The surprising way Avatar was inspired by Madonna

Avatar producer Jon Landau reveals the surprising way James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster was inspired by the Queen of Pop herself, Madonna.


Avatar producer Jon Landau reveals the surprising way Madonna inspired the film. Written and directed by James Cameron, the 2009 blockbuster starred Sam Worthington as a disabled former Marine, Jake Sully, who travels to the lush planet of Pandora and falls in love with Neytiri, a Na’vi woman played by Zoe Saldaña. Avatar, well known for its incredible visual effects and innovative motion capture techniques, became the highest-grossing film of all time. Soon, four sequels were on the way.

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The long-awaited first sequel Avatar: The Way of the Water, due out later this year. Much like the first film, Avatar 2 suffered numerous delays as new performance capture technology needed to be developed before production. Released last May, the Avatar 2 The trailer revealed that it might just be worth it, showcasing a stunning look at Pandora’s ocean views and the Sully family dynamics at the heart of the story. To help the public prepare Water Way‘s in December, Disney announced that it would re-release Avatar in theaters with remastered picture and sound on September 23.

Related: James Cameron Is Right: Avatar Sequels Are A Huge Risk

Now, in a recent interview with The New York Times before Avatarof the theatrical re-release, producer Jon Landau revealed the surprising way Madonna inspired the film’s cinematography. Landau, who shares production credit with Cameron, says they were specifically inspired by the pop star’s microphone placement during her concerts, which gave them the idea to keep the camera close to the actors while filming action scenes. Read what Landau revealed about Avatar‘s weird inspiration below:

If Madonna can bounce back with a mic to her face and give a great performance, we thought, “Let’s replace that mic with a video camera. That video camera stays with the actor while we capture the performance, and although we don’t we’re not using that image itself, we give it to the visual effects company, and they render it frame by frame, almost pore-level. Motion capture for us has always lacked a very key letter in front of her: E. E-motion Capture.

Avatar taking inspiration from Madonna isn’t as weird as it sounds. During her Blond Ambition tour in 1990, the pop star popularized herself by using wireless headphones instead of a handheld microphone. Behind the scenes of Avatar, they used similar-looking black helmets. Yet, instead of a microphone placed in front of the actors’ mouths, they used a small, square camera to capture their facial expressions and make the CGI look as realistic as possible. In reality, this is just one example of a pioneer in his field taking inspiration from another.

For the manufacture of Avatar 2, Cameron and his team have once again pioneered new filming technology. The biggest headline was the innovation of capturing underwater performances, which required Kate Winslet to hold her breath for seven minutes, two feats never before achieved in film. As AvatarCameron’s re-release is approaching after the sequel premieres this December 16th, so it will be interesting to discover potentially more of Cameron’s unlikely inspirations for these technological innovations.

Source: The New York Times

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