The Way Of Water’s Cast Used Underwater Jetpacks To Swim Faster While Shooting

On top of their arm strakes, the Metkayina also possess a paddle-like tail that seems to serve an even greater purpose to their survival. In order to make it look seamless when they put the digital makeup on the actors later, Cameron tasked lead character designer Joseph Pepe with finding a solution. If the groundbreaking underwater technology wasn’t already cool enough, what they came up with was giving the Metkayina performers jetpacks to mimic a perfect underwater rhythm (via “The Art of Avatar: The Way of Water”).

“We gave them a switch to hold in their hands so they could kick and then hit the jet pack and glide and wiggle their hips like they had a tail. We called it the ‘crocodile swim’ because the crocodile moves its butt back as its tail is moving. The actors had to perform as if they had tails. There was a whole aesthetic around the tail, where we wondered how to best design their functionality into the costumes and so on.”

With Cameron in tow, you truly get to play with the coolest toys. In addition to having a freaking underwater jetpack on your back, it also helps the audience to distinguish how the Metkayina swim as opposed to the other clans. The Sullys are, as leader Tonowari (Cliff Curtis) puts it, babies compared to them, so they must utilize their bodies to be at one with the water if they are to properly assimilate. The new clan fits so organically into their imaginatively designed reef home, while still maintaining the towering stature of the other Na’vi we’ve seen thus far.

“Avatar: The Way of Water” is now playing in theaters everywhere.

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