James Cameron's Avatar Brilliance Shines Again at Microsoft Advance '08

May 21, 2008

James Cameron

James Cameron is no stranger to readers here, only because we feature nearly anything interesting that he says. Although he's still working on Avatar, his newest 3D sci-fi epic, Cameron did stop by the Microsoft Advance '08 conference to talk with attendees about his use of technology and the development of his new film. If you read our last article on Cameron, which featured quotes from an interview with him on Variety, Cameron is an absolutely brilliant speaker. I love the way he is able to both explain his ideas for pushing the limits of CGI technology while also genuinely exuding a feeling of excitement. If you're still not convinced, the least I can do is continue to feature more and more quotes from Cameron like this and eventually you'll realize that Avatar really will be the next big lead forward in cinema.

The guys over at have been covering the event and have details on one of the presentations featuring Cameron. His underlying theme in his speech is that he values the importance of emotion and the human heart while they push forward with technological advances. "In Titanic as a filmmaker, I struck the perfect balance of technology and the human heart. I haven't forgotten that lesson with Avatar. It's the best lesson for any filmmaker." From there, Cameron just lets loose on some absolutely great thoughts that have me even more excited for his latest creation. "The experience of Avatar will be an experience unlike any other movies." Are you ready for the future of filmmaking?

"'Avatar' will make people truly experience something," said Cameron."One more layer of the suspension of disbelief will be removed. All the syn-thespians are photo-realistic. Now that we've achieved it, we discovered CG characters in 3D look more real than in 2D. Your brain is cued it's a real thing not a picture and discounting part of image that makes it look fake."

He's been talking about the idea of the CGI we'll see for quite a while, but that explanation right there is the best I've ever heard. Can you imagine going in to see his film and not being able to sense that the alien creatures on the other planet are entirely realistic? In fact, I don't think we can imagine that right now, only because it's never really be done and Cameron will be the first to show us. What Cameron is going to deliver will push the limits of both cinema and technology, and even for the next 19 months (while we wait for Avatar), we'll still never see anything remotely like it.

"'Avatar' is the single most complex piece of filmmaking ever made," said Cameron. "We have 1,600 shots for a 2.5 hour movie. It's not with a single CGI character, like King Kong or Gollum. We have hundreds of photo-realistic CG characters. We were Microsoft's sandbox for filmmaking beyond the cutting edge."

The reason why they'll have so many complex shots? Part of the movie is subtitled and takes place entirely on another alien planet called Pandora. "It's an emotional journey of redemption and revolution; the story of a wounded ex-marine, who's thrust into an effort to settle and exploit an exotic planet rich in bio-diversity. He eventually crosses over to lead the indigenous race in a battle for survival." The world of Pandora literally has its own entire ecosystem made up of "phantasmagorical plants and creatures, and a native people with a rich culture and language." There is so much to explore with Avatar, that what Cameron can explain to us in speeches like this is really on the tip of the iceberg of what we'll eventually see in December of 2009.

It really is painful to consider the thought that we still have around 19 more months to go until we finally get Avatar, but it will be here soon enough. I don't think its appropriate to urge Cameron to rush this project by any means, because the more time he has to tweak his creation, the better it will be in the end. I've been continually praising Avatar since the start, as it's the least I can do to attempt to get as many of you to join on my side in anticipation. If you're curious, you can read the complete coverage of Cameron's talk at Microsoft Advance '08 on Until then, stay tuned, we'll always be the first to bring you anything that comes from James Cameron himself!

Find more posts: Hype, Movie News



I guess I can appreciate all of the excitement he has for it, but his arrogance is really turning me off to the idea. "'Avatar' is the single most complex piece of filmmaking ever made." Even if it's completely true, the way it's stated is very snobbish. And is the plot even viable yet? All we know is that it's sci-fi with aliens. All I ever really hear about is the visual component. If it doesn't have a good story, what's the point of it being a ground breaking artistically?

Nettle on May 21, 2008


As much as I want this to succeed, I can't shake the feeling that it's going to be the biggest flop in movie history. Don't ask me why. Maybe it's all the extremely grandiose claims (which I despise in the first place). I may just be jaded, but chances are that it will never measure up to expectations. Maybe its the 2.5 hour length. Long movies like that are treading dangerously close to 'OHLORDWHENWILLITEND?!?!?' territory. Personally, I'm going to wait until some footage appears before I get too excited about this film.

IHateChildren on May 21, 2008


Yea, well, you luckily have a longggg time #2. I think I may be a bit crazy getting this hype for a movie 19 months out, but you know what, screw it, because I know it's going to be that good. I almost guarantee you that a year from now you'll be more hyped for this than you can even imagine - you'll see! 🙂

Alex Billington on May 21, 2008


OK it seems he thinks he has conquered the uncanny vally, but sometimes when I see a shot than looks realistic, I know that it can't be real. How in the world is he going to make me beleive in an alien that he said is fake, or market some new 3D experience?

Josh Rowe on May 21, 2008


"I almost guarantee you that a year from now you'll be more hyped for this than you can even imagine - you'll see!" Oh, I wouldn't say that if I were you! I'm with #1 here, his arrogance outweights.. everything at the moment. Show me something truley amazing and i'll believe you, Mr. Cameron.

Brad on May 21, 2008


I'm with you, Alex. Avatar is truly going to show us the future of filmmaking. It doesn't even matter what the plot is - Cameron's new setup is going to blow everyone's minds.

Ben on May 21, 2008


after almost ten years(matrix) i can wait to see something groundbreaking again

malax on May 21, 2008


Arrogant? Maybe, but to me he's just blowing his own trumpet and in an industry that often has so much cynisism hurled at it you can't blame him. And though I don't consider any of his films perfect, I do very much admire his almost Kubrick-like determination to make everything he does the ultimate realisation of it. He's always pushing his game forward and never allows himself to get complacent, and it's this that's making me look forward to Avatar as much as anything else.

sleepykid on May 21, 2008


I'm sick and fucking tired of assholes calling "bullshit" on someone's enthusiasm. He's a film maker, making something cool. He made Titanic which made fifty billion fucking dollars. That's why nobody else is trying to break him down. I think he MIGHT, he JUST MIGHT, know what he's talking about.

DCompose on May 21, 2008


Being skeptical isn't being an asshole. I've heard PLENTY of extravagant claims before and none of the associated projects came even close to what they promised. I haven't seen anything from Avatar besides some set photos and some costumes, so don't I have the right to remain skeptical when Cameron makes these sort of claims so early? Keep in mind that I really want this movie to do well, but hype this early worries me. #3 Alex, I really hope you're right...

IHateChildren on May 21, 2008


one word..... EPIC.

Rigo on May 21, 2008


I don't have a doubt this will be good, for all of those who thinks this movie is just interested in the visual part of it, you need to read the post entirely! He said he knows the right balance between technology and human heart, like in titanic when the effects weren't the only good part of the movie. I can't believe people start to hate with such anticipation :S, well everything is possible.

Hector on May 21, 2008


It sounds good but I half-heartedly agree with #2. I JUST WANT SOME PICS!

Ryan on May 21, 2008


From what he said it sounds like he said there is no CGI "characters" but "CG" characters? I dont understand what that means, is it live action or a CG movie? I thought it was live action but now I dont get it.

Richard on May 21, 2008


I sort of have to agree that his tone is off-putting. I remember reading about how (basically) narcissistic he was when Titanic came out. Don't get me wrong - he is a great filmmaker. The problem is he knows it and likes to talk about it. If this truly is groundbreaking stuff I'll be there opening night but the fact that he feels the need to tell everyone 19 months beforehand that he is going to change history, is well.. unnecessary and tacky.

Traveler on May 22, 2008


I still don't know whether or not its CGI or a Live Action Film, I'm reading all this and thinking its live action and 3D and awesome, if its CGI.. I don't care how photo realistic it is, it wont be ground breaking to the affect hes talking and other people here are talking about. I don't care how much you try, you'll never get a CGI movie to be better then live action. Everyones different, all people respond to CGI differently, some people are like, thats so FAKE and people will see the exact same thing and be, thats so REAL, so unless you using live action where everyone knows that element is real, then throw in cutting edge 3D, then maybe, just maybe it will be groundbreaking, if its CGI uh, I hate to say it but it would be a glorified Beowulf.

Richard on May 22, 2008


@Ryan - I've got some behind the scenes pics from the "Avatar" set on my blog. What some plant-life will look like, what the motion capture suits look like, heck even what the true poster font will look like. Tonight or tomorrow I will be posting pics of a t-shirt I just obtained that were given out to the crew. You know, the true James Cameron geek stuff. I am trying to be the best Avatar site on the planet and I think I am succeeding - at least thats what my readers say. Avatar will be the turning point for live action 3D in 2009. Animated 3D has already achieved that pinnacle with the three top studios (Pixar, Dreamworks and Disney) committing 3D for ALL their future movies. To say I am looking forward to that movie is the understatement of the decade!!

Jim Dorey on May 22, 2008


@Richard - Its a combination of live action and CGI. There is a lot of performance capture too like in Beowulf - but it is NOT Beowulf. Beowulf was totally CGI - -background and everything. Avatar will be at most 60% CGI at the latest tally. They are spending an extra 6 months to get the movie photo-realistic so you can bet that the experience will be... there are no words.

Jim Dorey on May 22, 2008


OK so, when I see an actor on screen its really the actor and not a extremely high quality photo realistic CGI motion captured model of the actor rendered from a computer? Thats what I wanna know. In fact I want to be able to see all live action movies shot in this format in the future, for example a western with no CGI but fully 3D, you know what I mean? Almost all sci fi movies now have photo realistic CGI anyway so not sure what the deal is with that, ie Minority Report? I just hope I love it and its really what Im thinking it is and not some Beowulf on steroids.

Richard on May 22, 2008


Its things like this that I read that get me worried: "The director planned to create photo-realistic computer-generated characters by using motion capture animation technology, on which he had been doing work for the past 14 months." "It’s like a big, powerful game engine." Hmm, not sure what to think about it all. Its like yeah Angelina Jolie WAS in Beowulf but not really, but it looked like her for real but it looked fake still, you know? heh.

Richard on May 22, 2008


Richard, all the human characters in the movie will be human,its only the alien characters that will be CGI, So when you see Sigourney Weaver,it will be her like she look in real life, Cameron isn't trying to make the human characters CGI like in Beuwolf

Anthony on May 22, 2008


Thats what I have been hoping, and so I really hope your right, as you can tell by that quote its kind of hard to tell exactly what he was talking about.

Richard on May 22, 2008

23 is a website that has nearly every news article written about Avatar featured on it, loads of interviews and features about the film, the upcoming 3D revolution in film, and etc. The guys behind it(myself included) have done a good job to deliver a respectable Avatar portal, in my opinion.

Chris G. on May 23, 2008


Not everything has to be compared to video games guys! That's just another visual medium like movies that has advanced enough that the render quality compares to movies. But that doesn't mean it's necessarily bad when a movie "looks like a video game" (e.g. Speed Racer) because that's just how far technology has come. That's no excuse to complain about Cameron's Avatar! @Richard - They filmed real actors and are using partial motion capture to render them. In fact, my belief with Avatar, is that what we're going to eventually see we can't even comprehend right now. I know that sounds dumb, but I firmly believe that what Cameron is doing is so technologically advance and visually unique that we've never seen it before and have nothing to reference how it will eventually look. That's why I'm excited - he's going to show us something we've literally never ever before seen.

Alex Billington on May 25, 2008


I can’t wait to see Avatar! In the meantime, check out Giovanni Ribisi in this inspirational short video he did for the new campaign called Burma: It Can’t Wait. He speaks out against the atrocities happening right now in Burma. Go to the following websites to see Giovanni's video, as well as those from 30+ other celebs (like Will Ferrell, Jen Aniston, etc). Then join Ribisi in this campaign for universal human rights and spread the word! or

Brittany on Jun 5, 2008


"'Avatar' is the single most complex piece of filmmaking ever made." It's because it's true, people!! I mean, if u wanna compare it to like the making of 'Ben Hur' back in the fifties... i see where people's points are, but in this day and age - making a REVOLUTION in cinema is a rare party, only achieved in the 60's with '2001: A Space Odyssey', then again in '77 with 'Star Wars'... maybe Tron or Blade Runner - and also from '01 to '03 with the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy, which was in a narrative sense groundbreaking and it had spectacle, but nothing has really been reinvented or revolutionized for cinema in at least thirty years... that's what Cameron's gonna do - and yes he probably has an ego twice the size of his forthcoming film; but i gotta tell ya - as an aspiring filmmaker, if i was in his shoes right now - i'd feel exactly the same way.

Jeremy Solomon on Sep 9, 2008


Watching the trailer, it is obvious that the human characters are not 100% live action shots. There is some computer enhancment going on with the human characters. It is really done well and hard to tell, but it almost appears as each frame of the human characters have a softened animated feel (although it is very slight). I can't find a solid answer anywhere, but I would put money on the human characters have some CG's going on.

John on Dec 15, 2009

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