James Cameron Talks Content Driven 3D and Avatar Trailer Details
by Alex Billington
December 2, 2008
Earlier today I caught James Cameron's keynote presentation at the 3D Entertainment Summit in hopes of potentially catching a first look at some actual footage from Avatar. Unfortunately we weren't treated to any footage, but as always, Cameron dished up some fascinating discussion, including panning some major industry decisions. Anyone who reads this site already knows my opinion on 3D, but I'll continue to say that it is Cameron who I believe will finally show us what 3D is truly capable of. Unlike Jeffrey Katzenberg's more broad beliefs in the future financial benefits of 3D, Cameron believes that we will eventually get to the point where 3D is used like sound or color - just another standard filmmaking technique.
The reason I believe that Cameron is such a brilliant mind and the true leader of the 3D revolution is because of his approach to it. He explained that he went into Avatar with the goal of making a big blockbuster movie in 3D and hoped that there would be enough theaters to show it in. Since it took so long to make, that isn't a concern anymore, Cameron joked. But it was more important for him to "think like a filmmaker" and not like an executive. "3D has to be content driven" was his most valuable message. While most of the industry is still experimenting in 3D, Cameron says that his "proof of concept" was the two documentaries that he and Vince Pace have made - Ghosts of the Abyss and Aliens of the Deep.
Cameron believes that ultimately a good movie should come first, not 3D. He adds that 3D shouldn't occupy the minds of filmmakers while they're shooting, but should just be another item on the agenda, in theory. And that is exactly what everyone else is doing wrong. To the rest of the industry, 3D is a way to make money, a gimmick designed to attract audiences and sell tickets, not as a filmmaking technique. Cameron believes so firmly in this idea, that he goes as far as to say that Avatar would still be a groundbreaking movie even if you took out the 3D. And that's because from the very ground up, he focused on telling a good story and making a good movie before worrying about the 3D aspect.
When asked about his opinions on other filmmakers, specifically Tim Burton and his work on the upcoming Alice in Wonderland, Cameron openly criticized Burton's decision to convert to 3D after the fact. It "doesn't make any sense to shoot in 2D and convert to 3D," Cameron said. And that's not the only industry decision that he panned, the other being meager attempts to provide a 3D experience at home by releasing DVDs with anaglyphic glasses (meaning the red and blue cardboard ones) in the packing. It is "stunting 3D growth," he said, and hurting the progression of the format. Cameron's agenda wasn't to attack these decisions, instead he felt they weren't helping progress the 3D when that's what we need the most.
So when will we ever see a trailer for Avatar? Our friend at MarketSaw caught Cameron in the hall after his keynote and got an explanation as to why we haven't seen anything yet. Apparently there are a few lengthy scenes from various parts of the film that are complete, but they do not have enough finished material from the film to cut a representative teaser. He hasn't yet spoken to Fox regarding trailer placement, but he mentioned there are a few good 3D releases next year that would be perfect to debut a trailer on, including Monsters vs Aliens next March. Will we finally see a trailer then? All I know is that Cameron still has 12 months of work left on Avatar, so maybe we should stop pestering him and let him finish!