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James Cameron Talks 'Avatar' Sequels Production Speed, Tech & More

by
February 18, 2014
Source: RTL

James Cameron

We're still waiting to find out some juicy details about the forthcoming Avatar sequels (remember there are three more films coming starting in 2016), and in the meantime, director James Cameron has some noteworthy updates. Speaking with RTL (via ComingSoon) recently, Cameron talked about the sequels in general without giving any story details away. But he also discussed how improved technology will allow them to move faster than the four years it took to make Avatar. Though it will have been seven years since the first film came out when the first sequel arrives, it will still take them far less time to finish each sequel.

As for where Cameron and his team are at right now, the director says:

We’re still in the early stages. Right now we’re developing the software. I’m writing the scripts. We’re designing all the creatures and characters and the settings, and so on. So, I’m not actually directing yet, but I’m doing all the other creative processes that lead up to that. It’s going very well. I think it’s going to be spectacular. You’ll see new worlds, new habitats, new cultures. The primary conflict between the human view kind of dominating nature and the Na’vi view of being integrated into nature is the same, but it manifests itself in very different ways.

The good news is, upgraded software and the tech they developed for the first film has only gotten better:

The first film took almost four years to make. We expect to be able to accelerate the process quite a bit, because we’ve improved a lot of the software and the computer graphics tools, and we’ve been working very closely with Weta Digital down here in New Zealand developing a whole new suite of tools to speed up the process.

As for how Cameron intends to shoot the film, that's a decision still being mulled over. Cameron says, "I’m studying [high frame rate]. I haven’t made a final decision yet, whether the entire film will be made at high frame rate or parts of it. You know, we’ll be shooting at a native resolution of probably 4K and so then there should be a lot of true 4K theaters by then as well." Considering the consensus on high frame rate for Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy so far hasn't been overwhelmingly positive, it's probably better to just drop the idea entirely. Are there any chances he'll use IMAX cameras? We hope so. Stay tuned for Avatar updates.

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  • capitandelespacio
    Oh, my loins!!!!
  • Chris Groves
    I say 100% do NOT drop the notion of High Frame Rates. There are a load of benefits it brings during action sequences/fast movement, and it truly improves the 3D experience. Beyond that, it's just about learning to film HFR right. Jackson pretty much filmed The Hobbit like he would a 24 FPS film, and the same exact rules simply do not apply. The cinematic language has evolved for years to be fine-tuned to 24 FPS and it's limitations/parameters. HFR films need to be shot in a way that maximizes the frame-rate. Beyond THAT, Douglas Trumbull has a process that involves shooting a film at a High Frame Rate, and then, scene by scene, it can be modulated down to lower frame rates, and it looks just like you shoot at those frame-rates. The test he showed had him shooting at 120 FPS, and whenever he felt, dialing it down to 60 FPS, 48 FPS, or 24 FPS. This way, you shoot at a high frame rate, and for action scenes, you can keep it at HFR and have the benefits of the clear action and improved 3D, but for slower scenes, you can bring it back to 24 FPS and give it that "normal" look that people are used to. I'd be all for Cameron using something like that on the Avatar sequels.
    • MattPeloquin
      I think HFR works well in space and futuristic environments, but fell flat in The Hobbit due to the fantasy setting. The elves and dwarves just looked silly, but I would love to see what space truly look like in HFR.
      • Chris Groves
        That's a good point as well, Trumbull talked about it, saying that when he did a test for a 'fantasy short' in HFR it looked "weird" and that HFR is sort of better suited for 'trying to replicate reality' so it might be much better suited for a film like Avatar that includes space, aliens, and various other sci-fi elements.
  • David Diaz
    Definitely keep the HFR. Even from the first Hobbit to the second I saw a big improvement of its use. Even my wife, who hates watching stereoscopic 3D films and was pissed at first when I told her we were seeing it in HFR 3D, really enjoyed it.
  • VAharleywitch
    I saw Smaug in HFR... While I thought the film looked just as lovely throughout, the differences between 100% or high % CGI vs things filmed against a greenscreen & mnipulated was noticeable. The former looked like a really good looking Video Game, the latter absolutely gorgeous (I'd seen Smaug in IMAX 3D the week before IMAX 3D HFR). That's my only concern... But given that I heard less overall complaints about HFR in Smaug vs Journey, the tech will keep evolving as will directors' comfort w/ the format. Regardless, my ass will be in a seat on opening weekend, if not at midnight opening day.
  • cobrazombie
    Yawn.

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