James Cameron pays tribute to tragic filmmakers

London: Oscar-winning filmmaker James Cameron has paid tribute to the two film executives who died in a helicopter crash in Australia on Saturday, saying "both were true explorers".

Cinematographer Mike deGruy and Australian film producer Andrew Wight were working on a documentary when the helicopter they were passengers in burst into flames shortly after take-off near Sydney. Both have worked with Cameron, said The Hollywood Reporter.

"Mike and Andrew were like family to me. They were my deep-sea brothers, and both were true explorers, who did extraordinary things and went places no human being has been.

"They were passionate storytellers who lived by the explorer`s code of humor, empathy, optimism, and courage.

Their deaths are a tremendous loss for the world of underwater exploration, conservation, and filmmaking," Cameron said in a statement.

Wight had worked with the `Avatar` helmer on a variety of underwater-related films including `Ghosts of the Abyss`, `Expedition Bismarck`, `Aliens of the Deep` and `Last Mysteries of the Titanic` in the last decade.

Three weeks ago, Wight was named managing director of the Melbourne office of Cameron Pace, the first for Cameron`s 3D production business outside the US, which provides 3D equipment for film and television projects and live sports broadcasting.