Creative Arts Book of the Week 07/12/15

The making of AvatarThe making of Avatar by Jody Duncan & Lisa Fitzpatrick

This week’s Book of the Week is about one of the most famous films of the past few years.  In 1995, James Cameron began working on a story that would, more than a decade later, evolve into Avatar, the blockbuster movie of 2009 and the event of the decade to become the highest grossing film on record. No less epic, however, was the groundbreaking process of bringing the film to life which spanned several years and multiple continents.  The Making of Avatar reveals never-before-seen illustrations and photographs with text that charts the technical challenges, innovations and discoveries that made the film possible.

Artists and technicians worked together to create new tools and processes to realise the film’s vision, including those of performance capture, which allows the nuances of the actors’ performances to be translated faithfully to their digital characters; a virtual camera system, which empowered Cameron to direct within a virtual world and blend live action and special effects more naturally than ever before.  See Screen Daily  and Variety for movie news and comments on Avatar plus information on all the latest releases.

There are three more Avatar films planned and due for release Christmas 2017, 2018 and 2019.

You may remember his other virtual reality work that pre-dated Avatar:  Ghosts of the Abyss which he directed in 2003 , following on from his 1997 Oscar-winning film Titanic. Cameron and a group of scientists actually staged an expedition to the wreck of the RMS Titanic, and used mini-submarines to obtain amazingly detailed images. With the help of two small, purpose-built remotely operated vehicles, nicknamed “Jake” and “Elwood”, the audience saw inside the Titanic in 3D and with the help of computer generated imagery (CGI), we viewed the ship’s original appearance superimposed on the deep-dive images. I experienced the film at London’s IMAX cinema and became part of the expedition wearing 3D glasses. In 2003 it was groundbreaking stuff!  Ghosts of the Abyss was named one of the Best 3D movies ever by Rolling Stone.

Use our databases to find more information on Avatar and other films:

Credo Reference for definitions of an avatar.

FilmID for film industry data on Avatar (campus use only).

MRQE (Movie Review Query Engine) for movie reviews.

For more help on cinema research go to My Subject pages: Creative Arts: Film. And for more resources on computer design technology see the Creative Technologies pages.

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