RE: How were the special effects created in Avatar (2009)?
The path-breaking special effects used in James Cameron's Avatar (2009) came from a combination of filming techniques, software, and hardware development that created a virtual filmmaking environment. 1. Performance Capture: The film used a truly revolutionary motion capture system known as "Performance Capture." Actors were fitted with small sensors and filmed in a white room known as 'The Volume.' The system captured their performances from every angle and created a digital skeleton for each actor. Facial performances were captured simultaneously using small cameras attached to the actors' heads. 2. Simulcam: This technology allowed Cameron to film scenes in 'The Volume' and see, in real-time, how the CGI would look alongside the live-action performance. SimulCam married the live action and CG elements in real-time which helped Cameron to guide the actors better. 3. Stereoscopic 3D Filmmaking: Avatar was primarily filmed in stereoscopic 3D. Cameron developed a new camera system called Fusion Camera System. It was a combination of two high-definition cameras mimicking human eyes. 4. Virtual Cameras: Once the performance capture data was filmed, Cameron used a 'Virtual Camera,' a handheld monitor that allowed the director to maneuver through the 3D environment. 5. Special Effects Studio: Apart from these technologies, special effects studio WETA Digital, along with various other companies, employed highly sophisticated CGI to render the stunning landscape of Pandora, complete with exotic flora and fauna. 6. Development of a New Language: For linguistic authenticity, a professional linguist was hired to develop the Na’vi language spoken by the indigenous tribe in the movie. Countless hours of work from artists, designers, programmers, and technicians went into creating Avatar's groundbreaking special effects. The innovative use of technology and detailed approach taken by the production has significantly contributed to Avatar's legacy in cinematic history.