After over a decade, the long-awaited Avatar sequel is finally here. But the stunning visual achievements of James Cameron and Co. aren't the only thing that got us going this week. There was stop-motion animation from another creative legend, a super important birthday, and of course, a great new jam. So enjoy the jam-packed Volume 103!
Avatar: The Way of Water
In 2009, James Cameron made the biggest movie of all-time with Avatar. But beyond the box office success, Cameron pushed what had been possible on screen. It took him more than a decade to make the film, but not for lack of ideas. He simply didn't have the right technology to complete the movie to his liking. Now, after a whole lot of delays, the sequel has finally arrived. Again, Cameron took a huge gap between films, both due to technological insufficiencies, as well as pursuing his passion of deep-sea diving. The new Avatar movie, as the title suggests, deals with the oceanic part of the society on Pandora, which opened up a whole new lane for visual breakthroughs. Of course, it also meant that the actors had to learn to free dive, which has largely dominated the press junket -- and has piqued our interests in particular. The movie is definitely long, and we don't know a whole lot about the plot, but it really shouldn't bother anybody. This is a movie you *have* to see in theaters. It's what the big screen is all about. We might not be quite Top Gun: Maverick-levels of excited for this sequel, but we still can't wait for the wild ride that Cameron has in store for us. Because that's what the movies are all about.
Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio: Handcarved Visuals
Speaking of creative, visual masterminds, Guillermo del Toro has a new film out on Netflix. Strangely, it's a Pinocchio remake. Or, at least we thought it was strange when we first heard about the idea. But after watching Netflix's companion documentary to the film, we understand del Toro's vision. The film is an intricately designed, stop-motion masterpiece. Each set and character is immaculately created with painstaking details, allowing the viewer to fully immerse themselves in this fantastic world. As creators who love learning how other people operate, this documentary is truly something else. Getting to see inside the mind of not just del Toro, but his incredibly gifted below-the-line crew as well is really special. There are truly just thousands of small choices and decisions that go into making a film, and those are multiplied exponentially when you're making a stop-motion movie of this scale. We might not have sought out Pinocchio, even with the positive critical response, but this documentary made us want to see how all the behind-the-scenes magic translated on the screen.
Adobe Turns 40
For those of us not working in stop-motion, we rely on some pretty important technology to get by. And the purveyors of a lot of that ground-breaking tech turns 40 this year, and they have rolled out quite a creative campaign to celebrate. Adobe, the masterminds behind Photoshop, Premiere Acrobat, After Effects, and many others have been around since 1982, but they haven't always looked so refined. While we've enjoyed all their marketing around the anniversary, their tribute to the long history of Photoshop is really what caught our eye. The video cleverly takes us back in time to the days of floppy disks and big, bulky Mac desktops, as we get a peak at what the original Photoshop toolbar looked like. A lot has changed since the 1990 release of the program, but a lot has also remained the same. There are some striking similarities between the toolbars and function of the program, despite the obvious technological gains in the last 30 years. We also love how they used the program to create a celebratory banner, in a truly old school, pixelated way. We don't think the creators of Photoshop, or any of the Adobe products, could have predicted what their technology would make possible. But they truly dominate the space, and we wouldn't be able to do our jobs without it. And it doesn't hurt that they have a killer creative team, either.
Hailee Steinfeld feat. Anderson .Paak - Coast [Acoustic]
Generally speaking, when you let two musical superstars collaborate on a single track, good things are bound to happen. This week, we've had a single on repeat that definitely proves that theory true. We wouldn't have thought to put Hailee Steinfeld and Anderson .Paak in a recording studio together, but man did it work. Their original collab, Coast, is a pretty great, upbeat, beachy jam. But they really took it to the next level with their acoustic version that they just released. By stripping down the instrumentals, it became a track with impeccable vibes that could fit on any playlist all year round. It's soothing, but with enough of a rhythm and beat behind it that you can't help but tap your feet. And of course, when .Paak comes in with the verse, he goes off. Steinfeld's vocals are excellent, and as the lyrics suggest, the song really just makes us want to coast along through the day. Whether we are driving down the PCH, working on a project, or just hanging around, this jam works. And while it probably plays best in the sunshine and warm weather, this will definitely be a jam that gets us through cold winter weeks like this one, too.
World Cup Final
Well, the stage is set for world football's biggest match: The World Cup Final. Sunday morning, France and Argentina square off to see which squad will achieve eternal greatness. While it wasn't quite chalk, the Final features two of the most iconic sides in the world, despite a lot of underdogs and massive upsets. France is seeking the first World Cup repeat since the 60's, and Kylian Mbappe looks to have fully ascended to "greatest player in the world" status. If he leads Les Bleus to back-to-back World Cups to start his career, he will certainly be on track towards all-time greatness. On the other side, Lionel Messi leads Argentina in what is likely his final chance to get over the hump and win a Cup. He's been the greatest player in the world for arguably the last 15 years, and might just be the GOAT. A World Cup win is the last thing for Messi to accomplish in a truly magical career. Whoever you are rooting for, it should prove to be an absolutely electric game, because both sides have plenty of stars and offensive firepower. The World Cup has dominated our brains for the last month or so, and now it gets one final day this weekend.