The Last Airbender will release to the public a mere few days from now when mother nature’s powerful elements—Air, Water, Earth and Fire—will be handed to us in a way we’ve never seen. Creating a made up world full of CG elements wasn’t easy for M. Night Shyamalan and Industrial Light and Magic; yet regardless of whether the story unfolds as we expect, the special effects will certainly give us enough eye candy to gawk at (and talk about) for quite some time.
The Last Airbender TV Spot
Here are some of the the latest production stills released in the final press kit from Paramount Pictures.
“Visual effects supervisor Pablo Helman recounts that he went outside and lit some stuff on fire, so he would have a bunch of studies of real fire to show to director M. Night Shyamalan. But when Helman showed the footage of actual fire to Shyamalan, his response was, ‘You know what? That fire looks CG.’ Even real fire looked fake.” ~ Charlie Jane Anders (io9)
The Industrial Light & Magic crew used a NASA video of water in zero gravity as reference for how bending water could look.
“The ILM team decided that what you want to see is what the air is pulling up—whether it’s dust or snow, depending on what environment Aang is in. They used the same algorithm for air that they’d used for fire, except that they didn’t render it as fire.” ~Charlie Jane Anders (io9)
Facial motion capture
“There are actually three Aangs in the movie. There’s Ringer, who’s an accomplished martial artist and actually plays the character most of the time. There’s his stunt double Jade, a girl who’s roughly the same size and shape as Ringer… And then there’s a CG rendering of Aang, who’s doing some of the crazy acrobatics and ultra-dangerous stunts that no actor or stunt-person can do. To put Ringer’s face onto the other Aangs, Harrington captured a closeup of Ringer scowling and grimacing, with a billion dots to capture every aspect of the performance.” ~Charlie Jane Anders (io9)
For Appa, the six-legged flying bison, “The cool thing about Appa is that I kind of thought of him as a combination of the Millennium Falcon and Chewbacca…. We looked at polar bears, and we thought of the front two legs as arms that are offset slightly, and the back legs are legs… We looked at polar bears, bison [and] elephants to get kind of the physics and the weight right. We also looked at beavers. There are scenes where he actually swims and kind of uses his beaver tail in the water.” ~ Tim Harrington (ILM Animation Supervisor)
“Aang has a pet flying lemur named Momo. Harrington spent a lot of time figuring out how to get the light to scatter through Momo’s wing membrane. The mechanics of how Momo flies were based on the giant fruit bat, which Harrington figured was roughly the same weight.” ~Charlie Jane Anders (io9)
“In general, the team took a ‘less is more’ approach to layering in computer-generated details to all the scenes, aiming for the most photorealistic images they could create. The locations the film visits are based around the styles of the different tribes.” ~Charlie Jane Anders (io9)
From The Southern Water Tribe Set
From The Northern Water Tribe Set
“I’m not the most techie guy in the world, so if I can keep coming from character, I can keep it grounded. When we saw the cartoon, the mythology was so well thought out and had Buddhism, martial arts and CGI, but the kind that is character-based and that’s coming from emotions. So I could tell ILM [Industrial Light & Magic]…and speak in terms of character point of view and be effective in that way.” ~M. Night Shyamalan
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The Creatures of “The Last Airbender” – An Interview with ILM Animation Supervisor Tim Harrington
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When I was in grade school, I remember getting an assignment to write a report on any person, place, or thing from history. Being the fantasy fanatic I was, I chose the Pegasus. Funny, though I was quite obsessed with Gods and Goddesses of Greek mythology, I was more excited to illustrate the book cover showing the creature in all it’s glory (or what my artistic skills could produce at the time; and they were actually pretty darn good, even back then).
So it wasn’t a surprise that, along with so many other mythology and fantasy enthusiasts, I loved the original 1981 film Clash of the Titans. Even with its slightly cheesy special effects, it’s still a favorite in my mind.
As most of the world knows, they’re coming out with a remake in 2010. I don’t fully trust that it’ll top the original (yes, I’m one of those people who always love the originals more), but what I am looking forward to are the special effects! With today’s technology and talent, this new film will, well, kick the original’s ass in that department.
The films, old and new
For anyone who hasn’t seen it, here’s the trailer to the original:
Here’s the trailer for the 2010 remake:
Who’s playing who?
It’s always fun to compare actors from the past to the modern day versions of characters:
And of course, though Hades wasn’t in the original as far as I recall, I look forward to Ralph Fiennes interpretation of the character in the new film:
And the creatures!
Aeromental provides a great article documenting what monsters are missing, along with many still frames from the new film.
Check out some of the Clash characters and scenes by über talented artists:
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I was perusing YouTube for some fascinating sci-fi films, shorts, animations, and whatever else I could find. Here are a few that I thought kicked ass!
This first video was created by my own production company PUCKER as part of our first season of comedic (and often raunchy) shorts. Yes, that’s me in purple! More at: PUCKER.
Aliens Vs. Coffee machine
A really well done sci-fi a nimation by Henrik Bjerregaard Clausen. More at: aniBOOM.
A science-fiction short film about a young man who accidentally discovers that he can travel between two parallel worlds. You can check out the Visual Effects Breakdown in this video.