -- once to edit the raw performance capture, before it goes to virtual camera, and then again when you have the virtual camera shots, you do the final edit of the scene. It's very complex and taxing, but the result is amazing. The Weta animators are ON FIRE, and seeing the world and the creatures come to life is what keeps us going...I don't know if this will be a good film, great film, awful film, but I can say with absolute certainty that you will see stuff you've never imagined, and that the process of making this film will generate a lot of interest within the technical side of the biz. When I edit with some of our early stuff, "shot" using our virtual camera system over a year and half ago, it already looks laughably crude. Our process has evolved so much, just within the making of this one movie. Of course the final standard of photoreal animation will be consistent throughout the film, because it all gets rendered in a big frenzy next year.

Avatar, which follows the adventures of a paraplegic war veteran who finds himself embroiled in an interplanetary battle, is due for release on December 18, 2009.

Source: Ain't It Cool News

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