James Cameron's upcoming feature Avatar exists not merely to bring a motion-captured Michelle Rodriguez to a wider audience than ever before, but—if we are to believe what he tells us—to singlehandedly revolutionize the way we make, see, and even perceive of the movies. THR braved an interview with the director, who's too busy playing with his new toys to worry about losing his top-grossing-movie title to some gravel-voiced bat-creep. (Besides—by the time Avatar rolls around, the sweeping social revolution that accompanies it will render old notions of currency and spending completely obsolete. We'll be ranking the weekend box office in levels of Braincell Conversion Osmosis, or some other inconceivable economic unit of measurement.) But we digress; let's let Cameron describe some of the really-complicated-sounding rabbits he's got stuffed in his wizard hat:
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.
"The way we developed the performance capture workflow on 'Avatar" is we have our virtual camera, which allows me to, in real time, hold a camera — it's really a monitor — in my hands and point it at the actors and see them as their CG chartacters," Cameron said.
The actors wear leotards and a "head rig" with a tiny standard-definition camera that takes an image of an actor's face. "That is going though facial algorithms and going back into the camera as a real-time CG face of the character," the helmer said. "You see it talk; you see the eyes move. It is pretty phenomenal.
"It's this amazing ability to quickly conjure scenes and images and great fantasyscapes that is very visual. We call it 'director centric' because I can use the camera to block the actors," Cameron related."
While it's hard to really picture what these advancements mean for us—the People Who Want to See Shit Explode In Space—without getting a look at some actual footage, we hear what he's captured so far is pretty mind-boggling. (Then again, this is a James Cameron film, and we have yet to hear of any real-time, in-camera dialogue-improvement technologies coming down the pipeline.) We'll just assume we'll see Cameron at the 60% CG/40% live action 2009 Oscars, proudly accepting his trophy as a crowd of virtuastars from the past 80 years, both deceased and living, cheer on his extraordinary achievement.