Avatar Sequels to be Shot on Sony's Full-Frame CineAlta VENICE Cameras

Sony announced their first full frame cinema camera -- the 6K capable CineAlta VENICE -- last year, but there hasn't been much news about it outside of the Joseph Kosinski short The Dig that debuted last September. That short looked amazing and showcased Sony's famed lowlight capabilities as well as great dynamic range.

But now, James Camera has announced that he's shooting the next two Avatar sequels with Sony Venice cameras. This is a big deal for Sony. Their Cine-Alta cameras have lost severe ground in motion picture and television production to Alexa and Red. The original Avatar pushed what was technically possible in filmmaking and perhaps other filmmakers will follow suit and if James Cameron is filming with them, they must be pretty impressive. Here's him explaining why he's using them.

It's not shocking that James Cameron wants to use a Sony camera as he used two Sony CineAlta F23s in a custom rig he created called THE FUSION RIG to shoot the first Avatar movie. That rig used a beam splitter to split the image coming in to two cameras so they were basically stacked on top of each other instead of putting two cameras side by side. It gave them more control over the depth of the 3D effect than had ever efore.

In a statement made by Cameron he said:

"The Venice camera delivers the most astonishing image I've ever seen... 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."

This is more than just a director picking out a camera from a rental house, though. James Cameron is a known inventor, constantly pushing the boundaries of what's possible with film technology. The Avatar sequels promise to be no exception.

With most 3D rigs in the past, including Cameron's Fusion Rig, you needed two full-sized cameras mounted on the same structure, which made it cumbersome, to say the least. You were limited to where you could put the cameras and what you could do with them.

Cameron has been working closely with Sony throughout the Venice development process, though, and they've adapted it to what a filmmaker truly needs in a camera. In a quote from Sony the camera maker said:

"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."

Three pounds! That's going to open up a whole new world of mobility for filmmakers. You could mount his new rig onto drones, Steadicams or put them in cars even. Places they could never fit before.

CineAlta VENICE Features
  • Built-In ND FiltersClear, 0.3(1/2), 0.6(1/4), 0.9(1/8), 1.2(1/16), 1.5(1/32), 1.8(1/64), 2.1(1/128), 2.4(1/256)
  • ISO Sensitivity: ISO500
  • PL Lens Mount: PL (native), E (with adapter)
  • Latitude: 15+ Stop
  • Resolutions & Frame Rates:
    • 3.8K 16:9, 4K 17.9: 1-60FPS
    • 4K 4:3: 1-48FPS
    • 4K 6:5, 5.7K 16:9, 6K 17:9, 6K 1.85:1, 6K 2.39:1: 1-30FPS
    • 6K 3:2: 1-24FPS
  • White Balance: 2000~15000 Kelvin, Green/Magenta adjust, AWB
  • Gamma Curve: S-Log3

Check out Joseph Kosinki's short THE DIG below to see what this new camera is capable of in real-world situations. Then imagine what it can do for a movie like Avatar.