"As he sought collaborators to help him realize his ambitious vision for 'Avatar,' director James Cameron found kindred spirits at Weta Digital, the effects company co-founded by Peter Jackson.
The partnership goes back years, to when Cameron and Jackson met to talk shop after the latter's 'Lord of the Rings' wrapped. Senior visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri was also at that meeting, and told Cameron about the computer-animation techniques Weta was developing for Jackson's 'King Kong.'
'Jim was interested in what we were doing with 'Kong,' says Letteri, via phone from Weta headquarters in Wellington, New Zealand. 'He knew we were about to embark on something where we had a lead actor who was a digital creation. Plus we were getting into building these big jungles. I think Jim, in the back of his mind, that's the kind of thing he had in his head for 'Avatar.' '
Based upon an original idea that Cameron dreamed up more than a decade ago, 'Avatar,' which opens Friday [December 2009], is set 4.4 light-years away on a moon called Pandora. The moon is home to an alien species known as Na'vi, blue humanoids towering 10 feet. Colonists from Earth can only explore the hostile habitat as avatars -- remote-controlled replicants modelled after the Na'vi.
'The idea is that you're seeing this whole world through new eyes,' explains Letteri, a three-time Oscar-winner. 'It's unfolding before you, the idea that you get to this planet and you think it's this hellhole but as you gradually start to learn what it's all about, you realize that there's this amazing and beautiful but still quite harsh world out there. It seemed like it had all kinds of possibilities.'
Weta was responsible for turning Cameron's sketches of Pandora into 3-D panoramas and also transforming stars Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana into alien figures convincing enough to carry a love story"
(Lisa Rose/The Star-Ledger, 17 December 2009, NJ.com)
"Stereo projection throughout the 1980s and 1990s has often been accomplished with large format film projectors, especially Imax. But because of the high cost and complexity of stereo projection and of 65mm film prints, stereo projection was a niche product. And 35mm stereo projection equipment is just as complicated and unappealing to the average theatre owner as is 65mm stereo.
Digital stereo projection is different. The Real D system works with very little modification to the existing Texas Instruments DLP digital projectors that are becoming increasingly common even in neighbourhood theatres. And because these digital DLP projectors already have a beautiful image similar to film prints (minus film print cost and wear and tear), the combination of Real D stereo and the TI DLP digital projector makes lots of artistic and financial sense for the Hollywood studios and exhibitors. Real D uses circular polarizers instead of the older linear glasses, so the stereo effect isn't lost if the audience member tilts their head. Problems with colour casts from the polarizing glasses have also been improved.
Not to be out done, Imax and Dolby are introducing their own digital stereoscopic projection systems for the general public. And Imax stereo analogue film projection continues to be very popular."
(Michael Karp, Student Filmmaker Magazine v.1.1)
Fig.1 Making of documentary about T2 3-D: Battle Across Time, 1996;
Fig.2 Using twin 65mm Showscan/Panavision cameras to film T2 3-D: Battle Across Time.