Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Filming - TBTR and Avatar


Avatar - Hawaii, New Zealand, USA

TBTR - Portland, Pinewood Studios, London, Shepperton Studios, Kent, East Sussex, Surrey


Avatar, for the most part, was not filmed in a conventional set - there were hardly any props. Actors had to imagine their surroundings as they were mostly  infront of a green screen, filmig with cameras around their heads to film their expressions.

On the other hand, The Boat that Rocked was filmed on normal sets. For example, it was filmed on a real boat, near Portland. This posed real probelms for the production team, as only a certain number of people coudl be on board at a time, and there was limited space. So, some parts of the film had to be shot on in a studio, with rooms from the boat recreated with more room for a film crew. Locations used also include London streets and bedrooms for listeners. For this, 1st and 2nd units filmed simultaneously.

Good but make explicit connections to the key concepts and draw some useful conclusions. Is ownership relevant for example?

Avatar - Why make it now?

The sci-fi epic Avatar has been with James Cameron almost for ever. He says “It was the dream project that I’ve always wanted to do.” When he finally got the chance to make the movie he was so pleases - he had waited almost five years. “It was the chance to put together all these vistas and cool creatures that have been knocking around inside my brain since I was a kid.”

Cameron began planning Avatar in the 1990s, however the technology that he needed to film and edit in order to achieve such avant-garde visuals was not available, so production only began in 2005. Originally, Cameron wanted to release Avatar in 1999. He needed a $400million budget, but and no studio would give him this. The idea was shelved for 8 years.

After the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers was released in 2002, and seeing the CGI effects used on Gollum, Cameron managed to convince the production company 20th Century Fox that his idea was now a viable one.

Cameron and his team, armed with Fox's investment began to develop the technology that he would use to create Avatar. A new 3D camera was developed: the Fusion camera. And after a year and a half of experimentation and refining, the brand new face cameras were ready to capture every fine movement on the actors' faces in order to portray their emotions on screen. The Simulcam, a monitor/camera which converts live action into the world of Pandora in real-time was also developed to enable the director James Cameron to see exactly what the final scene would look like, even while filming.

Production for Avatar began March 2005 and took 4 years to complete.

In summary, it was decided to produce avatar then, as the technology was finally available, as was the immense investment required. With 3D technology quickly becoming popular and accessible, Avatar was the perfect ambassador for such incredible visuals.

Good - relevance of ownership - how does this impact on the development of the technology and the film? Again, you need to connect every point back to the key concepts on the list

The Boat That Rocked - Marketing (Viral and Trailer)

One poster for TBTR

The Boat that Rocked – Lack of Viral campaign.

There was no such viral marketing campaign for the boat that rocked, however there was still a strong marketing campaign following key conventions of many British films. One reason for this lack of Viral marketing is that unlike American movie companies British ones just want to get the film made and do no worry about marketing until post production. However in America throughout the production of the film they are always thinking about how to market the end product.


The 39 seconds teaser trailer was released before the full one minute 30 second trailer in cinemas, this got people talking about the upcoming film. It gave little away which captivated the audience. Further more it made people aware that:
  • The film was opening
  • Who’s in it
  • Genre
  • Idea of story

Both the teaser and the full length trailer require requires synergy, the teaser haven given the audience an idea about the film, the film trailer should take the idea further and develop it. TBTR trailer did that, it revealed more about the main characters as well as giving away some of the plot.

Why no Viral?

Social networking sites are very influential in successful viral campaigns
It was a traditional British film that stuck to posters and trailers, despite these drumming up initial interest in failed to live up to its budget retaking only a quarter of their production budget. Another reason for the lack of viral campaign may have been because of the adult target audience. The primary target audience was 35-60 year olds who grew up around pirate radio, this is an age group that are not known to be big users of digital technology and the internet such as YouTube, Facebook and smart phone apps.

It is through these platforms that viral campaigns are most successful; one flaw of the campaign is the Facebook page for the film targets younger audience who the film did not appeal to as it was a period film. 

Reviews state that ‘If you liked ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ and ‘Love Actually’, you’ll love ‘The Boat That Rocked’.’ All free films are related as they are great representations of British society.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

How Avatar was made: new technologies

James Cameron makes film to push the boundaries and develop technology. Each of his films get bigger and bigger, more money is spent on them and incredible new technology found to enable the film and editing of them. Cameron introduced the first “motion capture” characters and included the first human movements in CGI in Terminator 2.
It took 4 years to make Avatar, about two thirds of it being computer generated. However, live action filming was also used. Footage was filmed on sets, against green-screen backgrounds. Computers (called Simulcams) transformed the actors into their Avatar characters in real time, so that director James Cameron could see exactly what the final shot would look like. He was able to change the computer generated image immediately, while still on set, such as moving scenery or even location in the virtual world. Essentially, it is a similar technology to what computer games use. Cameron said “it is the most difficult thing I have ever done”.
The production team spent the first year and a half perfecting the translation of facial expression from the actors to their CGI Avatars. They had to develop a whole new technology, as previous methods produced unconvincing results. In the end, the actors wore special head rings, which consisted of thousand of camera only an inch from their faces in order to capture every slight movement.
Avatar was also filmed in 2D and 3D. For this, James Cameron and Vince Page, camera expert, developed a new, lightweight 3D camera called Fusion.
The technology used to make Avatar is extremely convincing: cinema-goers are truly immersed in the world of Pandora, the 3D effects are far from gimmicky. The fact that the technology is unique to Avatar means that it attracted a massive audience.

Do you have comparative material like this on TBTR?

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Marketing- Avatar (Global and Online)

Avatar's marketing budget was speculated to be in excess of $200 million although the exact figure has never been released. Aswell as the fairly unsucessful viral campaign on AVTR.com, 20th Century Fox also had a more traditional campaign which proved INCREDIBLY sucessful, utilising other giant media/ business conglomorates and social media to great effect.

McDonalds and Avatar

McDonalds and 20th Century Fox (two of the most POWERFUL GLOBAL businesses) partnered together to create a symbiotic marketing campaign which was mutually advantages to both sides.  


"The fast food chain has developed an interactive game that explores Pandora, the world where Avatar takes place, via high-resolution, 360-degree views - among other sci-fi marketing touches."

The game called PandoraQuest was accessible on McDonald’s local Web sites around the world from December 18 2009. The games goals included finding hidden objects within three different Pandora landscapes. Retrieving all objects enables the player to advance deeper into Pandora and reach their goal of becoming a member of the “RDA Research Team” as seen in the movie.

A key component to the game was McD VISION, an augmented reality experience that immerses players in Pandora. In addition to this was PandoraROVR a vehicle which can transport the player all around the web version of Pandora.

From the Press Release:
McD VISION: An augmented reality (AR) experience that uncovers characters and scenes from the film, and immerses players in the world of Pandora. Players use their "McDonald's Thrill Cards" available in participating U.S. restaurants (through Jan. 7, 2010, while supplies last) to interact within AVATAR's fantastic world."

“PandoraROVR: An online discovery experience where players can take their first steps on Pandora, putting them in the driver's seat for interactive explorations of Pandora's terrain. The players' mission is to roam freely, capture and share images of their exotic discoveries.”

This marketing campaign crucially helped to connect online advertising with in-store purchases. For example, interactive toys in Happy Meals and AR ‘Thrill Cards’ with Big Macs, targeting the gaming demographic, that become part of the experience in the online Pandora when held up to a webcam.

A 3-D film, Avatar 'sets the bar high for customer engagement tie-ins,' McDonald's U.S. chief marketing officer Neal Golden said. But according to Cameron, the restaurant chain has delivered with its tech-heavy, futuristic look. "When I set out to write this movie, I knew that the [computer generated imagery] was about to create a situation where we could do anything that we could imagine," he said.
"McDonald's has stepped up and met that same level. I don't think anyone has seen anything like what they're doing with these tie-ins, the McD vision augmented reality in particular."

McDonald's also ran a Twitter campaign, asking followers to be the first 10 to decode daily word scrambles. The grand prize was a private screening of Avatar over a Big Mac lunch with producer Jon Landau (Source: Promo Magazine.)

Stats released the week beginning Monday 25th January 2010 showed that:
  • Total global receipts of the film had reached $1.858 Billion
  • This is $16 million ahead of the $1.842 Billion earned by Titanic, but Avatar hasn’t even finished yet.
  • Avatar has a shot at topping $750 million at the US box office and $2.5 billion worldwide. 
Many people believe that the films huge earning were due to the global marketing campaign and social media proliferation.

To further exacerbate this point:

Avatar on Facebook had
  • 1,149,471 fans as of 28th January,2010
  • 1,518 fan photos
  • 3,235 links

Avatar on MySpace had 796,182 friends

Avatar on Twitter had 24,800 Followers

In addition to this the 'Blogosphere' was inundated with posts about the film, trying to post spoilers, images, any and every tiny detail of information on the film shrouded in secrecy and enigma to the extent that many knew of the film the previous autumn! (That is one hell of a buzz!)

If that wasn't enough the Avatar YouTube page drew in millions of fans in their drones, loaded with behind the scenes information and fake videos by the character Dr Augustine.

This is all excellent but you need the same for TBTR for comparison. You also need to relate back to the key concepts more explicitly - drawing conclusions is essential.

DVD Information

Released on: 7th September 2009

Online, it was initially sold on Amazon and Play.com
you could pre-order the UK DVD on Amazon

A bluray review:

"The Boat that Rocked’ is set adrift on Blu-ray with a very good Region Free 1080p VC-1 encoded transfer of this recent movie, framed in its theatrical widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1.The pale British skin tones are faithfully reproduced and the image is sharp with healthy levels of contrast throughout.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack really does rock like the boat with period music from a wide range of artists. The DJ dialogue is crisp and intelligible while the waves buffet the walls of your lounge courtesy of the surrounds and subwoofer.Among the extras we have an interesting comm. track, a shovel load of deleted scenes as well as a raft of mini featurettes.
As a movie it’s a humorous tale of pirate radio, filled with on board antics as our heroes battle with a spoilsport British Government of the day to broadcast their own kind of music. Worth a spin."

Its RRP was £24.99 on bluray, £19.99 on DVD

DVD sales within the first week: 53648 copies earning £659,502

Purely descriptive content - where is the theory and analysis?