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Monday, November 30, 2009

MTV Scores AVATAR Trifecta...

Jim here. MTV has got a special AVATAR Q&A coming up with James Cameron, Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana! It is entitled: "AVATAR Live: An MTV News/Facebook Forum".

Look for it on Thursday, December 3 (yes we are into December now!) at 3PM Eastern. It will be streamed live online (it is not clear if it will be on MTV as well) and will be 30 minutes in duration.

Exclusive AVATAR footage will be shown and you can send in your real time questions via Facebook or MTV.com.

Thanks A@ronW for the heads up!

Oh and Screenrant has the goods on a 30 minute TV special on MTV
- it is an AVATAR featurette showing off even more unseen footage! It is set to air (Dec 16) only two days before the movie opens (Dec 18). Again, you can have your questions answered by various cast and crew! Submit them through AVATAR's official Facebook page.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

First Look: SHREK FOREVER AFTER

Jim here. Got you a first look at SHREK FOREVER AFTER courtesy of USA Today. Not only that, but we also get a storyline too, and yes - it does seem like this will be the final chapter in the SHREK franchise (believe it, or not).

Rumpelstiltskin is pictured on the right.

From USA Today: "All that was loved about Shrek in the first film is brought to the final film," promises Bill Damaschke, head of creative production at DreamWorks. Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz are back as the voices of Shrek, sidekick Donkey and ogress wife Fiona.

The premise is the Brothers Grimm meet It's a Wonderful Life
: After rescuing a princess, getting hitched and fathering triplets, Shrek is feeling over-domesticated. "He has lost his roar," says director Mike Mitchell (Sky High, Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo). "It used to send villagers running away in terror. Now they run to him and ask him to sign their pitchforks and torches." To regain his ogre mojo, he strikes a deal with Rumpelstiltskin, the wee troublemaker who popped up briefly in Shrek 2 and 3.

Of course, the pact goes awry and Shrek must confront what life would be like in Far Far Away if he had never existed. That translates into Donkey being forced into cart-pulling duty, fat and lazy Puss in Boots trading his sword for a pink bow and the underhanded Rumpelstiltskin ruling the kingdom.No Shrek outing would be complete without new characters, and there are a bunch. Comedians Kathy Griffinand Kristin Schaal (Flight of the Conchords) are witches who hunt ogres. On the side of good is an underground resistance group led by Jon Hamm of Mad Men. "He is the best-looking ogre you've ever seen," Mitchell says.

Oh and Paul McCartney is NOT the voice of Rumpelstiltskin as some other sites (IMDB) have led us to believe. Walt Dohrn lends his voice for the role (the film's head of story).


...You know, I can't see this one being the last if it makes boat loads of money (and you know it will). Something tells me that you will see more SHREK in 3D after this :-)


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Avatar Catch-Up: "Ikran" Scene, Na'vi Design Featurette & Game Developer Diary 4!

Michael here with some cool Avatar stuff that has popped up over the last day or so. As we approach December 18 expect the floodgates to open even wider as we get our first reviews of the film, the cast and crew make the talk show rounds, and things just get generally insane.

1. Ikran full scene. The banshees look absolutely phenomenal. Whenever I see them move I feel my brain is accepting them as real, pteradactyl-like creatures. And I love the face Ney'tiri makes when she says "when you are ready." It's just perfect.

2. A very interesting look at Stan Winston Studios' work on designing the Na'vi:



3. Watch Game Developer Diary 4, "Blockbuster Action" below. Avatar The Game comes out this Tuesday!

I can't wait to play the game in just a few more days!

New James Horner Interview

Jim here. Check out a new interview with James Horner over at Film Music Magazine:

All of these melodic feelings, and many more from dozens of memorable Horner scores can be felt amidst the jungles of Pandora, the latest, and one of the most impressive epic worlds that Horner’s music has allowed us to visit. It’s a world that further evolves for “Avatar,” Horner’s third teaming with writer-director James Cameron, who first let Horner feel the militaristic terror of being swarmed by “Aliens” before segueing to the epic romance and tragedy of “Titanic.” This winner for Best Picture and Director also brought Horner his first Oscar for Best Score. And it’s likely Academy voters will also take notice of this majestic visual, and musical leap into a score that conveys an alien world, and culture like few soundtracks before it. For Pandora’s jungle is filled with haunted electronics, the songs of its Na’Vi inhabitants, the tender, and the tender, transcendent emotions of a human visiting its world in their form. Yet Pandora’s dense sonic terrain will also be invaded by the dark strings and military fury of the terrans who covet its riches- something the Na’Vi won’t give up easily with exhilarating “War” music that will thrill audiences, and Horner’s vocal fans in particular.

One of favourite movie score composers.
What I am most curious about is how he brings in the Na'vi language!

Friday, November 27, 2009

*HALF* Of All Sony TVs TO Be S3D By Spring 2013!!

Jim here. If you have been reading MarketSaw for awhile, then you know that Sony is taking a very aggressive stance in the pursuit of S3D technology and impact on their business.

Sony is making S3D critical to their future.

Hiroshi Yoshioka, Executive Deputy President of Sony said that 30 to 50% of all Sony televisions will be 3D by the end of their 2013 fiscal year (March 31, 2013). Speaking earlier this week, he also said that 3D content would be obviously very important to achieve these goals.

Sony is all over the map introducing and planning S3D across their entire range of products and divisions, including filmmaking. Can't wait to try out some of their cutting edge products! Thanks for the heads up Matt! :-)


Sam Worthington Has Signed On For Two More AVATAR Sequels

Jim here. Well we knew it was in the works, but it appears that Sam Worthington has committed himself to two more AVATAR sequels!

Worthington told Total Film: "You work 18-hour days. I was on it for 14 months. Jim's (Cameron) still editing. We'll still be filming it up to the day it's released -- probably after the movie comes out, knowing Jim! That commitment is what makes him the man he is. It's life or death. It's war. That's how he approaches movies... "We're signed for a trilogy. But I think I'll be 94 by the time it finishes, to be honest. I know Jim's got some ideas in his big head."

Great to hear something more substantial about this! Where does this place BATTLE ANGEL and THE DIVE in the directing queue for Cameron? Anybody's guess. Obviously box office will play a huge role too. Guess Jake lives through all Pandora throws at him eh? :-)

Note that he said "WE'VE signed for a trilogy". Does that mean the core group of AVATAR talent, or merely his personal team? Hmmm... More where we get it!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

BSkyB Orders A Dedicated S3D Broadcast Truck From Telegenic

Jim here. In the first of many such deals for the broadcast industry (this one is in the UK), BSkyB has ordered a truck specifically designed for stereoscopic 3D from Telegenic.

Further, the S3D camera rigs are potentially being bought from 3ality Digital of Burbank, CA.

From Broadcastnow.co.uk: The 3D part of the truck build will centre on providing gallery space for stereographers and the addition of tools for handling and synchronising two full-resolution signals at the same time.

“We will use one stereographer per camera system,” explained Lenz. “These operators set the 3D convergence point using a specially set up screen and control 3ality’s Stereo Image Processor system that drives the 3D cameras. The director cuts the cameras watching on a 3D screen”.

Lenz said that as 90% of the truck will feature regular HD capable components, it will cost only “marginally more” to build than a standard HD truck. Included will be a Calec audio desk, two Sony SRW-5800 VTRs, up to four EVS replay servers and a graphics system from Vizrt.

The 3ality 3D camera rigs are being trialled this week at the ATP World Tour Finals tennis event at the O2 Arena in London.

Awesome! Capital investment in broadcast S3D is starting folks :-)


TRON Video Game Sneak Peak!

Jim here. Got a sneak peak at the new TRON video game that has now been confirmed to be in existence and will be unveiled on Spike's award show, Saturday December 12.

There are a lot of unknowns here. Will it be in S3D like AVATAR? Obviously there is a good chance the PC version will be playable with NVIDIA's 3D Vision, but it remains to be seen what will happen with the console games.

The game seems to mimic what we have seen visually from the upcoming stereoscopic 3D movie from Disney, TRON: LEGACY (trailer here) so I am very interested in seeing what will happen on Dec 12. In the meantime, have a look at the short video game teaser:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Avatar "Making a Scene" Video: How to Fly a Banshee

Michael here. This episode of Behind The Scenes from the Fox Movie Channel showcases James Cameron's favorite scene in Avatar: Jake and Neytiri's first banshee flight together. It is tremendously fascinating to watch the level of complexity that goes into such a thing as banshee flying.

You get some great looks at the capture volume, the head-mounted rigs, and Cameron using the virtual camera and piloting a toylike model banshee. It's a must-see video:



I thought I had seen enough featurettes, but this one is essential viewing for any fan of Avatar and the tech that went into creating a new planet.

It's amazing to think how close we are to December 18. It's beginning to feel kind of surreal, actually.

Avatar Podcast #2!

Michael here. Jim, Maurice from Fanboy Confidential, and I had another great discussion of all things Avatar, including our thoughts on the trailers, the 3D aspect, the game, the marketing and whether it hits all four quadrants, and much more.

Listen to the podcast below:



Direct download link

Check out our previous Avatar-themed podcast here.

Rule Number 1: Always Shoot Zombie Films In 3D!!

Jim here. I am not alone in loving ZOMBIELAND this year right guys? It was so refreshing to see some comedic originality involved with the George Romero influenced undead genre. So what's up with ZOMBIELAND 2? There has got to be a sequel in the works right?

Right.
In 3D. Ruben Fleischer (director) spoke with Moviehole and confirmed that Sony (which has been going 3D gangbusters lately) has indeed expressed undying interest in reuniting Woody Harrelson (PERFECT casting), Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg (meh - he was okkkk...) and Abigail Breslin for the franchise.

From Moviehole:
Believing “the genre really lends itself to [3-D]”, and convinced - via what we’re hearing and seeing of AVATAR – the technology is now there, Fleischer’s very keen to throw a few zombie gizzards in our direction. "Dead" cool, right!? (As for where the sequel will be set, Fleischer didn’t say, but when we chatted to Woody Harrelson a few weeks back he said he’d like to see it either set in Paris… or on Broadway. Assuming it’ll be none of those locations– but somewhere just as surprising).

When I was watching ZOMBIELAND I was certain that this should have been made in S3D!
Nice to see they are thinking the same way now. They have got to get another great cameo in there like they did with Bill Murray. If you haven't seen it by now - sorry, but the cat is out of the bag on that one some time ago :-) Perhaps they could land someone like Sean Connery - he would make a heckuva zombie.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Avatar is Officially PG-13!

Michael here. According to the MPAA's site, Avatar has been rated PG-13 "for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking."

The PG-13 is no surprise given Cameron's previous statements that he was gunning for that rating. But the rating reason is interesting, and makes it seem like Cameron has really pushed the PG-13 as hard as it will go in multiple categories.

Smoking? I wonder who lights up in the film? I'd bet on Selfridge.

Listen to Clips of James Horner's "Avatar" Score!

Michael here. On first listen I am loving this music. It sounds very big: orchestral and bombastic with a cool electronic and tribal twist. And I love the way he layers the vocals into the tracks.

To me it seems like it will be as memorable as anything Horner has done. Music is so important to Cameron's movies, and with the years Horner has been working on this I am sure I will listen to it on repeat just like Braveheart, Aliens, Titanic, etc.

Listen to the one-minute samples from the Avatar OST below:

http://soundcloud.com/user2753116/sets/avatar_ost_samples

Thoughts? Which track is your favorite so far? Chime in below!

SAMARAI JACK Will Be Slicing Through 3D Screens! J.J. Abrams Producing!!

Jim here. Screenrant has a nice writeup about SAMARAI JACK headed to the big screen. The Emmy award winning animation from the Cartoon Network (2001 - 2004) will be brought to cinema by co-producer J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot Productions with a reported budget of $20 million.

The movie will combine 2D animation with S3D - so flat characters in a 3D world. Interesting. Zemeckis wants to pull off something similar with the animation portions of ROGER RABBIT 2 - only RR2 will have live action elements too of course.

Visually the early 2000's cartoon was very well done
. And the premise is good too: Jack was a noble warrior who is cast into the future by the evil Aku, “the shape-shifting Master of Darkness.” Each episode involved Jack’s attempts to return to the past to defeat Aku once and for all.

Sounds delicious. Should be great to see what Abrams and co. and come up with! Whenever I read this title though, it reminds me of cheese. Hope it ISN'T cheesy...

Breaking AVATAR News!

Jim here. Got a lot of AVATAR updates here (some are time sensitive) so let's get to it!

1. At NOON today, Fox will release a fully interactive AVATAR trailer utilizing Adobe Air technology. Techland got the goods on this one - the trailer will be available on AVATARMOVIE.COM. It will contain profiles on Jake and Neytiri and also designs for the Samson, Banshee, Scorpion, Thanator and AMP Suit. The following clip is from that new trailer technology (thanks Jsayson15!):



2. A matte painter who works for Weta in Wellington just confirmed that they have finished the final remaining shots: Of course you heard it here first :-) They did indeed hoist a drink to celebrate - champagne (thanks Shletten!).

3. The new higher resolution thanator chase scene with James Horner's music courtesy of IGN:



4. And lastly, as some of the work for AVATAR is winding down to a halt we have a personal rebuttal to some of the old negative words that have been said about this epic project. This is straight from a creative employee on the AVATAR team and from the heart:

Dear CHUD.com:
Are your feelings towards AVATAR really your own? Or, are they biased in any way? It really is a shame that you find the need to insult us time after time, rather than wait to see if the insults you throw at us hold any justification. Every aspect of this movie has been poured over by the most talented people in the business. Why? "Hopefully" for your eventual enjoyment. So I am writing to you directly in the hope of reaching that part of you that can understand where I am coming from. If you had put in the hours, days, months and years in on a project that you knew was groundbreaking, and would change the way future movie makers would be able to get projects from mind to page to screen, not to mention have created what I consider to be a genuine classic in the process. Would you not feel that little bit justified in defending your work?


So please consider the many thousands of people that have all come together to create this for your festive enjoyment. I think rather than criticism, your articles "Devin`s in particular" are more geared towards insulting a lot of talented people, and do not from what I gather contain any valid arguments. At least not until you have seen it. So why not just wait and see?


We await proving you entirely wrong in your... ahem "criticism"
.

Yes the hype has been huge, but in that very rare case, this time it is justified. By all means don't believe me. "I'm sure you will not" see for yourself. But please try not to insult the people that work for your enjoyment. I guarantee you this is on a scale never seen before. Oh and it delivers on the hype. In spades. I can not wait for the world to witness the revolution. This is James Cameron's masterpiece. I do not say those words lightly, anyone even slightly familiar with Jim's filmography knows that is a bold statement.


It is isnt it.


Best

The Thundersmurf.


Interesting. Over to you Devin?

Monday, November 23, 2009

CNN Cameron Interview + New Footage!

UPDATE: 11/23/09 Michael here with another CNN piece on Avatar:



Michael here. Thanks to jsayson15 for finding this!



Watch it bigger here.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Heads Up: Avatar on "60 Minutes"

UPDATE: Watch the Avatar segment below!



Michael here. Avatar will be featured on 60 Minutes Sunday at 7 pm ET/PT (if you are setting a DVR, be careful, as there are football games in some areas that may run past 7 pm). James Cameron will talk with Morley Safer, there will be some behind-the-scenes video, and we may be shown new footage.

Watch two preview clips below:



And the second:



Expect a ton more media exposure leading up to December 18.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

AVATAR Running Time: 150 Minutes


Jim here. According to THR, AVATAR's running time is set at 150 minutes. Bruce Snyder, President of Domestic Distribution for Fox made the statement with the caveat that credits may push it to 156 minutes.

From THR:
"It is unclear exactly how many theaters AVATAR will open in, but Snyder estimates it will play in 3D in about 2,500 locations on about 3,500 screens. It will also be available in about 1,500 other locations in 2D, where it could play multiple screens in each theater complex. That would indicate an opening on a minimum of 5,500 screens and possibly significantly more, and that's just in the U.S. It will also open in theaters in countries around the world.

Cameron has said that one of the constraints on his decision about running time was the Imax runs. AVATAR will open day-and-date in 3D in about 180 domestic Imax theaters (which is included in the 2,500 locations) and several dozen more internationally. In those theaters that are not yet converted to digital projection, they are limited to two of the giant platters that hold the film, which caps the length of a movie using the system at 170 minutes, which thus became the maximum length that Cameron was willing to let AVATAR run. In fact, he came in well under that with his final edit."

Interesting that Cameron managed to cut down AVATAR to that level.
It must have been heartwrenching to have to choose what made it and what didn't. As my mother says in these situations: "It's a delicious dilemma". Still, I wouldn't mind seeing a slightly shortened AVATAR in IMAX and see a full length RealD screening. In fact, it would be a good way to get double screenings from many people.

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Avatar Feauturette: Through the Eyes of Colonel Quaritch

Michael here. Wow. This featurette on Col. Quaritch packs a wallop. There are some big spoilers though, so be wary if you want every story point to be fresh on opening day.



Stephen Lang has knocked this out of the park. Quaritch seems to be the first breakout character - The trailer shot of him drinking from his mug is already iconic.

Jackass 3-D Comin' At Ya!!

Jim here. Paramount just listed Jackass 3-D as a 2010 production (via Cinematical) and so it seems Johnny Knoxville will ride again - and this time will be making you squirm in three dimensions! :-)

Sounds like a natural fit to me.
Why not? Jackass tends to push visual buttons so S3D should up the ante a bit. Or a LOT. :-)


No release date has been slated yet.


Sony Knows The Future Of Entertainment: Stereoscopic 3D!!

Jim here. First, right off the bat you should know that all Sony Playstation 3 systems are upgradeable to S3D through a firmware update (delivered right over the Internet). That is coming VERY soon. Sony will be offering 3D tools to help developers meet the demand for stereoscopic gaming. If the XBOX 360 cannot challenge the PS3 in 3D, momentum will be switching.

Second - Sony is bringing in S3D for their Blu-ray technology and players (standards are being worked out right now for a potential Fall 2010 release) AND for their HDTVs.

Third - Sony is now suddenly a MAJOR player in theatrical digital 3D projection and plans on installing 3000 4K 3D digital projectors through agreements like this one with RealD.

Fourth - Sony is extremely active in producing stereoscopic 3D movies and will continue to do so. CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS proved a great deal. SPIDER-MAN 4 will be 3D. RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE (shooting as we speak) and UNDERWORLD 4 will be 3D. And so on.

So let's review: 3D Gaming. 3D Home Entertainment. 3D Cinema Projection. 3D Movies. Yep! I would say these guys are serious!

With such a large and influential company like Sony "betting the bank" on 3D with their long and illustrous history behind them, it is very safe to say 3D is becoming part of our world. Intimately. And very soon.


Sony's goal is nothing short of "lead the 3D market"
. I would not bet against them. HD-DVD anyone? Keep it on MarketSaw for breaking news on Sony and other companies making the switch to S3D!!

First Affordable 3D Beam-Splitter Rig For Red One Cameras Introduced

Jim here. If you read MarketSaw you know I love 3D equipment that is made with students in mind and I think this fits the bill for students and professionals alike.

The 3D-BS Pro Rig is priced from $3,895.

Emphasis below is mine:


3D Film Factory has released the first production-ready, cost-effective 3D camera system – the 3D-BS Pro Rig. This 3D beam-splitter rig was specifically designed for use with the Red One cameras, as well as, other larger, broadcast quality cameras. Its durable, precise configuration was developed with the guidance of veteran stereographers and award-winning filmmakers to provide a viable, affordable alternative to high-priced 3D rigs costing ten times as much.

“Up until now, there’s only a few high-end facilities offering 3D rigs for Red One cameras and they’re very expensive”,
said company president Karl Kozak. “So we set out to create a quality 3D Red system most filmmakers could afford. We’re interested in proliferating 3D production by making it accessible. The result was the 3D-BS Pro Rig, a great 3D rig for the Reds, that shoots incredible 3D at a fraction of the cost.”

The company’s new 3D-BS (beam-splitter) Pro Rig allows users to manually adjust both the camera convergence settings (1° to 5°) and the inter-ocular (camera-to-camera) distances from 0” to 6”. It’s constructed of black anodized aluminum that’s virtually indestructible, with a weight of approximately 32 lbs. Its durable frame adjusts to fit almost any pair of large-sized, broadcast quality cameras, including but not limited to; Red One, Sony, Canon, Panasonic, Silicon Imaging and JVC.

At the center of the 3D rig is a piece of optically engineered, impurity-free, 50/50 beam-splitter glass, that’s been optimized for a 45° angle. It’s fully encased in a light-dampening, rugged plastic mirror box, that’s completely detachable and secure. The housing and glass positioning are easily modifiable to accommodate almost any large-size camera model and/or lens. Finally, the entire 3D rig readily attaches to most professional tripod heads with the use of a simple supplied adapter.

The result is an inexpensive, robust 3D rig that makes 3D shooting both simple and precise. When combined with a real-time 3D viewing system, a dual camera sync device and genlock, cinematographers can capture extraordinary 3D images for a fraction of the cost of all other systems.

“It’s really that easy to start shooting 3D images, you just need a few good tools and some training”, said Kozak. “Of course, to achieve superior 3D, you’ll need a stereographer. We use one on all of our 3D productions, because the cinematographer can’t do it all. As a result, we hire out professional stereographers for 3D training and 3D productions worldwide.”

In addition to the Red One camera, the 3D-BS (beam-splitter) Pro Rig is compatible with the following cameras; Sony’s CineAlta HD Cams, F950, F900, F35, HDW650, HDW790, DSR450, DVW970, Panasonics HDX900, HPX2000, HPX500, HPX3000, and the Varicam HDC27H, Ikegami’s HDK-79EXIII, HDK-727P, HDS-V10, HDK-79EC, HDN-X10, Silicon Imaging’s Si-2K, and many others.

Additionally, the 3D Film Factory offers a complete line of 3D rigs, including the 3D-BS (beam-splitter) Indie Rig, intended for smaller, professional grade camcorders, as well as, an assortment of inexpensive 3D-SS (side-by-side) Rigs. These dual cameras systems are less complex, but equally necessary for most 3D production situations.

To learn more about the 3D-BS Pro Rig or the full line of 3D rigs, visit the company’s website @ www.3DFilmFactory.com

About 3D Film Factory
Based in San Diego, California, the 3D Film Factory is both full service 3D production house and a 3D equipment manufacturer. More specifically, the company specializes in the design and marketing of production-ready, affordable 3D camera systems, while lending its expertise in a variety of 3D production, from ‘stereographers for hire’, to hands-on 3D training, to complete 3D productions through post.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quick Post: AVATAR Featurette: Human Hardware!

Jim here. WOW. In my opinion the best featurette yet! **SPOILERS** Take a look at this over at RottenTomatoes (their embed is not working for some reason). Explains many things that have been puzzling some folks out there - Why older weaponry? Why vertical take off aircraft? Etc.

Can you see the Na'vi in the photo linking to the flying creature? :-)

The AMP Suits continue to impress as we learn more about them! Thanks jsayson15 for the heads up!

Exclusive: Weta Is Done With AVATAR As Of TODAY!! Time To Hoist One!

Jim here. Word just out from New Zealand - Weta officially wraps up their AVATAR involvement TODAY!! This from one of my top sources.

Yep. PARTY TIME :-)

I would imagine there will be plenty of hoisted toasts tonight! This does not mean that AVATAR is completely finished (darn close), just Weta's significant contribution is wrapped and signed off. I expect to see AVATAR printed soon. More when we get it of course!

Scans From "AVATAR: An Activist Survival Guide"!!

Jim here. The book is out! What was originally going to be entitled "A Field Guide To Pandora" or something similar is now making it's way to members of the press. (Not MarketSaw btw for whatever reason). It looks like it is officially "AVATAR: An Activist Survival Guide".

Here is what BlackBook had to say and some scans from it - be sure to click over to see the rest of the images!

"...based on the book, which also features a glossary of Na'Vi terminology, James Cameron is indeed nuts. Check out the best of his zoological concoctions after the jump!"

I wouldn't call him nuts... an overachiever perhaps. Or detail oriented. Can't wait to leaf through this book (which I have on order from Amazon)!

I suspect much of this is paraphrased from the forthcoming Pandorapedia...

Thanks Steven for the heads up!









How AVATAR Will Attract The Female Audience...

Jim here. Got a special treat for you from Joanna Loesch who is another fine MarketSaw reader. She offered some great insight into how females might be thinking about AVATAR and it's characters during a comment she made on another MarketSaw reader's post. So naturally I asked her to write something a little more formal on it as a guest blogger. I think you guys will find it very interesting...

So from time to time I think it is a great idea to have some guest bloggers post their opinions on what is happening in the S3D world. If you think you have a rockin' idea, let Michael or I know and we can weigh it.

So here is Joanna's contribution to AVATAR!

AVATAR – SHUFFLING THE CARDS
Couple of days ago Jim wrote to me asking if I had anything I would like to contribute to MarketSaw on the topic of Avatar and what women expect from it. When Jim asks you that, you don’t say no. Besides, seeing how much talent and toil went into making this film I’d do anything to help it get the recognition it deserves.

But when the initial excitement was gone I started wondering how the heck do I go about writing about a film I have yet to see, and all I’ve got right now is just a bunch of hunches and fleeting impressions I carried away from the Avatar Day screening and recent trailers/featurettes? And then how do I describe them to you guys? Writing a text for the male audience about feelings and emotions… what’s the point?

Now I can imagine some of you scowl having read this last sentence. And very rightly so! I hate when someone says that girls don’t get sci-fi (apparently it’s too difficult to comprehend for our little pretty heads) and tries to dumb down sci-fi related text aimed at women. So I’m not going to fall into the same trap. I’ll try to give you a full account of what kind of emotions I expect to find in this film, and I’m convinced you will understand me perfectly well. (Oh, and doing it I’m going to lower all my defenses, be painfully honest, and lay my bare soul in front of you, so please don’t take the p*** out of me… too much ;-) )

Jim Cameron is giving us a set of wonderful, multi-faceted characters, who are to a certain extent embodiments of some primal male and female archetypes. The intelligent, fascinating premise signalizes many interesting ways in which these characters may interact and clash with each other creating friction and stirring powerful, heightened emotions. And we girls are suckers for these!

It’s a bit like character cards in a RP game. Each in itself offers you a great description of a given character but they really come alive when they are put side by side and confronted with each other.

Since Avatar Day there have been several moments when I genuinely thought I had figured it all out and knew where the film was going. Only yesterday when I was plotting down what I was going to write in this text, I was sure I knew how Jim Cameron had arranged and interwoven these “cards” into the thread of the plot. And I felt a little sad that Avatar may fail to surprise me in terms of what story will be told (I never doubted it will surprise me in how it’s told). I thought that it would be great if somehow Cameron “shuffled” these cards. Today I watched the second featurette and was thrilled to see that in fact he did! New aspects of some characters cropped out that I have never expected, and now I know that I know nothing. Grand! :-)

Still I think I’ll stick to my original idea and show you how I see those “cards” and what I think may happen if you put them together. And why this makes me excited for Avatar more than for any other film!


JAKE – “a man with a scar”
This is one of the core archetypes of men we girls find strangely attractive. A decent young man who seemingly accepts his place in life, and yet there is this palpable aura around him of deeply buried sense of hurt and injustice. No, he doesn’t complain, he resigns himself to any hardships that are in his way with dignity and feeling of self-worth, but he carries this heavy load of conflicted emotions inside him. We don’t want to pry into his privacy but we do have the urge to make up for the wrong that affected him, whatever it was; to somehow level it all up. Of course, he is too proud to accept our compassion so we will have to do it in secret, but we feel a strong sense of loyalty to him, and will stand by him no matter what.
This is also a scenario that lets us play with the female archetype of the “perfect nurse”. The reason why so often we want to help is not that we think you need it, but because we want to feel needed. When you are all right you either fulfill your role of a hunter and provider, or you chill out with your buddies. You don’t really need us. The only time you pay attention to us then, is when we manage to impress you with something (see Neytiri below). When you’re not well, however, you let us get closer to you, and that’s what we truly want. Togetherness.
These are the feelings I get anytime I see live-action scenes with Jake. Generally he is such a wonderfully layered character, because, in fact there are many “versions of him” – he as himself, his avatar, the different stages he is bound to go through in the course of the film, the “coming of age” element I sense floating somewhere, the issue of his twin brother’s DNA and how it can possibly come into play at some point, the contradictory elements in his character – all of these make him really compelling.

COL. QUARITCH – “taming the beast” / “in cage with a tiger”
We like powerful men. And we love to be slightly scared by them. This is this thrilling realization that he can snap me in half with his two fingers anytime it pleases him, and he will stare at me - indifferent, unflappable - as he does it. It makes me feel so frail and, well… feminine. This is this thrill of riding an unbroken horse or climbing a rock. The feeling that if I don’t do it right I AM going to fall; if I’m not careful around this man or make one wrong move, I’ll have him at my throat. This is also why sometimes we are such pain in the ass around you. We love watching you get all worked up, waiting for you to explode. We love your rough side and want you to show it from time to time ;-)
And this is the same kind of appeal that I think Col. Quaritch shares with the Joker – this powerful, unstoppable force that gives us creeps and yet, for some unexplained reason, fascinates us so much. I couldn’t get the Joker out of my head for quite a long time; many women chose to dress as Harley Quinn for Halloween for the same reason. Quaritch has the same potential. He also is someone who carries this dark secret inside him, something that made him the man he is, and something that we will probably never get to learn or fully understand. “A beast with a scar” - a variation on the above archetype. I don’t know if I’ll feel sorry for him, but I’m definitely going to be fascinated by his character.

JAKE / QUARITCH –“building tension till it snaps” – the art of foreshadowing
Chronic anxiety stirring quietly in the background. Always present. Ever since I saw this “Haven’t you got lost in the woods?” picture of Jake and Quaritch, it has become evident that these two will be pulled gravitationally to each other and will collide eventually. Bad news for Jake, a fly-against-windscreen scenario, he’ll get it real hard. Here he sits in this room like a kid kept after classes, tries to avoid eye contact with Quaritch, tries not to provoke him. But he will get it. It’s not the question if, but just when and how bad. This feeling of anticipation of the inevitable sometimes surfaces rapidly – I look at the HABMOD 2 plan over at avtr.com and can’t help noticing that there is a detention facility in the basement. The realization sets in, “Poor Jake!” flashes in my mind, and it sends a sudden chill down my guts. Same every time I see this cut on his cheekbone. It quickens my heartbeat, shallows my breath, the muscles of my stomach tense, and I brace myself on his behalf. Negative as it may be, it is still a strong emotion, and as a girl I respond to it. The aspect of the imminent conflict between those two pulls me into the story in a powerful way.

TRUDY - “one of the guys”
Couple of years ago there was a period in my life when I was very much into sailing. I would spend approximately two months a year sailing and repairing boats. The North Sea in October on a boat that was slowly sinking, had an engine that needed to be hot-wired and completely flat batteries. Repairing a yacht 16 - 18 hours a day, in a small marina in Northern Italy, in early spring. New Year’s Eve on the Adriatic Sea in freezing rain. Mostly with all-male crews. It was so much fun!
I was “one of the guys”, had my fair share of toil, night watch, and ridicule and scolding if we screwed something up. But it just felt so right! I really appreciated that the guys treated me as their equal, and even more so that they accepted me as their “mate”. We spent nights talking about things you don’t normally share with women. I miss it. I hope to get some of this feeling back with Trudy. She seems such an unpretentious funny character! I have already warmed up to her. I hope there will be a lot of her interaction with Norm and Jake.

GRACE – “Didn’t I tell you?” – the art of bickering
I love Grace to bits! :-) This is an archetype of a caring, warm woman who needs to be tough and pretend to be a b*tch to keep discipline. So often had to fill in this role myself with my boys from the crew. After a night we were celebrating still being alive, when they were showing the locals that they could drink more alcohol than anyone, I would be nursing them all safely to their bunks and cleaning the mess they left. Of course the next morning I’d be giving them hell and they would obediently pretend that they give a damn. “No pain, no fun.” ;-)
Grace also personifies the maternal instinct. I think no one understands better what Jake must be feeling coming back from the link to his broken body. I don’t think she will show him openly her compassion because he probably doesn’t want it. But I bet she will be protecting him with the ferocity of a tigress.

JAKE’S AVATAR (facet 1) – “the warrior”
We girls are hesitant creatures. We are full of self-doubt. We care too much what others are saying, what they think of us. Most of the time we set our expectation low not to get disappointed. We have difficulty with aiming really high.
That is why we are so impressed with your self-confidence, courage, decisiveness and determination. We envy you this unassailable conviction that you are going to succeed. You look at me with genuine confusion when I voice my fears and doubts towards the outcome. “If it has to be done, it will be done,” you say and I know that however seemingly impossible the task, you are going to will the triumphant outcome.
This is what Neytiri must see in Jake. True, she seems as strong-willed as he is, but still that must impress her. And I can’t help but share her fascination. :-)

NEYTIRI (facet 1) – “You’re incredible!”
“You’re incredible!” you say and that’s the best, most honest complement I am ever going to hear from you. It’s something that escapes your mouth when you are truly, genuinely amazed by something I’ve done, often quite unintentionally. “You’re incredible!” you say that with this surprised tone of disbelief and half-ashamed smile because, against yourself, you have to admit that I actually managed to impress you. You give me this cautious, slightly scared look as if I was a rare, unpredictable, dangerous creature ready to use my witchcraft against you. And I know that here and now you admire to very essence of “me” - not my physicality, clothes, or something I did to attract your attention. You think that “I” am incredible. And you mean it. I love that feeling!
This is, I guess, the way Jake feels about Neytiri when they first meet (and what most of you feel about Neytiri right now). I loved the bit in Avatar Day footage when [spoiler] instead of accepting Jake’s outstretched hand, with one swift blow Neytiri wrestled him down to the ground [spoiler ends]. It was so unexpected and great at the same time! “Good on you girl!” I wanted to shout and I smiled broadly because I knew Jake was thinking “she’s incredible”. Vicariously, I experienced this wonderful moment with Neytiri. I’m so looking forward to more of that!

JAKE’S AVATAR (facet 2) – “crime and punishment”
It must have happened at least once in your childhood that you did to your parents something so utterly unacceptable, so purely evil, something that hurt them so deep that their eyes teared and they simply left the room without a single word. As the full realization draws on you and still nothing happens the tension becomes unbearable. After a while you are so consumed with guilt that you would readily accept anything if it only could put the end to this moral torture. You’d much rather your parents shouted at you and gave you a good flogging than left you floating like that. You are ready to pay any price, endure any kind of physical discomfort because you want them so badly to let you know there are no hard feelings between you anymore.
I sense Jake is going to sin against his adopted Na’vi family. Maybe he will get so confused that he’ll do the same against his human friends. Either way he will have to pay. The concept of redemption is written into all cultures, we all understand it, we are all deeply affected by it. This is the element of the story in Avatar I am mostly looking forward to.

NEYTIRI (facet 2) – “tough love”
Love doesn’t always mean forgiving and forgetting unconditionally. If you have erred and now want to earn your dignity and self-respect back, you can’t follow the easy path. These values given freely are worth nothing. You have to pay for them with your sweat and blood. I will support you in your quest but I’m not going to make it too easy for you. Primarily because I know you wouldn’t want me to. It will pain me but it has to be done this way.
Neytiri is such a sweet and compassionate character, if this scenario really makes its way into the film I know I will be feeling very much for her when she has to be tough with Jake.

JAKE’S AVATAR (facet 3) – “the rite of passage” + NEYTIRI (facet 3) – “you and me vs. the rest of the world”
Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing noble about suffering. It’s ugly, repugnant, disconcerting, and it turns us into cowards – we can’t stand the sight of you suffering and we want to run away and be able to forget all about it… that is in real life we do.
But in films and literature somehow it becomes noble. In all great works of art the protagonist has to face the very thing he fears the most, take the ultimate test of his character – the rite of passage. And this is when we want to be really close. Hardship and suffering strip you of your pretence, when your pupils explode with pain we get a chance to peer inside and see your very soul, your humanity. You endure it humbly, patiently searching for your answers and enlightenment. With hushed awe we accompany you in your journey but it is a solitary experience in its core. Even if we are by your side you have to go through it alone, we can’t really help.
But then, when it is all over, we reach this unprecedented level of mutual understanding. We don’t need words now, we know exactly what each other is thinking. No more pretending, no more attempts to impress. The true mateship of our souls.
This is almost a spiritual experience and it will be amazing to see that expressed by two CGI characters. If Jim Cameron manages to pull it out convincingly he is a true genius!

3D – “intimacy and intensity of shared emotions”
3D - the way Jim Cameron understands it - is going to be big with women! We are empathic, we don’t just look as you do - we sniff around, observe, probe, try read the situation with all our senses. We’ll have a hell of a ride when we get immersed in the picture, especially the static scenes! :-)
The bit which I remember the most vividly from Avatar Day was the intense feeling when I was left with Jake in the link. Just a second-brief scene but I was hit hard by the feeling of intimacy I shared with him. I could feel his excitement so well, but also his fear and apprehension if the experiment would really yield him a healthy man again. Beautiful!

CGI DESTRUCTION – “everything blows up so nicely!”
Recently two women in my intimate circle announced they were interested in seeing 2012. “Why?” I wanted to know. Interestingly, both my mousey art-loving friend and my six-month-pregnant sister-in-law came up with almost identical answer. “You know, “ they said with a shy smile, “I know the plot is stupid, but… it’s just… everything seems to be blowing up so nicely!”
It’s tricky with Avatar. Witnessing violence against the Na’vi will undoubtedly pain us, no way we could enjoy such scenes. But then there is also something wonderfully kinetic about the (final?) battle(s) that can be glimpsed in trailers. We appreciate destruction if it is well orchestrated. I can’t speak for other women but I know that watching the last act of the film I’m going to get the thrill that will match yours.

PANDORA – “the world hidden behind the secret door in my mind”
I just glimpsed Pandora but I’m already in love with it. This is a place I want to explore, and have been carrying with me ever since I briefly visited it. There are a couple of little doors in my head that lead to places I once discovered in films or books, and loved. Pandora has already become one of them.
I also love the colour palette of Avatar, both CG and live-action. I have always felt at home in the blue scenes of other Cameron films, but the way he mixed blues with greens and purples in Avatar really strikes the chord.

THE LINK – “a bitter-sweet ending?”
This is the element of the premise that I try very hard not to think too much about. Don’t want to spoil anything for myself. Because the way link works is really going to be the key to the plot and its resolution. What happens to avatars when they are not driven by humans? Do they have their own consciousness? Do they dream? Do they share memories with their human drivers? Does the DNA used for their engineering influence their “personality”? If Jake and his avatar could operate independently and had shared memories, wouldn’t it be like Jake had his brother resurrected in some way? What happens to avatar if its human driver is killed or wounded while he is in the link? What happens to the human if the avatar body dies? Who is it that Neytiri is in love with – Jake’s mind and soul or just his avatar incarnation? So many questions and I really don’t want to know the answers. Not just yet! ;-)
And no, I don’t want a happy ending. Real life isn’t like that. A bitter-sweet ending is what would give me the best gratification.

Joanna is an English teacher at a teacher's college and one of her offered courses is writing. Thanks for the post! And I agree 100% with wanting to discover the secrets behind the link :-) What do you guys think?

Stereoscopic Displays And Applications XXI: January 18-20, 2010 - San Jose

Jim here. Thought I would drop the good word for my friend Andrew Woods over at SD&A - their annual conference is upon us once again!

This time around, Pixar is the keynote: Bob Whitehill, Stereoscopic Supervisor at Pixar will be addressing the crowd with his "Three Dimensional Storytelling". Using examples from "Up", "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2", Whitehill will discuss the use of 3D as a visual storytelling device in Pixar's films. The Keynote presentation takes place at 4pm on the first day of the SD&A conference - Monday, January 18, 2010.

The advance program for the 21st annual Stereoscopic Displays and Applications (SD&A) conference is now available on the conference website: http://www.stereoscopic.org/2010/program.html. The program includes 66 technical papers, and a number of special events including the hugely popular 3D Theatre, two discussion forums, the demonstration session, a 21st birthday dinner, keynote presentation, and the 3D gaming experience.

Registrations are now open at: http://www.stereoscopic.org/register/index.html

Plan now to attend. Register by 20th December to get the best rates. (SAVE US$100)

SD&A runs from January 18-20, 2010 as part of the IS&T/SPIE Electronic Imaging Symposium in San Jose, California. Nineteen other imaging conferences, including two other 3D related conferences, share the symposium, providing good synergy across the imaging community. Colleagues who are new to stereoscopic imaging should consider attending the short course on "Stereoscopic Display Application Issues" on Sunday, January 17. http://www.stereoscopic.org/sc



More ALICE IN WONDERLAND Posters... And A Surprise!

Jim here. Got two more ALICE IN WONDERLAND posters for you since the first two went online. This time we get Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and then an unexpected surprise: All three of the posters combine into one larger one!

Click to enlarge.

Thought that was well done. Enjoy!

VOILA! French AVATAR Poster Online

Jim here. Fox seems to be smiling on France as they have scored a gorgeous AVATAR poster. CloneWeb delivers Pandora's floating mountains and hints at the spectacle that is looming large.

What do you think?
Note the date at the bottom of the poster - France sees AVATAR two days early!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Avatar Charity Auction + Game Developer Diary 3!

Michael here. The third game Developer Diary from Ubisoft - this one focusing on the choice between playing as an RDA soldier or a Na'Vi - is online below.

Also check out this Avatar charity auction. Items up for bid include tickets to the Los Angeles premiere on Dec. 16 with VIP and after party access, a chance to meet James Cameron and access to the Dec. 15 crew screening, and much more.

NVIDIA Expanding 3D Ecosystem! 3D Gaming Set To Explode...

Jim here. It's happening! Next up of course is the upcoming launch of the ASUS G51J3D in December with it's 15.6" screen. If you happen to be in New York City tomorrow (Nov 19), check out the Wine, Dine & Demo which is focused on the ASUS laptop. Go to www.pepcom.com for more details.

We are now getting word on other OEMs (Manufacturers) that are joining the "3D Ecosystem": LG, Clevo, CPT and MSI to name a few. LG is building the next generation of 120Hz notebook panels with full support for the NVIDIA 3D Ecosystem, while the others will have S3D laptops emerging very soon.

From CNN: "We are extremely excited about bringing the first NVIDIA 3D Vision notebook to market," said PC Wang, Corporate Vice President & General Manager, Notebook Business Unit, System Business Group at ASUS. "NVIDIA and ASUS have a passion for gaming and cutting-edge technology, and this is another example of how great companies working together can deliver awesome new platforms to our combined customers."

"NVIDIA 3D Vision is by far the most immersive, highest quality, full-resolution stereoscopic 3D technology available today," said Ryan Chung, Chief Director of Notebook Business Unit of CPT. "This is an exciting time for users, who will finally be able to see their games, movies and pictures with true 3D depth."


"LG Display is planning to fully support NVIDIA 3D Vision technology with our next generation of 120Hz notebook panels," said David Choi, Vice President, LG Display.


"We look forward to bringing NVIDIA 3D Vision-capable notebooks to the market," said Stephen Chien, WW Sales and Marketing VP at Clevo. "The era of 3D is upon us, and immersive 3D gaming and movie-watching is indeed an exciting proposition."


"NVIDIA 3D Vision is the best 3D technology available today," said Vincent Sung, VP of Notebook Engineering team at MSI. "We are excited about developing new MSI notebooks that offer this awesome technology and bring 3D gaming and movies to the masses."
"NVIDIA's 3D Vision technology provides the best 3D experience that we have seen, and we look forward to bringing this technology to market on notebook panels," said SH Moon, Vice President, Samsung Electronics. "Samsung LCD Division is fully behind NVIDIA's 3D Vision ecosystem."

There is obviously a tremendous corporate movement going on here and in the right direction. I have been an active shutter advocate for home S3D gaming for years now. It's finally coming to fruition and I couldn't be happier. Who is going to win? Gamers. Stay tuned!



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

AVATAR Avalanche: 4 Minute Clip! New Neytiri Photo! Game Developer Interview!

**UPDATE: Nov 18 - Fox has asked for us to remove the video clip. I am complying. Hope you enjoyed while it was there!

Jim here. New AVATAR items are popping up everywhere!

Lets start with a revealing video clip of the Thanator chase from AVATAR Day. As it is possible to embed the clip, I am doing so but with the following exclaimer:

**WARNING: SPOILER ALERT**
If you did not make it to AVATAR Day, you WILL be seeing an entire scene from the movie here in LOW 2D RESOLUTION - far from the ideal environment. The scene will be much more powerful in 3D and on the big screen. You have been warned.

It has apparently been captured by camcorder from an XBOX 360 in France.

**VIDEO CLIP REMOVED AS PER FOX REQUEST**

I have decided to watch it as I would have gone to AVATAR Day if it was available in my area. It was not. But we only get the chance to see AVATAR for the first time ONCE, so think about it. For those skipping it - you should skip many of the comments too just in case a spoiler is mentioned.

--

Next up is a stunning new image of Neytiri courtesy of USAToday / Comingsoon!

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New interview with Kevin Shortt (AVATAR THE GAME - Wii) over at worthplaying.com. Here is a short excerpt:

The Wii version of the game acts as something of a prequel and happens before the events in the movie. Do the PS3 and X360 versions happen in parallel with the movie, before the movie or after the movie?
KS: The next-gen version happens two years before the movie happens. If you placed us on a timeline, you would have the Wii game first, and then it would be the next-gen game and then the film. None of these are prequels. One doesn't necessarily lead to the other and then the other. Instead, it's about expanding the universe of Pandora. The moon has so many regions, so many possible stories, and each one of them shows one particular story.

Will we see any crossover in characters, or is the game totally self-contained?
KS: You definitely see crossovers between the game and the film. The reason we set it two years apart was because we didn't want to give anything away of the movie, so two years is a good distance that we aren't going to cross over, but it also allows us to introduce some characters that you know from the film into the game. We've got Sigourney Weaver, who plays Grace Augustine. She's one of the first people you'll meet in the game, and you meet her throughout. We've got Michelle Rodriguez, who plays your chopper pilot in the game. We've also got Stephen Lang, who plays Colonel Quaritch in the movie; he also appears in the game.

Story-wise, having seen the trailer and seeing some of the gameplay demos, I've got to ask if you're playing as the Na'vi in an Avatar body, what's to stop the RDA folks from knocking on your little Avatar coffin and knocking you out right there?

KS: That was certainly one of the things that we had to consider, but we definitely do consider it. I don't actually want to give away what it is, but for sure, that is answered. In fact, as soon as you choose to be a Na'vi, that kind of becomes one of the first things that you have to do very quickly. Now you're a Na'vi, somebody's got to go get your human body before they disconnect you, or else it's game over. Yeah, it gets addressed in the game.

More when we get it!

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