The Avatar 2 Trailer Shot That Should Have Blown Your Mind

Visual effects artists from the YouTube channel Corridor Crew break down a mind-blowing shot from the Avatar: The Way of the Water trailer. Released in 2009, James Cameron’s Avatar is widely renowned for its groundbreaking visual effects, which propelled it to become the highest-grossing film of all time. Following the widespread success of the first film, Cameron is looking to push the envelope even further on the sequel in terms of its visuals, even having to develop new technology before the film could begin production.


Released this past May, the Avatar: The Way of the Water trailer revealed the first full look at the long-anticipated sequel, including Pandora’s oceans, Sully’s family, and more. The teaser trailer debuted at CinemaCon 2022 and played before screenings of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness before releasing online, where it was viewed 148 million times in its first 24 hours. In under two minutes, The Way of the Water teaser trailer showcased Pandora’s breathtaking ocean views which, as indicated by the title, will be one of the Avatar sequel’s main draws.

In a recent video from the YouTube channel Corridor Crew, three VFX artists broke down one particularly mind-blowing shot from the trailer. The shot in question occurs about 1:20 into the official Avatar: The Way of Water teaser trailer and simply shows a Na’vi tightening a leather strap in the water. As the VFX artists in the video explain, this close-up is entirely CGI, which is very impressive due to its high degree of complexity. Read their explanation below:

This shot right here, everything you’re seeing from the blue skin, to the water, to the straps, everything you’re seeing was generated by a computer…so why does the internet refuse to believe that that shot is generated by a computer?

I think because for the past 15-20 years of seeing a lot of CG water, we’re always seeing it this scale, the wide scale, because that’s actually fairly easy and we figured out how to do large scale simulations, but we never see like this micro stuff. If you look there’s one frame where it tugs and that’s displaced to the water splashing up outside of the saddle in one frame, and we never see that type of like dramatic small scale stuff.

The bit that I think is nuts is the surface tension in the bottom left, the way it goes into that woven bit. I don’t remember ever seeing surface tension on that complex and dynamic of a scale. As the water goes away it’s still trapped there in the little bits [of woven fabric].

While some viewers have claimed this specific shot was filmed using practical effects, i.e., real water, the VFX artists ensure this shot was created entirely with CGI, including the water, the Na’vi’s blue skin, and the leather straps. There is perhaps no better testament to how photo-realistic The Way of the Water‘s CGI looks for it to be mistaken for practical effects. Avatar 2‘s VFX artists somehow managed to render close-up CGI that realistically simulates the dynamics of actual water, which has never been seen to this extent before.

Despite being groundbreaking, the CGI in Avatar 2‘s trailer has also been met with backlash from detractors who claim it does not look drastically different from the original Avatar. However, the close-up CGI water shot is just one example of how the Avatar sequel has improved its visuals while still maintaining the signature aesthetic of the original film. With Avatar: The Way of the Water set for a December 16 release date, audiences will surely be treated to additional trailers showing of the sequel’s groundbreaking CGI technology in the near future.

Source: Corridor Crew/YouTube

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