Writer-director James Cameron is making another cinema history with the breathtaking new 3D technology in his latest sensation “Avatar” which has swept the world with more surprises giving a new dimension to the world of cinema. Cameron developed this new technology that could finally revolutionize the film making by getting the 3D and the CGI to new heights while mixing the real footage and the motion-captured CGI in an immersive 3D technology. A brief review of the technologies used by the director that powered some of the most stunning effects of the movie is given below:
Performance Capture by CGI
Cameron has used the Computer generated imagery (CGI) extensively in Avatar. Though he has already been using it since his earlier movies days like Terminator2: Judgment Day, and Total Recall, but in Avatar he specifically used a novel technique called “image-based facial performance capture” that required actors to wear some special headgears already equipped with camera. As the actors performed, the camera transmitted facial movements that were put on the virtual characters. This made the movements of the body back to a connected array of systems which acted out their scenes on a ‘performance capture’ stage six times bigger than anything that was ever used earlier in the industry. This resulted in an amazingly emotional authenticity by the movie characters. The movie’s footage was built from around 70% CGI including its female lead.
All the movie’s animations were rendered by Weta Digital, the digital-effects studio of Peter Jackson, and a huge team of the artists were constantly working for over a year to transfer the renderings to the photo-realistic images. Every minute detail was taken care of, by rendering every tree, leaf or even rock individually with the most innovative methods in rendering, lighting and shading that used over a petabyte (1000 terabytes) of hard disk storage.
Stereoscopic 3D Fusion Camera System
This has been the most advanced of the technologies in recent times as Cameron’s undying obsession with 3D has resulted in the most advanced camera system ever designed, the new Fusion Camera System. It was specially used to bridge up the gaps between scenes and artistically formed an untraceable connectivity between the live action scenes and the computer generated scenes.
Virtual Camera and Simul-Cam
The latest inventions in the motion capture area are the Simul-Cam and the Virtual camera, which combined the best features of the 3D and the CGI technologies for Avatar. To build or develop his virtual world in a more enhanced way, Cameron captured the motion-capture results in real-time set up. The integration of the CGI based characters and the environments into one single Fusion eyepiece with the help of the Simul-Cam assisted the director to view and direct the CGI scenes like any other normal live action scenes. The virtual camera acted more as a virtual monitor that allowed the director to judge the overall effect of the final cut of the movie, and which was fed with CGI data by the supercomputers.
With these technologies, Cameron has redefined the meaning of sci-fi cinema and Avatar being declared the biggest blockbuster of 2009 is surely a “must-watch” 3D movie.