Greetings from Zürich, Switzerland, where I just saw Avatar in 3D at the Arena Film City cinemas. All I can saw is, wow! Such beautiful imagery! It was so amazing to see what the finished composited film looked like after seeing the raw green-screen footage two years earlier in New Zealand.  While I was watching the raw shots flicker through the monitors, my imagination filled in the gaps of what this world would look like, but actually seeing it was beyond what I could imagine!

I first became involved with Avatar back in late  October 2007, while I was working at the Dub Shop in Wellington, New Zealand.  The owner of the Dub Shop, Simon Reece, was an industry veteran, and I very quickly learned my way around the Kiwi film industry. I tracked down legendary Kiwi editor Mike Horton for lunch one day, and he referred me onto  Jonno Woodford Robinson (assistant editor on Lord of the Rings and King Kong), who helped put me in touch with Weta Digital. A couple weeks later, I got a call from Cyndi Ochs, the production manager on a film being shot in Wellington called Avatar.  They were looking for someone experienced in operating HD decks to work an overnight shift in the engineering truck running dubs of their dailies. A couple days later I had a night job. Post continues here…

The shift began whenever they finished filming, which was between 7pm on Monday nights to as late as 4am by Saturday night.  I worked in the engineering truck, copying the day’s shooting, which was being recorded on HDCAM-SR tapes.  As they were shooting every take with 3  cameras, and each camera recorded two separate tapes for the left and right eyes, at the end of each day there were 15-30 tapes to copy!   Luckily, I had six decks at my disposal so I could run three sets of dubs at once, but keeping organized was very important.  One set of tapes was for Weta Digital, who were creating most of the CGI special effects at their nearby headquarters in Wellington. The other set was being shipped off to Digital Domain in California, where they were doing editing, motion capture, and additional effects.  We also had to sometimes convert tapes between different formats, and sometimes edit together the left and right-eye footage.  Usually the shift only took a couple hours. It was waking up at 2am to do it, then going back to sleep again to get up for work the next day that was challenging. Quite often I would arrive when shooting should have wrapped and discover they were actually filming for another two or three hours of overtime.  The upside was that I got to see a lot of their filming process. Very quickly, though, I brought on-board Eduardo Castillo-Visani, a co-worker of mine at the Dub Shop, to alternate shifts with me.

It was so amazing to be a part of this production, and see some of the amazing technologies being used. For example, they had live motion capture actors playing giant creatures interacting with actors filming elsewhere on set, composited together through real-time 3-d graphics engines on monitors for Jim to watch.   And just to see the scale of how a huge Hollywood production functions was awesome.  The diverse mix of Kiwi, Australian, American, and Canadian crew were all very nice to me and great to work with. It was also cool to mix with the cast at some of the social events tied to the production. For example, Stephen Lang, who plays Colonel Miles Quaritch, was the nicest, friendliest cast member, the complete opposite of the character he played!

Filming began in October, and was scheduled to wrap in early December before Christmas. The original workweek was Monday through Friday. Within a few weeks, the wrap date was pushed back to January, and we were working six day weeks. Then the wrap date became February. Finally, we just stopped believing there was a wrap date.  This was a problem, as many of the crew had committed to work on other projects in the new year.  Bruno Brunelli, our trusty head engineer, was committed to working on the NBA finals and departed around Christmas.  Britt Cyrus, who works for the company that supplied the gear, came on as his replacement.

James Meikle, who was working as an onset assistant editor, left as well. He was cutting together scenes from the real-time graphics for Jim to view. Jason Gaudio, the first assistant editor, spoke to me about working as James’s replacement. Unfortunately, I had just accepted a full-time editing job at Propeller Productions (see my Bio), so I wasn’t a available! Then a few months later I was laid off from Propeller. In retrospect, I may have been better off working as an assistant editor on Avatar. How cool would it have been to be working side by side with Jim Cameron in front of an Avid!  But at the time I thought I was making the wiser decision.

Shooting finally did wrap, in mid-March, three months behind schedule.  We had a wrap party at Hope Brothers in central Wellington, where we had a variety of blue-themed cocktails. All in all, an awesome experience!

Tatsache ist, dass viele schlicht keine ahnung von dem thema seminararbeit schreiben lassen haben