One Avatar: The Last Airbender director explained the process behind animating the fight scenes in the series! Avatar: The Last Airbender is currently in the midst of a major revival following its relaunch on streaming services like Netflix and CBS All Access last year, and a large part of why it's gotten so much recent attention from old and new fans alike is the attention to detail that went into bringing the franchise to life. This was especially true for the bending styles that stemmed from real martial arts work, and according to director, writer, and animator Giancarlo Volpe, it tooks lots of time to get this right.
Responding to a recent feature from Insider in which Volpe helps to break down much of the work that went into bringing the realistic martial arts action in Avatar: The Last Airbender to life, and it starts with hiring those who live the martial arts and could offer time to film reference footage, demonstrate moves and more.
How to animate authentic feeling martial arts:— Giancarlo Volpe - BIack Lives Matter!! (@Giancarlo_Volpe) January 16, 2021
1) Hire martial artists, bonus points if they are extra imaginative
2) Actually pay said martial artists
3) Open the schedule to film non stop kung fu reference meetings
4) Give artists extra time to draw the 100,000 required poses https://t.co/3bFgML6kD7
Fight choreographer and reference actor Sifu Kisu notably played a huge role in breathing life into the action of the Avatar: The Last Airbender franchise. Not only did he inject different kinds of martial arts to the four bending elements seen in the series, but offered reference materials that the animating team then eventually turned into the final product that fans still enjoy today. The franchise is still relevant now more than ever, and this attention to detail is one of the reasons it's had such staying power.
That's why it's been so tough for a live-action adaptation to replicate. Because although animators aren't needed to translate the martial arts moves to screen, any adaptation is still going to need to nail the finer points of each of these distinct martial arts. With Netflix currently working on a TV series of their own (one in which the original cast is seemingly not on board with either), this will be one of the sticking points for many.
What did you think of Avatar: The Last Airbender's take on action scenes? What are your favorite fights in the series overall? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or you can even reach out to me directly about all things animated and other cool stuff @Valdezology on Twitter!