It lets directors work on a mocap stage, but view a virtual environment and characters. Virtual production has been around for years (an early version was used in The Fellowship of the Ring), but Avatar was the pivotal moment. James Cameron wanted to direct live actors on the mocap stage, but view their performances in the Pandora environment.
We built digital assets and environments, then combined these with the digital puppets being driven by the motion capture. This virtual view was fed to the viewfinder of a physical camera present on the mocap stage – allowing Cameron to direct the action as if it were on a live set. We are constantly improving our virtual production pipeline, allowing directors more freedom and providing an intuitive way for filmmakers to use the accumulated knowledge and wisdom of traditional filmmaking within a digital environment.