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Sony HD Cameras Bring 'Avatar' to Life in 3D

Vince Pace
Sony high-definition digital cinematography cameras were used to film the 3D movie “Avatar.”

Vince Pace, veteran cinematographer and 3D technology expert, co-developed the 3D camera rigs, which use Sony cameras specially modified for the movie's requirements for stereoscopic image capture and production.

"Avatar" used eight Sony HDC-F950 cameras for primary acquisition. Additionally, Sony HDC-1500 cameras captured speed shots during live action, with the then recently available F23 camera also used for specific shots.

Pace noted that his goal was to create a shooting system that could do both 2D and 3D without impacting the creative direction of the film or disrupting the actors' performances. The Sony cameras delivered the combination of 2/3-inch image quality and on-the-set flexibility that enabled them to go from handheld to a techno crane to Steadicam at a moment's notice.

The Sony cameras were put to the test in a range of shooting conditions: jungle and action sequences, as well as soundstage work for the interaction with the CG characters.

"Sony's CineAlta brand and the performance of these camera systems are very well-known and very powerful. The one thing we didn't want to do was compromise the 2D in the quest for 3D,” said Pace. “With these cameras, we were able to tell the story we wanted, in the best way possible."

For more coverage on the production of Avatar, check out Jay Ankeney's latest Focus on Editing column.