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We have little idea what to really expect when the Avatar sequels, which we've been waiting so long for, are finally here. From a story and character standpoint, we're largely in the dark, but we can be sure of one thing, the movies will technological marvels, as we can always count on James Cameron pushing the magic of moviemaking to its limits to create things on screen we've never seen before, like underwater motion capture, in this case.
One thing that we do know from a plot perspective is that Avatar 2 will take place largely in the oceans of the planet Pandora, and that leads to one of the more remarkable decisions that James Cameron has made on the film. A lot of the movie is actually being filmed underwater. Avatar producer Jon Landau recently shared an image on Instagram of this filming, which isn't new, but it's new to us.
The picture shows actor Britain Dalton, who will play the role of Lo'ak, the second oldest child of Zoe Saldana's Neytiri and Sam Worthington's Jake Sullivan. He's doing performance capture work, and also riding some sort of vehicle that will also see some digital transformation when it's all said and done.
It's almost quaint that Avatar 2, being a movie that will take place largely underwater, will actually include people underwater. You would expect James Cameron to use the best technology available to simulate being underwater without having to actually deal with the water. We know it can be done thanks to Aquaman and you'd think Cameron would only improve on that.
Instead, the opposite is apparently true. The way to make your underwater scenes look the best is to actually have them shot underwater, and so that's what we're getting. There are all sorts of logistical issues to be dealt with, not the least of which being that you can only film for as long as your actors can hold their breath, but the difficulties are apparently worth it.
Avatar 2 and Avatar 3, which are being filmed together, recently saw production get back underway in New Zealand, following a shutdown due to the global pandemic. The island nation has largely, if not entirely, eradicated the virus and while travel to the country is still restricted in order to keep people safe, the filmmakers were given a waiver allowing them to enter the country, quarantine for two weeks, and then get back to work.
Avatar 2 is currently set for release in December 2021. While the film has been delayed countless times in the last several years, the movie hasn't seen any delays due to the pandemic. Here's hoping will get to see everybody's underwater work in just about a year and a half.