The Full James Cameron AVATAR Letter...
Hey folks, Harry here... Well, you asked for it, I asked for it and now I have permission to give it to ya! Here's the letter, complete and unedited that I received from James Cameron that was sent to set us right regarding that alleged AVATAR art... and giving us the low down on the coolness that is his daily life upon the set of AVATAR. Enjoy...
I've been up to my ass in avatars for the last couple of months, so haven't had a chance to update you on progress. We're down in New Zealand shooting the live action and the stuff is looking really good. I love my cast, and the 3D cameras are working spectacularly. We seem to be firing on all eight so far.
The first couple of weeks we were still coming up to speed, figuring out how to control the interocular and convergence for all different types of shooting situations. But we've got that dialed in now. We've reworked the camera software on the fly, using a set of look-up curves we wrote ourselves, so now the cameras basically go to a default interocular setting automatically based on focal length and subject distance --- a kind of "auto-stereo" --- which is working really well. I can be hand-holding a shot, and decide to crank in on the zoom in the middle of the shot, completely unrehearsed, and our system compensates instantly. It's definitely the most advanced stereo camera system in existence. And the result is enveloping stereo with zero eye strain or unwanted viewing artifacts. You feel like you're there.
Each one of my actors is turning in incandescent work --- Sigourney, Sam Worthington, Stephen Lange, Giovanni Ribisi, Michelle Rodriguez, Joel David Moore ---- they're each so right on that it's impossible to think of anyone else playing their characters. And the sets which were built down here by the Kiwi art department are the best I've ever worked with. The detailing is incredible. I want to bring some of the vehicles home and park them on my tennis court.
Since this film is basically going to be four years of my life by the time it's done, I decided it had to fun to make as I went along, or it just wasn't worth it. I'm having a blast. It's all attitude. The work is just as hard as any film I've made, but for the first time on a movie I'm actually enjoying the process on a day to day basis.
You recently posted some artwork of a supposed Na'vi character. Don't know where you got it but it's spurious. I've never seen that piece of art. We had a lot of free-ranging conceptual stuff in the early days of design two and a half years ago, and it might be something that was done then but not shown to me, but it is definitely not remotely our actual character design. Aside from two legs, two arms and a tail, it doesn't have any features in common with our final designs. If I had to guess I'd say it's a piece of fan art based on the description of the Na'vi from the old treatment which was leaked twelve years ago. That description is obsolete relative to the shooting script, since things have changed a lot over the years.
Fox doesn't want to unveil anything yet, understandably, but when the time is right I'll get you some of the actual design art which won't be available anywhere else, so fans can get a look behind the curtain on the design of the characters.
Gotta get to the set (it's Monday oh-dark-thirty here). Hope this message finds you well.
So there ya have it... More from Jim as he deems needed...