'Avatar 2' Set Photos: James Cameron Orchestrates Science Fiction Adventure In A Swimming Pool

Avatar 2, which has received approximately 4,000 release date changes over the past decade, is currently scheduled to hit theaters on December 27, 2021, which means we have a long road ahead filled with tiny reveals of photos and videos from the set. The process has already begun (Sigourney Weaver appeared in a set photo a week ago), and now producer Jon Landau has shared two new behind the scenes photos from the set featuring James Cameron directing the cast from on high. Check them out below.

Avatar 2 Set Photos

Avatar 2 set photos - James Cameron above a poolAvatar 2 set photos - James Cameron overlooking pool

That first photo is pretty self-explanatory, but if you're wondering what the heck that white stuff is on the surface of the water in the second photo, Landau is here to help:

A couple of behind the scenes stills of Jim giving the actors direction before they dive underwater to capture performances for a scene from the Avatar sequels. What is the white stuff on the water surface? They are small white balls that are needed to prevent the lights from above contaminating the performance capture system below... while still allowing anyone below to surface safely through them should the need arise.

We know the long-delayed sequels will largely be set in the seas of Pandora, and in 2017, Cameron described what we're now likely seeing in these photos:

"We actually played an entire scene underwater with our young cast. We've got six teenagers and one seven-year-old, and they're all playing a scene underwater. We've been training them for six months now, with how to hold their breath, and they're all up in the two to four minute range. They're all perfectly capable of acting underwater, very calmly while holding their breath. We're not doing any of this on scuba. And we're getting really good data, beautiful character motion and great facial performance capture. We've basically cracked the code."

The children of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) are supposed to play a huge role in these sequels. They're the ones pictured in these photos, and you can learn all about their characters here.

For more info on the technical side of filming underwater, Cameron went into some detail a few years back, explaining how the motion capture system uses markers that are photographed with hundreds of cameras, and how things are much more difficult when water is introduced into the equation:

"The problem with water is not the underwater part, but the interface between the air and the water, which forms a moving mirror. That moving mirror reflects all the dots and markers, and it creates a bunch of false markers. It's a little bit like a fighter plane dumping a bunch of chaff to confuse the radar system of a missile. It creates thousands of false targets, so we've had to figure out how to get around that problem, which we did."

Avatar 2 is aiming for a December 27, 2021 release, and three more sequels are set to arrive in its wake in December 2023, December 2025, and December 2027.