From costumes to digital effects, 'Avatar: The Way of Water' professionals reveal movie magic

ByGeorge Pennacchio OTRC logo
Wednesday, December 28, 2022
'Avatar: The Way of Water': A look at the film's movie magic
Director James Cameron hired a top notch "below the line" crew to make Pandora come to life in "Avatar: The Way of Water." The visual effects are state of the art, but surprisingly on this digital film, so are the costumes!

HOLLYWOOD -- Filmmaker James Cameron received a huge gift over the Christmas weekend. "Avatar: The Way of Water" surpassed a major box office milestone and has taken in $955 million in global ticket sales.

As with the original film, Cameron hired a top notch "below the line" crew to make Pandora come to life. The visual effects are state of the art. But surprisingly, so are the costumes! Yes, the effects and animation-heavy film might have you think that physical costumes didn't actually have to be constructed. But that wasn't the case. Every garment, bracelet, necklace were all actually made!

"Not only did we design them, we made every single costume so the actor could wear it," said designer Deborah L. Scott. "And then it gets shuffled down the pipeline for CG. We actually made garments, one of a kind, never to be repeated again."

"You want to see how these things move. They are intricate, woven, with bead work and feathers. They built it so that we knew what to build. We built all of it again, in the computer, and put it on the digital characters," said Joe Letteri, Oscar-winning visual effects designer.

MORE | Returning to magical world of Pandora in 'Avatar: The Way of Water'

More than a decade after the record-setting "Avatar," James Cameron continues the story of the Na'vi in "The Way of Water."

Both Letteri and his fellow designer Daniel Barrett are proud of what they were able to bring to the screen.

"I'm most proud of the work on the characters," said Barrett. "It's a wonderful story with really strong performances and we did a pretty decent job of bringing them through," said Barrett.

Filmmaker Cameron is known as a perfectionist. Letteri and Barrett are too, so it makes for a perfect working relationship.

"It works great because you know what the bar is!" Letteri said, laughing.

"Avatar: The Way of Water" is in theaters now.

Disney is the parent company of 20th Century Studios and this ABC station.