Director James Cameron has always tried to push the boundaries of technology in cinema to bring his movies to life. Whether it’s practical effects blended with digital effects in T2: Judgment Day, The Abyss, Titanic, or Avatar, Cameron is searching for the best ways to tell the story he envisions

So it’s not surprising that Cameron spent plenty of time ensuring the effects in his Avatar sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, are immaculate. Working with the Weta FX team to return to the world of Pandora, Cameron is incredibly happy with the end results, but he couldn’t have done it without the help of one massive franchise that pushed the boundaries of digital worlds in film. 

In an interview with Comicbook, Cameron revealed that the digital world of filmmaking wouldn’t be where it is today if not for the CGI in Marvel films. 

After jokingly stating that he wasn’t going to diss the Marvel or the DC universe after his comment on Marvel characters “all act like they’re in college” made waves online a few months ago, Cameron said that superhero films have been driving the sheer volume of digital effects in the industry up.

“The more people are doing visual effects around, and obviously the big comic book, superhero films have been driving the sheer volume of the industry, right? And the rising tide of technique rises everybody together,” Cameron said. “It gives you higher quality artists. You’ve got more tools and plugins and code. You’ve got more talented people writing code and simulations and all sorts of things out there.”

Cameron continued, saying, “[Marvel’s VFX] improve everything together.” 

With that being said, Cameron did take a moment to point out that not all of Marvel’s digital effect work looks great or believable. In comparison to his digital characters in Avatar: The Way of Water, Thano’s face was unable to properly emote. Human faces are notoriously difficult to get right in digital effects because of all the different motions the face can make with its 43 muscles. Most rendering programs can’t create an accurate human face.

How MCU's VFX influenced 'Avatar: The Way of Water'Josh Brolin as Thanos in 'Avengers: Infinity War'Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Cameron’s team on The Way of Water, however, took the time to create photorealistic CGI characters. Cameron wanted the inner monologue characters are having with themselves to translate on screen, showcasing each actor’s performance despite their bodies being digital characters.   

While this might not sound fully possible, Cameron hopes that the digital world looks realistic enough to allow audiences to suspend their disbelief and fully invest in the story rather than being concerned about the visuals.

How MCU's VXF influenced 'Avatar: The Way of Water''Avatar: The Way of Water'Credit: 20th Century Studios

Creating stunning digital worlds has been Cameron’s focus for over 30 years. The transition into the digital world is a move that Cameron wanted to make since he founded his digital production company, Digital Domain, in 1992. It was one of the first companies to do digital composting while everyone else was focused on optical printers. Cameron has since achieved this goal but is looking to push the technology even further for the industry. 

One goal Cameron hopes to accomplish in the next decade is developing AI that has enough deep learning to collapse the one-year render timeline for fully digitally composited shots into real-time. There are currently some production companies out there that can make CGI animated shorts with real-life actors on a soundstage in a month. Cameron hopes to find a way to bring this AI-based system into the realm of TV.  

Until then, Cameron will be busy editing footage for Avatar 3and hopefully continuing the story of his digitally created world for Avatar 4 and 5. Despite his love for certain superheroes like Spider-Man, Cameron doesn’t plan on directing any superhero or comic book films anytime soon. The filmmaker is too busy blending cinema and technology. 

Let us know your thoughts on the state of digital worlds and characters in the comments!

Source: Comicbook