Just in case you were wondering, Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 are still in development, or lack thereof. Director James Cameron has promised that the first sequel to the top box office grossing film will take us to the oceans of Pandora. It’s an environment that Cameron is clearly fond of; his deep sea exploration of Mariana’s Trench shows just how passionate the director is.
The underwater setting does have its complications though. Getting the characters to interact with the underwater environment the way he wants to is one of the biggest problems. But film producer Jon Landau believes that he has found a way to overcome that problem. Rather than simulate scenes in the oceans without actually capturing the actor’s experience of them being underwater, Landau confirms that they will use the motion-capture technology in a tank.
We have kept a team of digital artists on from Avatar in order to test how we can create performance capture underwater. We could simulate water [in computer graphics], but we can’t simulate the actor’s experience, so we are going to capture performance in a tank.
If this is successful, it would push the technology further than it has ever gone. We’ve seen what WETA can do on land, but for it to be used underwater is a whole different story.
Landau follows that up with:
We are looking at [techniques including] what we did before with reflective markers….[Also important is] how we record reference photography so that as we are going through the editorial process and the post production workflow, we can see what the actors did and make sure that the final performance up on screen represents that.
One of the final statements concerned the story arc for the trilogy:
While the development for Avatar 2 may be slow going, and the principle cast are off doing their own things, it just means that Cameron is conducting more research and experiments on using the motion-capture technology underwater.