The latest blockbuster just out is James Cameron's Avatar: Way of the Water. It's the much anticipated sequel to his 2009 epic sci-fi film set in the future where humans are trying to colonize and exploit the mineral wealth of a distant planet's moon called Pandora. This puts them into direct conflict with blue humanoid beings, the Na'vi, who live in harmony with nature. The second movie is set in a part of Pandora inhabited by sea dwelling Na'vi.

The 13 year gap between the two movies has seen great advances in the CGI (computer generated imagery) technology used to create the movie. For the first time ever, performance capture of the live actors, was carried out underwater. This required professional free divers to train the cast and crew to hold their breaths for long periods of time. Small cameras were mounted in front of the actors' faces to capture, in detail, their expressions in addition to all their movements.

The Making of Avatar 2: Best of Behind the Scenes  shows how challenging it is for the actors who have to perform wearing their special suits. There are no green or blue screens. Water scenes are often  filmed on dry land as for Avatar 1. But this time, the director needed to have the cast acting in water as so much of the film was set in water. They have to hold their breaths as bubbles can be confused with the little white camera reference balls on their motion capture suits.


Watch the science behind how the cast and crew were trained to safely hold their breaths for far longer than normal - for over 4 minutes. 

The acting talent is incredible when you consider the cast have to use their imagination in a very sterile, tech intensive environment. See this in-depth look :


The result is a spectacular animated movie with realistic movements.  See the final trailer :

As a CGI movie,  it is natural to assume that the costumes and accessories worn by the Na'vi were all digitally created. They were but AFTER every piece was first made in real life by costume designer, Deborah Scott, and her team of artisans for both Avatar movies.  The actual articles allowed the filmmakers to see how each piece drapes on live models and how the accessories move with the actor. These designs were then scanned for the animators to use.  See this behind the scenes clip which explains more and shows some of the artisans at work.

The designer said in this article :

We built every single Na’vi garment, every bracelet, every necklace. Because the technology is so good at capturing the image and the texture of these pieces, you can’t draw it in the computer and expect it to have the three-dimensional life it has. Give them a real piece of fabric so the computer can scan every rough spot, every worn spot, especially when you get into the very complicated Na’vi pieces which are hand-woven and beaded and bespoke. You can’t hand-draw a macramé knot and read it.

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM