Just over a year ago, Avatar producer Jon Landau told me:
We have already made a commitment that the Avatar sequels will have underwater sequences, inspired as much by time Jim has spent scuba diving as his expedition to the Mariana Trench. And we’re working on a way to do performance capture underwater right now. We have some really good people working on that. We set the problems, bring in people and say “Attack it. Here’s what we want to do, and we believe you can do it” and then we just have to get them to believe they can do it too.
And can they do it? I’m sure they can, but the team do seem to be still carrying out the tests and research. Here’s a fresh quote from Landau, speaking at the NAB Technology Summit on Cinema in Vegas:
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 but we can’t simulate the actor’s experience so we are going to capture performance in a tank.
See also: Joe Letteri’s recent comments to me about Weta’s work in making ever more realistic digital effects. They’re dedicated to perfecting this stuff down there in New Zealand.
As well as discussing the underwater capture, Landau went on to talk about his, and James Cameron’s, ambitions for the sequels from the audience’s point of view. Here’sa a transcript fromThe Hollywood Reporter, :
We want to take advantage of the technology that people are putting out there to make the next two movies more engaging and visually tantalizing, and wrap up the story arc of our two main characters.
Oh, please do.
But that won’t be end of the Avatar films, necessarily. Cameron has ideas for at least one prequel to come along once the story of Jake and Neytiri has been told.
Now that the more easily recognisable Pocahontas parallels have been spent, I wonder if the cynics and bashers will be more kind to future Avatar films. I hope so. And I hope the movies live up to their potential.