Avatar's tight-suited motion capture actor, Reuben Langdon, explained his on-set task of pretending to be eaten alive by one of the many beasts of Pandora while crew members made grr noises and waved foam noodles.
We snagged Langdon in his clever new Avatar sweatshirt outside of the Wrath of Con party at Comic-Con, and quickly chatted about all things Avatar (and desperately tried to get him to recreate one of his more violent Avatar scenes in public):
What's it like on set?
It's very tight. We're wearing mo cap. suits wearing tight spandex with these glowing balls on us.
And basically all of the stunts, a lot of them, are done in the motion capture suits.
What you see on screen is pretty much exactly what happened without all of the environments. So, for example, if your running through the woods... Some of that awesome, craziness of Jake [a character] running through the woods being chased by the thanator was actually in a hall, a stage with grey sticks as placements for trees and things. And there's really no jungle at all, it's just an empty room and running from imaginary guys making puppets. Not even guys with puppets, but guys making noises like "Rawr" with a tennis ball at the end of a stick, while he's waving it badly and you're like [makes a face], running away.
So, you have to have an imagination to make that kind of thing. Very different from what is actually on the screen, the looks. But the motion, the physical motion that's all that we're concerned about.
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So do they run you on a treadmill or do you have to run back and forth across the room [when you run out of forest?
Not quite a treadmill, but yeah, we're in a big room just running through sticks, or those pool foam, what do they call them? Those pool foam things.
Foam noodles. They're being bombarded by foam noodles.
So Avatar is really made up of tennis balls, foam noodles, sticks ... And a tight motion capture suit.
And tennis balls.
Basically every part we see a blue character running, is that you?
Uhm, it kind of is. Yeah, maybe I guess you could say that. More than running, more like falling and tripping and getting eaten and thrown and ... yeah. Any of the stuff that's really painful.
How do you mime or act out getting eaten?
It's gonna be tough; I'd probably cause a big scene here. It wouldn't be pretty - watch the movie.
And then, he was kind enough to show us the Avatar sweatshirts with the constellation like collection of the winged Sturmbeasts from Pandora.