WetaFX AvatarTWOW

Feature Films VFX

Avatar: The Way of Water

Wētā FX


There is a plethora to explore on Pandora. From deep in the jungle, to the home of the Metkayina and the underwater world, the environments are filled with vibrant plant life complete with complex details and motion to bring everything to life. Creating the 2,225 water shots required new tools and techniques to ensure that the look and feel of the water felt cohesive as it interacted with other elements, characters, and creatures.

Beginning with the physical starting point of real water to capture it’s tidal motion, the team added in fine details like foam, bubbles, marine snow, spray and cloth interactions to enhance the look. All of these solvers worked together in the new Loki State Machine that allowed simulations to be run together and change states as shot evolves.

Guided by real-world references, the five thousand square foot reef environment includes distinct landmarks and is decorated with vibrant aquatic life - including over 100 species of corals, crinoids, kelps, sponges, and molluscs, that provided striking bioluminescent light at night. To achieve the distinct personalities of the 15 principal characters and capture the expressive nature of the Na’vi, our animation team translated each actor’s performance from the inside out, keyframing muscle activations either from scratch or by fine-tuning from an initial actor solve.

This work was done with a new approach to facial animation using muscle strains called APFS. Artists also took advantage of the extra performance cues of the Na'vi, amplifying their emotion with subtle ear and tail animation. Featured heavily in the film is the Sea Dragon, the ship that the antagonist Quaritch commandeers in his hunt for the Sully family – ultimately leading to its destructive end. Measuring 117m in length and 112m across, the model is a glorious labyrinth incorporating 19 full CG sets – a total of 440 assets and 321 Million Polygons.

No video displayed