CINEMATIC VERSUS THEATRICAL 7
Avataris one of the highest grossing American epic movies. David Cameronco-edited, wrote directed, and co-produced the film. Some of the maincharacters the movie starred include Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington,Giovanni Ribisi, Joel David Moore, Sigourney Weaver, and MichelleRodriguez. Avatar was released in 2009, and its setting is based onmid-twenty-second century. One of the reasons that made the moviepopular was its creative integration of cinematic and theatricseffects. Cameron is among the celebrated producers with the abilityfor combining cinematic and theatric effects to produce awell-accomplished video. The objective of the following essay isevaluating the cinematic and theatrical effects that have helped inenhancing the quality of Avatar movie (Wilhelm & Mathison, 2009).
Accordingto James Cameron, he had been waiting for appropriate technologyrequired for filming the Avatar movie for more than two decades. Mostof the technological innovations that were integrated in the filmwere specifically designed for using in the film. For example, heused the computer-generated imagery (CGI) in several movie scenes toenhance performance capture. Although Cameron had previous appliedthe CGI technology in earlier movies such as the “Terminator 2:Judgment Day”, AVATAR was unique because as he improved thetechnology with a strategy he called “image-based performancecapture” (performance culture in short). Cameron designed specialhelmets, for the actors, containing cameras that helped in collectingexhaustive facial movements of each character. The director theninterwove the actors’ head movements with that of the CGIcharacters. The main achievement of the performance culture as acinematic feature was giving the characters high realism that noother film had ever attained in the past (Wilhelm & Mathison,2009).
JamesCameron and Vince Pace also used the “Fusion Camera System”,which was the most elaborate camera system ever invented. The devicewas manufactured by the Sony Company, hence the name “Sony Fusion3D Camera System”. It features a couple of “Sony HDC-F950 HD”cameras that are used side-by-side to generate stereoscopic 3Dfigures. Cameron had used the camera when shooting previous moviessuch as the “Ghosts of the Abyss” and “Aliens of the Deep”however, he slightly improved the functioning of the camera whenshooting AVATAR for creating pragmatic 3D images that flawlesslyintegrated CGI and live action (Wilhelm & Mathison, 2009).
TheVirtual Camera and Simul-Cam technologies enabled Cameron in mergingthe CGI with live-action sections of the AVATAR. The technologies areamong the latest motion capture technologies that helped the movie torank among the blockbusters films. This implies that the directorcould take a long shot required for viewing both the CGI charactersand their surroundings via the eyepieces of the Fusion Camera Systemduring live-action filming. Since he director could monitor theprogress of the filming just like in “regular” live actionfilming, Cameron could manipulate the interaction between the realactors and the CGI characters.
AVATARalso incorporated variety visual effects strategies duringproduction. Cameron used computer-generated, but photo-realisticcharacters designed using innovative motion-capture motion captureskills that he had developed between 2005 and 2006. The technologyfacilitated lighting capability for big land surroundings such as thePandora’s jungle. The new cinematic technology applied in AVATARallowed the director to deliver a “volume” or motion-capturestage that was six times bigger than the largest motion sizesexisting then. In turn, AVATAR featured special extreme long shot.The new technology helped the digital artists in taking the image ofa big land section, and then moving then focusing on the exactposition of the actor (Wilhelm & Mathison, 2009).
Inaddition, AVATAR featured improved visual effects that facilitatedcomplete performance culture. The characters wore unique skullcapscontaining tiny cameras located in front of the actors’ foreheadfor detecting the facial expression of the individuals. The facialexpression, eye, and other body movements are then transmitted to thedigital characters of respective actors through a computer. Theresult of the successive transfer of physical movement and facialexpression of real actors to the digital animations made the movieappear realistic (Wilhelm & Mathison, 2009). On the same note,the digital artists could take several angles of every actor’sperformance because the data transmitted to the computer had manyreference cameras.
Theframing of characters in AVATAR also attracted several positivecomments. The director integrated various framing techniques such asa long shot, close-up, and medium shot. The reason for combining theframing techniques was the fact that each of them had unique meaningthat the director was intending to communicate. For example, theeditor used ‘close-up’ framing in situations that necessitatedthe viewer to see his or her facial expression. For example, Jake andNeytiri’s avatar feature close-up framing as the director wantsviewers to gather personal information from the facial expression ofthe characters. The cinematic feature enabled the digital artists toportray Neytiri and Jake’s intimacy feelings towards each othereasily.
The"Hallelujah Mountains" where the digital filming of AVATARtakes place were inspired by various mountains in the world. However,the designers attributed their biggest motivation to the China’skarst limestone features. Using a variety of camera angles, as wellas the extreme long shot filming, the production designer managed tobring a panoramic outlook of the supposedly floating rocks from adistance that appears to be as far as half a mile away. In addition,the advanced cameras feature auxiliary light that the digitaldirectors can automatically adjust for softening shadows, as well ascreating the preferred lighting mode in a given scene.
JamesHorner’s music and soundtrack complemented theatrical realism ofthe movie. He invented a small chorus and music culture for theNa’vi. In an interview, Horner admitted that AVATAR was the mostchallenging and longest task that he has ever undertaken.Fortunately, the effort of the soundtrack achieved a layered effectthat enhanced visual energy and depth, as well as the ultimateimpression of the story. The film received loads of positive reviewsthat the soundtrack efficiently multiplied the movie theme (Wilhelm &Mathison, 2009). The director integrated a variety of sounds in themovie for complementing various themes such as intimacy and anger.
Theunique blue lighting and appearance of the Na’vi gives them analien appearance. The characters are bigger and distantly appear toresemble humans. Cameron claimed that the characters and lighting heused in the movie were inspired by her mother’s dream. She narrateda dream to Cameron that she had seen a blue girl of about twelvemeters. He then capitalized on the knowledge to design digital aliensthat appeared realistic. In addition, he claimed that he wrote themanual for the film over two decades, but he just kept themanuscript, as no technology could support creating a realistic moviethat he had in mind. The movie contains different lighting modes,thanks to the advanced cameras that Cameron designed for the project.Just like other epic adventure movies, the director used low-keylighting composed of many shadows with intelligent contrasts rangingfrom light and dark episodes. The varying lighting conditionssuccessfully enhance thriller suspense and mystery at variousinstances. In addition, the director also integrated front-, side,and high-key for augmenting the time (day or night) or creepylocations such as dark alleys (Wilhelm & Mathison, 2009).
Theflying dragons serve as a unique prop that reflects the differencebetween the earth and Pandora. The director successfully integratedthe theme of love between Jake and Neytiri as a way of increasing therealism of the movie. The relationship is a prop for extending therealistic association of the Na’vi community with the humans.Besides, viewers can visualize the Na’vi as real persons since theyhave a unique language, a form of government, culture, andrelationship ties (Wilhelm & Mathison, 2009).
AVATARranked among the highest grossing films because since it containedseveral features that viewers liked. For example, the characters werecarefully chosen and paired. Jake and Neytiri’s chemistryeffectively suited each other. Cameron compared star-crossed lovetheme between the couple to that of Jack and Rose he used in theTitanic film. This is because the couple came from strictly differentsocieties that disapproved the relationship between the couple. Thecouple had to fight to fight against several obstacles in order tosustain their relationship. The intricate love story aimed at raisingthe regular challenges ordinary human couples face when nurturinglove (Wilhelm & Mathison, 2009). In general, the reviewerscomplemented the movie since it most of the characters language,facial expression, body movement, and language appeared realistic.
Wilhelm,M., & Mathison, D. (2009). JamesCameron`s Avatar: The movie scrapbook.New York: HarperFestival.