Posted on Saturday, March 27th, 2010 by David Chen
Caroly Giardina at The Hollywood Reporter has a fascinating feature on the postproduction process for James Cameron’s Avatar. Cameron’s technical standards were so high that he wanted as many different versions of the film as possible, so that the film could be optimized for different types of settings. Add to that the already taxing process of producing the film in differing formats (i.e. 2D film, 2D digital, 3D, IMAX, etc.), plus the burden of an international day-and-date release, and you have a logistical nightmare. Fortunately, the folks at Fox were apparently able to pull it off without a hitch. Hit the jump for some interesting statistics and details about how Avatar got into your local multiplex.
According to Ted Gagliano, president of postproduction at Fox, “No studio has ever faced what we faced on this…Jim wanted the best, most immersive experience possible. So he pushed us to have a multiple-version inventory that would give each theater the best experience it could possibly deliver for that given theater.” Here are some of the facts:
- Eighteen different versions of Avatar were created for the domestic market, plus an additional 92 for international markets in 47 languages. “The international versions included more than 52 subtitled and 18 dubbed versions on film, 58 subtitled and 36 dubbed versions in digital 3D, nine subtitled and eight dubbed versions in digital 2D, and 23 subtitled and 15 dubbed versions for Imax.”
- As Avatar repeat viewers may already know, Cameron made the film using three different aspect ratios: Scope (2:39:1), flat (1:85:1), and IMAX (1:43:1). The film was released on over 17,000 35mm screens, 7,382 digital 3D screens, 553 digital 2D screens, and 272 IMAX 3D screens.
- Because the 3D glasses take down the amount of light that the viewer sees, Avatar had to be optimized for different light levels. Said one Fox postproduction executive, “If we had just sent out one version of the movie, it would have been very dark (in the larger theaters)…We had a very big flow chart with all of the different steps, so we could send the right media to the right theater.”
- Sometimes, a single theater required multiple versions of the film for its different screens
- Towards the end, the film was finalized reel by reel. The regular film was finished in 10 parts, while the IMAX film version of Avatar was worked on in 82 different reels
Check out the feature for more details. Overall, a Herculean effort was put into something that most people probably didn’t even think about. That they remained almost completely invisible throughout the entire release process is a testament to their hard work, skill, and professionalism.