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Sunday, February 28, 2010
James Cameron Avatar Oscar Nomination
Image: Mark Fellman / © 2010 20th Century Fox

James Cameron's "Avatar" Brings Special Effects To Life

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - James Cameron took a big risk when he undertook to produce and direct the motion picture "Avatar", which had a rumoured total budget of about $300 million. "Avatar" had its London premiere on December 10, 2009 and was released to the United States on December 18, 2009. For Cameron and the other extremely dedicated professionals behind the film, the hard work of bringing advanced visual effects to movie-going audiences has paid off, and the film has already secured a gross worldwide revenue of over $2.5 billion.

For his directing work on "Avatar", James Cameron has been nominated for a 2010 Academy Award in the Oscar category of 'Achievement in Directing', and his film "Avatar has also been nominated for 2010 Academy Awards for Best Picture, Art Direction, Cinematography, Film Editing, Music (Original Score), Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects.

Cameron started working on the concepts for the film "Avatar" in 1994, and he originally planned to start filming the movie soon after his blockbuster film "Titanic". But in 1997, much of the movie special effects that he needed to incorporate into the film were technically non-existent, and one of the most important of these was depicting accurate human facial characteristics in 3-D animated beings. James Cameron devised the plot for  "Avatar" such that the human beings would generate their own self-depicting Na'vi characters to communicate with Pandora's native moon population.

"Avatar" relies extensively on computer generated imagery, or CGI, and Cameron's team actually created a new highly advanced stereoscopic 3-D camera to capture left and right film sequence images, much like the human eye does. This meant that there was twice the editing work per frame on "Avatar", and a special 3-D software called 'Ocula' was needed to ensure that the two images blended together well to create a balanced effect for the human eye and its visual perspective. "Avatar" needed a massive supercomputing server farm to be constucted in New Zealand to process all the digital imagery, and the production used advanced copyright protection encryption techniques. 

The lead company on the visual effects for "Avatar" was Weta Digital of Wellington, New Zealand and they were backed-up by the visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic of San Francisco, California, who are famous for their advanced work on the "Star Wars" motion pictures. Weta and ILM worked together with Cameron's company, Lightstorm Entertainment, on the animation sequences and they had to keep up-to-date on "Avatar"'s detailed scene templates provided to the two companies by Cameron. Weta Digital would often take the lead on one scene with ILM in a supporting role, and then it would be visa versa for another film sequence for the two companies.

For James Cameron, if he is successful in winning this year's Academy Award as Best Director, it will be because his Academy peers were so impressed with the filmaking advances that he brought to the motion picture industry, and with his incredible ability to turn the vision of "Avatar" into a reality.  
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