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New Avatar: The Way of Water video reveals how even the human characters were VFX


To no one’s surprise: Avatar: the way of the water, James Cameron’s 2009 original film, won the 2023 Oscar for visual effects. That’s because the work of the VFX department touched every aspect of the film – even the human performances. Ahead of the film’s upcoming digital home release, 20th Century Studios shared an exclusive clip with Polygon from a behind-the-scenes featurette dedicated to the character Spider and the motion-capture technology used to put him in the action. to bring.

Spider, a new character introduced in Avatar: the way of the water played by Jack Champion (Scream VI), is the adopted human son of series protagonists Jake Sully and Neytiri. Naturally, the process of filming human-scale characters versus the film’s relatively gargantuan Na’vi characters posed significant creative and technical challenges for Cameron and his team.

While Champion had to replicate his entire performance for Avatar: the way of the water twice during the film’s production, this new clip reveals that certain scenes required the crew to shoot not only twice, but on different scales at the same time.

“When we shot the first movie, we captured everyone on the same scale; It was one-on-one,” Jon Landau, a longtime collaborator of James Cameron’s and the producer for Avatar: the way of the water, says during the clip. “Here we had so many scenes with people and Na’vi characters, we (needed) multiple scales to capture a scene.”

Landau elaborates by explaining that in order to film scenes where multiple Na’vi and human characters are on screen at the same time, they would have to build two separate motion capture sets and movie mocap doubles facing each other before they that convert live action footage. in the final digital result of the film. The behind-the-scenes footage itself is as hilarious as it is impressive, with actors in black motion-capture suits running in tandem down ramps alongside mocap actors hoisting large blue mannequin stand-ins in front of the Na’vi like a bizarre obstacle course. Nickelodeons Legends of the Hidden Temple.

To represent the height difference between Spider compared to that of the Na’vi, who are several feet taller than an average human, let alone a human child, the team worked with smaller body-double actors who performed opposite the protagonists of the film. like Sam Worthington and Stephen Lang. “I’m doubling down for Spider because I’m the human offset for a Na’vi,” Kacie Borrowman, the motion capture actor for Champion, says in the clip. ‘Na’fish are ten feet long; your average human is about six feet tall. But we have people of average height playing our Na’vi, so we need someone shorter than an average human to play a human so the eyelines are correct.”

An exhausting and time-consuming process? No doubt, but you can’t argue with the on-screen results of the movie’s technical advancements compared to the original movie.

Avatar: the way of the water will be available exclusively digitally from March 28.

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