Costume designer Deborah Lynn Scott reveals that some intricate Na’vi costumes in Avatar: The Way of Water took over 200 hours to construct.
Avatar: The Way of Water costume designer Deborah Lynn Scott explains why some Na’vi costumes took over 200 hours to make. Released 13 years after James Cameron’s record-breaking original, the sequel welcomes viewers back to the beautiful world of Pandora to continue the story of Jake (Sam Worthington), Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), and their new family. Avatar: The Way of Water has earned rave reviews from audiences, who praise Cameron’s impressive world-building and the sequel’s jaw-dropping visual effects. While the first movie took place mainly in the jungles of Pandora, the sequel, as the name suggests, sees Jake and Neytiri move their family to an ocean community of Na’vi after the emergence of a new threat.
Like the first film, Avatar: The Way of Water built many costumes and props practically before those elements were then faithfully recreated using CGI. The Na’vi costumes, in particular, took hours of painstaking work, with Scott revealing in a recent interview with Variety that some pieces took over 200 hours to construct. Check out Scott’s full comment below when asked how long the costumes took to make:
“Depends on the costume. It started with a lot of research and development that goes into it. But what did the character and scene dictate to me and to Jim? We followed a lot of the template of the first movie and took it to a higher and more complicated standard. With the Na’vi world, I think on average it took around 200 hours per garment. That was without the research time before that to decide if it was going to be a real shell, a 3D-printed shell or a laminate shell. We kept returning to the natural world and the natural shells because those are the ones that really give life. We found that all this magic of 3D printing, which we did in some cases to augment, wasn’t as good as what was real, handcrafted, sculpted by hand and individual bespoke pieces.”
Why The Way Of Water’s VFX Are So Groundbreaking
Cameron first had the idea for Avatar back in the mid-1990s but had to put the project on the back burner because the technology simply didn’t exist to make the movie. The director then pioneered a number of groundbreaking visual effects techniques in order to bring his vision for the film to life, and he’s done the same for Avatar: The Way of Water. Determined to have much of the film actually take place in and around water environments, Cameron spearheaded the development of new VFX and underwater performance capture technology, which involved filming stars like Worthington, Saldaña, Kate Winslet, Sigourney Weaver, and Cliff Curtis in a massive water tank.
In addition to investing in visual effects tools and technology that didn’t previously exist, the production’s commitment to building many props and costumes practically ultimately helps to sell the final effect. When VFX artists are able to hold a prop or costume in their hands to understand its texture and rigidity, in addition to better understanding how it interacts with water, sunlight, and movement, that asset can then be more faithfully recreated in CGI form in the film. While recreating Avatar: The Way of Water’s Pandora’s environment in the real world is essentially an impossible task, behind-the-scenes video and images also show that each scene is blocked out on a stage so that actors wearing performance capture suits can move through the environment in a genuine way.
In addition to the visual effects themselves, parts of Cameron’s latest sequel are also presented at higher frame rates, meaning motion appears to be more fluid than at the more traditional 24 frames per second. Considering Avatar 3 has already been filmed, it’s very likely that, in 2024, audiences will get to return to Pandora once more. With fans almost unanimously agreeing that Avatar: The Way of Water‘s visual effects are breathtaking and second to none, the subsequent sequels will likely push this to an even more impressive level than ever before.