Avatar will undoubtedly be the most eagerly anticipated 3D film this year and it is expected to set the bar for all others. With legendary director James Cameron at the helm and many new developments in CGI technology it’s easy to see why expectations are high. Cameron is clearly a man who likes to push the boundaries of filmmaking, as was seen with the cutting-edge effects used in the hugely successful Titanic.
Avatar was originally set to be Cameron’s follow up to Titanic but he felt the technology was not then advanced enough for him to realise his vision, and would likely prove far too expensive.
Avatar is set to include revolutionary new special effects by implementing a motion capture animation technology developed and pioneered by Cameron himself. Instead of adding the digital effects after the scene has been shot, this new virtual camera allows the director to view the digital characters on a separate monitor at the same time as the live action scene is being shot. Effectively the director can see the characters interacting with each other and the generated environment as if it were being filmed in live action. Sounds a little confusing but from what we can see in the trailer the effects certainly do look impressive.
The basic plot revolves around Jake (Sam Worthington), an ex-marine who is wheelchair-bound after being injured in battle. He is selected to take part in the avatar program which will allow him to walk using the bodies of psychically controlled alien hybrids in the form of creatures called Na’vi. These ‘avatars’ are used to explore and invade the extra-terrestrial satellite Pandora – the planet real Na’vi are native to – to search for valuable minerals. As Jake explores this new world he begins to fall in love with one of the Na’vi and is forced to chose sides in the war between the military industrialist from Earth and these creatures.
Cameron cites his inspiration for Avatar as “all the science fiction books I read when I was a kid” as well as Pocahontas, observing the effect advanced civilisations have on indigenous cultures. Avatar will be released on the 18th of December just in time to scoop up the best visual effects Oscar and quite possibly an array of other awards. It is a must see for any sci-fi fans, and for the rest of us, a chance to see what all the fuss is about.