HISTORY AND FUTURE OF THE AVATAR SEQUELS
What the heck has been taking so long?
It took 15 years for James Cameron - the visionary filmmaker behind The Terminator, Aliens and The Abyss - to transform his original pitch for Avatar into a feature film. It may have been worth the wait. The technologically innovative science-fiction thrill ride became the highest grossing film in history, jumpstarted a new wave of 3D blockbuster filmmaking, and raised the bar for motion-capture visual effects technology.
So you would think that, with all that money filling 20th Century Fox’s coffers, they would have moved as quickly as possible to get Avatar 2 into theaters. In fact, that was actually the plan, but it’s been almost 10 years now since Avatar became the biggest “original” film since the first Star Wars, and for the most part, the only new content we’ve had in all that time is news stories about what may or may not be in the sequels. Cameron first teased the possibility of Avatar sequels way back in 2006, back when the original Avatar was still in development, and shortly after the film’s premiere in 2009 the filmmaker said he was working on http://moviesblog.mtv.com:80/2009/12/21/james-cameron-planning-avatar-trilogy-director-tells-mtv-news">“a trilogy-scaled arc of story”, even though he freely admitted that he “[hadn’t] really put any serious work into writing a script.”
That’s because, as Cameron explained nearly 10 years ago, he was focused instead on making sure he could expedite the production process. "My next goal is to refine the technique, make it easier so it doesn't take as long," he said. "We were doing a lot of pioneering work on Avatar. It wouldn't have taken as long if we already knew exactly how to do it.".
Of course, Cameron is the sort of filmmaker who likes to innovate, not just refine. Films like The Abyss, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Titanic and Avatar pushed the boundaries of motion picture technology, and it didn’t take long for the director to start boasting of the advancements that the Avatar sequels would make as well. He revealed in 2010 that the next Avatar movies would not only explore more of the Alpha Centauri AB solar system, but would also http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/herocomplex/2010/04/james-cameron-talks-the-enironment-the-avatar-sequel-and-more.html">venture into the oceans of Pandora… and that would require all-new technology. Again.
“It’s never been done before,” the director explained to Collider over half a decade later, in 2017. “And it’s very tricky because our motion capture system, like most motion capture systems, is what they call optical base, meaning that it uses markers that are photographed with hundreds of cameras. The problem with water is not the underwater part, but the interface between the air and the water, which forms a moving mirror. That moving mirror reflects all the dots and markers, and it creates a bunch of false markers.”
f that sounds complicated, it’s because it is. Cameron revealed that in all the time the Avatar sequels have been in development, they only had their first successful test on November 14, 2017, and even that required his cast to hold their breaths underwater - while acting - for between two and four minutes at a time.
But although Cameron’s dream of underwater performance capture seems to have become a reality, not all of the filmmaker's technological aspirations have come true. He teased the possibility of the Avatar sequels using glasses-free 3D technology in 2016, only to backtrack one year later, explaining, “I don’t think that’s a near-term technology.”
The director also revealed back in 2011 that he planned to film the Avatar sequels in higher frame rates, at 48 or even 60 frames per second, claiming at CinemaCon that "the 3D shows you a window into reality; the higher frame rate takes the glass out of the window. In fact, it is just reality. It is really stunning.” However, that was one year before Peter Jackson tried to turn higher frame rates into the next big box office draw with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. But reactions to the technique were mixed, and the future of the process at multiplexes remains uncertain, even in the Avatar sequels.
Years after claiming he wanted to streamline the process, and years after http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118026416">the official announcement that the sequels were going
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