Siggraph: 'Avatar 2' Producer Jon Landau Shows Early Tests for Film

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Twentieth Century Fox

Though there’d been successful 3D films before it, Avatar’s immersive special effects took the medium to a new level of artistic and financial success. The story chronicling Na'vi’s fight to protect their lands against encroachments from a sinister corporation is familiar, but it’s lush backdrops helped James Cameron top his own Titanic as the highest grossing film of all time. The first in a planned trilogy also contributed to a studio clamor to release 3D version of their films.

ANAHEIM — Oscar-winning producer Jon Landau offered a behind-the-scenes look at some of the early tests toward making James Cameron’s Avatar sequels on Tuesday night at the Autodesk Users Group event during the CG confab Siggraph.

He noted that through Lightstorm’s relationship with Autodesk and Weta (the lead VFX house on Avatar), the partners are working to advance virtual production tools and techniques. He added that what he showed was a work in progress as they are "still not there."

He started by taking the attendees back to Pandora, showing the quality level of the work that Cameron viewed to make decisions on the original film.

Landau then showed a series of clips, starting with a live capture created on a stage in November that was set on Pandora and featured a human as well as the Na'vi. "This was our first foray into what we wanted to do," Landau told the audience, pointing to noticeable improvements in aspects of the image including lighting and shadows.

The next examples came out of Autodesk’s virtual production software Motion Builder and again showed a notable advancement in quality. "Ultimately our goal is to get to this on stage [for live capture]," he said. "This is going to allow Jim to light the scenes and make the process more efficient … and focus on what is most important -- the close-up. Movies are about storytelling."

Landau added that these advancements are "a great thing for young filmmakers. We are about preserving the filmmaking experience … I think the future is very bright for Autodesk and for filmmakers."

Email: Carolyn.Giardina@THR.com

Twitter: @CGinLA