James Cameron Talks Avatar Re-Release, Sequels, and the Future of 3D

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James Cameron is about to make another little boatload of cash when Avatar sees its theatrical re-release on August 27th, now featuring over 8 minutes of additional material added to the film.  Cameron recently opened up to MTV and Market Saw about what exactly will be in those 9 additional minutes, what he's got up his sleeve for the sequels, and even a little postulation about the future of 3D cinema technology.

James Cameron directs in camoflauge pants

First off, in a phone conversation with Market Saw, Cameron revealed:

"The AVATAR re-release will have 9 extra minutes, not 8 and it will all be CG. No extra footage of live action characters drinking coffee. Rainforest; some at night; a hunt sequence - a lot of flying; high impact action; an emotional scene toward the end has been added back; "the best CG in the film has been added as far as facial performance"; A Na'vi counterattack after the bulldozer attack; more of Grace at the school; adding the Stingbat and Sturmbeast creatures; additional Quaritch final AMP Suit battle shots; more of the glade love scene. It is all on par with the best of the rest of the film. They had lots of footage to choose from and they put back the absolute best scenes and shots they could."

And then, to MTV, he spoke a little about the sequel:

"'Avatar 2'... we're still working on deals. We don't start the movie until we get the deals worked out," he said. "I'm making notes. I'm not sitting idle," Cameron said. "But really, what I'm working on primarily is the novel."

"I never had a chance to get the novel done while we were making the movie, and I always intended to. I didn't want to do a cheesy novelization, where some hack comes in and kind of makes s--t up. I wanted to do something that was a legitimate novel that was inside the characters' heads and didn't have the wrong culture stuff, the wrong language stuff, all that."

Along the course of both articles, the subject of filming two Avatar sequels back-to-back came up, and Cameron noted that it would be easier to shoot Avatar 2 and 3 than, say Lord of the Rings, due to the lesser crew commitment needed because most of the action would take place in a completely computer-generated environment.

“That is something that makes a lot of sense, given the nature of these productions, because we can bank all the [motion] capture and then go back and do cameras over a period of time… The way these back-to-back productions fall apart is that you’re trying to do two live-action films back to back, and you’re working on it for a year and a half, shooting.  Everyone is dead.  It’s not humanly possible.  This type of film, it absolutely would work.”

That conversation invariably ended up probing his thoughts on 3D technology, where he re-iterated his views on the state of stereoscopic cinematography:

The whole argument about conversion will go away for high end, first run 3D. Two years from now when there are thousands of 3D cameras out their shooting live feeds to 3D broadcast networks,how can a producer go to a studio and say: "I can't shoot 3D. It's too difficult. There are too many problems. It costs too much. It adds 6 months to post-production. They won't be able to say any of that stuff. That stuff is all garbage."

Cameron talks about 3D conversions. TITANIC's conversion is taking 8 months to a year to complete, not a fast turnaround like CLASH OF THE TITANS. Cameron: "(TITANS) showed a fundamental lack of knowledge about stereo space, in addition to the shoddy work that comes from rushing." Cameron likes TITANS in 2D as do I (I have had the Blu-ray since it was released) from a directorial standpoint and as a fan of Sam Worthington.

Cameron on how they are technically converting TITANIC. "You just can't cut out edges, you're going to get flat people moving around." He will be using all his knowledge to put things on their right depth planes. They had tests for TITANIC from seven different conversion vendors on the exact same shots and they got back seven different answers as to were they thought things were spatially. "Some of them were not bad guesses and some of them were ridiculous."

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