AVATAR’s post-production process - James Cameron
AVATAR’s post-production process, like almost everything else about the film, was decidedly atypical. On most films, editing begins in post-production, but on AVATAR, Cameron and fellow editors Stephen Rivkin, A.C.E. and John Refoua, A.C.E. began cutting initial captured sequences during pre-production. The editors and their Avids were a regular presence on set during production, delivering to WETA sequences on a monthly basis. “Before we ever shot a frame of live action film, we had probably delivered seventy minutes of edited footage to WETA,” says Landau.
A key part of the post-production period was composer James Horner’s score, which combines classic symphonic elements that propel the film’s epic action, with sounds that transport us to another world; the latter includes vocalists singing in the film’s Na’vi language, as well as unusual acoustic and electronic instrumentalists. Movie fans and music watchers have eagerly anticipated this new Cameron- Horner collaboration; Horner’s work on 1986’s “Aliens,” yielded one of the cinema’s finest action film scores, and 1997’s “Titanic” made movie and soundtrack history. For AVATAR Horner reunited with “My Heart Will Go On” collaborator Simon Franglen to create a new song. “I See You” is sung by international sensation Leon Lewis, and can be heard in the end credits of the film. The song expresses the Na’vi idea of “seeing,” when a person understands with their heart and spirit, not just with their mind.
As he entered the final stages of AVATAR, Cameron was eager to share his vision with the world. He previewed extended scenes at key domestic and international exhibitor gatherings, and at the massive Comic-Con pop culture enclave. Pleased with the response to these early looks, Cameron continued to fine-tune the editing and review the finished or near-finished visual effects work coming in daily from WETA Digital and the other visual effects vendors (including ILM, Framestore, Prime Focus, Hybride and hy*drau”lx), all to make AVATAR a one-of-a-kind experience for moviegoers. “Jim doesn’t make movies for himself,” says Jon Landau. “He makes them for the audience.” Adds Cameron: “I really want audiences to have a completely satisfying cinematic experience. And I hope audiences will walk out of the theater saying, ‘I didn’t see a movie; I experienced a movie.’”
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