First look at the tech – and budget – behind Avatar…and Titanic coming BACK to theaters in 3D?

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic
Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic

The New York Times posted an extended article on the making of James Cameron’s upcoming 3D epic Avatar. It has a lot of info on the film and the groundbreaking technology behind it from Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Jeffrey Katenberg, and Cameron himself. One of the major bits of information was that producers are digitalizing Titanic to re-release in theaters in 3D.

According to the report, Avatar could be the film that forces the majority of theaters to convert to digital once and for all. Spielberg predicts that it will be the biggest 3-D live-action film ever released. The huge project reportedly cost more than $200 million to make, and more than a thousand people have worked on it at one point or another.

Cameron wrote a treatment for Avatar in 1995 as a way to push his digital-production company to its edge. At the time, he himself felt the movie couldn’t be made, and he worked for years to build the tools he needed to realize his vision.

According to the report, the film pioneers two unrelated technologies: e-motion capture, which uses images from tiny cameras rigged to actors’ heads to replicate their expressions; and digital 3-D.

Other neat bits of trivia in the article, include the fact that Avatar was filmed in the old “Spruce Goose” hangar, the 16,000-sq.-ft. space where Howard Hughes built his wooden airplane. The actors work in an empty studio, with the mythical planet Pandora’s lush jungle-aquatic environment being computer-generated in New Zealand by Peter Jackson’s special-effects company, Weta Digital, and added later.

Avatar shakes theaters from their foundations beginning in December 2009.

CLICK HERE for the entire New York Times article.