Avatar producer discusses movies on the iPad and 3D film-making

Few Hollywood big-hitters carry as much weight as Jon Landau. As the film producer of Avatar and Titanic he's the man behind two of the biggest movies of all time and is arguably now the most powerful producer in Hollywood.

We caught up with Jon Landau at the Mobile Word Congress show in Barcelona, where he was helping to promote MOFILM, a competition site that aims to encourage filmmaking to a new generation of aspiring filmmakers.

We talked to him about mobile devices, including the iPad, and how they will interact with the film industry in the future.

"I am a big Apple fan," says Landau. "When I started out at 20th Century Fox they were all on PC and we managed to get everyone switched to Mac. It wasn't easy but we did it."

Landau says the iPad is a huge opportunity for the film industry. "I'm very excited by the iPad," he says. "All of a sudden we have a screen, size-wise, that can compete with other screens. That's where you're really going to see content coming to life. You're no longer watching it on a 2 or 3in screen. The iPad is going to give us the opportunity to display film product on a much larger display in what is still effectively a mobile device."

On whether the iPad's rather square form factor (versus a film's widescreen display) Landau is more reticent. "I think it'll influence how we prepare content," he says. "We sit there and we take a movie and we shoot in in widescreen. When we go to television we reformat it, and I think we'll reformat it for when we go to an iPad as well."

Landau says that the idea of films starting out in one size is something of a misconception in the first place. "Avatar went out into theatres in widescreen and full display, depending on what the theatre would play."

Furthermore, because there is no single film colour standard for 3D displays as yet, the Avatar team edited different versions for different kinds of theatre depending on their colour setup.

"But on the iPad," says Landau, "maybe we're better off being full screen."

Landau doesn't think that the emerging mobile devices will have much impact on the nature of films themselves. "I don't think it'll replace film," he says, "but there are different points of view. Personally I think you'll see the same thing as television. Worlds are created that people follow in an episodic fashion. There's an exciting opportunity to keep worlds alive."

But he's also keenly aware of the power of mobile devices as a marketing platform. "We did use mobile to get it [Avatar] out there," says Landau. "You have the ability to reach millions so quickly."

This is equally important in emerging markets, where mobile devices will have a much bigger impact than in the developed world because they may be many people's first experience of the computing world. "I think for us reaching out to emerging markets through mobile devices will initially be for publicity and marketing purposes," says Landau.

"I don't see us going out and creating original content yet," he says. "But I think it's very exciting when you can no longer reach people with just alphanumeric but with true video content. that conveys your messaging much clearer."

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