Saturday, November 20, 2010

How ‘Avatar’ Sequel Will Go Underwater

Now that James Cameron has confirmed plans to make two sequels to his $2 billion-plus monster hit “Avatar,” the movie industry is clamoring to know about the cutting-edge technologies he’ll be using to make the fantasy world of Pandora even more dazzling.

Cameron hasn’t said anything about the technologies yet, but he has indicated that the first sequel will take place underwater. The U.K’s Daily Mail reported that the director “has commissioned a bespoke submarine, built of high-tech, man-made composite materials and powered by electric motors, which will be capable of surviving the tremendous pressures at a depth of seven miles, from which he will shoot 3-D footage that may be incorporated in Avatar’s sequel.”

Terrence Masson says Cameron, like “Star Wars” creator George Lucas, has a “history of inventing and pushing new technologies. I’m betting [Cameron is] going to push camera manufacturers to make smaller, lighter, cheaper, more accurate 3-D stereography rigs.”

Right now, 3-D camera rigs are heavy and bulky, so it’s hard to do several camera set ups a day, says Masson, who has worked on animation at Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic and consulted for Disney and DreamWorks.

Richard Weinberg, a professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, says Cameron likely will use computer-generated technologies as well. “I can only guess he’ll do a combination of simulation of underwater characters and environments and take some cameras underwater like he did in ‘Titanic,’ ” Weinberg says. “If you’re filming underwater, you can only see so far. I would expect that there would be an integration of simulated underwater landscape with whatever he’s able to capture.”

Masson also says that Cameron will be sure to squeeze the most out of existing movie technologies for the “Avatar” sequels. “He optimizes existing technologies, and takes stuff out of the esoteric and bleeding edge and makes it work well on large scale productions,” Masson says.

The second “Avatar” movie is scheduled to begin filming next year and hit movie theaters in 2014; the third installment is slated for 2015.

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