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The MarketSaw 3D cinema blog‘s obsession with all things Avatar continues unabated and this time, appears to have yielded some very interesting tidbits about a key action set piece. According to the correlating reports they have received, one of the film’s big standout sequences is a 12 minute, first person perspective chase. I suppose you might think immediately of the opening sequence to Strange Days or, less favorably, the gimmick scene in Doom.

Cameron scripted Strange Days and I think he’d be very interested in directing a sequence of this nature himself – particularly with the new toys he’s helped invent to make it run nice and smooth. Reportedly, there were some key issues encountered during development, including problems with a simulated blinking effect and the blurring of the image. The solution sounds to be a compromised incorporation of those bumps into a smoother, more typical cinema aesthetic, and is described as “interesting”.

I’ve got big issues with the basic concept of a first person sequence unless used in the narrow and specific context of a properly established and acceptable subjectivity. The SQUID device in Strange Days provided that context and the very premise of Avatar supplies one too. This illuminates part of the problem with the Doom sequence, of course. There, the first person device can still be intellectualized away on some fronts – it refers to the game, after all – but it doesn’t feel right to an audience. And that’s what really good movie making is actually about: understanding how the cogs and gymbles create feelings, and rigging the engine so that the feelings acquired make direct and emotional sense, on first viewing and beyond.

I’m very keen to see this sequence in action. I’d even go so far as to suggest Cameron’s two first-person set pieces, in Strange Days and Avatar, cut right to the heart of what he found interesting about these stories in the first place. Both are stories about experience filtered through a mediating technology – ie. they’re about film, at least to a large degree, and perhaps larger now Cameron has made strides with 3D imagery.

I don’t pity Cameron the job of balancing the transparent, blink-free and blur-less aesthetic of normal tracking shots with the necessary details required in an “in the skull” sequence like this without ripping the audience’s investment in the diegesis to shreds. Can’t wait to see if he’s nailed it bang on, but I’m already pretty confident he has. This plays with tools he’s a true master of.

Time to put on some Creedence and daydream of that fateful day Avatar will finally be revealed in it’s full, three dimensional glory…

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