Avatar was not only an epic film but a game changer in the film industry. How did James Cameron pull off this amazing film? Lets take a look at five of the many technological innovations that James Cameron employed in his upcoming sci-fi epic 3D film Avatar.
Five Innovations in Avatar
Posted on Thursday, August 7th, 2008 by Peter Sciretta of SlashFilm.com
- Performance Capture Workflow: A lot of the film was captured using a performance capture technique similar to that of which Robert Zemeckis filmed Beowulf. So Cameron developed a virtual camera which will allow his to point it at his actors and see them as their computer generated characters in real time.
- Simulcam: A camera set-up which allows them to follow or monitor a virtual character which was captured in performance capture into a live action environment in real-time. It also allows them to see what a virtual backgrounds will look like in a live-action shot. I know that Steven Spielberg had a set-up like this on A.I., but I think it only showed him wireframes of buildings, and was very glitchy. My impression from Cameron’s quotes is that the new technology renders something a lot more visual, probably akin to a video game (likely more last generation).
- Facial Capture Head Rig: The actors in performance capture suits also wear a camera rig on their heads that takes digital shots of the actor’s face. This allows the computer generated character to have 100% facial movement, even in the real-time performance capture workflow mentioned above.
- Facial Performance Replacement: In traditional filmmaking they use ADR (or additional Dialogue Replacement) when filmmakers need a cleaner take of the actor’s dialogue, or need to fudge in a new line. But with a traditional film, you really need to trick a shot to make it work. The lips don’t always match up, and sometimes, if you’providing an entirely new line of dialogue, filmmakers usually resort to a wide shot or a behind the head shot, so that you can’t see the lips of the actor on-screen. Since 60% of Avatar is performance capture, he has designed a way to insert a new facial scan/dialogue capture on an existing performance.
- Fusion 3-D Camera System: The Fusion 3-D camera system was co-developed by James Cameron and Vince Pace. The rig uses two Sony HDCF950 HD cameras to create stereoscopic 3-D. Cameron first used the system on his 2003 IMAX film Ghosts of the Abyss. It has since been used by Robert Rodriguez on Spy Kids 3-D and The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, and most recently on Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert and Journey to the Center of the Earth. But I’m not exactly sure what improvements Cameron made to the rig over the last five years.