by Miryam Muller in

http://youtu.be/4wW-0nWWA-M Movie director James Cameron has returned from his historic dive down into the Mariana Trench — Earth’s deepest known underwater point. Cameron’s solo trip was made possible using an Australian-built submarine named Deepsea Challenger, and the project has been sponsored by among others, The National Geographic Foundation and the filmmaker himself.

Cameron returned to the surface after nearly seven hours in a cramped cockpit. He spent nearly three hours at the Challenger Deep itself, gathering 3-D video.

The Deepsea Challenger was equipped with a Red Epic 5K 3D camera with a wide-angle lens, and it ran for almost the entire duration of the dive. The Red Epic was supported by four, custom-built, high-definition cameras, plus two boom-mounted cameras, one of which also captured 3D images.

Cameron believes that not only will his film be visually impressive for theater audiences, but the use of the stereoscopic imagery will help scientists “determine the scale and distance” of the objects and creatures he encountered.

The on-board systems provided Mr. Cameron with enough control over the cameras and the sub’s huge 2.5-meter LED light tower to “direct” as he went along. A “cruise control” mode made shooting smooth tracking shots along the ocean floor far easier too.

Following the success of the dive, there’s every chance the Deepsea Challenger will make several return journeys, including one with a fiber-optic umbilical cord, so scientists will be able to study live images sent back from the sub.

James Cameron is expected to make at least one documentary film based on his incredible dive, although no release date has been stated, and there is also a rumor some of the footage shot in the Mariana Trench will make it into the sequel to Avatar, currently set for a 2016 release.