James Cameron shows Avatar 2 underwater tech in behind-the-scenes images

Avatar 2 is using underwater dancers for some of the motion-capture in the sci-fi movie

Avatar, directed by James Cameron

James Cameron, blockbuster filmmaker extraordinaire, has shared some images and concept art from Avatar 2. The pictures, including behind-the-scenes snippets of the science fiction movie, tease an underwater epic from the Aliens director.

Entertainment Weekly has the full selection of snapshots. One has Cameron with cast and crew aboard what seems like a submarine, but is actual an RDA airship, similar to the one seen in 2009’s Avatar. The next two show different stages of filming a scene while fully submerged. Cameron has developed new technology for the adventure movie that allows for motion-capture while totally immersed in water. For some scenes, he brought in dancers specially trained in aquatic movement.

“Scuba bubbles would create too much noise in our performance-capture system,” Cameron says. “So no matter how long the scene took, if it took two, three, four [minutes] to shoot, everybody was holding their breath.” Doing all this almost has him scoffing at his own success, laughing at the sheer scale of what he’s up to. “It sounds kind of nuts, the process,” Cameron states. “I mean, if Avatar hadn’t made so much damn money, we’d never do this –  because it’s kind of crazy.”

Some concept art shows a Na’Vi family living on a beach, tying into previous comments on how the sequel will feature a coastline tribe. By the time Avatar 2 comes out, it’ll be 13 years since the first, and a decade since Cameron started putting together the follow-up. Among other things, the main hold-up has been the scope of production, and making sure it all works just as well as the first time we took a trip to Pandora.

“What we are doing now, from a story standpoint and a world standpoint, is on a much larger scale,” Jon Landau, producer on the Avatar franchise, says. “That’s both exciting and challenging. We are putting much more detail, first and foremost, into the performances of the cast, but we’re [also] putting much more detail and diversity into the world that we are creating.”

Avatar 2 stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Edie Falco, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh, Jermaine Clement, Kate Winslet, and many more. Besides directing, Cameron is co-writing the screenplay with Josh Friedman.

We’ll get to see what it all adds up to when Avatar 2 opens in theatres December 16, 2022.