James Cameron returns to Earth before the release of the new ‘Avatar’

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There’s a new nature documentary series that promises to show viewers amazing animal behavior in vibrant clarity. Did you hear all that before? Well, this one is on steroids.

“Super/Natural,” a six-part series from National Geographic now streaming on Disney+, cast “Avatar” creator James Cameron as executive producer, adding special effects in addition to cutting-edge film technology.

The effects sometimes transform the animals into something akin to the stars of a Marvel movie, with their bellows distorting the air, heavy attacks causing shockwaves in the sand, or an insect’s pheromones turning into noxious clouds. that explode Even trees light up when sugars move through their roots.

“We’re not actually faking it or turning it into a superhero movie. We are providing a portal for our limited senses to access a natural world that goes far, far beyond what we can directly feel,” Cameron told reporters recently.

Episodes are organized by theme (eat or be eaten, mating play, and bloodlines are some of the themes) and viewers get a viewing treat as cameras capture everything from fireflies in Mexico producing a light show even synchronized bottlenose dolphins teaming up with Brazilian fishermen. to fish for mullet.

Cameramen armed with the latest scientific data underwent 80 shots of animals in 25 countries to create the series, using high-tech equipment such as high-speed cameras and drones. Cameron listed what they tried to capture: infrasound, ultrasound, ultraviolet, and infrared, among them.

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

So unlike a traditional nature documentary where adding effects is strictly prohibited, “Super/Natural” allows us to feel what a bat’s sonar would look like, see what a bumblebee sees, or how bears communicate with invisible clues.

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

The series is narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch, who is lively, cunning, and delightful in his descriptions. “The female of the species likes pretty weird things,” he says of vampire spiders. Of the cicadas emerging after 17 years underground, he dryly adds, “America’s biggest speed-dating event is about to kick off.”

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

Cameron, an avid environmentalist and vegan, sees “Super/Natural” as a logical extension of his latest film output, which includes the upcoming fantasy film “Avatar: The Way of Water.” In both, he hopes to awaken a sense of wonder at the natural world.

“The natural history stuff isn’t just a side job to making ‘Avatar’ movies. For me, they go together perfectly as something equally exciting for me,” she said. “I always get this sense of wonder at how complex nature is.”

That awe 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 rattlesnake to scare off predators, and devilish 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 of growing up in Canada exploring the woods, catching bugs and bird watching.

“You are amazed at how amazing nature is, the things that we 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 delicately pointed out the attention the latest images from the James Webb Space Telescope have attracted, from Neptune’s rings to galaxy clusters.

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

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

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