Avatar

UPDATE: The full roundtable clip is online, and embedded below. Original article follows.

MTV just broadcast their 30-minute Avatar webcast roundtable with James Cameron, Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington. While the extended clip promised was disappointing — it was the Thanador chase scene that many have already seen as part of the Comic Con, Avatar Day and online presentations — there was some great behind the scenes footage showing the actors in full mocap gear on soundstages and outdoors. Some screencaps and quotes from the participants are after the break.

Most of the material was pretty standard EPK stuff, ranging from enthusiasm about the world of Pandora (actually the moon to a much larger Jupiter-like gas giant, explained Cameron) and the skills of Cameron as a director. The three were enthusastic and chatty, but didn’t offer up much new info for anyone who’s been following the development of Avatar over months and years.

Cameron claimed that high expectations “make you a better filmmaker when you know you’ve got a lot of fans to please,” and that spending too much time on any one detail in his fictional world isn’t a bad thing, because it’s the same level of scrutiny that some fans will bring to the footage.

The director talked about making the Na’vi blue, in answer to one of the few fan-submitted questions addressed during the half hour. He explained that he wanted to capture otherness, but have the characters be human enough that we can recognize their emotions. (It’s a love story, after all, a fact that was emphasized often throughout the chat.) Zoe’s character has to be beautiful, accessible, and relatable. Skin color was an obvious thing to change, in part because it “relates to our own culture.” Plus, as Cameron said while looking at Worthington, “pallid Australian pink is taken.”

Cameron said “there is a theme [in the film] about how we see others and other cultures. If we could see the world through their eyes instead of ours, we might behave differently. It’s very much about seeing and perceiving and getting on the other side of that cultural barrier.”

The best stuff was the behind the scenes footage, some of which was superimposed on the final renders. We saw the real mockup of a banshee dragon, for instance.

What was the best quote? A half-joke from Cameron about the possibility of spinning additional films off from Avatar. “If the movie makes money, then all things are possible. If it doesn’t, we’ll just pretend it never happened”

Here’s the extended clip shown at the end of the webcast, followed by some screencaps. Apologies for the low-res. That’s how the webcast came across today. If MTV embeds the entire thing, we’ll follow suit.

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