Avatar: The Way of Water’s VFX supervisor Pavani Rao Boddapati unpacks the film’s visualsAvatar: The Way of Water’s VFX supervisor Pavani Rao Boddapati unpacks the film’s visualsGiphy GIFGiphy GIF

Avatar: The Way of Water’s VFX supervisor Pavani Rao Boddapati unpacks the film’s visuals

The Way of Water is mesmerising, to say the least. In an exclusive chat with Filmfare, Pavani Rao Boddapati opened up about working with James Cameron, Avatar’s underwater world and more.
Everything you see in Avatar
Avatar is the highest-grossing movie of all time. Every time there was a Pandora-themed project, I was the first person to sign up. In 2018 when I started on Avatar 2, it was hugely exciting.
I want to work on every single movie Jim’s (James Cameron) making. We knew that it was going to be a project that has been in the works since 2009. We started five years early to deliver this project.
So all we did was evaluate what kind of shots we had to work on, plan for it and shoot references. We knew when we finally started that we had the recipe and the crew to get this project.
The goal is that we’re a part of a bigger picture and we need this movie to hit Jim’s expectations.
It was pretty quick when he loved it – there was no critique and you’re through.
But he would say “you nailed it’ or “bingo bongo” and every time he said something like that, the crew would go crazy because it meant that he was loving the shot. Avatar: The Way of Water has so many underwater sequences. How challenging was that?We knew that with this movie the water was going to be a major part of the 2,200 shots and in the last five to six years we started working on getting the water right. There are a lot of movies that came out in the past couple of years featuring water and the audience critique was important. Humans are very sensitive and anyone can figure out if the water looks fake. You don’t have to be a visual effects artist or know films to realise that. You see that it’s wrong and people can immediately tell. So the first underwater sequence that we worked on is where Jake Sully’s kids ...
...dive into the water and they are learning how to breathe. That was going to be our first shot at fantastical world-building. I remember when I watched Avatar (2009), the sequence where Jake follows Neytiri into the forest and it’s all lit up and I thought what is this place? I want to go there. And this underwater shot was meant to be that. It’s the first time you go into the water and you see these beautiful corals and kids swimming and you want to be there and feel like you are there in stereo. We did a lot of work into making the water look believable and also making it look like you’re in there with stereo. So we used a high frame rate, added tiny particles, and put gel on the camera. And Jim, who has spent so much of his life in water, was there to tell us “Well that looks like something I’ve seen in real life”.
It takes something like an Avatar sequel to get audiences into a 3D theatre. But now I’ve changed my mind and I think The ...
...Way of Water is the most beautiful thing I’ve been involved in. Avatar: The Way of Water is currently in theatres.