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So what's next for "Avatar" now that it's become the highest-grossing film and best-selling Blu-ray of all time? The bare bones DVD and Blu-ray releases earlier this year looked stunning but didn't have any bonus features of note, so fans were left wondering how director James Cameron and company created that beautiful phosphorescent world filled with strange creatures like the towering blue-skinned Na'vi.
All will be revealed when Fox releases the "Avatar: Extended Collector's Edition" (which you can enter to win here) this week on DVD and Blu-ray with a cut of the film that is 16 minutes longer and includes over 45 minutes of deleted scenes, the feature-length documentary "Capturing Avatar" and numerous other production shorts and featurettes.
The Wizard of Pandora himself, James Cameron, recently lifted the curtain at Beatrice Studios in Los Angeles giving the press a sneak peek of what fans can discover on the Collector's Edition discs by setting up interactive stations with the people who helped bring "Avatar" to life. For the first time, the public was invited to meet the men and women who designed the characters, immersed real actors in a computer-generated environment using advanced motion-capture technology, created a completely new language for the Na'vi to speak, and merged all the elements together for an otherworldly immersive experience.
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One of the most interesting stations was housed in a huge studio fitted with green screens and cameras that track specific points on the bodysuits of actors. The data from these cameras—even subtle facial movements—is fed into computers that help transform the actors into their "Avatar" doppelgangers.
At another station, USC professor Paul Frommer spoke about how he created the roughly 1,400 words of the Na'vi language. Botanical expert Jodie Holt discussed how she made sure the flora design was credible and how she advised Sigourney Weaver on her character. The creature designers, editors, art directors, costume designer, visual and digital effects supervisors as well as the directory of photography were all on hand to explain their role in bringing Pandora to life.
"This is like geek heaven," said Cameron of the Blu-ray feature that allows viewers to see the step-by-step process of creating scenes in three different viewing modes. If you're worried that he is planning some future super-duper edition to eclipse this one, Cameron said that this is it except for a 3-D Blu-ray "maybe one, two years out" for the general public (a 3-D "Avatar" Blu-ray will be available as early as December 1, exclusively bundled with select Panasonic TVs).
This won't be our last look at the strange blue world, however. Cameron said at the Global Media Day that the sequels are "in progress" and that "Avatar II" and "Avatar III" would be made concurrently and released a year apart at some time in the future.