Three-time Academy Award-winning director James Cameron is a pioneer in the field of motion capture. In the mid-'90s he used the nascent technology to create the massive crowd scenes and stunts in his blockbuster Titanic. These days he's still at the cutting edge of the technology, but he prefers to call motion capture "performance capture" because, as he points out, "actors don't do motion, they do emotion."
Cameron is in the midst of his latest film project, Avatar, which is his most technologically innovative film to date. The futuristic movie about an ex-Marine will be released in 2009 simultaneously with a massive, multiplayer, video game based on the film.
BusinessWeek couldn't catch up to Cameron for a sit-down interview, since he's busy creating Avatar, but reporter Aili McConnon was able to engage the director, via e-mail, in a discussion of how motion-capture technology has spurred innovation in cinema and made filmmaking more cost-effective. The following are excerpts from their virtual conversation: