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This Valentine's Night - James Cameron was my Valentine Caller - with details on AVATAR - I'm twitterpated!

Hey Folks - Harry here... Tonight is Valentine's Day night. Originally the plan was for Yoko and I to travel to the Alamo Village here in Austin to attend their HAROLD & MAUDE VALENTINE'S DAY FEAST. Something we've been planning for about 2 months. However, FATE... DESTINY... FLU caused Yoko to want to stay at home tonight. We ordered in, had yummy yummies brought in. We ate Dinner... Have been sweet and huggy... I offered to get the Cherry Pie out the ice box and put the laundry in the dryer. So there I was - standing between the fridge and the Washer-Dryer when... James Cameron calls. Sadly, my cel phone call capture equipment was under the table, unplugged, with all the connecting wires in a box under 45 dvds. So I leave the laundry half in and out of the dryer... and I'm back to the computer - trying to make enough small talk till I have my hands on a keyboard and I can take down notes... all of this while the cel phone is sandwiched between my shoulder and ear. Damn this is awkward, but no complaints... I've got the king of the world on the line - and a flow of information that I have to share. Now - I'm going to do something that reporters never do. I'm going to share my notes - then I'll decipher them for you.

Kauai Just shot 3 days in Hawaii sam worthington sigourney weaver - grace principle capture sam and zoe entered into the system -- first AD worked with Bob on BEOWULF and POLAR EXPRESS fair bit different -- Bob can have Jolie in and out in 5 days Director-centric CG camera angles as they go capture a raw performance - finding the layout -- Zemeckis motion builder - real time cinematography - not terribly sophisticated we will be going through a phase of CG lighting DP - Probably not have the DP on through the cg -- Wes Studi -- Peter Mensah Joel David Moore C C H Pounder Stay - Lez Alonzo

Ok - so what does any of that mean? We started off with Jim telling me that he was in Kauai en route to the airport to head back to California. He had just shot 3 days of live action work in Hawaii in the tropical rainforests. Apparently he was shooting with Sam Worthington, Lola Herrera and I believe he said Sigourney Weaver was there, but I might have heard that wrong. Once he returns to California - he begins a stage called Pre-Capture where he'll mainly be shooting with Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana. The reason is that their characters have been fully entered into the CG system. He told me that this way, with the realtime rendering, he can actually compose and find his shots - and then work with the actors to get the performances he wants within those shots. I asked how different this was from the way Robert Zemeckis was operating on BEOWULF. This was when he told me that his 1st AD (Josh McLaglen) worked on both BEOWULF and POLAR EXPRESS and that what he's doing is a fair bit different. "Where Bob can have an actor like Angeline Jolie in and out in 5 days - and get a bunch of big stars in and out." Zemeckis was working on just getting the raw performance and then spend months finding the layouts and 'angles' that would make up the film. What Cameron is doing is with his real-time rendering - he can work with the actors in the performance capture system to get the performances within the angles he wants in the system. He called it more, "Director-centric." Around this time I asked about his choice for DP. He told me that he's making that decision very soon, but that the DP will be brought in on for the physical shot elements of this film - and will be consulted for the CG-DP aesthetic, but will not be there throughout that process, most likely. I asked how the real-time lighting set up works in the construction of shots in the CG-sphere of shooting. Jim said that they're using something called MOTION BUILDER for the real time cinematography and the lighting elements of that are "not terribly sophisticated." And that there would be an extensive phase that would be just lighting each scene afterwards. Around this point, Jim asked how I was doing - this is where I told him that JOHN CARTER was over at Disney - and how there was a part of me that was glad about that, since his and mine's last chat - where I felt the direction he was taking AVATAR in was a very John Carter-esque route. It was here that Jim kinda gasped with a "I hadn't thought about that, but..." then he began drawing the comparisons betweent he characters and the situations and I said - see - there is a very real similarity on a structural level - Had Paramount held on to JOHN CARTER - we'd be coming out the same year with a similar attack at Sci-fi Fantasy... and now Disney, possibly with Zemeckis and the Motion Capture film department he's setting up - starting from ground zero means - they'll definitely be coming out on the otherside of AVATAR - if and when that project moves forward - it will have to deal with James Cameron's AVATAR. At this - Jim kinda laughed, in the past - going up against similar material - Jim's film had come out second. But with the superior film. Around this time - he said he was getting close to the airport and wanted to give me the new casting before having to go. So as you could see in the notes - we got: WES STUDI, SIGOURNEY WEAVER (confirmed as Grace), Peter Mensah, Joel David Moore (fantastic in both HATCHET and SPIRAL) - I imagine him as being Hippy-esque (think ABYSS), C.C.H. Pounder (love her) and then last but not least... I believe it was Laz Alonso - looking at his filmography - that's the name that most fits with what I heard. Jim said that each person was "perfectly cast for the part they're playing." He said there was more casting to be done, but that a great deal of it had fallen into place. Around that point - Jim said he had reached the 'curb' and that it was time to say our farewells. He said that his property only came within 3/4s of a mile, but had the wind turned - it could have covered that time in a blink and in those circumstances - it is best to be safe. We'll be speaking again, but definitely an odd turn of a Valentine's Day night. Now excuse me... my demonstration of love for all of you is demonstrated by taking time away from my fiancee to deliver this to all of you. Now I must demonstrate my love for her. Excuse me my friends...

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