ARTICLE JONATHAN SHIA
PHOTOGRAPHY PAUL JASMIN
STYLIST JESSICA DE RUITER
“When I read the script, I was petrified by it and that made me even more addicted to wanting to be a part of it. [Director James Cameron] is an amazing filmmaker—he’s a visionary. Not only have his films changed the way we look at cinema, they’ve also changed the way we make cinema. To be part of a pioneer movement when it comes to motion capture and Avatar, you can only feel blessed. The part that I worked on was solely motion capture. For two years, I was able to give my imagination permission to wander infinitely. It was long enough for me to be okay allowing my imagination to wander and create and aggrandize and minimize. It is absolutely necessary to do a lot of background work, to do a lot of research and a lot of rehearsals, because you are pulling rabbits out of fucking thin air when you do motion capture. That said, once all that preparation is put in place, it’s the most liberating process, because once you remove all the embellishments to character—hair, makeup, wardrobe, lighting, weighting—you’re just left with your director, your actors, your story, and your characters, and all you do is create an amazing sandbox where everything is just consistently flowing. The kind of characters that these creatures embodied required a lot of study of not only animals, but also children. There’s an innocence that we really wanted to incorporate. I became this little scientist and that was the methodical part. The physical part was wushu, which is a very graceful form of martial arts, archery, horseback riding, and movement. I needed to deconstruct myself and build myself from thin air.”
Makeup assistant Marco Souza Videographer Geoff Chu Special thanks Milk Studios L.A. and Smashbox Studios L.A.