James Cameron breaks down ‘Avatar 2’ underwater mo-cap technology


It’s hard to remember a time when James Cameron wasn’t pushing the visual boundaries of cinema, which is probably because it was almost 40 years ago when he was forced to use guerrilla-style filmmaking on the streets of Los Angeles to shoot low budget sci-fi action thriller The Terminator.

Since then, Cameron and his collaborators have delivered the gigantic Alien Queen animatronic, The Abyss‘ first fully-digital creation, the game-changing T1000 from Terminator 2: Judgement Day, a seamless combination of practical and CGI elements in True Lies and Titanic, alongside the pioneering performance capture technology used for Avatar.

Never one to rest on his laurels, the Pandora-set sequels will feature a large underwater element, which posed an all-new set of challenges for the Academy Award winner and his team. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Cameron explained the why and how of what he wanted to accomplish with aquatic mo-cap.

“My colleagues within the production really lobbied heavily for us to do it ‘dry for wet,’ hanging people on wires. I said, ‘It’s not going to work. It’s not going to look real.’ I even let them run a test, where we captured dry for wet, and then we captured in water, a crude level of our in-water capture. And it wasn’t even close.”

As far as we’ve been led to believe, Avatar 2 is still planned to hit theaters twelve months from now, and at the very least we can expect a dazzling, immersive and altogether jaw-dropping visual experience the likes of which we’ve never seen since the first film, as has been Cameron’s M.O. for the last three decades.