Thursday, October 01, 2009

Avatar Footage from Fantastic Fest - 2 New Scenes Shown!

Michael here. Thanks to reader moviedoors for the following great write-up of the Avatar event last night at Fantastic Fest. He posted it in this talkback, but it's so good it demands to be on the front page:

I just got back home from the FF presentation. There was roughly 20 minutes of footage. It's hard to say exactly as Landau would comment between the clips. There is some overlap with Avatar Day and the Comic Con footage, but there were a couple of never before seen clips.

The first was of Jake, Grace, and Norm touching down in the jungle. Yes, it's what happens after the chopper shot in the trailer. We get a better look at Norm, and big surprise, it's a pretty nifty representation of Joel Moore (who's character Landau explains is also a scientist, which puts him on Grace's good side). We get to see some human/Avatar side-by-side shots as they exit the chopper, moving about in the digital space right next to each other. The people who weren't impressed by the character motion in the trailer have nothing to worry about. The trailer only showed us an inexperienced Jake walking and the Na'vi in their more fantastic full on battle movement. But it's the movements you take for granted in normal life that really push it to uncanny. The way the Avatars hike along is quite simply just real. As awesome as the details in the character's physical appearances are, it's the added layer of unpredictable motion and body language that truly sells them as real and worth caring about.

The second new clip was of Neytiri and Jake on the branch of one of the 1000 foot trees that the Na'vi inhabit. Big. Ass. Tree. On the edge of the branch are the banshees (no longer the banshee-rays of the scriptment). We get a close up of one of the banshee's chests. It has two holes around the shoulder area. Presumably they are for filling the creature up and converting the gas into something lighter than the Pandoran air to aid in flight. Neytiri is introducing Jake to the banshee she shares a bond with. She explains to him that he will be able to have one of his own "whenever you are ready." She takes off and we see the complete flight briefly glimpsed in the Panasonic commercial. It's also the source of the photos featured in Empire and that, uh, French magazine. Needless to say, it's gorgeous and the 3-D gives the scene a real sense of depth. I can't wait to see this in the glory of a real IMAX theater.

In Q&A Landau discussed the current status of the film: the edit is finished and the special effects shots are basically done. All that's left visually is minor tweaks. The score is not finished and Landau indicted that much of what has been seen has only been temp scored. The scene of Jake taming his banshee and the new one of Neytiri and hers feature the completed James Horner score. Cameron is currently over seeing the sound mix, working from 3 to 10 or 11. He works by teleconference with a team in New Zealand. For anyone who were a little underwhelmed by the straight up dog sounding whimpers of the wounded viperwolf from the Avatar Day footage, this sound has been updated, and now is an appropriately alien death rattle.

When asked what the total budget of the film was, Landau replied "Yes."

Regarding the home market release of Avatar, they aren't sure if it will initially get a 3-D release. It's too early to see what the market is going to be like for the home format when the film is ready for DVD/Bluray release. He likened it too putting out Titanic near the beginning of DVD and noted that they probably did it too soon. With the launch of all the new 3-D TV's in the coming months, it's still a very distinct possibility though. He mentioned that Cameron has a 103 inch (!!!!!!!) 3-D TV. (On a side note, the new JVC 3-D TV's were featured at the Highball, and they look absolutely phenomenal. You will want one).

On 3-D vs 2-D theater attendance: he errs on the side of 2-D being the primary format that audiences will see the film in.

I completely failed on one tidbit of info and that was Landau revealing the first line of the picture. I didn't write it down (as much of a geek as I am, taking notes just felt like crossing a nerd-line). It's Jake in VO, and he's always wanted to fly.

Thanks very much to moviedoors for writing in! I love how the marketing seems to be steadily building to full-on juggernaut status. I am hearing that we may all be seeing the new trailer sooner than many of us think, too.

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