June 8, 2009

Ubisoft to Bring Video Games and Films Together

Ubisoft, a French video game maker, is collaborating with famed director James Cameron on a title crafted as an extension of his highly anticipated 3D movie "Avatar."

"Ubisoft didn't want to just put something flashy on the screen; they wanted a soul behind the videogame," Cameron said during a press conference with Ubisoft at a recent Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles.

"The world of the 'Avatar' game is, in some ways, considerably richer than what you are going to see in the film."

The film and video game teams have worked closely together with ideas from each side, Cameron said.

"We are learning from the best," said Yannis Mallet, head of Ubisoft's Montreal studio.

"The film and video game industries are on lines that are not quite parallel, so let's anticipate that the talents are converging and build collaboration so the whole is greater than the sum of the parts."

Ubisoft was given permission to create characters, vehicles, and weapons for the video game based on the fictional moon called "Pandora" where the film story takes place.

"Ubisoft challenged themselves to set the bar pretty darn high," said Academy Award winning Cameron, whose films include 'Titanic' and 'Terminator.'

"We are all pretty passionate about making 'Avatar' the coolest new game out there; I can stand here now and tell you the guys at Ubisoft have done it."

The "Avatar" story revolves around the "Pandora" setting where an indigenous tribal population living in rain forests is standing against an Earth-based corporation's efforts to plunder the world of previous minerals.

According to Cameron, the main message of the movie is to see and understand situations and things through the eyes of others.

Cameron said that he wrote the movie about 14 years ago, but the technology to realize his vision has not existed until now.

"This film is way beyond anything I've done before," Cameron said. "Which is why it has taken four years. To put that in perspective, 'Titanic' took two years to make."

The video game and film are due out late this year.

Last year, Ubisoft bought Canadian special effects firm Hybride, which worked on animated action films "300" and "Sin City."

"We started a year ago developing tools that will let us create games and movies at the same time," said Ubisoft chief executive Yves Guillemot.

"We are still very junior at creating movies, so why not join forces with the best of the best to make our visions come to life?"

Ubisoft is planning to work on projects with more famed-film makers like Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg.

The video game maker will be releasing this year short films based on its blockbuster "Assassin's Creed" videogame, a sequel to which will be released in November.

Ubisoft also acquired the rights to make a video game tied to "Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn" film that is being directed by Spielberg and set for release in 2011.

"Ubisoft is going from a simple developer and game publisher company to a full 360-degree content provider," said Mallat.

"We are excited about our future. The aim is to bring together video games and Hollywood."


On The Net: