Creating the exiled sea creature of Avatar: The Way of Water

The first fact you need to acknowledge about Tolkoon is an introduced marine species Avatar: The Way of Water, that they are not saying. Director James Cameron is adamant about this.

“I got through almost the whole movie without saying anything in front of Jim,” said Don Barrett, who served as senior animation supervisor on the film as part of WetaFX, in Wellington, New Zealand. A well-known visual effects company. . “I did it once, and you got it right.”

Huge in size and certainly whale-like in their general shape, these creatures have unique anatomical features that set them apart from cetaceans here on Earth. Yet, they bring to mind the whales we are familiar with in their extraordinary intelligence, complex communication systems and their complex social structure.

According to Rick Jaffa, one of Waterway’s screenwriters, Tolkien as a whole is full of one of the film’s main thematic underpinnings: the notion of interconnectedness with our surroundings and the natural world at large. In this second installment of the Avatar franchise, the concept of their look and character was very important.

As Jaffa and his co-writers—Cameron included—began to develop the story and characters, the art department (located at their office in Lightstorm at Manhattan Beach Studios, in California) would Incorporate ideas into the design of creatures, reorganize them. As they went.

“You felt like you were watching evolution unfold before your eyes,” Jaffa said.

tulkun Tolkien in Avatar 2.

The Tolkoons also have deep and ancient ties to the Mitkaina, a tribe of sea people who live on the mythical moon of Pandora. It is Matkaina who welcomes Jack Solly (Sam Worthington), a human-turned-navy hero, as he and his family hide from their enemies.

A young Tolkoon, specifically Piakan, lives in exile from the pack for years after a violent incident involving invading humans. But when he befriends Luak (Brittany Dalton), the rebel middle child of Slys, Piakan shares his story and gets a redemption arc.

Pekan’s status as an outsider, Jaffa believes, also coincides with how Luak feels misplaced in his family unit. This sense of belonging in turn mimics the experience of the Sully family, who are forced to seek refuge far from their home in the forest.

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Throughout the action-packed narrative, as Piakan and Luak learn more about each other, their friendship and trust grow into a spiritual connection. This true intergenerational connection conveys Cameron’s message of conservation.

The production designer on the sequel, Dylan Cole, has been invested in the world of Pandora since the first incarnation, serving as concept art director on the 2009 film. For the waterway, Cole said, he and his team used Paykan as a prototype for the rest of Tolkoon. But getting there has many experiences.

“At first glance, yes, he’s a lot like a whale, but every detail and part of him is different and alien,” Cole said.

One of the first requirements of the design is the inclusion of an audio sensor in the Tolkoon crest, which is located at the top. Initially, the sensor mast was similar to the attachment type found on top of an anglerfish. But this version of the sensors was simplified and then removed as Cameron himself worked on several sketches to refine the shape of the crest and the way the head worked. Cole and his team took this final rendering, put the sensors back on the crest and arrived at what we see on the screen now.

Since the Tolkoons have armored bodies that are meant to be highly flexible, the art department and animators collaborated to create plates that would not collide with each other when turning the creatures into different shapes. This outer shell cannot function like a sea turtle, for example; It should be split into separate parts to allow for what Cameron envisions.

“One pose featured Jim with Tolkien touching his back all the way with his chest strap,” Cole said. “He imagined this dance-type pose.”

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Cameron also wrote that tolkoons were oral nymphs, in which case the newborn offspring of a female tolkoon lived in her mouth. The artists have designed the mouth – which reveals a large bag when opened – as if it were a magical cave, as this is where Luak communicates with the Piakan “koro”, the word for thunder that refers to the creatures in Pandora. Allows to connect mentally with one. another

Cole and his team got down to a rough fern coil with multiple points of contact to design Peakan’s house. “We were trying to show that by having all these different home relationships, their relationships with others are very strong,” Cole said.

For Piakan’s most prominent eye, his most anthropomorphic feature, this approach creates a cross between an elephant’s eye and a human eye, with the familiar iris and pupil. Separately, the sclera, the outer layer of the eye, would have closely resembled that of horses and cows and the necting membrane, the structured lenses that make it possible to see underwater. The goal with all these details was to elevate the Peacock from just being a creature and give it a personality.

“Paikan was probably the hardest creature for us to crack because it’s not just a creature; it’s a character,” Cole said. “He really needed to be relatable and emotional.”

Animators, in turn, focused their efforts on eye movement and skin movement around it to aid performance. “We needed to get as much out of it as possible because that’s what Luak relates to: that very big eye, cheek and face,” said Barrett, the animation supervisor.

In keeping with Tolkien’s mechanics of movement, the animation team used humpback whales as a key reference. However, for Pecan’s other toys, the inspiration came from seals, especially their prominent tails. In one example, which Barrett calls a “puppy shot,” the effect is clear as the pelican swims around Luak.

To capture these interactions between Piakan and Na’vi Boy, the production made Tolkien’s body parts out of fiberglass and foam to give to Dalton, who, while filming in a water tank, had Luak’s, eye-line. And physical reference plays. For underwater shots, there were props that could move through the water, with a flipper for the actor. Advanced tanks can also generate strong currents to simulate peak speed.

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According to Barrett, the most difficult shots to achieve were the ones in which Peacock is at the intersection between the water and the surface, when only part of his body is broken. To do them, the animators had to account for the massive movement of water that would occur when a creature the size of Tolkien came out of it, the droplets of water that came out of it, and the dust as it spread its wings. Blow cleans the hole. This level of realism is available thanks to advances in computer-generated imaging technology that can help simulate the image.

“We would have been dead in the water without it,” Barrett said, “because without that water you would have lost a sense of reality, which was such a big character in his film and so important. Pecan’s own Part of the relationship with the environment.

Another moment, made possible through a combination of digital tools and motion capture performance, compounds Tolkien’s significant importance in the film to Jaffa.

“The first time we all saw the picture of Luak and Paikan underwater with their arms crossed, like they were trying to hold hands or make physical contact, we all got really emotional,” Jaffa said.

For Cole, essentially a zoologist incarnate, Tolkien exemplifies Cameron’s meticulous attention to the biomechanics of every creature that inhabits this world: interspersed with substantial references to the real world but sufficiently Interspersed with accurate, original details we might be convinced that these creatures actually exist all over the world.

“I’m not just a fantasy film designer,” Cole said. “I’m a National Geographic explorer on Pandora trying to report back.”

By Carlos Aguilar


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