How Did They Make the AVATAR Characters Look So Real?

Helicordian big Ever wondered how they made AVATAR 3D, or how they made the actors look so real? Learn about the special effects used in the making of AVATAR here, as we cover some of the most significant technologies used to film the unique special effects in AVATAR.

Guest post by Robert Guthrie

As a recent and wildly profitable box office blockbuster, AVATAR is mentioned in relation to a great many things, and especially when it comes to special effects. Computer-generated imagery (CGI) master James Cameron made sure that his long-awaited movie had nothing but the most cutting edge special effects and visuals, creating what is widely regarded as an unparalleled masterpiece of technology.

In fact, AVATAR contains so many revolutionary techniques and technologies that it can be hard to keep track of them. We've compiled a short list of some of the amazing technologies that went in to making AVATAR the masterpiece that it is.

Stereoscopic 3D Fusion Camera – While stereoscopy itself is not that new, AVATAR does employ a new and highly advanced brand of it that bridges the gap between the unimpressive 3D movies of old and the shining technological wonders of today. James Cameron and one of his partners, Vince Pace, fused two cameras together to mimic the vision of the human eyes, allowing them to film the movie in more realistic 3D.

High-Detail Performance Capture - In order to avoid the dreaded 'uncanny valley' effect that so many CGI movies suffer from, James Cameron went above and beyond the call of duty. He attached cameras to actor's faces and forced Weta Digital – the studio in charge of AVATAR's CGI – to spend more than a year refining the effects and tweaking the algorithms that mimicked facial movements so that when the animated Na’vi appeared on screen, they would appear realistic.

Unique Camera Technology – In order to properly film AVATAR as it was meant to be shown, Cameron introduced a number of new and exciting techniques. A special viewpiece for the fusion camera was used to film the live sequences; this allowed Cameron to see the film in 3D as he was directing it. For the motion capture sequences, there was a so-called “swing camera” that would project a low-res image of Pandora onto the stage as the actors performed.

Prosthetics – While the cutting-edge technologies used to film the world of Pandora and integrate the actors into it are fascinating, the less flashy types of movie magic cannot be overlooked. From Na'vi ears and noses to Jake Sully's (Sam Worthington) very convincing atrophied legs, the makeup and costume masters of AVATAR added essential touches to an already fantastic movie.

These listed techniques are of course just a small part of the amazing technology that went into making AVATAR. They make up a good representation of some of the most interesting and amazing leaps forward in CGI and 3D technology.

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What effects did you find most exciting in AVATAR?



The technology used in this movie is amazing and the special effects is the best I've seen to date. The effects I found most amazing was the thanator chase scene followed by the war scene.

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