Avatar: The Game Changer
With its revolutionary virtual production techniques, Avatar has broken the wall between director and viewer, allowing us to experience a whole new visceral and immersive kind of stereoscopic cinema. According to James Cameron and his colleagues, Avatar is thus a game changer for the way VFX movies are made and watched, discussed and written about. No wonder Steven Spielberg proclaimed it "emotional spectacle."
And with an opening weekend of $77 million domestically and $241.5 million globally, Avatar is wowing viewers, too, getting the largest 3-D boost ever, including an IMAX record of $9.5 million, or about 13% of the total domestic gross: "It looks like we made a good bet," boasts Greg Foster, chairman and president of IMAX Filmed Ent., who has ridden this IMAX 3-D wave since The Polar Express. "We worked really closely with [Cameron] on this one. He's basically been over here or someone from Lightstorm every day for the last six months. The aspect ratio, the color grading, the audio, obviously the DMR, they've all had the IMAX DNA in it. And he's made three different versions of the film: the 2-D version, the Digital 3-D version and the IMAX 3-D version. The content is the same but each has its own nuance. He's such a perfectionist and what he's done is to customize everything to take advantage of the specific venues, so for us, what he's really been making sure is that every seat in the auditorium is a sweet spot."
Thus, thanks to the virtual cinematography workflow created by Rob Legato, allowing Cameron to observe directly on an LCD monitor how the actors' CG characters (or avatars) interact with the CG Pandora in realtime and direct scenes as though he were shooting live action, digital and live action moviemaking have become one. In other words, everything you've heard or read about the new digital paradigm or 5D has now become a reality. Which also means that pre and post are obsolete, compositing will have to be redefined and so might previs.