James Cameron’s original Avatar projects have always been known for their mind-blowing special effects. When it comes to Way of Water, the director has taken it to a whole other level.
Even with the sequel having only just now come out, the VFX team is already thinking of ways to improve the special effects across the board. But just where can the team improve?
How Avatar 3's VFX Will Be Even Better
During a virtual press conference, the VFX team behind Avatar: The Way of Water discussed what aspects of the movie they hope to make even better for 2024’s third installment.
While discussing the VFX work for the 2022 sequel, producer Jon Landau joked about the difficulty of planning out a movie's visual effects work due to the complexity of the work itself:
"... I think one of the things that we say is, we will know how to make this movie the day we finish it."
The sequel's Senior VFX Supervisor Joe Letteri jumped in, noting how "there's a lot" from Way of Water that the team is hoping to "make better for the next film:"
"Absolutely. Absolutely. It's what I was saying before, you always learned. And yeah, there's a lot of things that we learned on this film that we'd like to you know, make better for the next film. So, that's already underway."
When asked about which CGI elements from the first two movies the teams are looking to hone in on even more in Avatar 3, Letteri noted how both the facial effects and the water visuals have room for improvement:
"You know what, hopefully, it's not the visual result we're talking about, it's the way we're getting to it, right? And to me, the two most important aspects of this film are the same two that we're going to crack into next film, which is going to be the facial and the water. 'Cause, we learned a lot on it. But I think we just were scratching the surface. 'Cause, it's the first time using these new techniques for both of those. And hopefully, we can bring you something on the next film that will, you know, work even better."
Avatar 3 Sees More of the Water Tribe?
While Way of Water specifically aimed to introduce an entirely different area of Pandora to the world, if improving their process of creating aquatic-based effects is a key focus, that seems to indicate the third film might not make such a drastic location change.
However, the story could easily be similar to what was seen in Avatar 2’s opening 40 minutes, where the events start in the old location before shifting to focus on somewhere new for the rest of the movie.
There are still two years before the third film hits theaters, so the VFX team has plenty of time to improve upon their accomplishments from Way of Water. Though it is hard to imagine just how many improvements could come out of this two-year waiting period, it’s certainly a lot shorter than the 13-year gap between the first and second.
When it comes to facial animation, the team's work is already jaw-dropping. So, if there are improvements to make on that front, they'll undoubtedly blow audiences away.
Avatar: Way of Water is now playing in theaters, while Avatar 3 is currently set to debut on December 20, 2024.