In the 2009 science fiction film Avatar, director James Cameron conceived a fictional universe in which humans seek to mine unobtanium on the fictional extraterrestrial moon, Pandora. The Earth-like moon is inhabited by a sapient indigenous humanoid species called the Na'vi, and varied fauna and flora. Resources Development Administration (RDA) scientists, administrators, recruits, and personnel travel to Pandora in the 22nd century to discover this lush world which is inhabited by many lifeforms including the human-like Na'vi. The clan with which the humans have contact in the film "[lives] in a giant tree that sits on a vast store of a mineral called unobtanium, which humans want as an energy supply".
The Pandoran biosphere teems with a diverse variety of bioluminescent species ranging from hexapoda animals to exotic fauna and flora. The Pandoran ecology forms a vast neural network spanning the entire planetary surface into which the Na'vi and other creatures can connect. The strength of this collective consciousness is powerfully illustrated when the human invaders are defeated in battle by the Pandoran ecology, after the resolute Na'vi were nearly defeated. Cameron utilized a team of expert advisors in order to make the various examples of fauna and flora as scientifically feasible as possible.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Cameron spoke of prioritizing story and character over the effects technology by explaining, "When they see a Pixar movie, they don't need to know about the hundreds of artists who slaved away at computers for years to make it. It's just: Do I like this story? Do I like the characters? I think Avatar will work that way."
Cameron explained his objective to seamlessly translate actor performances into computer-generated characters, saying, "It evolved from a couple of things: growing up on a steady diet of science fiction, imagining alien characters, and being ultimately dissatisfied with what was possible with makeup and prosthetics, with an actor having to be in the makeup chair for six hours a day. This technology isn't about replacing or marginalizing actors. It's about allowing actors to transform and empower them to be as creative as they want to be. And by the way, we did tall blue people with pointy ears here. But we could easily have done a straight human face if we'd wanted to ... If we had put the same energy into creating a human as we put into creating the Na'vi, it would have been 100 percent indistinguishable from reality."
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