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The Eyeline System Behind Avatar – The Way of Water

One of the creators revealed how the difference in height was handled to look realistic.

Keeping eye contact is extremely important both in real life and in movies, but tracking the eyes of a CG creature can be tricky. The creators behind James Cameron's Avatar: The Way of Water know it all too well because the Na'vi are taller than humans, which makes interaction difficult. But they managed to come up with an eyeline system that effectively solves this problem.

Lightstorm Entertainment virtual production supervisor Ryan Champney shared that the simul-cam system used in the first movie was not working for The Way of Water.

“It was very quickly evident to Jim that the system broke down because he could see where everything was [in the simul-cam], but the actors couldn’t. Even with the ADs in there with their stick and the tennis ball, it was still very hard.”

The team tried using drones but eventually moved to aerial camera systems by Supracam. The cameras were suspended at the level where the CGI creature's eyes were supposed to be so that actors could look at a specific target and see what was happening at the same time.

“Casey [Schatz, simulcam supervisor] was doing almost a kind of live Lidar on set,” explained Champney. “He was constantly doing these quick Lidar scans of the set and then readjusting where the pick points and the cables should go. In Maya and through his techvis system, he could have the move going through the computer ahead of time to see where it was going to collide. He always had a 3D up-to-date version of the live-action set at any given time.”

The team did a great job setting up the whole system and making sure everything worked as intended, and you can see it in the final product. To learn more about how it works, read the article on befores & afters. Also, don't forget to join our 80 Level Talent platformour Reddit page, and our Telegram channel, follow us on Instagram and Twitter, where we share breakdowns, the latest news, awesome artworks, and more.

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