What camera was Avatar filmed with?

»Avatar«: a box office hit thanks to perfect technology

The great success of »Avatar« at the box office also has its roots in technology. DoP Vince Pace shot the real scenes for the most part with Sony cameras and in all cases with Fujinon lenses. Quantel's Pablo played an important role in post-production.

James Cameron's "Avatar" grossed $ 1.13 billion at box offices worldwide in the first 20 days after the film opened in theaters. The film has thus reached position two in the hit list of the highest box office box office results of all time - directly behind Cameron's "Titanic" (1.8 billion US dollars). "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" follows in third place with around 1.12 billion US dollars.

"Avatar" was also an expensive production - it is the talk of the most expensive film of all time - and the technology of this film definitely contributed more to the costs in relation to the salaries of the actors than in other Hollywood films. But the technology certainly also has a large share in the economic success of the film, because it has been exhausted to the limit of what is currently feasible and sets standards in the technical perfection of the film illusion.

Large parts of »Avatar« were generated on the computer and so realistically that even experienced cineastes have problems recognizing the boundary between real shots and animations: also because the combination of computer-generated worlds and real shots has been achieved with the highest precision and perfection. The staff list accordingly contains almost 1,000 names under the heading "Visual Effects", while in the "Camera and Electrical Department" there are comparatively clear, around 60 employees.

So many companies and individuals have a role in making “Avatar” what it is. For example, the American DI studio Modern VideoFilm. Every single image of the 3D action epic as well as all trailers and commercials went through the workflow at Modern VideoFilms, which also includes three Pablos from Quantel that have been enhanced with stereo 3D editing tools. The stereo recordings were checked on the Pablo, the conforming as well as other corrections and fine-tuning were carried out. The English subtitles for the Na’vi language, which is spoken by the inhabitants of the »Avatar« planet Pandora, have also been added to the 3D images on the Pablo.

One of the DoPs of »Avatar« is the renowned stereo 3D expert Vince Pace, with whom James Cameron had already worked on the stereo 3D film »Ghosts of the Abyss« (news item). Pace, who is listed next to the "main" DoP Mauro Fiore and Richard Bluck (DoP: Second Unit) as "DoP: Los Angeles" in the film's staff list, used camera systems developed in-house for the real recordings in stereo 3D, which he combines under the umbrella term Fusion 3D, as well as Sony cameras of the types HDC-F950 and HDC-1500. Vince Pace used Fujinon lens systems as lenses, some of which were specially made for James Cameron. Lenses of the type HA16x6.3BE (6.3 - 101 mm) and specially developed or modified lenses such as the HA5x7B-W50 (7 - 35 mm) were used.

According to Vince Pace, Fujinon made human resources and know-how available at an early stage of development in order to develop lenses that could meet the highest demands on precision in 3D. "This relationship has developed over the past ten years and the results can now be seen on the screen with" Avatar "," explains Pace, who claims that he only used Fujinon lenses for "Avatar".

Vince Pace realized most of the real shots with two Sony HDC-F950 cameras mounted on a stereo 3D rig, and later the HDC-1500 were also used.

Vince Pace says of James Cameron's attitude to filming Avatar: “He doesn't hesitate to shoot handheld. He likes it when scenes begin in motion and he doesn't shy away from looking into the viewfinder and directing the camera himself, in direct contact with the actors. The use of Fujinon lenses was an important factor in the implementation of this style in 3D at the "Avatar Company". "