I came across this interview with James Cameron at the British Television Awards where he was speaking about Avatar and the future of visual effects in the cinema. He mentioned some very interesting points about the nature of realism in CGI and how this question is becoming increasingly ‘meaningless’ as the experience of cinema and technology changes. When questioned about simulated reality in his films, Cameron states ‘the lines will continue to blur between CGI and photography’. The intention of making something real, whether captured by a lens or created by computer generated photons in a virtual space, should not be deconstructed, it is just a part of the film-making process.

With regards to lighting Cameron argues this case further saying that on many film sets large physical lights are set up to mimic the effects of the sun in a scene. Therefore why not create the source of the sun in 3D and let it light the scene through Global Illumination techniques to get a very real and accurate representation of natural light…’you have to imagine the Sunlight, in neither cases is it actually a reality…All cinematography is a form of artifice anyway, masquerading as reality.’

I find Cameron’s point of view very interesting as he defends the nature of CGI within a film industry that is highly saturated with mindless and corny special effects. In the case of Avatar, Cameron believes it’s irrelevant to question what is real. The film was developed through experimental processes in CGI and motion capture over four years making the world of Pandora as believable and real as possible.


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