First Tease of Early 'Avatar 2' Test Footage Just Screened at Siggraph
Time to geek out fellow sci-fi nerds! This isn't really news, per se, there isn't anything to reveal, and no new information about Avatar 2 was mentioned. However, if you're a James Cameron devotee like me (and many of my friends), this is a must read kind of update anyway. The first footage ever, as far as we know, from Avatar 2 was recently screened at the Siggraph computer graphics convention in California this past weekend. It was early test footage being presented as a "live capture" experience with high quality rendering in virtual production software, but nonetheless was an early tease at what they're doing in the sci-fi sequel.
Producer Jon Landau was on hand at Siggraph over the weekend to present a "behind-the-scenes look at some of the early tests toward making James Cameron's Avatar sequels." The report comes from Hollywood Reporter (via SlashFilm) where they comment ever-so-briefly on some of the footage they were shown. As is usual, at this point everything is still a work in progress and even Landau reminded them that they are "still not there," however progress is being made to improve the virtual production tools and techniques required.
He then showed a series of clips, starting with a live capture created on a stage last November, which was set on Pandora and featured a human as well as the Na'vi. "This was our first foray into what we wanted to do," Landau told the audience, pointing to noticeable improvements in aspects of the image including lighting and shadows.
The next examples came out of Autodesk’s virtual production software Motion Builder, and again showed a notable advancement in quality. "Ultimately our goal is to get to this on stage [for live capture]," he said. "This is gong to allow Jim to light the scenes and make the process more efficient ... and focus on what is most important—the close up. Movies about storytelling."
Indeed, though maybe he meant to say movies are about storytelling. It sounds like they're acutely aware of the biggest criticism of Avatar - the story wasn't that great. However, now that we've been introduced to the Na'vi and the entire world of Pandora, they can tell a much richer story in the sequels. Or so we hope. THR mentions that Cameron still has deals with Autodesk and Weta to work on the VFX on the sci-fi movies, but they're honing their own proprietary production tools in the meantime. Jon Landau seems optimistic about these new tools and how they'll even help young filmmakers without as much money as James Cameron. He explained the improvements they've made are "a great thing for young filmmakers. We are about preserving the filmmaking experience.. I think the future is very bright for Autodesk [website] and for filmmakers."
We'll continue to keep an eye out for any other news, or geeky updates, on James Cameron and the Avatar sequels, still stated for release starting in 2015. Avatar 2 & 3 should further invigorate this new era of sci-fi.