Random Factoid #202

15 02 2010

People obsessed with the future often remind us that we can tell our kids “I lived in a world where…”.  For my parents, they can say they lived in a world where segregation still existed and cable didn’t.

There are plenty of things I can say to my kids.  I lived in a world where September 11th was just another date on the calendar.  Where you had to dial-up to get Internet.  On the movie side of things, where “E.T.” was the highest-grossing movie of all time (not adjusting for inflation).  Where Arnold Schwarzenegger was just a Terminator and a Kindergarten Cop.  Where the Oscars weren’t held on a Sunday.

But one that I think they won’t be able to believe, unfortunately, is that I lived in a world where you could go to a movie and not be bothered by commercials before the trailers.

I remember this world vividly.  It ended on November 15, 2002, when they showed ads for an EZ-Bake oven that made chocolate bugs before “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”  It stunned the audience.  Little did we know, this would become a mainstay of trips to the movie theater.  And it would only get worse.

FEATURE: What’s All The Fuss About “Avatar”?

22 08 2009

It has been 12 long years since James Cameron’s “Titanic” took the movie world by storm, becoming the sixth highest selling movie ever (NOTE: I didn’t say “highest grossing” movie because ticket prices have fluctuated so much over the years that the most fair way to gauge a movie’s success is through its adjusted gross.  This method takes the amount of tickets sold and multiplies it by the ticket price in the current time).  With “Titanic,” he got girls to come back week after week, swooning at Leonardo DiCaprio for over 3 hours.

Now, Cameron is aiming for a new group of moviegoers: the visual effects nerds.  “Avatar” has been hyped for years, and now we are finally getting to see what Cameron has been crafting for over a decade.  He has had the idea for quite a while, but he wanted to wait for the technology to be developed to make the movie the marvel that he imagines.  Because Cameron so deeply values the role of technology in making movies, I figure I should briefly explain how they are making this fantasy world.  The movie uses an advanced version of the motion capture technology used for movies like “The Polar Express,” allowing Cameron to see and control the virtual environment, normally added later, alongside the actors on the virtual stage.  They are also experimenting with allowing the actors while they are on the motion capture stage to interact fully with computer-generated characters.  The team has also made improvements to the motion capture technology, making the characters and their expressions look even more real.

The project has been mysterious for many years, and the first time that the general public really got a glimpse at it was at Comic-Con in San Diego a few weeks ago.  It was there that Cameron announced that he would be screening 15 minutes of the movie in select IMAX 3D theaters across the country, calling it “Avatar Day.”  That was yesterday, August 21st, and I was fortunate enough to view it.  The first official trailer for the film was released the day before, and all of a sudden, “Avatar” is everywhere.  Yet due to the project’s enigmatic nature, many normal moviegoers have no idea what all the buzz is about.  So, hopefully I can answer the question I posed in the title of this post. Read the rest of this entry »