Avatar 2, the production designer on the look of the Tulkun: ‘Making them was a design challenge’

Avatar – The Waterway is conquering the box office but the challenges to achieve it were neither few nor simple, far from it. In a new interview, the production designer of James Cameron’s film, Dylan Coletalked about one of the countless challenges his team faced, namely the making of Tulkuns, which play a crucial role.

One of the highlights of Avatar: The Water Way is the Tulkun race, whale-like beings, who bond with the Metkayina reef people. Tulkuns are not only majestic and powerful, but also highly intelligent, emotional, and spiritual. They have renounced violence and communicate verbally with the Metkayinas, even singing together.

The main Tulkun of the film is Payakan. He is a vicious assassin, shunned by both the Tulkun and Metkayina and forced into solitary exile. However, he bonds with misunderstood teenager Na’vi Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), the second son of Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña). Payakan makes a very emotional entrance during a fight with the great white shark-like predator, Akula.

These and other creatures of Pandora’s Seas were part of the world-building efforts of the film’s production department, led by award-winning artists Dylan Cole and Ben Procter. It was important to have a design that was alien and new, yet familiar enough to be recognizable; regarding the design of the Tulkun and the way they move, Cole referenced whales, sharks and seals. “It was almost like a sea turtle/whale/seal because the tail could fork and then fold back and flatten like a seal‘, he told IndieWire. ‘And so a lot of the movements weren’t trying to make her move like a whale. If you notice, she writhes a lot, hunches over“.

One of the hardest parts for Cole was the interior of Payakan for the scene where he invites Lo’ak to step inside his large colored membrane to glimpse the creature’s most tragic memory. “It’s like Jonah, right? Enter the whale’s mouth“Cole said. ”But it’s also an enchanted cave like in old fantasy stories. So it’s like it combines those two things and gets that bioluminescent motif. The roof and sides of the vent are our standard bioluminescent colors, cyan and blue. And then we focused on it to get a focal point where we started putting some purple colors in it and then as it unfolds, it becomes gold. For their relationships it was important that [Lo’ak] understood the story of Payakan“.

Cole, Procter and the art department created an entire ocean from the seabed up, from many species of coral and aquatic plants (many of them bioluminescent) to dozens of fish designs, from bait fish to top predators. Although the primary reference for the Akula was “a great white shark on steroids,” the source for the mouth was something scarier, at least for Cole. “Speaking out of personal fear, I don’t like snakesadded Cole.So I wanted to think of a rattlesnake. And the way it opens its mouth upwards, reaching even further than a snake, where the upper part of the mouth forks. And so, to put that kind of head on a shark, we modified its body“.

On these pages we refer you to review of Avatar The way of watercurrently playing in theaters worldwide.

Avatar 2, the production designer on the look of the Tulkun: ‘Making them was a design challenge’