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Avatar: The Way of Water Producer On The Tricky "First Swim" Scene

Avatar: The Way of Water producer Jon Landau recently explained the process of the film's trickiest visual effects moment in the sequel.

Avatar: The Way of Water may be slipping up on its box office hold more recently, but the film has without a doubt proven to be another smash hit for filmmaker James Cameron — and one of the most successful box office turnouts to date.

With more than three hours of footage all primarily funneled into special effects work, the film clearly required a lot of attention and care to bring Cameron's sequel to life, and now one of the film's producers is breaking down the process of the most detail-oriented moment to create in Avatar: The Way of Water. Labeling the scene "the first swim," producer Jon Landau recently explained to The Hollywood Reporter that the Avatar cast gathered to shoot underwater sequences in the Bahamas based on references from a performance-capture tank in an effort to create a realistic approach.

Landau then dives further into the process by sharing, "We're in a realm where audiences know what's real. If you are in an inferno and there's fire everywhere and people are walking through it and not being affected, nobody can relate to that. But everybody has seen footage of people jumping [into water], many people have done it themselves. We shot references of all the costumes underwater and how they moved to make sure that it was authentic when Weta FX started coming back with their simulations."

Avatar, M3gan Power Big MLK Weekend Box Office
Kiri in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Kiri's Special Moment in Avatar: The Way of Water

Honing in on the specific take that he was pleased with, the producer goes on to add, "There is a moment of wonder on Kiri's face — it's a moment that I loved, where she reaches out and she's touching things underwater. That is based on an experience that we all did together as part of the training for [The Way of Water], where we went to Hawaii for a sense-memory experience for the cast. We did it on the first movie, but we only did it in the rain forest, and for this movie we did it in the rain forest and in the oceans. We took the cast diving underwater on a night scuba dive. In the darkness of the ocean, 30 feet down, we did perhaps the most Pandoran-like thing one could do on Earth: We saw giant manta rays come out of the darkness and swim over us. Sigourney was able to reach her hand out and touch one of their bellies. That is the sense of wonder she then conveyed to an audience with her performance in that first swim sequence."

Now that you have a little more insight into one seemingly simplistic scene's complications, does it give you a better sense of appreciation for the visuals in Avatar: The Way of Water?

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Aedan JuvetAbout Aedan Juvet

A self-proclaimed pop culture aficionado with a passion for all things horror. Words for Cosmopolitan, Screen Rant, MTV News, NME, etc. For pitches, please email
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