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James Cameron comes up with a six-part series Super/Natural before the release of the new Avatar

Cameron sees Super/Natural as a logical extension of his latest filmmaking, which includes the upcoming fantasy Avatar: The Way of Water.

James Cameron comes up with a six-part series Super/Natural before the release of the new Avatar
Super/Natural is a six-part series from National Geographic now streaming on Disney+Hotstar/Twitter
  • Team OTTplay

Last Updated: 05.35 PM, Sep 24, 2022

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A brand-new wildlife documentary programme claims to provide viewers with vivid, clear footage of amazing animal behaviour. Ever heard that before?

James Cameron, the creator of Avatar, has been brought on as executive producer of Super/Natural, a six-part National Geographic series that is now available to stream on Disney+. He has incorporated visual effects on top of cutting-edge filmmaking technology.

With their bellows twisting the air, ponderous attacks that produce shock waves in the sand, or pheromones from a bug depicted as bursting toxic clouds, the creatures can occasionally be transformed into something akin to actors in a Marvel movie. When sugars enter the roots of trees, they begin to glow.

Cameron said, "We're not truly making a superhero movie out of it or faking it. We are opening a doorway for our limited senses into a natural realm that extends much beyond what we can directly perceive."

The episodes are organised according to themes, such as "eat or be eaten," "the mating game," and "bloodlines," and viewers are treated to stunning visuals as cameras record everything from bottlenose dolphins working with Brazilian fishermen to catching mullet to fireflies in Mexico putting on a synchronised light show.

Utilising high-tech equipment like drones and high-speed cameras, photographers undertook 80 animal shootings in 25 different nations armed with the most recent scientific data. Cameron noted the many wavelengths they attempted to record, including infrasound, ultrasound, ultraviolet, and infrared.

“What’s our purpose in this? Not just to entertain, but absolutely to teach and to show the wonder, the majesty, the complexity, of nature,” said Cameron. “We’re going to pull out every trick we know as entertainers, as storytellers, to try to get that engagement.”

So unlike a traditional nature documentary where adding effects is a strict no-no, Super/Natural allows us to feel what bat sonar might look like, see what a bumblebee sees or how bears communicate with invisible clues.

“The bear can smell pheromones, but we can’t see it. It’s a visual medium; it’s not a smell medium,” he said. “It is real. It’s just that we can’t see it. So we have to use the effects to see as they see or to smell as they smell.”

Benedict Cumberbatch, who narrates the series, uses descriptions that are vivacious, cunning, and delectable.

Cameron was full of praise for Cumberbatch: “He doesn’t just narrate it; he acts it,” he said. “He gets you inside what’s happening in a way that I think is very relatable.”

Cameron, an ardent environmentalist and vegan, sees Super/Natural as a logical extension of his latest filmmaking, which includes the upcoming fantasy Avatar: The Way of Water. In both, he hopes to reawaken a sense of wonder for the natural world.

“The natural history stuff is not just a side gig to making Avatar movies. They go together perfectly as something equally exciting to me,” he said. “It always awakens in me this sense of amazement at how complex nature is.”

That amazement is captured in the series with images of glow-in-the-dark flying squirrels soaring the length of a football field, burrowing owls copying the sound of a snake rattle to scare away predators and devil rays leaping 6 feet out of the ocean.

Cameron's last documentary series on animals was Secrets of the Whales narrated by Sigourney Weaver. The director has fond memories from growing up in Canada of exploring the woods, trapping insects and watching birds.

Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron photo 3
Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron photo 3

“It blows your mind how amazing nature is, things that we just take for granted, and how nature has developed all these different amazing strategies for these animals and these plants over millions of years.”

He also took a gentle swipe at the attention the latest images from the James Webb Space Telescope have garnered, from Neptune's rings to galaxy clusters.

“This is the only planet we know of for sure — evidence-based — that has life. And it’s an amazing planet,” he said. "There are hundreds of millions of species here as opposed to Mars, where we don’t even know if there is one species.

“I love Mars. I love exploration in space and underwater. But we have to take care of this planet. We have to understand it before we destroy it.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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