James Cameron is going back under water. After bringing us to the ocean floor to visit Titanic in 1999 (recently he gave away one of his subs), Kathryn Bigelow’s ex will once again go diving in his upcoming Avatar sequel. Never one to be outdone, Cameron isn’t merely submerging his camera, but exploring how to do underwater motion capture. In other words: How to make Gollum into the crab Sebastian from The Little Mermaid.
In the process of making back-to-back Avatar films, Cameron himself is rather busy, so his producer Jon Landau filled us all in. “We could simulate water [in computer graphics],” said Landau, “but we can’t simulate the actor’s experience, so we are going to capture performance in a tank.” No stranger to shooting in tanks after filming Titanic, Cameron should feel at home in this environment.
We’re not sure exactly how this would be achieved (or why it needs to be), but since most things are harder once you add water, it seems Cameron is setting himself up for a challenge. It also suggests that another level of Pandora’s biosphere will be explored in the sequel. And maybe, just maybe, there will be a beach scene like From Here to Eternity, but with sensual Na’vi tail-sex.
The biggest take-away from this news (for those who aren’t technically inclined) is that Cameron is attempting to break new ground with the sequels. No surprise from this director, but it raises the issue of deadlines. The sequels are set for release in 2014 and 2015, an ambitious production schedule given the scale of the films. Will Cameron be able to make these dates, or will he sink into a watery grave like Jack Dawson? Rhetorically speaking, clearly.