With James Cameron close to completing his Avatar 2 and 3 script drafts and Pandora standing by for another blast of mech mayhem, speculation can begin in earnest over what new and brainbending innovations the director has up his sleeve for his technically groundbreaking franchise. Great Leonopteryx-cam? Mother Eyw-IMAX? Nope. Pack your 3D goggles, folks, because next up is underwater mo-cap.
Addressing the NAB Technology Summit On Cinema, Cameron's producer Jon Landau revealed that the next instalment would be taking Avatar's performance-capture techniques into the water tank. "We have kept a team of digital artists on from Avatar in order to test how we can create performance capture underwater,” he explained. “We could simulate water [in CG], but we can't simulate the actor's experience, so we are going to capture performance in a tank.”
As Landau told Empire back in 2010, "Water will be a part of [Avatar 2], but it won’t be all of the movie". This will be another movie first for Team Cameron. As the producer detailed, it will require new mo-cap markers fit for purpose, and a new post-production workflow to ensure "we can see what the actors did and make sure that the final performance up on screen represents that". More hard yakka ahead, in other words.
As an interesting aside, Landau added that Avatars 2 and 3 will "wrap up the story arc of our two main characters". We'll be keen to see where Na'vi Jake's arc takes him next.