‘Avatar’ Sequels & ‘The Hobbit’ Update: Filming Locations & Technology

Published 4 years ago by , Updated August 13th, 2013 at 10:53 pm,

Oscar-winning box office titans James Cameron and Peter Jackson are hard at work on their latest tentpole projects. Cameron is in the midst of scripting both Avatar 2 and Avatar 3, while Jackson has actually commenced filming his long-delayed two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

The latest updates on both these gentlemen’s new cinematic endeavors are of a technical nature – namely, that Cameron has secured a new studio for shooting his Avatar sequels, while Jackson dropped the Internet a note about why exactly he’s filming hisĀ Hobbit movies at 48 frames per second (fps) instead of the conventional 24.

THR says that 20th Century Fox and Cameron have signed a lease for space at the Manhattan Beach Studios, where motion-capture photography and production on both Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 will take place. The Playa Vista studio where Cameron shot the original Avatar is reportedly undergoing renovations, so this move ensures that filming on the sequels won’t be delayed by that construction.

Cameron remains as technically meticulous a filmmaker as ever, having recently returned from a trip to Brazil’s Amazonian rain forest that served as research for his Avatar sequels. The recent disaster in Japan has seemingly forced Cameron to scuttle his plans for diving into the Mariana Trench for additional research, but there’s no reason to doubt his new sci-fi projects will be anything but flawless…at least on a technical level.

Perhaps now Cameron can huddle down and really focus on developing the Avatar 2 & 3 screenplays – the quality of which are of more concern than anything else to moviegoers, given that the first Avatar was arguably quite technically brilliant but narratively conventional.


The Hobbit

It’s no shocker that Jackson is employing the latest in advanced 3D filmmaking technology and digital tools in order to realize the tale of young Bilbo Baggins on the big screen. It turns out the Hobbit movies are not only being shot in the third dimension, but also at an advanced rate of 48 frames per second – twice that of the traditional 24.

Jackson posted a relatively long and detailed comment about that Hobbit-related matter on his Facebook page. However, here are just a couple of excerpts from his note that pretty much capture the gist of his reasoning:

We are indeed shooting at the higher frame rate. The key thing to understand is that this process requires both shooting and projecting at 48 fps, rather than the usual 24 fps (films have been shot at 24 frames per second since the late 1920s). So the result looks like normal speed, but the image has hugely enhanced clarity and smoothness. Looking at 24 frames every second may seem ok–and we’ve all seen thousands of films like this over the last 90 years–but there is often quite a lot of blur in each frame, during fast movements, and if the camera is moving around quickly, the image can judder or “strobe.”

Film purists will criticize the lack of blur and strobing artifacts, but all of our crew–many of whom are film purists–are now converts. You get used to this new look very quickly and it becomes a much more lifelike and comfortable viewing experience. It’s similar to the moment when vinyl records were supplanted by digital CDs. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re heading towards movies being shot and projected at higher frame rates.

So there you have it. Any immediate thoughts?

The Hobbit: Part 1 hits theaters in December of 2012, followed by Part 2 in December 2013.

Avatar 2 will arrive in theaters around Christmas of 2014, followed by Avatar 3 a year later in 2015.

Source: THR, Peter Jackson

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  1. Sandy, you made a statement that I’m curious about. You said the screenplay is what most moviegoers are concerned with for the Avatar sequels. I agree, personally. I’m looking for an improvement in that department. What gives you the impression that it’s the same for most moviegoers? Is that based on reviews you’ve read? I only ask because the movie made so much money that I would think it’d be difficult to determine that on a large scale.

    • Well, I just meant that if there is one thing that anybody seems concerned about with the Avatar sequels, it’s their scripts. That’s definitely not the case for everybody, of course, but I’ve gotten the impression that’s true for enough people, basically.

      • Oh ok fair enough. Great article!

  2. God I hope they do something with the avatar story I felt like the 1st movie was more then enough and was very lacking in the story dept.

  3. I am very much looking forward to seeing both Hobbit movies. But I am more intrigued in seeing the new Avatar or Airbender movies. Being a big fan of the animated version I was highly disappointed in the first movie. There was so much from start to finish that was left out. This could of easily been a very good three hour movie with the content that was left out. Instead we got a below average two hour movie. But saying that, there is a lot of room for improvement and I for one and hoping it happens.

    • You do know that Avatar was not The Last Airbender, right? M. Night did Last Airbender, Cameron did Avatar.


      • The Full title of The Last Airbender is actually Avatar The Last Airbender. M Night had to drop the Avatar part out of the title due to Cameron’s movie.

  4. No matter what, these movies will now going to start looking like live video and a lot less like a movie… The more frames per a second you add past 24 a second the more it will look like video.

  5. i like the idea of higher frame rate, but that must also mean that the tickets will be more expensive because it needs new projectors like 3D. it also means a longer post production work because the CGI has to be made with double the frame count as before. same CGI scene length but double the frame count == longer CGI rendering == more expensive post production cost.

    • Hobbit’s 48p shooting. The current digital projector systems run at 96fps and 120fps to reduce flicker. Therefore, at least theaters shouldn’t charge you more for the ticket. It’s BD I’m worried about. One of 3 things will happen. 1. Warner removes every other frame. 2. Warner publishes it at 720p60 using a telecine technique to convert it from 720p48. 3. Profile 5 BD players get an addendum to allow for this new playback type. Pray for 3…

      • What I wanted to say is like 3D movie tickets. “Oh this new movie is in 3D, lets charge extra 3+ dollars just because the movie is in 3D. Doesn’t matter if its 3D converted or shoot in 3D. Just charge extra money so we will earn more money from the moviegoers”. I think this will also happen to movies with 48fps.

  6. I’m still waiting for Cameron to do Battle Angel Alita

  7. I’m definitely making sure that I watch the Hobbit in a theater that can show it in 48 fps, I just hope it doesn’t look to much like video, but I’m sure that it will look great since it’s being done by some of the best people in the business.

  8. I don’t understand what the hubbub would be about as far as higher frame rates. Sure I can understand if people forgo that for horror and similarly specifically stylized films but for a film like the Hobbit, these movies are “adventure” movies where the audience wants to be feeling as though they are “there” seeing everything in stark contrast as they would in real life – and higher frame rates are the way to go on that.