Long before you watched Jake Sully leave his body and enter a world of warriors and dragons, dozens of super-talented designers were pulled into James Cameron's imaginary world. We interviewed 17 Avatar designers, and here's everything they told us.
We ran the results of our interviews with the Avatar design team over a few months before and after the film came out, but this is the first time we're collecting it all in one place. Avatar probably had more designers working on it, for longer, than any movie before it. When you realize how much intense concentration went into every tiny facet of this movie, you gain a whole new level of appreciation for Cameron's mania.
So here's our complete history of the creation of Pandora, according to the film's designers:
Avatar Started As A Four-Month, Late-Night Jam Session At James Cameron's House A small group of designers worked out of James Cameron's house, not even sure if the project would ever get off the ground.
The Early Beginnings of Avatar, and avoiding the "Plastic Toy Frog" Look The designers who worked on Pandora's world in the early days were trying to create strange creatures without having them look too fake.
Pandora's Creatures Were Partly Based On Cars: Neville Page Speaks Where do those weird shapes of Pandora's wildlife come from? One inspiration was automative design.
Developing Those Crazy Color Schemes For Pandora's Wildlife: Strange Inspirations Art Nouveau? Ocean life? These are just some of the weird inspirations behind those vivid color patterns.
The Appearance Of Pandora Mirrored Jake Sully's Journey In The Film Check out the matte painting that made James Cameron say, "That's it. That's my movie," for the first time.
Floating Mountains And Strange Vegetation: The Landscape Of Pandora One designer traveled to China and a few other countries, photographing unusual mountains to try and get the look of Pandora right.
Avatar's Human Hardware Was All Based On Real-Life Stuff Every power-suit, every bit of military hardware, had to be based on something we have today, only updated.
Designing AMP Suits, Bio-Labs, And The Mighty Dragon The movie's vehicle designer talks about creating some of the most impressive military planes and attack vehicles ever seen on screen.
"We Were Building An Airplane In Flight" Many of the designs went through tons of different phases, from looking legos to the final lighting and composition.
Creating The Na'Vi Way Of Life, One Prop At A Time. Weta Workshop created a ton of Na'vi props and came up with a ton of theories about how the Na'vi lived, ate and created stuff. Behold the incredibly intricate designs.
27 Avatar Questions, Answered By The Movie's Designers We had a ton of random questions about the making of this film, and luckily the designers had a ton of really thoughtful, interesting answers.