When it was released in 2009, Avatar became the highest-grossing movie of all time beating out Titanic for the top spot. It’s a record it still holds to this day, although Avengers: Endgame came close to toppling it. Well, it’s no secret that James Cameron is finally creating not one but four sequels to the original movie, and as with that first one, he’s pushing the boundaries of cinema tech once again.
One of the biggest factors for any movie, though, is the cameras. And for Avatar 2: The Way of the Water, Cameron built together a new Frankenstein 3D rig for shoulder-mounted shooting that’s built using two Sony Venice cinema cameras and not surprisingly, Frame Voyager’s put a video together to tell us all about it.
The original Avatar movie set a precedent for any sequels that would follow. And for somebody like James Cameron, it’s not enough to just keep the status quo. He needed to up his game and take things to the next level. This is nothing new. It’s the way he’s always been. One only needs to look at the differences between 1984’s The Terminator and 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day for evidence of that. As an aside, Titanic, mentioned above, which Avatar beat out as the highest-grossing movie of all time was also written and directed by Cameron.
Although it wasn’t the first movie to be shot in 3D, Avatar was probably the first mainstream movie shot in 3D that really propelled it to the forefront of audiences’ minds. And despite 3D technology seeing a big boom with a lot of rapid evolution in the consumer space, 3D TVs were generally always seen as kind of a gimmick. But that hasn’t deterred Cameron. He’s planning to shoot Avatar 2 in 3D as well.
The cameras needed to be upgraded from those used back in 2009, though, and they’ve been replaced by a pair of Sony Venice cameras in a custom rig using a beam splitter for precise control over the position of each lens and sensor. Fortunately, the sensors from the Sony Venice can be removed from the camera body itself with the Sony Venice Extension System. This allows the shoulder-mounted camera rig to remain relatively light while still offering the benefits of such a massive camera system. The two bodies are carried around by an assistant running alongside the camera op – which for at least some of the movie appears to have been Cameron himself.
It will be interesting to see if he can reinvigorate 3D content consumption with the upcoming sequels. 3D TV tech might have disappeared from the general public consciousness, but it hasn’t disappeared completely. The technology is still being developed and with VR systems becoming extremely popular over the last few years, there is still a huge home audience that can view the content in 3D as it was shot.
Hopefully, though, we’ll start to see 3D TVs and screens in our homes that can be viewed without any kind of glasses soon, though. That’s probably been the biggest turn-off. It’s not the competing 3D glasses technologies – all of which required either passive or active glasses – it’s the fact that they have to be worn at all. And Cameron’s even been working on viewing it in movie theatres without having to wear glasses, too!