'Avatar' Sequels: James Cameron Confirms Use of Sony Venice Cameras for Production

Avatar Still - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Ever since James Cameron announced plans for his Avatar sequels, there has been plenty of speculation about which cameras he would use. Cameron and producer Jon Landau's Lightstorm Entertainment on Friday confirmed that Sony’s Venice cameras with 3D stereoscopic rigs will be used for Avatar 2 and 3, which will be lensed by Oscar-winning cinematographer Russell Carpenter (Titanic).

Cameron had also previously expressed interest in high dynamic range and incorporating high frame rates. The Venice (and generally all major motion cameras) support these options as well.

“The Venice camera delivers the most astonishing image I’ve ever seen," the director said in a statement. "The blacks are rich, deep and velvety, the highlights and source lights are amazingly bright. For the first time, we truly appreciate what the term 'high dynamic range' means.”

Sony said it worked closely with Lightstorm to customize the Venice camera — Sony's first full-frame digital motion picture camera, which was unveiled last September — for the production's specific needs, with regular meetings taking place between Cameron, his production teams and Sony’s engineering group.

The camera maker explained that "using the new Sony cabling system, the only part of the Venice carried on the rig will be the image sensor optical blocks, significantly reducing on-board camera weight to about three pounds per sensor block. By lowering the weight and improving ergonomics, Cameron and the Lightstorm team will have the ability to shoot with greater flexibility and freedom." This could include use with Steadicams, drones, gimbals and shooting in confined spaces, a Sony rep added.

Performance capture work is already underway on the sequels, though principal photography isn't expected to begin until early 2019.

The first of Cameron's four planned Avatar sequels is scheduled for a Dec. 18, 2020, release.