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WETA signed on for Avatar FX duties

[Link no longer available]

August 2006 - WETA Digital have been signed up by James Cameron to create a large number of effects for his long in development Avatar flick.

The movie still hasn't been greenlit, but can you see 20th Century Fox not giving Cameron the greenlight?

The movie will follow Jake, a paraplegic war veteran is brought to another planet, Pandora, which is inhabited by the Na'vi, a humanoid race with their own language and culture. Those from Earth find themselves at odds with each other and the local culture.

First casting for James Cameron's Avatar

[Link no longer available]

October 2006 - The first casting for James Cameron's big screen directorial return has been revealed and it is Joel Moore. Joel is best known for his roles in Art School Confidential and Dodgeball.

The flick will follow Jake, a paraplegic war veteran who is brought to another planet, Pandora, which is inhabited by the Na'vi, a humanoid race with their own language and culture.

Those from Earth find themselves at odds with each other and the local culture. Its not yet known what role Moore will play.

Sam Worthington Lands Big Role in Avatar

January 2007 - The 30-year-old beat hundreds to the lead in Avatar, a science-fiction adventure epic Cameron has been developing for more than a decade.

Worthington, who made his debut in 2000 in Bootmen but is unknown in the US, was chosen after worldwide screen tests and will play Jake Sully, a wounded ex-marine.

Worthington, who won an AFI Award in 2004 for Somersault, has also signed on for sequels. The film is The Terminator director's return to science fiction.

James Cameron with details on AVATAR

February 2007 - [James Cameron] 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.

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.

Cameron explains that his 1st AD (Josh McLaglen) worked on both Beowulf and Polar Express and that what he's doing is a fair bit different.

Cameron film begins production
By Anne Thompson | Source:

[Link no longer available]

August 2007 - In October, the company will move to Wellington, New Zealand, close to Peter Jackson's Weta Digital, which is supervising the film's visual effects.

Film is a $190 million hybrid of live action and animation. Lightstorm Entertainment team has researched a mix of live-action cinematography and virtual photorealistic production techniques which will feature virtual characters.

Thirty-one days of live-action photography will begin on Weta soundstages in October. Pic will be produced by Cameron and Jon Landau for Lightstorm. Mauro Fiore has been hired as d.p.

Giovanni Ribisi joins Avatar

[Link no longer available]

September 2007 - Giovanni Ribisi has joined the cast of what for most of us is the most anticapated movie for years, James Cameron's Avatar.

Giovanni Ribisi will play a passive-aggressive character named Selfridge in the Fox film about a band of humans pitted against a distant planet's indigenous inhabitants.

Also starring in the movie are Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Peter Mensah, Laz Alonso, Wes Studi and Stephen Lang.

James Cameron's Avatar Release Date Shifted | Source:

December 2007 - Making a change of plan on its big-budgeted project "Avatar", 20th Century Fox has announced that it has pushed back the release date of the movie from May 22, 2009 to December 19, 2009.

Being so, the James Cameron-directed flick will now open on the same weekend as his "Titanic" did in 1997.

Moreover, the shifted date consequently also gives the filmmaker more time to work on the effects and much more time for additional theaters to install 3-D screens both in the U.S. and aboard.

Sigourney Weaver Talks 'Avatar'
by Patrick Walsh

One of the most highly anticipated movies on the horizon is James Cameron's Avatar, slated for release in 2009. The film marks Cameron's return to a genre he pretty much defined in the 80's and early 90's -- science fiction.

Worthington's not well known here yet, but he played the title role in the 2006 version of Macbeth. Cameron favorite Michael Biehn is rumored to be attached as well, which would be awesome.

There's a lot of secrecy surrounding the project, but Weaver talked it up a bit to Hit while on a break from the film.

"It's a fantastic movie. So ambitious. So romantic and sweeping. I can't wait to get back," says Weaver, who will play a botanist and mentor to Worthington's character. Weaver describes Worthington as "a terrific actor, he really is.

Click for details

Avatar Villain Cast - Matt Gerald hired
for sci-fi epic

The lead villain in James Cameron's sci-fi epic Avatar has been cast, with little known actor Matt Gerald nabbing the role, according to Variety. Gerald's CV isn't particularly impressive -- his most recent roles were bit parts in the daft action sequel xXx: State of the Union and Usher vanity project Into the Mix.

He also appeared (briefly) in Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines and S.W.AT. The actor is the latest in a line of lesser-known talent hired for Avatar -- the unheralded Zoe Saldana, Michelle Rodriguez and Sam Worthington have also taken key parts. Alien's star Sigourney Weaver is the only "big name" in the cast.

How's James Cameron's Avatar Going?

[Link no longer available]

Last we heard about James Cameron's big sci-fi yarn Avatar, Ubisoft had bagged the game rights. For those unfamiliar with the years off flick, it follows an ex-Marine's struggle for survival on an alien planet.

The title refers to the main character's status as an Avatar � human mind in an alien body. (Space Marines, aliens, wow, already sounds like a game!) How's the project coming along?

According to Cameron:"Things are going well on Avatar, or at least as well as can be expected on such a ridiculously complex project. We've wrapped principal, and most of the live action portion of the movie is already cut.

Sigourney Weaver says James Cameron's Avatar sets new standard

[Link no longer available]

April 2008 - More than two decades later, James Cameron reunites with Sigourney Weaver. And Weaver says the wait was worth it as she recently wrapped Cameron�s breakthrough sci-fi 3-D extravaganza Avatar in New Zealand.

Weaver, of course, last worked with Cameron on Aliens in 1986. But Avatar is something else again. �Well, it was quite an adventure,� says Weaver.

�Avatar was a demanding shoot, but it was very exhilarating because we were all doing something we had never done before. You look at these 3-D dailies and they�re so beautiful.�

Weaver plays a scientist wondering whether the discovery of new extraterrestrial planetary life forms could lead to mankind�s extinction. Complicated proceedings for sure but somehow Cameron and Weaver found time to recapture their chemistry.

Lightstorm Leverages Isilon IQ
for Production of 'Avatar'

[Link no longer available]

August 2008 � Isilon Systems, a provider of clustered storage solutions, has announced that James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment, a film production company, is using Isilon IQ clustered storage to power the production of its next motion picture "Avatar."

To create Avatar, Lightstorm Entertainment said it is employing an all-digital virtual filming environment with performance capture technology and Pace/Cameron's Fusion Camera System.

"Our unique and highly demanding workflow creates terabytes of data on a weekly and even daily basis, necessitating a storage solution with the scalability and high performance to efficiently manage our data and accelerate production," said Jon Landau, Producer, Lightstorm Entertainment.

Giant's Mocap Technology
Being Used on Avatar

[Link no longer available]

September 2008 - James Cameron is using Giant Studios'( proprietary, realtime mocap system while shooting his much anticipated film Avatar.

Giant's technology allows Cameron to direct the alien characters, and horses, in realtime while looking through a virtual camera.

The system tracks markers on the performer (and horses in this case), and retargets from a capture skeleton to the character skeleton, allowing the director to see the 3D characters in a virtual environment in realtime.

Giant's James Knight, mocap manager on Avatar emphasizes the markers are just for reference since the software solves from the skeleton using the data from the markers and retargets them from the skeleton to the characters, all the while streaming live to Autodesk's MotionBuilder.

advance08 Video: James Cameron and Jon Landau Discuss Media Revelations in film

September 2008 - MSN Video provides a clip over 50 minutes long on Cameron and Landau's discussion on Avatar and film technology.

Excerpts from the video . . .

James Cameron: Film making was technical when I entered the game 25 years ago, but it was essentially photo chemical emulsions grinding thru these kind of meat grinder camera mechanisms.

And now it's digital cameras, we use fiber optic lens to move the images around the set. But the essence of story telling stays the same.

Jon Landau: Several years ago it was very clear to us that feature film making was going into the digital medium. Not just for the visual effects stand point, but also for a motion capture and the filming stand point.

And it was going to this abundance of digital information. What happened as we got into the development of the dam, we saw an even greater potential that we thought could be there by this type of tool (digital assest management system).

James Cameron: There were literally days when we were making Avatar, where my technical group and I would just stop working and we'd go sit in the middle of the capture volume where we working with the actors.

We would grab some chairs and sit and talk about what we were doing wrong, how are we are going to do it better, how we would solve the problem. You don't do that on a movie, normally.

But we were so far out in the frontier, you know Lewis and Clark peeking thru the wilderness that we had to stop sometimes and just talk about how we are going to solve our way out of the predictaments that we got ourselves into pretty much on a daily basis.

Now that made it very stimulating, that's what I was there for, it was the challenge of that and it was a lot fun.

James Cameron: Right now I'm all about 3D. What sort of drawn me back to film making after having been off doing deep ocean expeditions for seven years and developing my stereoscopic camera system and so on, is the idea of merging what I learned shooting stereo for documentary features back into feature film making.

I been predicting for a number of years now, that the digital revolution in cinema projection is going to enable a revolution in stereoscopic viewing.

James Cameron's Avatar to be Released in IMAX 3D

November 2008 - IMAX Corporation and Twentieth Century Fox today announced that they have reached agreement on material terms to release the highly anticipated 3D motion picture Avatar in IMAX�3D simultaneously with the motion picture's premiere in conventional 3D theaters on December 18, 2009.

Avatar is directed and written by Academy Award Winner James Cameron and stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez and Sigourney Weaver.

Cameron will also produce with his Lightstorm Entertainment partner, Jon Landau. Avatar will be digitally re-mastered into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience�.

"Our goal with 'Avatar' is to revolutionize live-action 3D moviemaking, and I have no doubt that it will look and sound incredible in IMAX 3D," said director James Cameron.

"The larger field of view and powerful surround sound of an IMAX� theatre will completely immerse the audience in a way that cannot be experienced anywhere else."

The 50 Biggest Movies of 2009

November 2008 - TIMESONLINE released their 50 biggest movies of 2009 with Avatar rated as number 7, Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince rated number one. There are a few surprises here in their rankings, what do you think? Did they get it right?

FROM TIMESONLINE: 2008 was something of a vintage year for popcorn-munchers. But is there a 2009 film that can equal the colossal success of The Dark Knight? Which hot franchises will step up to fill the spaces left by Batman, Bond and Indy?

We�ve taken a look through the studio schedules and picked out the most promising prospects for the coming year. History tells us that when times are tough, box office takings boom. Here�s our selection of the best films Hollywood has to offer us in 2009.

. . . 7: AVATAR
James Cameron�s long-awaited high-technology blockbuster shares some basic ideas with The Surrogates (Humans use humanoid remote drones, in this case to explore an alien planet) and some with Planet 51 (we are the invaders).

In terms of technological ambition and cinematic reach though, this movie should be without equal.

You can click on the excerpt link above to view the remaining of the list and descriptions of the other movies.

Dreamworks Animation Boss
Jeffrey Katzenberg: James Cameron will
be the one to show the way for 3D

[Link no longer available]

Like the Technicolor revolution, 3D is engendering a spirit of collaboration among filmmakers, with Katzenberg revealing that DreamWorks have shared resources with Jim Cameron and his Avatar team.

"We've had his engineers and technicians up to our studio, and vice versa. We're all trying to help one another." Sniffing a window into the secrey-veiled Avatar, Empire poses the question. The bad news is Katzenberg is not giving Cameron's secrets away, but he does report that Avatar is taking spectacular shape.

�I�ve been down to New Zealand to visit Jim a couple of times and what he�s doing is breathtaking. I�m confident he�ll be the one to show the way for 3D in a live-action movie. He�s a genius."

The Na'Vi Learn How To Get Their Groove On

The LULA WASHINGTON DANCE THEATRE, now in its 28th year, will present its annual Kwanzaa Holiday concert on December 27th at the Harriet and Charles Luckman Fine Arts Complex at California State University, Los Angeles (

An award winning choreographer, Lula Washington recently provided movement for James Cameron�s upcoming film, �Avatar.� Combining high energy modern dance with jazz, hip-hop and the intoxicating rhythm of drums, Lula�s beautiful dancers will stun audience members with their incredible versatility.

Cameron says he can't live up to
'Avatar' hype

December 2008 - Director James Cameron said Tuesday that his upcoming big-budget 3-D movie "Avatar" couldn't possibly live up to the hype on the Internet ahead of its release late next year. The Internet has been buzzing about the sci-fi thriller shot with motion-capture technology and the 3-D camera system he helped develop with partner Vince Pace.

There are even movie trailers made by fans that apparently have nothing to do with the movie. "Whatever they think it's going to be, it's probably not," Cameron said on the sidelines of a conference on 3-D entertainment in Los Angeles.

When asked about high expectations, the director of all-time U.S. box office record holder "Titanic" said he had stopped trying to meet them. "I went out and got drunk, contemplated the whole thing and got over it," he said, adding, however, that "Avatar" was "really cool" and "groundbreaking" for its combination of motion capture, computer graphics and live action.

The Ten Best Movies of 2009

December 11, 2008 - In October we posted's Six Must See Movies of 2009 and here is's 2009 Ten Best List. Always good to see when Avatar makes these type of lists. We have provided the Avatar description only, but you can click on the source link above to read the movie's full descriptions.

10. Avatar - Director: James Cameron | Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Stephen Lang

Why It Will Rule: Watchmen might be the 2009 movie that everyone's talking about now, but make no mistake - Avatar is the BIGGEST movie of 2009. There is literally NO other movie that in any way, shape, or form that could conceivably be bigger. Why?

First, it's the first theatrical movie written and directed by James Cameron since Titanic, i.e. the highest grossing movie EVER.

Second, by all reports, Cameron has spent the better part of a decade prepping for Avatar and has alleged completely reinvented 3D technology to make a blow-you-through-the-back-of-your-seat experience that will remind you why watching DVDs will NEVER replace the glory of seeing a movie up on the big screen.

Third, it's a massive scope sci-fi epic, a genre that Cameron does extremely well (i.e., Terminator 2 and Aliens).

2006 - 2008







Avatar News Archive

SFMZ followed all news updates regarding Avatar for two years leading up to the release of the film, along with researched archive articles. While we no longer provide updates, we decided to cherry pick the best of these hundreds of articles for our readers to explore the emergence of James Cameron's sci-fi adventure.

You can check out expanded coverage of the film's box office highlights and reviews in the news at our other sections Avatar Box Office and Avatar Awards and Reviews. All articles in this section are excerpt highlights, click on the source link for the complete article.

2006 - 2008 NEWS

James Cameron on the Deep Impact of 3D Movies
By Bryant Frazer | Source:

April 2006 - Will 3D save digital cinema, or will digital cinema save 3D? The answer, director James Cameron told attendees at this year�s pre-NAB Digital Cinema Summit, is a little bit of both.

Cameron, who gave the second-day keynote address, invoked the specters of piracy and an increasingly indifferent viewership in an attempt to convince attendees that 3D exhibition � a more involving experience and, at least for the time being, an unpiratable one � will help get the fickle butts of movie audiences back in theater seats.

�I�m not going to make movies for people to watch on their cell phones,� he declared. �To me, that�s an abomination.�

Three different 3D processes were discussed. There�s the Cameron way, which involves shooting a live-action feature with a 3D camera rig (generally two Sony F950s bound together in a complicated assembly). There�s the Chicken Little/Polar Express method, which involves adding 3D to a previously devised CG-animated world; and there�s the In-Three way, which has that company �dimensionalizing� existing films.

Cameron Comes back with CG Extravaganza

[Link no longer available]

July 2006 - After nine years, during which time he has not launched a new feature film, James Cameron finally is targeting a summer 2008 release for his next project, 20th Century Fox's "Avatar," and he hopes to start shooting a cast of unknown actors on a stage in Los Angeles by February.

Cameron is plotting a high-concept comeback film for his return to mainstream features, well in the wake of his king-making helming of "Titanic." His new project, which also has gone under the cover title "Project 880," follows a paraplegic war veteran from Earth who is brought to another planet.

"Believe it or not, the shooting is a very small part of it," Cameron says. "It's a very, very big project where the shooting is like a month and a half -- not really very much. There's just so much CG, and the visual effects are a huge component. A lot of it is performance capture. We use different techniques (from, for example, Sony Pictures' upcoming 'Monster House'), but it's the same general idea."

James Cameron: King of all he surveys

December 2006 - "I'm the king of the world!" James Cameron cried at the 1998 Oscars, echoing his leading character in Titanic.

When the director picked up 11 Academy Awards and his epic netted box-office receipts of $1.8bn, he defied critics who'd predicted that the film would be sunk by a fatal combination of hubris and testosterone.

At that moment, Cameron did seem to be master of all he surveyed. After a decade of hits - The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986), Terminator 2 (1991) and True Lies (1994) - Titanic was merely the latest Cameron box-office behemoth to crush everything in its path.

And yet, in the following eight years, tumbleweed has blown through Cameron's movie CV.

What happened to the king of the world? What has become of the director whose movies kept studio bosses in diamond-studded Jacuzzis? Is he just sitting at home counting his money? The answer is that Cameron, who hails from a remote part of Ontario, has been living up to the other famous phrase he has used to describe himself - "a nerd from Kapuskasing" - and pursuing his passion for scientific documentaries, spending a large chunk of his reputed $50m fortune on educative factual films.

Cameron sets live-action, CG epic for 2009
[Link no longer available]

January 2007 - James Cameron is set to direct "Avatar," his first dramatic feature since the Oscar-winning blockbuster "Titanic" in 1997.

Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman said Monday that Cameron will start virtual photography on the sci-fi epic in April, with live-action photography commencing in August, for a summer 2009 release.

It will be filmed in a new digital 3-D format. The director already has spent years in R&D on the multiple processes needed to create a $190 million hybrid of live action and animation, which he vowed will never pass the $200 million mark.

"I've been the busiest unemployed director in Hollywood," he said. "We're going to blow you to the back wall of the theater in a way you haven't seen for a long time. My goal is to rekindle those amazing mystical moments my generation felt

when we first saw '2001: A Space Odyssey,' or the next generation's 'Star Wars.' It took me 10 years to find something hard enough to be interesting." Said Rothman: "Jim has taken the time to get it right, and we're taking the time to do it right. It's worth the wait." Neither Cameron nor Fox want to repeat the budget overruns that plagued the $200 million "Titanic," the director said.

Sigourney Weaver Reunites With
James Cameron For 'Avatar - By Shawn Adler
[Link no longer available]

2007 - When intergalactic baddies have you down, there's really only one person to call.

Twenty-one years after Ellen Ripley scored one for the human race, "Aliens" star Sigourney Weaver is returning to space, reuniting with director James Cameron for a supporting role in his long-awaited film "Avatar."

"Sigourney and I have always looked back fondly on our collaboration in 'Aliens,' and we're excited at the prospect of working together again," Cameron said in a statement released to MTV News.

"She has a special significance for fans of science fiction, so in addition to being perfect in all ways for the part, there is something special about her returning to the genre in our film." The director's first movie since "Titanic" centers on Jake Sully, a disabled war veteran brought to the exotic planet of Pandora to exploit its rich natural resources. Potentially complicating matters for Cameron's intrepid hero is speculation that the Na'vi will be able to manifest themselves in a variety of physical forms, or "avatars."

Avatar Movie, Game Synergy

July 2007 - James Cameron is taking a cue from LucasFilm, bringing the worlds of videogames and cinema a little closer together with his upcoming blockbuster Avatar.

As recently reported here on IGN, Cameron has chosen French software developer Ubisoft to create a game that will tie in with the film Avatar.

And since Avatar is going to be an effects-laden film with advanced computer-generated worlds and characters, the filmmaker thought it would make sense to share these digital assets between the film studio and the game studio.

While movie-based games are usually an afterthought intended as merely a secondary source of revenue, Cameron and his production team have been thinking about an Avatar game right from the very start, and creative development has proceeded with that in mind. According to producer Jon Landau, "it was very important to [Cameron] and the rest of us that the universe of Avatar be expanded and give game players opportunities for new experiences."

Joel Moore Talks About James Cameron's Avatar

August 2007 - recently chatted with actor Joel David Moore, who's starring in Cameron's sci-fi motion capture film Avatar, and got a little bit out of him about the film and its technology.

Or at least as much as he was allowed to say, as Moore is even required to keep quiet about the technology. The basic gist of it - this technology is going to blow us away.

I'm not talking about Robert Zemeckis' Polar Express in IMAX 3D, I'm talking about shaping the industry entirely from that point forward and changing the way we watch movies.

Joel David Moore, who stars alongside of Sigourney Weaver, Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Wes Studi, Michelle Rodriguez, and CCH Pounder, has been shooting since February and will be shooting until February 2008 - an entire year for one film.

Of course that's tedious, but his response: "I gotta tell you, it's the most amazing thing I've ever done." Moore followed that up with some discussion about working with Cameron.

[Joel David Moore] "He's one of the biggest and best directors in the business and to be able to be put in that position of luxury and comfort is really cool.

I first sat down and read the script for the first time, it's got James Cameron, this is the most amazing thing, it's going to be a sci-fi thing. So I assumed this is just a sci-fi, but it's so much more. And even better than that is what we're doing; it's just stunning.

Lang, Rodriguez armed for 'Avatar'
By Anne Thompson

[Link no longer available]

August 2007 - James Cameron has added two cast members to "Avatar."

Stephen Lang and Michelle Rodriguez will join Australian actor Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Wes Studi and CCH Pounder in the performance-capture pic, which is in production in Los Angeles.

Lang plays a seasoned Marine Corps colonel who travels to the faraway planet Pandora to take charge of its troops.

Lang is known for his New York theater roles in "A Few Good Men," "Defiance" and "Death of a Salesman."

He'll wrap up 101 performances at the Roundabout Theater in his sold-out one-man show "Beyond Glory" on Aug. 19 and then take on the "Avatar" role. Lang first met Cameron 20 years ago for a role in "Aliens" he didn't get. But Cameron never forgot him. Rodriguez plays an ex-Marine pilot. "Michelle Rodriguez is someone I've wanted to work with since I saw 'Girlfight' seven years ago," said Cameron.

Hollywood Bets Big on 3-D Future & James Cameron's Avatar - March 2007

After years of dismissing 3-D as child's play, Hollywood studios are betting that films shot and projected in the format will boost takings at the box office. The size and scope of the bet is driven by the number of US cinemas capable of showing films in 3-D, which is expected to rise to 3,000 by 2009. Legendary Canadian director and three-time Academy Award winner, James Cameron will direct.

The $200 million 3-D Avatar will make use of "synthetic", or computer-generated, actors in leading roles who appear to be real but do not exist in the physical world. The 52-year-old director of the Terminator series and Aliens said he had conceived the project 11 years ago but had been waiting for technological advancements that will enable him to bring his vision to the big screen.

Avatar Actor Talks James Cameron Film:
'The Technology ... Hasn't Been Done Before'

Laz Alonso provides tantalizing hints about director's top-secret upcoming flick. Forget about Indy whatever and Batman whatchamacallit, because everybody knows that the hardest-to-acquire movie news these days regards "Avatar," the top-secret sci-fi flick that is finally bringing James Cameron back to theaters after a 12-year "Titanic"-inspired hiatus.

Cameron recently allowed actor Laz Alonso to run loose for a few hours so he could attend the premiere of his film "Captivity" and, naturally, we threatened to strap him down to one of the torture chairs inside the event unless he talked to us about Cameron's flick.

"It's going great man, I mean the guy deserves every great thing that's been said about him as far as his creativity," the actor said of the shoot. "We work really hard, and he's really passionate, and we're really excited about what we're doing. May 2009 is a long time away, but we just feel the fever right now � it's alive."

Avatar Designs Based on Drilling Rig

January 2008 - has learned that the distant planet of Pandora in James Cameron's upcoming sci-fi action-adventure Avatar is being based in part on real-life drilling rig the Noble Clyde Boudreaux (pictured left) in the Gulf of Mexico. In the film, the off-world mining colony the actors inhabit will have the look and feel of inner workings of the Boudreaux.

The design team at Cameron's production company, Lightstorm, visited the rig to learn more about how it is all put together. The movie will utilize a blend of live-action photography and new virtual photorealistic production techniques invented by Cameron's team.

However, the most believable movie sets (computer generated or real) are based on elements of real environments. Cameron's design team believed they would find all these elements in Boudreaux. The work of capturing the look, fit and feel of life aboard Noble's newest semisubmersible was left to film industry veterans, Rick Carter, Production Designer and Kevin Ishioka, Supervising Art Director.

In early June, Carter and Ishioka got a guided tour of the rig led by Noble's Therald Martin and Rig Manager Frank Febro. During the tour the design team photographed and videoed almost every aspect of the Boudreaux, with the goal of replicating key aspects of the rig's working and living environment.

James Cameron update on AVATAR!

February 2008 - Harry (of Hey folks, here... in the last 4 days I've been sent the art from multiple sources claiming that it was promo art from Avatar.

Well - I decided to run it by Jim to see what he said and to ask how things were coming along on AVATAR. Here's the latest from the man himself...

James Cameron:

Harry, Good to hear from you.

This art is not from us. I don't know where it comes from. More overactive fan imaginations? It's not bad though. Things are going well on Avatar, or at least as well as can be expected on such a ridiculously complex project. We've wrapped principal, and most of the live action portion of the movie is already cut. It's starting to look and sound like a movie. I'm ecstatic with the performances and the look. The cast chemistry worked out perfectly. I'm in New Zealand right now, working on effects, while Steve Quale shoots some second unit.

James Cameron Interview With HDVideoPro Magazine
February 29, 2008

Avatar director James Cameron took time out of his busy �making Avatar cool� schedule to talk with HDVideoPro magazine. He mainly talks about 3D technology but talks a little bit about Avatar:

A Glimpse of Avatar

(James Cameron) "I can�t think of a better movie for 3-D - action, creatures, big aerial battles and more. It�s going to rock the house. It�s another world - a world of great beauty and savagery, a mystical place where humans, with their greed and technology, confront a virgin world of great danger and wonder.

When the humans try to take what�s not theirs, as they have done since the dawn of time whenever they inhabit a new land, the land fights back. And the fight is on; the scale is off the chain. And that�s all I am saying."

Don�t Expect To See Ripley In �Avatar,�
Says Sigourney Weaver | Source:

April 2008 - When it comes to bad-ass babes in cinema history, well, there�s Ellen Ripley, the take no prisoners heroin at the center of �Alien� and its three sequels, and then there�s everybody else.

But if anyone could match her, it would have to be the tag-team of James Cameron and Sigourney Weaver, back together again on the 3-D extravaganza �Avatar,� right? Could Dr. Grace Augustine be a Ripley for the 21st century?

At least one person doesn�t think so. Too bad that one person is Weaver herself. �There�s not too much Ripley [in her]. The only thing they have in common is they devoted their lives to this other thing,� the veteran actress recently told MTV News.

�I think [Grace] probably would have liked a normal life but she had to make a choice and she chose science.� Ok, yeah, but it�s a Cameron film. That means even eggheads get into a little action � and Doc Augustine is no exception, Weaver confessed, revealing that she�s front and center for a lot of butt-kicking. �She has an avatar. She�s very involved,� Weaver teased. �[In fact,] I would say her real life is as an avatar.� That�s�confusing � mostly because we don�t really know yet exactly what an avatar is in Cameron�s script. Does Weaver�s statement mean that she takes over another person�s body?

James Cameron: 3D heading beyond movies

Filmmaker James Cameron sees the world in stereo. So does everyone else, though, and that's exactly his point. "When you are viewing in stereo, which is what we do," Cameron said, "more neurons are firing.

More blood is pumping through the brain." Cameron has been a big proponent of making movies in 3D, but he said that the digital projectors going into movie theaters are capable of showing more than just movies. Cameron's talk came as part of Microsoft's Advance 08 advertising conference, which runs through Wednesday. "That digital image can be live," Cameron said.

"That digital image can be 3D." He suggested such locations can show live sports and events, alongside impressive travelogues and other content. "We're not quite there but we are on the cusp of that and people need to have a strategy for it," he said. More than 1,000 theaters in the U.S. already have stereoscopic (3D-capable) projectors, while Cameron hopes that there will be 5,000 such facilities by the time his 3D movie Avatar debuts next year. 3D movies have often generated much more revenue than 2D versions of the same film, a potential boon to the entertainment industry.

Are You Ready To Be An Evil Colonist?

Humans are a plague, shredding across the galaxy and destroying other peace-loving creatures. At least, that seems to be the theme of a number of movies that are coming out in the next few years.

I've been wondering what would replace the post-apocalyptic-Earth as the stock plot for "dark" science fiction movies, and the evil-humans-in-space plot seems increasingly likely to rule.

Among others, James Cameron's Avatar and the new animated film Terra seem to be exploring this theme, which is a standard plot in written science fiction, but is fairly new to the movies.

As I said above, the story of evil humans coming and despoiling an alien planet is nothing new in written science fiction. Off the top of my head, there's Ursula LeGuin's The Word For World Is Forest, among others.

I'm almost done reading Jeanette Winterson's The Stone Gods (review coming soon) which deals with this theme. But I can't think of too many movies which have handled this type of storyline (Enemy Mine, I guess). We still don't know all of the plot details for James Cameron's Avatar, coming in 2009, but an early "scriptment" that's reputed to be real includes a lot of information.

In a nutshell, Earth is ruined due to centuries of exploitation, and we've used up all our resources. So we decide to go and plunder the mineral wealth of the planet Pandora, whose atmosphere is poisonous to us. Humans can only walk around on Pandora by growing special alien bodies, akin to the native Na'vi aliens.

The humans can control their own vat-grown Na'vi bodies, which are called avatars. (We don't know how much of this stuff survives in the final script, but Sigourney Weaver's comments about her character having "her own avatar" make it sound as though it's still there in some form.)

James Cameron Live on "Avatar" His New 3-D Film

May 2008 - The theme of Microsoft Advance '08 is "Connected Entertainment" -- mobile, music, TV/video, gaming. The big Live Search announcement will be covered live tomorrow.

Today, filmmaker James Cameron's producing partner at Lightstorm Entertainment, Jon Landau, said the abundance of digital information and the ability to use technologies opened up a whole new window that Cameron didn't know existed.

James Cameron started making films when they were photochemical emulsions. Now, films are digital.

"The essence of storytelling stays the same," said Cameron. "Intense CG (computer-generated) scenes with multiple shots doesn't change that. My greatest horror was the best thing we created would end up like the Ark of the Covenant and be put in a warehouse somewhere. I will make all my films in 3-D. I've been banging on the door at Microsoft since I introduced Windows Media 9 with LL Cool J and Bill Gates in 2002. Now I tell them, this is what you guys need to be doing. I'm going to continue to surf that wave."

Cameron has created an entire world, a complete ecosystem of phantasmagorical plants and creatures, and a native people with a rich culture and language. The film has a December 2009 release date. "'Avatar' is the single most complex piece of filmmaking ever made," said Cameron. "We have 1,600 shots for a 2.5 hour movie. It's not with a single CGI character, like King Kong or Gollum. We have hundreds of photo-realistic CG characters. We were Microsoft's sandbox for filmmaking beyond the cutting edge."

James Cameron and Vince Pace Speak at Prestigious Cannes Film Festival

May 2008 - Vince Pace, one of the thought leader's in 3D entertainment joined legendary filmmaker and partner, James Cameron yesterday to participate in The American Pavilion's "3D Day" during this year's Cannes Film Festival.

The two innovators of the PACE/Cameron Fusion system and world renowned leaders in 3D production, participated in the panel discussion via a Skype video call from Los Angeles where James Cameron continues production on the highly anticipated 3D feature film "Avatar" with Pace serving as Director of Photography. The 3D Day included two topic panels that were combined into one long panel discussion, "New Dimensions for 3D: How Digital 3D Will Shape Movie Production and Distribution During The Next 20 yrs" and "New Technology Driving Digital 3D."

The panel proved invaluable to the industry as the long time misperceptions of 3D production were lifted as legendary and well respected Director, James Cameron, along with Cinematographer and CEO of PACE, Vince Pace, expressed the true realities of the technology, its integration, and the financial impact of stereoscopic film making.

James Cameron's 'Avatar' creating tech buzz
3-D project using visionary new techniques
By Carolyn Giardina

[Link no longer available]

August 2008 - With 17 months to go before the release of James Cameron's sci-fi epic "Avatar," his first narrative feature since 1997's "Titanic," anticipation already is enormous. The wildly ambitious project will be made in stereoscopic 3-D and combine live action and computer animation using visionary new filmmaking techniques.

Slated to open Dec. 18, 2009, the production already has been in the works for 2 1/2 years. When completed, Cameron expects "Avatar" to be about 60% CG animation, based on characters created using a newly developed performance capture-based process, and 40% live action, with a lot of VFX in the imagery.

"It is the most challenging film I've ever made," Cameron said. Still, the innovative filmmaker and digital 3-D pioneer and champion has never shifted his emphasis from storytelling.

"You have to make a good film that would be a good film under any circumstances," he said. "You have to put the narrative first. The reality is no matter how many (3-D) screens we get, you are still going to have a large number of people -- possibly the majority of people -- who see the film in a 2-D environment." The live-action principal photography for "Avatar" was shot in New Zealand last fall and winter using the Fusion 3-D camera system. Cameron first used the Fusion to make his 2003 Imax 3-D film "Ghosts of the Abyss"; he and "Ghosts" director of photography Vince Pace invented the camera system for the project.

What's Stan Winston Studio Doing On James Cameron's AVATAR? | Source:

Beaks here...I just returned from my first ever visit to Stan Winston Studio, where key artist Christopher Swift and model shop supervisor David Merritt gave a handful of online outlets an in-depth talkin' to about the design and creation of the Mark I, II and III suits for IRON MAN.

It was amazing. I got to cower under the full-scale Iron Monger, marvel at a trio of unused models for HOWARD THE DUCK and tear up a little at the sight of A.I.'s Teddy sitting all by his lonesome in Stan's director's chair. And that's the thing: while Swift and Merritt were gracious, engaging guides, I regret that I never made it over to the studio while the master was still with us.

But as Swift and Merritt were quick to point out, Stan's influence lives on in their work, which you loved in IRON MAN and will soon see to some extent in James Cameron's AVATAR (due out December 18, 2009). After twenty minutes of talking IRON MAN (more on that next week), Swift began discussing the future of practical f/x in an increasingly digital world.

That led to a question about the all-CG AVATAR, which yielded an interesting answer. Here's the exchange:

Chris Swift: Everybody loves practical. I mean, it just looks right and looks real. Even digital loves it because it makes their job easier. I think it'll be around for a while.

Beaks: We know you're working on Avatar with James Cameron, who's been leading the drive into digital filmmaking. But the fact that he's still integrating practical effects must be a [vindication].

Swift: Yeah... I worked, as well as Dave... heavily on doing design work and everything for AVATAR. Neither one of us can talk much about it (Laughter), but I will say this about it: obviously being a digital movie and going after it as a digital movie, we ended up doing a lot of practical f/x for it - and a lot of practical things that Jim didn't even know we were building. When Jim kind of brought us on board for that, it was the idea that we were brought on mostly as a design phase.

James Cameron says 'Titanic' pales
next to new high-tech project, 'Avatar'

September 2008 - James Cameron famously crowned himself "king of the world" after his epic film "Titanic" swept the Oscars a decade ago.

But as the director heads to Canada for this weekend's Walk of Fame celebrations, he boasts that his watery 1997 blockbuster starring Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet pales in comparison to his latest project, "Avatar."

"It makes 'Titanic' look like a picnic," Cameron said recently during an interview from Los Angeles, where he is working furiously on the new film.

Even Cameron, 54, finds it hard to describe the hugely ambitious "Avatar," which is being made in stereoscopic 3-D and combines live action and computer animation. "It's simultaneously the most vexing and the most rewarding type of production that I've done yet," Cameron says of the project, due in theatres Dec. 18, 2009. The scope of "Avatar," which reunites Cameron with "Aliens" star Sigourney Weaver, is perhaps not surprising. After all, the filmmaker, who was born in the mining town of Kapuskasing, Ont., and raised near Niagara Falls, Ont., has pushed the envelope throughout his career.

Fox Studios and the Risk of Avatar
By Anne Thompson | Source:

September 2008 - The figure that haunts every studio chief's dreams is a high-profile auteur whose artistic vision outweighs his financial constraints. Sometimes the gamble on a marriage of artist and epic pays off.

James Cameron's "Titanic" went way over budget and behind schedule, but resulted in $1.85 billion at the worldwide box office, the highest-grossing blockbuster of all time.On the other hand, execs can't forget "Cleopatra," "Heaven's Gate" and "Waterworld."

Blood pressure has risen for execs at Fox, Paramount and Warner Bros. Fox execs are sweating as Cameron again pushes the frontiers of f/x and motion picture technology with the CG/motion-capture/live-action 3-D "Avatar." The filmmaker worked on advance R&D for six years. Incredibly, studio execs say they plowed only $10 million into that, gambling that Cameron's new process would even work. The director, working with VFX whiz Rob Legato, showed the studio advance pre-viz footage demonstrating how high-def video cameras could track actors moving inside a virtual CG set.

Iron Man Director Jon Favreau Talks Avatar

October 29, 2008 - Quint here with a very, very long chat I recently had with Jon Favreau. Keep your eye out for his mention of seeing a presentation of AVATAR footage and how he thinks that�s going to change the industry. Fascinating� He�s not the only one I�ve talked to that has seen this presentation and everybody is convinced it�s a game-changer of a movie.

Quint: Well, what do you think about the whole HD revolution? I mean do you really view that as kind of the next step? Or do you think this is just kind of a place holder for the all-media download service?

Favreau: I think HD as a format, working for HD resolution, I think that�s here to stay, the way that it�s going to be delivered I think is going to change dramatically in the next five years. Everybody�s sort of doing their own version of it. I have Direct-TV and Apple iTV and Blu-Ray.

The difficulty, of course, will be how do you prevent piracy at that point? And if DVD is replaced by download and download is undermined by piracy it becomes� it takes a big revenue stream from the people financing the films, so it�s potentially dangerous, and I think everybody saw what happened with the music industry. And the only way they combated that was to bring the price point so low on the download it just became easier to do it the proper way rather than pirate.

But I think that you always have to stay ahead of the curve with technology. I went down and visited (James) Cameron and he was working on AVATAR and I saw what that is going to be like�and what�s great about what he�s doing is he�s looking forward and saying �how can we make the movie-going experience so unique that downloading it is not going to be�you don�t feel like you�re getting the same experience� you have to go out and go to the movies. And people still go to the movies.

John Clisham on Cameron's Avatar

John Clisham, XBox Live director of the horror short film, "Janitor," discusses his involvement with Avatar in a Crave Online video. You can click on the source link for the full video and below are Clisham's excerpts specific to Avatar.

Clisham: "Avatar comes out next Christmas, it's 12 years after Titanic. It's Jim Cameron's first movie in over a decade. So expectations are pretty high. And my involvement with it is I work for a team called Sector Five - we worked just for Jim . . . whatever he needs done. You know it's really incredible and it's going to blow people away when it comes out because it's the first time that 3D has been done right. The good thing is, Jim understands 3D probably better than anyone on the planet. What he does is make sure it works, it's pleasing to your eye.

Let's say you can see a wide shot and you can see into the frame - you can see way back. When you have the next cut, the interocular doesn't shift so that's in right in your face. He can shift it and soften it so that between each cut it's going to smooth and seamless. You come up three hours later, you don't have a headache."

Avatar Evolving - A Blogger's Summary
Posted by Cybergosh October 2008

[Link no longer available]

This blog was posted by Cybergosh giving a summary on the development of James Cameron's Avatar collected from various online sources.

There's really nothing new mentioned below that has not already been passed out on the web several times, but it is a tidy time capsule for those who would like to read a condensed version of the film's production summary.

SFMZ highlights the confirmed tidbits below for a quick run down to get you up to date. There were also rumor statements and unconfirmed spoilers.

Cybergosh: A little over a year from now, James Cameron�s first feature length event since 1997 will hit screens. But before we all get to take the 3D journey into Cameron�s cutting edge new world, there�s the long history of tidbits, spoilers and fun facts that chronicle what it took to get us there . . .

In a distant future, humanity discovers the planet �Alpha Centauri B-4�, and for those scientists and astronauts who�ve traversed the gulf between neighboring suns and arrived on its alien soil know it as �Pandora�.

A world filled with an incredible diversity of beautiful and deadly ammonia-breathing lifeforms.

Its also a world that harbors treasures and resources almost beyond price. But just as the original Pandora�s Box wrought devastation on those who would use it for their own gain, so too this world may destroy not just the Pandorans home, but ours as well.

Avatar is the story of a wounded ex-marine, thrust unwillingly into an effort to settle and exploit an exotic planet rich in bio-diversity, who eventually crosses over to lead the indigenous race in a battle for survival. (IMDB)


In 1995, director James Cameron wrote an 80-page scriptment for Avatar. (EW) Cameron said his inspiration was �every single science fiction book I read as a kid�, particularly striving to update the style of Edgar Rice Burroughs� John Carter series. Cameron saw his story as being about how Western civilizations supplant indigenous cultures, in either active genocidal or passive ways. In Avatar, humanity extends that to other planets. In director James Cameron�s original script treatment of Avatar, a man tries to make his way as a miner by combining with an alien during an interplanetary war in which aliens can manifest themselves by possessing human bodies � avatars.

August 1996: Cameron announced that after completing Titanic, he would film Avatar, which would make use of �synthetic�, or computer-generated, actors. (Chicago Tribune) Special effects house Digital Domain, with whom Cameron has a partnership, joined the project, which would begin production in the summer of 1997. (St. Petersburg Times)

June - December 2005: Cameron was announced to be working on a project tentatively titled �Project 880� parallel to another project, Battle Angel. 2005: Cameron said that he planned to film Battle Angel first for a summer 2007 release, and to film �Project 880� for a 2009 release.

February 2006: Cameron said he had switched goals for the two film projects � �Project 880� for 2007 and Battle Angel for 2009. He indicated that the release of �Project 880� would possibly be delayed until 2008. James Cameron revealed that �Project 880� was �a retooled version of Avatar�, a film that he had tried to make years earlier. Cameron had chosen Avatar over Battle Angel after completing a five-day camera test in the previous year. Cameron�s early scriptment for Avatar circulated the Internet for years. When the project was re-announced, copies were subsequently removed from websites.

January to June 2006: Cameron wrote the script. Working with Paul Frommer, linguist and Director of the Center for Management Communication at USC, he developed a whole language and culture for the Na�vi, the indigenous race on Pandora. Under the name �Project 880�, a casting call was put out in June 2006 with a plot description provided, saying, �In the future, Jake, a paraplegic war veteran is brought to another planet, Pandora, which is inhabited by the Na�vi, a humanoid race with their own language and culture. Those from Earth find themselves at odds with each other and the local culture.�

July - September 2006: Cameron announced that he would film Avatar for a summer 2008 release and planned to begin principal photography with an established cast by February 2007. The visual effects studio Weta Digital signed on to help Cameron produce Avatar. Stan Winston, who had collaborated with Cameron in the past, joined Cameron�s Avatar to help with the film�s designs. Cameron was announced to use his own Reality Camera System to film in 3-D. The system would use two high-definition cameras in a single camera body to create depth perception.

Avatar Might Be Too Cool

The buzz surrounding James Cameron's big-budget return to science fiction has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. The film, a mix of CGI and live action using new techniques Cameron himself helped to develop, was shot with a special 3-D camera (also developed by Cameron).

Mix that with the promise of large-scale, hard science fiction that hasn't been attempted much in the past few years, and you have a project that seems guaranteed to live up to the hype and expectations that are riding on it.

The only question (and fear) is what is to become of the cinema geeks overwhelmed by the images that Cameron and his effects crew are putting in front of them. For those with weaker constitutions, we fear the worst.

It's a tall order: Star for Hollywood's record-setting director (James Cameron, left, in his first feature since "Titanic") in a 3-D, hybrid live action-computer animated movie, playing somebody paralyzed from the waist down. Sam Worthington,right, the Australian actor at the center of Cameron's "Avatar," wasn't content with just that heroic effort: The 32-year-old also stars in "Terminator Salvation" with Christian Bale and opposite Keira Knightley in "Last Night."

James Cameron Talks about Avatar and 3D
By Debra Kaufman | Source:

December 2008 - At a two day summit devoted to all things 3D, conference founder Robert Dowling sat down with director James Cameron and 3D cinematographer Vincent Pace to talk about their perspectives on the stereoscopic movie-making.

�If I could have shot Titanic in 3D I would have,� declared Cameron. �Any spectacle would benefit from it.�

Pace, who supplies 3D camera systems and post production, noted that there�s a knee-jerk reaction that only big players in Hollywood will attempt 3D movie-making.

�The proof of concept and visionary aspect happened eight years ago with the documentary on the Titanic,� he said, �Not big budget films but people committed to changing entertainment. There�s nothing in the entertainment palette that can�t be considered in 3D, whether it�s nature, documentaries, sports�it�s been proofed out and we�ve seen successes across the board.�

Camera systems are now mature, said Cameron and Pace. Cameron mentioned that the first day of shooting Avatar, Hannah Montana was also shooting, on a different continent. �The question came up, were there enough cameras and crews?� he says. �We put a stake in the heart of that argument. Anyone contemplating a feature shouldn�t be concerned about availability of cameras or crews. They�re all operational at this point.� With regard to how creativity is impacted by working stereoscopically, Cameron emphasized that �you have to make a good movie first.� Stereo is tertiary, he says, behind story, cast, design.

James Cameron Talks Content Driven 3D
and Avatar Trailer Details
by Alex Billington | Excerpt:

December 2008 - Alex Billington: Earlier today I caught James Cameron's keynote presentation at the 3D Entertainment Summit in hopes of potentially catching a first look at some actual footage from Avatar.

Unfortunately we weren't treated to any footage, but as always, Cameron dished up some fascinating discussion, including panning some major industry decisions.

Anyone who reads this site already knows my opinion on 3D, but I'll continue to say that it is Cameron who I believe will finally show us what 3D is truly capable of.

Unlike Jeffrey Katzenberg's more broad beliefs in the future financial benefits of 3D, Cameron believes that we will eventually get to the point where 3D is used like sound or color - just another standard filmmaking technique. The reason I believe that Cameron is such a brilliant mind and the true leader of the 3D revolution is because of his approach to it. He explained that he went into Avatar with the goal of making a big blockbuster movie in 3D and hoped that there would be enough theaters to show it in. Since it took so long to make, that isn't a concern anymore, Cameron joked.

Is James Cameron's Avatar the Next Frontier in Filmmaking?
The man behind Titanic is back to what he does best: ground-breaking effects and epic science fiction.
By Sacha Howells | Source:

[Link no longer available]

December 2008 - James Cameron has spent the last few years working on underwater documentaries, but his last feature broke records that still stand, the blockbuster to end blockbusters: Titanic.

Now, Cameron is heading back to the multiplex with a new sci-fi adventure that, he hopes, might change the way movies are made. Science fiction is hardly a stretch for Cameron. Before making the most expensive Hallmark card of all time, he made movies like The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and The Abyss that defined the cutting edge of effects technology in their day. And now he's ready to try again.

The Terminator revolutionized robotics; T2 introduced the first CG main character, and broke ground in motion capture; even Titanic's effects were pioneering (remember all those CG bodies falling into the water?). This time the innovation is using a mix of live characters and environments and computer-generated characters and environments, all of them using digital 3D stereo.

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