Avatar: The Last Airbender has long been praised for its impressive bending styles and fight scenes, and a new video lays out the animating process.
A new video breaks down how Avatar: The Last Airbender created its excellent authentic fight scenes. Thanks to its arrival on Netflix last summer, Avatar has seen a huge resurgence in popularity. The series aired from 2005 to 2008 on Nickelodeon, and to this day it remains one of the most beloved animated shows of all time. Fans have long praised Avatar for its world-building, character development, and compelling storylines. Avatar follows Aang, the titular last airbender, as he plunges into a hundred-year war and aims to bring peace to four element-based nations.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing bits of Avatar is the bending. Certain people within the four nations have the ability to "bend," or manipulate and control one of the four main elements, while Aang can bend all four as the Avatar. Each bending style is distinctive, as they are all based on a real life martial art form. With that attention to detail, Avatar's fight scenes are often singled out as some of the most unique in animation. Of course, there had to be some extra work put in to ensure each action sequence was authentic, and a new video has explored why.
Shared by Entertainment Insider on Friday, the clip puts a spotlight on Avatar's Sifu Kisu, one of the martial artists who helped bring the show's fight scenes to life. Kisu and other martial artists would provide reference footage so the animators would understand how to best render the characters. Later, Giancarlo Volpe, who also worked on Avatar and was interviewed for the video, took to social media and listed off the best way to create authentic animated martial arts, which includes the extremely vital first step: "Hire martial artists, bonus points if they are extra imaginative." Check it out below.
Volpe's fourth step, "Give artists extra time to draw the 100,000 required poses," indicates just how much work goes into rendering each movement and scene. Spending this much time on a fight scene can surely be draining, yet those working on Avatar were committed to making an authentic series for audiences. Seeing this only makes the 2010 live-action film The Last Airbender more painful; when it came to the bending for that project, it looked as though the real life martial art styles were largely ignored as the characters made nonsensical gestures.
Currently, Netflix is in the midst of creating another live-action Avatar, but it remains to be seen if it will win fans over like the original series did. Updates have been slow to come, but many have felt wary about the project since Avatar's original creators departed last summer. As seen above, a great deal of work went into each action sequence on Avatar, and Netflix's series should take that into account. Fans will be disappointed if the bending in that show is anything like The Last Airbender's, so hopefully it will pay closer attention to the animated show. The blueprint has already been laid out; they just need to follow it.