James Cameron in visual effects hell with Avatar

James Cameron's new SF epic Avatar is due out December 2009 Known for pushing the limits of studio budgets and special effects in films like Titanic and Terminator 2 , it seems James Cameron may have taken on more than he can handle with his new science fiction epic, Avatar .


"We're in CG hell," James Cameron told the Canadian TV show, The Hour . "We're trying to create a world from scratch. It's like trench warfare. We're working with computer-generated characters that are photo-realistic. That's tough. We set the bar high. We're just now getting confidence that it's going to work."

Due out December 2009, Avatar could be James Cameron's science fiction magnum opus or a hubristic flop. The $US200 million Avatar is by his own admission his most ambitious work to date and raises the cinematic bar considerably. In the interview he refers to Avatar as simultaneously his hardest and most rewarding film.

Avatar is about a band of humans struggling against a distant planet's indigenous inhabitants and will feature 12 computer-generated characters. He told The Hour that Terminator 2 used 42 shots with CG characters and by contrast Avatar uses over 1700.

Shooting entirely in 3D presented another challenge. He and his team developed an entirely new 3D camera and process for the movie, while Peter Jackson's Weta Digital is supervising the special effects.

The cast includes Sigourney Weaver as "a scientist" along with Giovanni Ribisi, Zoe Saldana, and Michelle Rodriguez. He revealed that he had spoken to Sigourney about her role and they had decided her character should be significantly different from previous collaborations.

Cameron has been working on Avatar for two years now and said he had at least another year to go. This is almost twice as long as Titanic , which at 18 months was over budget and considerably off schedule.

"Filmmaking is a world of complete madness," he said. "You have to have a strong personal ethos in the film business. Being a person of your word is very important."

You can watch the entire interview with James Cameron on YouTube here. You can also read more on the possibilities of Cameron's new 3D approach here , and more details about Avatar's plot here.

Read our review of Avatar here.

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