In 1977, a 22-year-old truck driver named James Cameronwent to see Star Warswith a pal. His friend enjoyed the movie; Cameronwalked out of thetheater ready to punch something. He was a collegedropout and spenthis days delivering school lunches in SouthernCalifornia’s OrangeCounty. But in his free time, he painted tiny modelsand wrote sciencefiction — stories set in galaxies far, far away. Nowhe was facing adeflating reality: He had been daydreaming about thekind of world thatLucas had just brought to life. Star Wars was thefilm he should have made.
It got him so angry he bought himself some cheap movie equipmentandstarted trying to figure out how Lucas had done it. He infuriatedhiswife by setting up blindingly bright lights in the living roomandrolling a camera along a track to practice dolly shots. He spentdaysscouring the USC library, reading everything he could aboutspecialeffects. He became, in his own words, “completely obsessed.”
He quickly realized that he was going to need some money, sohepersuaded a group of local dentists to invest $20,000 in what hebilledas his version of Star Wars. He and a friend wrote a scriptcalled Xenogenesisand used the money to shoot a 12-minute segment thatfeatured astop-motion fight scene between an alien robot and a womanoperating amassive exoskeleton. (The combatants were models thatCameron hadmeticulously assembled.)
The plan was to use the clip to get a studio to back afull-lengthfeature film. But after peddling it around Hollywood formonths,Cameron came up empty and temporarily shelved his ambition totrumpLucas.
The effort did yield something worthwhile: a job with B-movie kingRogerCorman. Hired to build miniature spaceships for the film Battle Beyondthe Stars,Cameron worked his way up to become one of Corman’s visualeffectsspecialists. In 1981, he made it to the director’s chair,overseeing aschlocky horror picture, Piranha II: The Spawning.
只好付诸努力做一些有价值的事了：在B级片之王罗杰•科曼手下打工。卡梅隆受雇为电影《世纪争霸战》打造微缩太空飞船，他用自己的方式日渐上位，后来成为科曼旗下的虚拟视觉效果专家之一。1981年，他登上导演宝座，监督制作了一部劣质恐怖片，食人鱼II：繁殖 。 一天晚上，开完《食人鱼》编辑会之后，卡梅隆发着高烧睡着了，梦见自己看见一个机器人张牙舞爪走向一个惊恐的女人。场面定格于此。其后一年间，卡梅隆以这个梦中场景为基础完成了一个剧本，讲述一个机器人刺客穿越时光及时杀死未来叛军领袖的母亲。
One night, after a Piranha editing session, Cameronwent to sleep with afever and dreamed that he saw a robot clawing itsway toward a coweringwoman. The image stuck. Within a year, Cameronused it as the basis fora script about a cyborg assassin sent back intime to kill the mother ofa future rebel leader.
This time, he wouldn’t need any dentists. The story was socompelling,he was able to persuade a small film financing company tolet him directthe picture. When it was released in 1984, The Terminator establishedArnold Schwarzenegger as a huge star, and James Cameron, onetime truckdriver, suddenly became a top-tier director.
Over the next 10 years, Cameron helmed a series of daring films,including Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and TrueLies.Generating $1.1 billion in worldwide box office revenue, theygaveCameron the kind of clout he needed to revisit his dream of makinganinterstellar epic. So in 1995, he wrote an 82-page treatment aboutaparalyzed soldier’s virtual quest on a faraway planet afterEarthbecomes a bleak wasteland. The alien world, called Pandora,ispopulated by the Na’vi, fierce 10-foot-tall blue humanoids withcatlikefaces and reptilian tails. Pandora’s atmosphere is so toxic tohumansthat scientists grow genetically engineered versions of theNa’vi,so-called avatars that can be linked to a human’sconsciousness,allowing complete remote control of the creature’s body.Cameronthought that this project — titled Avatar— could be his next blockbuster. That is, the one after he finished alittle adventure-romance about a ship that hits an iceberg.
Titanic, of course, went on to become thehighest-grossing movie of alltime. It won 11 Oscars, including bestpicture and best director.Cameron could now make any film he wanted.So what did he do?
Cameron would not release another Hollywood film for 12 years. Hemade afew underwater documentaries and did some producing, but he waslargelyout of the public eye. For most of that time, he rarelymentioned Avatarand said little about his directing plans.
But now, finally, he’s back. On December 18, Avatararrives in theaters.This time, Cameron, who turned 55 this year,didn’t need to build halfan ocean liner on the Mexican coast as he didwith Titanic, so why didit take one of the most powerfulmen in Hollywood so long to come outwith a single film? In part, theanswer is that it’s not easy toout-Lucas George Lucas. Cameron neededto invent a suite of moviemakingtechnologies, push theaters nationwideto retool, and imagine everydetail of an alien world. But there’s moreto it than that. To reallyunderstand why Avatar took so long to reach the screen, we need to lookback at the making of Titanic.
“People may not remember, but it was anabsolutelyvicious time,” Cameron tells me in the private movie theaterat hissprawling home in Malibu, California. He looks softer than he didatthe Oscars in 1998 — his hair is longer and grayer and hisfaceclean-shaven. But his famous impatience is still close to thesurface.Early in our conversation about what he’s been doing for thepastdecade, he informs me that I “don’t know fuck,” so I try to lethimexplain how things unfolded.
“When we were filming Titanic,” he says, “we were justtrying to figureout how much money we were going to lose.” Indeed, inthe mythicafterglow of box office success, it’s easy to forget that Titanicwasexpected to be a disaster. The project went more than $100 millionoverits initial $100 million budget, making it the most expensivemovie evermade. The main financier, 20th Century Fox, pressuredCameron to containthe overruns.
As a sign of his commitment, Cameron agreed to give up his entiredirecting fee and any profit participation in the movie. WhenTitanicmissed its July 4 release date, it appeared that the project wasin bigtrouble. Cameron kept a razor blade on his editing desk with anote: Use only if film sucks.“Ijust realized I made a $200 million chick flick where everyonedies.What the hell was I thinking?” he confided to a friend at thetime.“I’m going to have to rebuild my career from scratch.”
好莱坞业内杂志Variety称其为“电影史上最大的豪赌”并且质疑福斯公司能否收回成本。“每个人都认为影片要遭遇毁灭性的失败，” 雷圣基尼（Rae Sanchini,），卡梅隆制作公司的前任董事长说。
The Hollywood trade journal Variety called it“thebiggest roll of the dice in film history” and questioned whetherFoxwould come anywhere near breakeven. “Everybody waspredictingcatastrophic failure,” says Rae Sanchini, the formerpresident ofCameron’s production company.
And then, miraculously, this Titanic dodged the icebergand sailed intothe record books, grossing $1.8 billion worldwide. “Wewent from thelowest lows to the highest high,” Sanchini says. “It wasa disorientingexperience for all of us, but most of all for Jim. Hewas emotionallyand physically exhausted.”
Still, Sanchini expected the director to bounce back. Before Titanic,Cameron was excited about Avatar — it was, after all, the space epic hehad been dreaming about since 1977. But now he didn’t seem veryinterested.
Part of this ambivalence stemmed from a meeting at Digital Domain,thevisual effects company Cameron cofounded in 1993. He presentedhisconcept for Avatar and explained that the main characterswere10-foot-tall blue aliens with narrow waists and powerful legsandtorsos. They had to look utterly real, and the effect couldn’tbeachieved with prosthetics. The aliens would have tobecomputer-generated. But given the state of the art, his team toldhim,that was impossible. It would take too much time and money andanunthinkable amount of computing power.
“If we make this, we’re doomed,” one of the artists told him. “It can’t be done. The technology doesn’t exist.”
Cameron was actually relieved. He didn’t feel like dealing withactorsand agents and “all that Hollywood bullshit.” He needed abreak.Luckily, a huge windfall was headed his way. Fox executives knewit wasin their best interest to keep the self-anointed king of theworldhappy. They decided to overlook the fact that he had given uphisfinancial stake in Titanic and, in the wake of itshistoric Oscarrun, wrote him a check for tens of millions of dollars.(Reportedly,Cameron eventually earned more than $75 million from thefilm.) Hewouldn’t have to work another day in his life.
“I had my fuck-you money,” Cameron says. “It was time to go play.”Here’s James Cameron’s idea of play: scuba divingnearunexploded, World War II-era depth charges in Micronesia. In thesummerof 2000, he chartered an 80-foot boat and invited a group ofpeople todive down to a fleet of sunken Japanese battleships. Hebrought along Vincent Pace,an underwater camera specialist who had worked on Titanic and TheAbyss.Pace, expecting to experiment with hi-def video, packed all ofhis gearbut soon began to suspect that Cameron had something else onhis mind.They were looking over footage from a day’s dive when Cameron askedPacea question: What would it take to build “the holy grail ofcameras,” ahigh-definition rig that could deliver feature-film qualityin both 2-Dand 3-D? Pace wasn’t sure — he was no expert but knew aboutthe cheapred-and-blue paper glasses of conventional 3-D filmmaking.They werenotoriously uncomfortable, and the images could causeheadaches if theprojectors weren’t calibrated perfectly. Cameronbelieved there must bea way to do it better. What he really wanted totalk about was hisvision for the next generation of cameras:maneuverable, digital,high-resolution, 3-D.
Inventing such a camera wouldn’t be easy, but Cameron said he wasreadyto break new ground. He mentioned a mysterious, long-gestatingfilmproject that would bring viewers to an alien planet. Camerondidn’t wantto make the movie unless viewers could experience theplanet viscerally,in 3-D. Since no satisfactory 3-D cameras existed,he’d have to buildone. He’d brought Pace on the Pacific adventure toask if the underwatercameraman wanted to help. His goal seemed kind ofextreme, but Pacethought it sounded interesting and signed on. “Jimhad a clear ambitionon the dive trip,” Pace says. “It was fun, but Ididn’t really know whatI was getting into.”
Two months later, Cameron sent Pace a $17,000 first-class ticketfromLos Angeles to Tokyo, and soon they were sitting in front oftheengineers at Sony’s hi-def-camera division. Pace was there tohelppersuade Sony to separate the lens and image sensor from theprocessoron the company’s professional-grade HD camera. The bulky CPUcould thenbe kept a cable-length away from the lens — rather thanstruggling witha conventional 450-pound 3-D system, a camera operatorwould just haveto handle a 50-pound, dual-lens unit.
Sony agreed to establish a new line of cameras, and, usingtheprototype, Pace set to work. After three months, he had fittedthelenses into a rig that allowed an operator to precisely control the3-Dimaging. He figured they’d start with a simple test using an actorortwo, but Cameron had other ideas. He asked Pace to install the gearina rented World War II-era P-51 fighter and then sent him up in aB-17Flying Fortress. Cameron jumped in behind the pilot of the P-51andonce airborne started filming while the pilot fired .50-calibermachinegun blanks at Pace’s B-17. “It was my first taste of what Jimconsiders‘testing,’” Pace says.
The camera performed well, delivering accurate 3-D images thatwouldn’tcause headaches over the course of a long movie. Pace thoughtCameronwould launch right into Avatar. Instead, the director took his newcamera 2.3 miles under the sea to film the wreck of the Titanic in 3-D.The way Cameron tells it, he wasn’t done having “manly adventures.”
His partner on these adventures was the deep-sea explorer AndrewWight.An intrepid Australian, Wight had explored a collapsingunderwater cave,swum with great white sharks, and stared saltwatercrocodiles in theeye. But even he had trouble matching Cameron’sintensity. When ahurricane headed up the Eastern seaboard toward theirposition over theTitanic, Wight assumed they would turnand outrun the weather. Cameronargued that it was a perfectopportunity to “tweak the tail” of thehurricane and get some greatstorm footage. The Russian captain of theship overruled Cameron, andto the director’s chagrin, they ran.
“He’s a tough bugger,” Wight says. “But it’s not a death wish — it’s just his idea of fun.”
Sanchini, the former head of Cameron’s production company, wasn’tquitesure what to make of it. “I knew he was tired of the filmbusiness,” shesays, “but I didn’t expect him to keep taking detours.”
Cameron wasn’t just goofing off. He wanted to makeAvatar,and he wanted to do it in digital 3-D. Unfortunately, theaterchainswere not adopting the technology. It would cost approximately$100,000per theater, and exhibitors had to be convinced it would payoff. Theyneeded some high-profile 3-D films that could generate enoughrevenueto justify the conversion.
So Cameron decided to let other directors test his system. The firstwas Robert Rodriguez, who shot Spy Kids 3-Dusing the new camera. Thepicture would still have to be viewed wearingold-fashioned red-and-blueglasses, but Cameron hoped it woulddemonstrate demand for more 3-Dmovies and goad theater owners intoinvesting in next-gen projectionsystems. Released in the summer of2003, Spy Kids 3-D made $200 millionworldwide, but exhibitors remained reluctant to invest in thetechnology.
Cameron decided to talk to theater owners directly and showed upattheir annual convention in March 2005. ShoWest, at the Paris LasVegasHotel and Casino, was in full swing, and Cameron was readytoproselytize. He laid it on thick, telling exhibitors that the worldwas“entering a new age of cinema.” And in case the inspirationalapproachdidn’t work, he tried something more ominous, telling them thatthosewho didn’t switch would regret it. By the end of the year only79theaters in the entire country could show digital 3-D movies.Butexhibitors had gotten the message: Between 2005 and 2009, theyaddedsome 3,000 screens capable of showing digital 3-D.
However, the lack of 3-D theaters wasn’t the only thing holdingCameronback. Special-effects companies were still struggling to createfullyphoto-realistic animated characters. That had begun to change in2002,when Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital in New Zealand debuted Gollum,astunningly believable computer-generated character who held hisownagainst the hobbits in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Cameronfinally felt the time had come to try to build a CG world that would beindistinguishable from reality.
So in the spring of 2005, he met with Fox and asked for a fewmilliondollars to prove he could create just such a world. Theexecutives hadsome initial concerns, not all of which were technical.For instance:The tails — were the tails on the aliens absolutelynecessary?
“Yes,” Cameron said flatly. “They have to have tails.”
He didn’t say anything else. He didn’t have to. The Foxexecutivesstopped asking questions and agreed to pay for the test.Cameron’sHollywood clout was intact.
The director spent five weeks putting together the 30-second testscene. It depicted an alien and an Avatarrunning through a forest andtalking. Lucas’ own Industrial Light &Magic did the effects work,and it was enough to persuade Fox that theproject was feasible. Thestudio agreed to a budget of $195 million,and Cameron was finally backin the director’s chair.
The first time Cameron set out to out-Lucas Lucas,hehad to make do with $20,000 and a special effects studio set up intheback bedroom of his house in Orange County. This time around, moneywasnot an issue, and his special effects were handled by hundredsofartists at Weta and ILM. But it wasn’t all about f/x. Lucas has had30years to expand the Star Wars universe. The franchise hasgotten sobig that he has developed a sophisticated system forcataloging andtracking all its far-flung characters, planets,societies, andconflicts. To conjure something even more elaborate for Avatar, Cameronwent looking for expert help.
He started by hiring USC linguistic expert Paul Frommer to inventanentirely new language for the Na’vi, the blue-skinned nativesofPandora. Frommer came on board in August 2005 and began byaskingCameron what he wanted the language to sound like? Did he wantclicksand guttural sounds or something involving varying tones? Tonarrow theoptions, Frommer turned on a microphone and recorded ahandful ofsamples for Cameron.
The director liked ejective consonants, a popping utterance thatvaguelyresembles choking. Frommer locked down a “sound palette” andstarteddeveloping the language’s basic grammatical structure. Cameronhadopinions on whether the modifier in a compound word should comefirst orlast (first) and helped establish a rule regarding the natureof nouns.It took months to create the grammar alone. “He’s a veryintense guy,”Frommer says. “He didn’t just tell me to build a languagefrom scratch.He actually wanted to discuss points of grammar.”
Thirteen months after he began work on Avatar, Frommer wrote a pamphlet titled Speak Na’viandstarted teaching the actors how to pronounce the language. He heldNa’viboot camps and then went over lines one by one with each actor.“Cameronwanted them to be emotional, but they had to do it in alanguage thatnever existed,” Frommer says. If an actor flubbed a Na’viword, Frommerwould often step in with a correction. “There were timeswhen the actorsdidn’t want me to tell them that they had mispronounceda word that hadnever been pronounced before,” he says.
With the language established, Cameron set about naming everythingonhis alien planet. Every animal and plant received Na’vi, Latin,andcommon names. As if that weren’t enough, Cameron hired JodieHolt,chair of UC Riverside’s botany and plant sciences department, towritedetailed scientific descriptions of dozens of plants he hadcreated.She spent five weeks explaining how the flora of Pandora couldglowwith bioluminescence and have magnetic properties. When she wasdone,Cameron helped arrange the entries into a formal taxonomy.
This was work that would never appear onscreen, but Cameron lovedit. Hebrought in more people, hiring an expert in astrophysics, amusicprofessor, and an archaeologist. They calculated Pandora’satmosphericdensity and established a tripartite scale structure forthe alienmusic. When one of the experts brought in the Star Wars Encyclopedia,Cameron glanced at it and said, “We’ll do better.”
Eventually, a team of writers and editors compiled all this informationinto a 350-page manual dubbed Pandorapedia.It documents the science andculture of the imaginary planet, and, asmuch as anything, it representsthe fully realized world Cameron hascreated. For fans who want to delvedeeper, parts of Pandorapedia will be available online this winter.
Cameron is trying to show me something with a laserpointer. He queues up a scene toward the end of Avatarand freezes theframe on an image of a large crowd of Na’vi. He usesthe pointer to drawattention to an ornate headdress composed ofhundreds of tiny beads. Theonscreen image is amazingly crisp, and theheaddress appears utterlyreal. Each bead was designed by a digitalartist, Cameron says, so itwould look handmade. “Every leaf, everyblade of grass in this world wascreated,” he says, and his laserpointer streaks across the screen,alighting on so many things I can’tfollow its path.
Back in 1997, when Cameron was struggling to complete Titanic,disasterseemed right around the corner. “We were pegged the biggestidiots infilm history,” he says. Now he has the opposite problem:Expectationscouldn’t be higher. “It’s making me work harder,” he says.
This time, though, Cameron seems to be enjoying the work. Atleastthere’s no razor blade next to the editing controls. “For Jim,thisproject was in some ways the antidote to Titanic,”Sanchini says.“He didn’t have to deal with weather, wardrobe problems,historicalaccuracy, or huge sets. If the leading lady had a pimple, itwasn’t adisaster. Avatar gave Jim total control.”
Thirty-two years after realizing that he desperately wanted to make aspace epic to rival Star Wars,Cameron has put the finishing touches onhis picture. Now he has towait to see what the public and critics makeof the result. The days oftotal control are over.
Contributing editor Joshua Davis (www.joshuadavis.net) wrote about the world’s biggest diamond heist in issue 17.04.
2010-01-10 19:17 编辑：kuaileyingyu
The average woman cannot keep a secret for longer than 47 hours, a new study suggests. Researchers found that women are overcome by a burning desire to share gossip as soon as the
Elizabeth H. Blackburn (mentioned below), Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak have just won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their breakthrough work on telomerase, wh