September 26, 2019

James Cameron Reveals What's Next for Cinema

The Avatar director is one of the greatest filmmakers in cinema history. He has changed with every decade. Where is he going next? 

If you're like me, you spend a lot of your time waiting for the next James Cameron announcement. While shooting is underway on the latest Avatar, I wanted to take a look back on some of Cameron's films like Titanic and Avatar and see what he sees as the future of film. 

Check out the video for BAFTA Guru and let's talk Cameron after the jump! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMK-NHOkQRE

Titanic 

The idea for the movie came from Cameron exploring a shipwreck. He was in the ocean and doing his research, and knew his bucket list expedition would be the Titanic

After doing some research, he had a film in his mind. But was unsure who would ever want to buy it. At the time, Peter Chernin ran Fox. Cameron, who says he's bad at pitching, just grabbed a book of portraits of the boat and got a meeting with Chernin. 

According to Cameron, he walked into Fox, showed the book of portraits and said "Romeo and Juliet on the Titanic."

That was it. They bought it in the room and that's when the real work began. 

Cameron knew he could push the limits on technology to get the movie going forward. It would be a massive undertaking but he had faith that he and his company could continue to push the gamut of what was possible in order to wow audiences. 

But writing characters was not so easy. Would anyone want to spend three hours inside a love story? The simple answer was "yes." But for a much more complicated reason. 

Cameron realized that, because audiences would always know the ending of Titanic, they would be on the edge of their seats the whole time. That meant he could film a two-hour love story in the traditional sense and people would sit through it because there was a one-hour disaster film coming. 

In the end, we all learned that Cameron was both a master storyteller and filmmaker. But that didn't fulfill him. 

AfterTitanic, Cameron found thrills in actual exploration so he took some time off.  

Avatar 

Cameron actually wrote the screenplay for Avatar before Titanic was even shot. But there was no way technology was ready to make that movie. In 1995, Cameron was the guy you went to when you needed VFX. If he couldn't crack it, no one could. 

Even after Titanic, he still didn't have the answers. 

But by 2005, they knew the tech was very close, so they took the next two years to perfect it and then shot the movie. He learned from mistakes made by other movies and figured out how to get the maximum amount of facial data and eye data by creating a head rig that locked a close up 100% of the time. That data was turned into information and put into a computer so they could manipulate it in post. 

Avatar supplanted Titanic in 2009 as the highest-grossing film of all time. While that record no longer stands, Cameron's technical achievements do. 

And that's what he thinks is next inside Hollywood. 

What's next for Cameron (and Cinema)? 

So where will cinema go? Cameron has his finger on the pulse, mostly because it feels like people are always waiting to see what he does next. 

Cameron understands that all innovation comes from meandering. He spent the entire time between Titanic and Avatar doing it!

So the challenges he set for himself are essential to his process. He wants to meander less and work more. That means allowing the lines between CG and cinematography completely disappear. And make sure the audience can't see a difference as well. 

We already fake sunlight and moonlight on sets, now it's time to play with every other component. 

This is an ambitious goal, but one he hopes he conquers with the next Avatar films. With Cameron, the sky is the limit. 

What's next? Every James Cameron movie ranked

James Cameron movie rankings are bold and probably misguided. But we're doing one anyway!      

Your Comment

3 Comments

That probably means 4k CGI renders then, that is the problem with the current workflow is that a lot of the effects are rendered out much lower resolution than the complete project so it is easy to point them out.

Really though he has been just ahead of the trend of forcing theaters to up their technology, they needed a reason why to upgrade and some how Cameron convinced the major distributors to force everyone to upgrade from Analoge to Digital all around the same time.

Maybe there will be some new work flow for CGI that involves better tools that are available now to truly see the effects in the film from every angle in advance, but right now there does not need to be any huge jumps forward in tech.

Which probably might be possible is the computer hardware manufactures started focusing on "pure" ray tracing acceleration over raster graphics. But it seems the Ram price hike of last year basically stopped the jump just in time to delay it about a couple more years.

I know there is hybrid cards out there, but much like the 90s... most people saw better performance at the time if they had a dedicated card for 2d and a dedicated card for 3D animation.

September 27, 2019 at 4:17PM, Edited September 27, 4:17PM

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Kyle Dockum
Videographer and Editor
830

Part of me hoped that the "What's next for Cinema from JC?" would be a one line article that says - "More shitty Avatar movies and more unoriginal ideas." Do we really think everyone is waiting to see what he does next? He hasn't directed a film in 10 years. I'm waiting to see what Nolan does next ... what Aronofsky does next ... what Alejandro G. Iñárritu does next. Sadly JC is old news and can't come up with anything new. A True Lies TV series? seriously?

September 27, 2019 at 5:20PM, Edited September 27, 5:20PM

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Jason Kerschner
Director of Video Content
86

"If you're like me, you spend a lot of your time waiting for the next James Cameron announcement." Check date... is it April 1st already?

September 28, 2019 at 12:14PM, Edited September 28, 12:14PM

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