Avatar FAQ


James Cameron: The story takes place in 22nd century (2154). Most of the action takes place on Pandora, which is not actually a planet, it’s a large moon of a gas giant planet called Polyphemus in the Alpha Centauri A star system. Pandora is Earth-like, has lush rain forest environment and they’re filled with incredible life forms like a thousand foot tall trees, and a myriad of creatures, some of which are quite beautiful and some of which are quite terrifying which you’ll definitely see in the game. Pandora is also home to Na’vi.

Dr. Grace Augustine (Avatar Featurette):

From Earth’s southern hemisphere, you can see the solar system where Pandora is located, Alpha Centauri. At a distance of 4.4 light years from Earth, the Alpha Centauri system is our nearest stellar neighbor. The largest of its two sun like stars, Alpha Centauri A or ACA to astronomers  is Pandora's sun. Pandora is one of many moons orbiting the planet Polyphemus, the gas giant of the size of Saturn. Pandora's toxic atmosphere makes it uninhabitable by humans. Tropic rainforest covers the large part of each of the continents. These rainforests are similar to those that once covered the Amazon basin, but on the scale several times of anything on earth.

From what scientists can tell, the Pandora ecology works and communicates like a nervous system, suggesting a symbiotic relationship between all things Pandora. Perhaps the best symbols of this relationship are small luminescent Wood sprites, which are the seeds of the  d’Utraya Mokri, the tree of souls. The tree is sacred to the Na'vi and believed to be the heart of the deep connection of all life.

Everything on Pandora -- including the 10-foot, blue-skinned Na'vi -- is big because the gravity is 80 percent of what it is on Earth.

Cameron has put Pandora and Polyphemus in the real Alpha Centauri star system, the closest star system to Earth. The system is actually three stars all revolving around one another. The biggest is 20 percent larger than the Sun, the second is 15 percent smaller than the Sun, and the third is a red dwarf 80 percent smaller than the Sun. Polyphemus is named for the one-eyed Cyclops in Homer's "Odyssey." In the film, a gigantic storm similar to Jupiter's Great Red Spot is visible.



The song is called "Bless the Plague" by Discovery Zone. Discovery Zone is the band of Jon Landau's son, Jamie Landau



RDA. The largest single non-governmental organization in the human universe. Massive corporation involved in interests ranging from mining, transportation, medicines, weapons and communications. More powerful than most Earth governments The Resources Development Administration (RDA) has monopoly rights to all products shipped, derived or developed from Pandora and any other off-Earth location. These rights were granted to RDA in perpetuity by the Interplanetary Commerce Administration (ICA), with the stipulation that they abide by a treaty that prohibits weapons of mass destruction and limits military power in space.

With millions of shareholders, RDA is the oldest and largest of the quasi-governmental administrative entities (QGAEs). But its origins are far more modest. The entity that would become RDA was little more than a Silicon Valley garage startup in the early 21st century, when its two founders borrowed money from family members to begin the company.

Within a few decades, the company had the stature to propose the construction of a world-spanning rapid transit system that would allow entire population groups to conveniently commute hundreds or even thousands of miles to perform work where it was needed, without impinging on the cultural values of host populations. This led to the current global network of maglev trains that require the superconductor unobtanium for their continued operation.

The company's early expeditions to Pandora were seen as a colossal risk; the construction of the first interstellar vehicle alone put an enormous strain on capital resources. But with exclusive mining rights to unobtanium (which, at time of publication is valued at $20 million per kilo), and potential profits from countervirals, biofuels, and cosmetics, the enormous capital investment has paid off.

From Pandorapedia


According to Ben Procter, James Cameron wrote a ten-page document addressing this very question, "which became my bible as I led a team of talented 3D designers (Tex Kadonaga, Joe Hiura, and Rob Johnson) in the development of the exterior design." The document includes sketches, as well as entire section on the ship's propulsion technology, which uses matter/antimatter reaction, complete with speed and trip duration calculations. There's also "a wealth of information on the ship's components and their relative layout."

Adds Procter: The huge glowing radiators mounted to the engines dissipate their heat, and the enormously long central truss, with its own protective coolers and reflectors, protects the cargo and crew modules from the engines' heat and radiation using the simple rule of r-squared attenuation rather than heavy shielding. (Yes, Jim really thinks about this kind of stuff and explains it very clearly in text and in person.) The ship has a pair of centrifugal-gravity-gen modules for the crew who remain awake for the duration, which has become a pretty typical feature of quasi-realistic ship designs in movies. But one unique feature it has which directly relates to the sub-light realistic travel is a cascade-style shield stack to protect the speeding craft from interstallar debris. Jim's doc completely explains this technology, apparently based on current NASA research, and how it obliterates potentially catastrophic particles by letting them slam through a series of thin, light shield surfaces.

To make a long story short, the VStar is definitely not your typical movie ship and it's all due to Jim's engineering knowledge and passion. It was a privilege to work on this design that he'd clearly invested so much thought into.

Emmy winning designer Robert Stromberg: One way that it is very different is that in Avatar, Jim is very science-based and very physics-based. So everything is not only plausible but you could build things and they would actually work. Jim is just very much into the reality of things. Even the hometree on Pandora was very specifically tested and computer-modeled so that the base of it would support a tree of that height... the design of it was grounded in physics

James Cameron: The ship was configured to be a combination of antimatter engine and beamed energy from Earth with some, you know, giant laser. So that big mirror on the ship is actually a thermal shield. (...). That mirror just protected the habitable portion of the ship from incineration by the beamed energy. So the beamed energy outbound and then use the antimatter engine for deceleration into the Alpha Centauri A system then kinda works in reverse on the way back.

It’s the most science grounded fantasy ever put on the big screen – Planetary Society Organization


James Cameron: Na’vi  are a humanoid race which lives in a state that we would consider primitive, bows and arrows and primitive weapons and that sort of thing, but who ultimately prove to be much wiser than we are. The Na’vi are 10feet tall, blue skin, striped like tigers, they have long tails , they’re quite fierce looking and they can be ferocious warriors when they’re provoked, but normally as when humans are not trampling their planet, they live harmoniously in their forest environment.

The Na'vi are the only known species outside of Earth to have human-like intelligence. Although their society is essentially Neolithic, they have developed a vibrant, complex culture based on a profound spiritual connection to their moon, to one another, and to the deity they call Eywa. They are superb artisans who celebrate the interconnectedness of nature through storytelling, song, dance and crafts.

In many respects, the Na'vi body is almost human-like (and, even by human standards, beautiful). The waist is narrow and elongated. The shoulders are very wide, creating a v-shaped upper back. The neck is twice as long as an average human and can rotate, owl-like, almost 180 degrees. The body overall is more slender than the average human and is reminiscent of a Masai or Watusi. But the musculature is sharply defined, giving no sense of emaciation despite the thin proportions (they have roughly four times the strength of the average human). Their almond-shaped, cat-like eyes are large and hypersensitive to various bands of light. For balancing their long torso and legs, the Na'vi have a long, prehensile lemur-like tail. They can traverse the landscape on the surface as well as from tree branch to tree branch.

The abundant flora and fauna of Pandora have ensured a steady population of Na'vi; it is hypothesized that there was little Darwinian pressure to adapt new traits. Indeed, studies indicate that the number of Na'vi have remained remarkably consistent over the eons. The widespread access to natural resources has also helped limit (but not eliminate) warfare among the various Na'vi clans.

There are hundreds of disparate Na'vi clans on Pandora. Some of the clans, including the Omaticaya, live in ancient trees that are two to three times the height of the Terran redwoods that once covered the Pacific Northwest. The circumference of Hometree is great enough to house dozens of clan members. The tree is honeycombed with natural hollows and alcoves in which the Na'vi sleep, eat, weave, dance, and celebrate their connection to Eywa. Like many sacred sites on Pandora, Hometree sits above a large deposit of Unobtanium.

From Pandorapedia

According to designer Craig Shoji, the Na'Vi's main protein source is "teylu grubs." He worked on a deleted scene showing Na'Vi food-sharing and drinking rituals, and designed some of their housewares.

The Na'vi were designed by Stan Winston

Stan Winston: "Our biggest job in this project is the final design of the (Na'vi) characters. Virtually all of the digital work is being done by WETA but its based on our characters. The characters come from Stan Winston's Studio

Each one individually has a really character so its not like once you see the Na'vi you know, they all look alike. They all have very implicit, very distinctive character

The characters that we’ve designed and taken to that next step and Winstonized them are awesome and its brilliant."


Avatar is a genetically engineered human-Na'vi hybrid. James Cameron: The avatars in our story are living breathing bodies in a real world, they’re not , as the word has sort of been appropriated by the cybersphere, they’re not synthetic alter egos in cyberspace, just to be clear that its not a matrix type of story. And the avatar bodies are controlled by human driver who projects his consciousness by a technology which links their mind to the avatar body and they kind of live through that body as a kind of , in a kind of remote control, while their human body is in coma like state

The Avatar Program was originally intended to create mine workers who did not need environmental protection systems and could eat Pandoran foodstuffs. But the cost of the mental link system remained too high for the numbers needed. Avatars are now used only for field work and, when the opportunity arises, to interact with the Na’vi, to study them and to study the Pandoran ecosystem. It was hoped that the avatars could act as unofficial ambassadors, but Na'vi have for the most part viewed these hybrid creatures with a mix of contempt and mistrust.

The cloned avatar has the body structure and physiology of a Pandoran native. However, adding the human genes necessary to create the mental linking ability to the avatar's genetic makeup altered the anatomy to the extent of producing five digits (different from the normal four on a Na'vi) on the hands and feet, and reducing the size of the eyeballs. The reason for this is not yet known.

The Avatar Program was initiated to improve communication with the Na’vi, the intelligent humanoid inhabitants of Pandora. Human volunteers are paired with avatars, which are artificially created human/Na’vi hybrids controlled by persona projection technology. While the human controller remains in a sleep-like state in a psionic link unit, his or her personality inhabits and completely controls a custom-made Na’vi body.

The link is total; the human believes he is actually inhabiting the Na’vi body, with all senses, reflexes and bodily functions fully operational. The avatar body, having been grown in an amnio tank with the help of growth accelerants, has no personality of its own and is inert (except for basic autonomous functions) when not under human control.

Each avatar is specially made using genetic information from its human controller and despite obvious differences in size and physiology is equivalent to its controller’s twin. This genetic matching is necessary to allow morphic projection to operate on the alien body; attempts to use unmatched bodies have invariably failed.

Originally part of RDA’s Na’vi outreach program instigated at the behest of Earth government authorities, the Avatar Program has moved from being a poorly-defined xenobiological experiment controlled by Earth-based bureaucrats, ivory-tower academics and populist politicians to become a tightly-managed engineering project incorporating the most advanced technology from RDA’s labs.


The existence of the Na’vi was the most surprising discovery on Pandora. For theoretical reasons, intelligent life was not expected to be found here. Given the known age of the galaxy and the relatively brief period since the evolution of man, it was assumed that any alien intelligence would be far older and more sophisticated than us, would have an advanced technological civilization and probably not be humanoid. Thus the discovery of jungle-dwelling neolithic humanoids was not anticipated.

Under strong pressure from the UN, scientists and the general public, the RDA agreed to set up a program to enhance communications between humans and Na’vi. At first this consisted solely of an Indigenous Terrain program to study Na’vi culture and language and to attempt to establish communication between man and Na’vi.

But practical difficulties soon showed a need for a more profound means of communication between the human and Na’vi species. RDA research had already established the possibility of direct mental communication between humans, and RDA scientist Dr. Cordell Lovecraft was given the task of carrying his “Dark Dreamer” project, which sought to transmit mental processes – “thoughts” – to humans at a distance, to interspecies communication.

Initial dissection of Na’vi specimens found that although Na’vi show a surprising degree of external convergent evolution, internally they are quite different from humans. The Na’vi brain in particular, with its external tendrils and three-lobed structure was a daunting obstacle.

Building on work with brain-wiped primates and condemned criminals, Dr. Lovecraft was able to establish that full sensory bonding could be established between human twins, human-animal hybrids that shared common DNA, and human-Na’vi hybrids with common genetic blueprints.

Since Na’vi don’t use DNA or RNA to carry their genetic information, producing a ‘translation table’ that matched DNA with NVTranscriptase closely enough to allow a level of morphic resonance strong enough for communication to occur required months of computer time and multiple failed experiments, some of which caused irreparable trauma to volunteer subjects.

But eventually the Avatar Program succeeded in producing the first viable hybrids between completely unrelated species – a considerable achievement since, as Dr Lovecraft remarked, humans are far more closely related genetically to garden slugs than to Na’vi.

With the help of psionic amplification, and thanks to customized reception nodes grown into avatar brains from their earliest blastomere stage of development, human drivers can now operate their avatars at distances of tens of kilometers.

Owing to poor measurable outcomes in the field, the Indigenous Terrain program and the Avatar Program were eventually merged, with only limited informal research still conducted into Na’vi culture by human avatar operators. Currently avatars are mainly used for reconnaissance, liaison and exploration, but if native Na’vi are recruited into the mining workforce it is anticipated that more avatars will be needed for supervision and policing.

Dr. Lovecraft has been nominated for multiple Nobel prizes in biological sciences, but the nominations have invariably been withdrawn following protests from human rights organizations, the UN Pan-Faith Council and animal rights activists.

From Pandorapedia


According to designer Yuri Bartoli, whose early sketches are remarkably close to the final product, the resemblance to an MRI is intentional. The big "ring" that the coffin slides inside spins around really quickly, to capture views of your brain within an intense magnetic field. But it has to be a two-way system, of course: as the coffin slides inside the field the ring generates, it becomes part of a feedback system, reading the occupant's brain and feeding back sensory impressions from the Avatar.

The designers considered having Jake suspended in some kind of fluid or on top of gel, that would allow for blood circulation while the Avatar "driver" is immobile for long periods of time, says Bartoli. "Design-wise we always tried to strike a balance between having the technology look functional and cool at the same time."



Unobtanium  has more of a symbolic role in the movie.

James Cameron (LePost.fr): The studio executives,  they read the script and they said "well you never explain what this mineral is used for". I said  "I don’t wanna explain it". And I don’t in the movie, its never explained what its used for. (…) Its whatever gets people up out of there cities to get on ships to go someplace and take stuff from other people that doesn’t belong to them, and its been the story of human history forever

The term Unobtainium wasn't created for the movie. According to English Dictionary, Unobtainium is a term that refers to an extremely rare, costly, or physically impossible material needed to fulfill a given design for a given application.

The AVTR site gives an answer

"After only a few decades, the company had the capital and stature to propose the construction of a world-spanning rapid transit system that would allow entire population groups to conveniently commute hundreds or even thousands of miles to perform work where it was needed, without impinging on the cultural values of host populations. This led to the current global network of maglev trains that require the superconductor Unobtanium for their continued operation."

In May 2010 however, James Cameron explained the use of Unobtanium himself for the Planetary Society Organization

James Cameron: My rationale is that Unobtanium being a room temperature superconductor is critical to the containment of fusion generating plants, and its the key to the power.



The most dangerous land creature on Pandora is the Thanator.

NA'VI NAME: Palatakan or "Dry Mouth Bringer of Fear"

HABITAT: Rainforest

DESCRIPTION: Most feared of all Pandorian land creatures. Massive distensible armored jaw. fangs are nine inches long. Upper lips fold back for maximum tooth extension. reaches over eighteen feet long, over eight feet in height.

FEEDING ECOLOGY: Omnivore with preference for nocturnal hunting

To read more about the biological aspects of the Avatar creatures, read AVATAR: THE FIELD GUIDE TO PANDORA

Thanator was designed by James Cameron himself.

James Cameron: "I visualized it in the writing as a six legged armored creature."

"The Thanator is like a great white shark is to a scuba diver. Its just death. When it comes after you it doesn’t not stop, it just digs everything out of the way."

"Its called Thanator, comes from archaic Greek, thanatos which is death. I was entertaining lots of ideas from a different designers and nobody would really ..nailing just that pure primal vicious alien quality that I wanted so I took that one and designed it myself."

"And then there’s the Thanator of course,  which is my personal favorite. I think in the script I described it as a, it can it a T-Rex and have an alien for dessert."

"We were going back to nature the whole time and using resourcefulness and imagination to fuel what we were doin' which is why the creatures feel real"

Jon Landau: "When he does science fiction he has to do science fact for himself. I mean yes it’s a fantasy world but there has to be a foundation of reality. So we did a fair amount of research, we researched the plants, we worked with the botanists from UC Riverside, you know all the designers that we worked with, they didn’t come up with designs that did not make, you know, physical sense. They had a real foundation to why things work"

Sam Worthington: " Jim is an artist. (…) he drew then designed the Thanator, you know. It got tweaked by a couple of other guys you know when -  cause he's busy, you know, making a movie, but the Thanator is the killing machine that Jim always told me it would be"

Yuri Bartoli, supervising conceptual artist creature design: "It all pretty much comes down to Jim and his sketches, I think he went through some detailing process but pretty much that’s his creature"

The most fearsome of all Pandorian land predators. Wide, armored tail can slam prey or defend against other thanatos. Cartilaginous plates around its neck that can flare, possibly as a threat display but more likely as an echolocation or other sensory pinpointing system. Given its anatomy, it is likely that Thanator is evolutionary relative to the viperwolf.

Although many regions of the moon have yet to be explored, xenobiologists currently believe that the Thanator may be the apex land predator on Pandora. Reminiscent of a Terran panther, this enormous, powerful animal is unique in its ability to lord over its territory and strike fear into the largest and fiercest of Pandora's creatures. Even the Na'vi, who are renowned for their courage, are shaken by the approach of the creature; it is not celebrated in dance or song.

Its musculature is pronounced and impressive, providing power for protracted runs and leaps. The speed of its neck and jaw strike is as swift as a camera shutter. In addition to conventional ripping and tearing, the Thanator can also deliver a lethal blow from its armored tail. The Thanator's senses are so highly developed that, depending on atmospheric conditions, it can detect prey up to thirteen kilometers away.

The Thanator appears to hunt alone and normally does not stray outside of its territory, which is believed to be roughly 300 square kilometers. It appears to hunt mainly at night, although seems to make an exception if hungry enough.

Surprisingly, the Thanator has ten sensory quills, two each sprouting from armor plating that encircles the rear of the skull. The function of the quills is poorly understood, but it has been hypothesized that they may be tied to an internal mechanism of prey location.

From Pandorapedia


The most dangerous sky creature on Pandora is the Leonopteryx.


NA'VI NAME: Toruk or "Last Shadow"

HABITAT: Mountain series and skies

DESCRIPTION: A ferocious massive flying creature with a wingspan over eighty feet. Sharp fins on head can be used to injure prey. Powerful talons for grasping prey and perching.

FEEDING ECOLOGY: Apex aerial predator. Carnivore.



Ty Ruben Ellingson, vehicle designer: "In a nutshell its an amplifier (AMP) of a human operator which, you know, super hydraulics are all very strong so it can crush buildings and do all the things that like a tank would do.  In this particular particular instance, the Amp Suit itself is more like a vehicle, the operator stays in his canapé and its inner interface that takes his movement and translates them to the outside limbs. So when the operator movies his hands lets say 10 inches, the machine might move it, you know, 10 to 20 feet."

OFFICIAL NAME: M6 Amplified Mobility Suit

FUNCTION: Ambulatory hydraulics armored weapons platform for military and civilian operations in hostile and toxic environments

FIELD NAMES: AMP Suit. Iron Lady

SIZE AND WEIGHT: Thirteen feet in height, six feet wide

FEATURES: GPS. Cockpit commands are verbally activated, coded to operator's voiceprint pattern. Thermal imaging display screens.

WEAPONRY: Hip mounted and detachable GAU-90 thirty millimeter cannon, optional flamethrower, slashing blade, knife.

The AMP suit was also personally designed by James Cameron

John Rosengrant, Legacy Effects, Stan Winston's Studio: "It was designed by Jim but when we got a hold of the amp suit it was pretty much designed in just a sketch up program which is designed for 3d work per say.

The whole thing is just covered in details and things that were thought out. You know and we studied very closely, you know, Apache helicopters, Abrams tanks, anything that we could kinda riff off of. It has a very typical Jim Cameron kinda look on the front of it "

"(...) Apache helicopters with legs. The soldiers on the planet use these things for both work purposes and going on patrol"

"Another fun thing is that if you look at the seat back, that's a, that there's the straps that go over it but the actual design of the back of the seat is the same one from the powerloader. (...) We molded and took that exact same pad  that went behind Sigourney in Aliens, it's in there. So  just a little fun nod"

The Amplified Mobility Platform (or “AMP” Suit) is a distant descendant of the first military exoskeletons used on Earth in the mid 21st century. It was improved during military service in a myriad of combat theaters– from arctic to jungle to desert– over the decades. Sealed and pressurized models for toxic environments were developed as well. The suit is used extensively on the Moon and Mars colonies (where they are powered by fuel cells and/or monopropellant ceramic turbines). Its well-tested capabilities have proved invaluable in the deadly environment of Pandora.

The human-operated walking machine magnifies the strength and mobility of a soldier or civilian worker while providing protection from military and environmental threats. Unlike fanciful designs in which weapons were integrated into limbs, the AMP suit is a multi-purpose machine, able to duplicate all functions of the infantry soldier. Since soldiers spend much of their time loading and unloading, and performing other tasks besides operating weapons, it was determined that the AMP suit needed the same functionality as a human: two legs, two arms, and highly dexterous hands. This allows not only a wide range of functions, but allows the suit to operate a variety of weapons systems.

The servo-actuated limbs instantly respond to the driver's hand and leg movements inside the sealed cab, greatly magnifying the driver's strength.

The operator’s arms move servo armatures and the suit’s arms follow in perfect synchronization. Because of limited space inside the cockpit, the servo armatures move in a 1:2 ratio relative to the suit’s arms. It requires many hours of training for an AMP suit driver to become agile and dexterous, with the biggest difficulty being this scaled ratio of movement. The legs are actuated by foot-pedals which amplify on an even larger ratio. In fact the leg sensors work slightly differently than the arms. Due to the confining spatial envelope around the feet and legs of the operator, the pedals cannot move in long strides, even on a scaled relationship. Instead, they sense the force and direction of the input and the onboard computer triggers a corresponding programmed movement of the legs. So the operator creates pressure and direction “cues” which trigger leg movements. The suit executes the “intention” of the pilot, calculating terrain factors and momentum to perform balanced movement.  The computerized maintenance management systems installed in the suit handles all the non-human controlled functioning of the AMP. While the CMMS handles these functions, the pilot can concentrate on the tasks assigned.

The arms on the other hand, operate in a directly scaled relationship to the operator’s arms, which allows better spatial positioning of the hands. The fingers and thumb are in direct 1:1 ratio. The servo armature has force feedback, and resists the movement of the operator’s arms when the suit’s limbs meet an obstacle. The operator can “feel” what the suit is doing. It is said that the suit can be operated in full darkness, by a skilled driver, by “feel” alone.

Using the suit, a driver is able to punch through a tree trunk, lift a half ton cargo crate, or rapidly build prefab units without a construction crew. Its cannon obliterates anything in its targeting sights with a rain of armor-piercing rounds, at a 250 round per minute cyclic rate of fire.

Mission Profile and Specifications

\The AMP Suit is an agile, powerful all-terrain ground combat unit. With its firepower, it can defeat most opponents and cut a swathe through difficult landscape and strong enemy positions. The suit, which is made of composites and ceramics, is lightweight for its size, and operates well in high EMF conditions.

The suit is effective against swarms of stinging, aggressive insects on Pandora. Its enclosed cab and “Built-In Breathing System” (BIBS) also allows RDA personnel to perform civilian and military duties in the toxic atmosphere of Pandora and other off-Earth locations. The cockpit is run at a 0.3 psi overpressure, to prevent leak-in of toxic gases. There is an emergency canopy ejection system, in case a driver is trapped in a burning AMP suit.

Although a driver can learn to adequately manipulate the unit in combat conditions with less than two months of training, it takes months longer to master such actions as fall recovery from face-up supine position (the “turtle” problem.)

However, with the solid state gyro sensors and the DBS (Dynamic Balance System) very few AMP suits topple. Its dynamic balancing system automatically compensates for shifts in the suit’s center of gravity whether standing, walking, or lifting heavy loads. The suit instantly adjusts to radical shifts in body movements on uneven terrain; it is very difficult to trip and it would take a direct hit from a missile (or a thanator) to knock one over.

The force feedback in the arm and hand servo armatures is both powerful and sensitive. It can create pressure against the operator which stops his hand in mid air if the suit’s arm encounters an obstacle it cannot move. The pressure on the fingertips is proportional to the pressure exerted by the suit’s fingers. An experienced driver can pick up an egg without breaking it.

If the driver has been injured or killed, the AMP Suit has “walk-back” capability of up to the range of its onboard fuel and reserve fuel-cells. This feature was designed to protect the significant capital investment in each suit. This function can be triggered by the driver, or from SecOps headquarters at Hell’s Gate, if the driver’s biotelemetry indicate unconsciousness or death. Only SecOps AMP suits are allowed beyond the perimeter at Hell’s Gate or at the mine complex. Suits operated by non-SecOps base or mine personnel are not equipped with a weapons system interface, nor do they have rack-space for ammo canisters.

The unit's torso features an impact-resistant glass-polymer laminate canopy. The lower legs and bottom of the feet are reinforced to protect against shrapnel and mines.

The power source is a 6849-RLF gas turbine engine. The ceramic miniturbine is a standard power supply for all military systems and is highly robust in environments of snow, sand, dust, and mud. The suit can operate at medium power for up to eight hours on a full fuel load. A high energy-density fuel cell provides a back-up energy source for up to two hours of use.

The controls for operating the system are inside the sealed cab. The turbine runs a servo-motor system that moves the limbs by magnifying the driver's waist, leg, feet, hand, arm, and finger movements through an electromechanical forced feedback system. This increases the driver's physical strength by an average factor of fifteen times. The hands can exert a grip of roughly 150 kilograms per square centimeter– enough pressure to crush a metal pipe or smash through a brick wall. Each suit must be custom calibrated to the driver for ease of use and to avoid hyperextension injuries.

The suit's weapons are more lethal than its raw strength. The hip-fired GAU-90 thirty millimeter machine gun can fire 250 explosive rounds per minute. Ammo is disintegrating-link belt fed from an ammo canister mounted on the unit's back through a flex chute over the shoulder to the weapon. The gun can be slung using an over-shoulder rifle-sling to free the hands for other tasks. The other (non-standard) weapon is a combat knife of self-sharpening diamond-hard ceramic. To match the scale of the suit, the blade is over one meter long and can cut through many metals. (Although lethal, the blade is not as utilitarian as some cutting devices and is considered to be something of an affectation, used mostly by SecOps troopers with a “Special Forces” mentality.)

The utility version features the same technology and dimensions, but without the weapons. Both models have proved extremely effective on Earth and Pandora.

Targeting Systems

The driver's HUD (head-up display) projects radar, active IR (infrared) and passive thermal targeting data on an impact-resistant visor on top of the center console. When the unit's blast shield is lowered over the cab canopy, the suit can be operated using only visual instruments. In Pandora's EMF fields and high humidity, these systems are notorious for failing. Because of their complex Earth-manufactured electronics, they are difficult to repair.

When the driver’s hands are within the servo armatures, the driver uses voice actuation to control suit systems. External sound can be monitored and amplified, and is reproduced inside the cockpit with full directionality. The driver can “hear” another AMP suit or ground trooper operating nearby, and know their position by the direction of the sound. The driver’s voice can be projected outside the suit via external speakers.

When the Master Servo Arm switch is activated by thumb control (on the left hand armature) the suit’s servos move the limbs from rest position to the current position of the driver’s arms and legs in one second. When the driver “switches out,” hitting the MSA switch again (indicator goes from green to red) the suit will relax from the current position of the operator to its standing rest position in one second.

From Pandorapedia


It all has to do with superconductors.

When superconductors are in the presence of a magnetic field, they can float. "Avatar's" alien world of Pandora, it turns out, is simply a massive superconductor. At the very beginning of the story, we are told that humans have come to Pandora to mine unobtanium. Unobtanium is the ultimate superconductor. (The very name, "unobtanium," is a nod to sci-fi afficionados, who coined the word to describe a material with mythical properties.) In Cameron's world, unobtanium can conduct electricity without resistance at room temperature; the best current superconductors work only when the temperature is below minus 200 degrees F. The discovery of unobtanium, which exists only on Pandora, revolutionized technology on Earth, the story goes, and the future human economy is dependent upon it.
On Pandora, however, entire mountains loaded with unobtanium float in the world's massive magnetic field. In a glimpse of how thoroughly Cameron has thought through the science behind his creation, he and his team have written a 380 page "Pandorapedia" that explains (among other things) the tectonics behind how such mountains could form. In effect, they crumble upward.

This happens because Pandora is not a planet but a moon of a gas giant the size of Saturn -- the fictional planet Polyphemus. Moons of gas giants are constantly tugged and deformed by the stresses of gravity. One of Jupiter's moons, Io, is pulled so violently by the gravitational forces of both Jupiter and Jupiter's other large moons, that it has ground tides -- the ground literally rises and falls like a sea tide on Earth. On a second moon of Jupiter, Europa, these tidal forces have heated the interior of the moon to the point that part of its crust has melted, creating a sea of liquid water beneath a surface of ice, scientists say.

On Cameron's Pandora, those tidal stresses have fractured the landscape, and, in the case of the Hallelujah Mountains, sent it up into the sky. A companion book to the movie explains the larger process: "This … energy drives continental drift at a much faster rate than on Earth, causing tectonic plates to fracture more extensively because of the increased stress." The original script  explained this calling them "Big rock candy Mountains" because they were full of Unobtainium. The reason why RDA isn't mining them is explained in the companion book "Avatar: an Activist Survival Guide". The RDA originally was mining the mountains, but after one mountain was mined from the bottom too much, it became top heavy and flipped over, killing a huge number of workers and ruining much equipment. After this incident the RDA stuck to mining more safe locations of the substance. T
he water comes from the same source that  normal mountains with waterfalls have: rain and snow.


Pandora's air contains some amount of gasses that are poisonous to humans but it also contains oxygen. Clearly James Cameron, a diving and deep sea enthusiast, thought of this, because the people only need simple gas masks to breathe  and not huge oxygen tanks.



The oceans' depths have a curious answer to sunlight, which has never been seen there. It's called bioluminescence -- organisms' ability to create their own light.

Fireflies are perhaps the most obvious example, but the bioluminescent fish of the deep sea tell a different story -- that nature, when deprived of light, sometimes creates its own.

On Pandora, where the nights can be many Earth days long, Cameron has suggested that an entire bioluminescent ecosystem could emerge.

This is where Cameron's decision to make Pandora a moon -- and not a planet -- comes in. Moons, including Earth's, are typically "locked" to their planets, with one side eternally facing the planet and one side eternally facing out into space. What this means is that one day on a moon equals the time it takes to orbit its parent planet -- a long time.

To watch the phases of our Moon is actually to watch the lunar day in real time. A full moon is midday for the side of the Moon facing the Earth. A new moon is midnight for the side of the Moon facing the Earth. In other words, a lunar day takes more than 27 Earth days. And that means a very long night.



Potentially, yes. Actually, making Pandora a moon appears to be an acknowledgment of recent science. Astronomers are still looking for planets like Earth -- small and rocky -- within the so-called "Goldilocks zone": Not so close to its star that its life-giving water evaporates, yet not so far away that it freezes into ice.

But small planets are hard to find. Instead, scientists have found gas giants like Saturn in the habitable zone around stars. Those planets are not inhabitable -- but their moons could be.

That makes moons a good place to start looking for alien life. "All of the gas giant planets in our solar system have rocky and icy moons," Lisa Kaltenegger of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., told AP. "That raises the possibility that alien Jupiters will also have moons. Some of those may be Earth-sized and able to hold onto an atmosphere."

The problem is that gas giants emit tremendous amounts of radiation. The daily radiation on Jupiter's Io, for instance, is 4,000 times the lethal dose.

Yet here again, Cameron uses science to solve science's own problems. The robust magnetic field created by Pandora's superconductivity deflects the radiation.

At one point in the film, a spectacular aurora dances overhead. Striking filmmaking, yes. But also pure science. The companion book, "Avatar: A Confidential Report on the Biological and Social History of Pandora," adds that the interaction of the magnetic fields of Pandora and its parent planet "causes a giant increase in electrical activity on both bodies, with massive auroral storms and other electromagnetic phenomenon."

Such a magnetic field could also be responsible for the telltale arcing formations of rock apparent at the climax of the film.



James Cameron: "I even debated giving them extra arms. [....] It was a serious consideration for a while, but the decision was made that the actors wouldn't be able to physically perform their characters effectively if they had extra arms, that the animators would have to step in and change the performance too much. 'Cause every other critter on the planet has got six limbs, but the Na'vi don't, they have four. So what we did was show an intermediate stage with the prolemuris [....] it actually has a split four-limb. It has two hands on each limb. So it looks like it's a transitional state between six and four."

Cameron explained that part of the reason that they seriously considered giving the Na'vi six arms was in keeping with the "Hindu pantheon", from which the word "avatar" originates, where Vishnu is a blue deity with four arms.





Avatar is the story of an ex-Marine who finds himself thrust into hostilities on an alien planet filled with exotic life forms. As an Avatar, a human mind in an alien body, he finds himself torn between two worlds, in a desperate fight for his own survival and that of the indigenous people. The story follows the adventures of the Avatar through the planet of Pandora while the industrial complex of the mining and moving companies pushes forward with only profit and financial gain in mind. Humans have been sent as long distance moving companies to mine precious mineral from the Planet Pandora. The mining and moving companies are protected by marines during the expedition. To better interact with the natives of the planet, Avatars are used. More than ten years in the making, Avatar marks Cameron's return to feature directing since helming 1997's Titanic, the highest grossing film of all time and winner of eleven Oscars® including Best Picture. WETA Digital, renowned for its work in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and King Kong,  incorporates new intuitive CGI technologies to transform the environments and characters into photorealistic 3D imagery that will transport the audience into the alien world rich with imaginative vistas, creatures and characters. AVATAR takes us to a spectacular world beyond imagination, where a reluctant hero embarks on an epic adventure, ultimately fighting to save the alien world he has learned to call home.

James Cameron first conceived the film in 1995, when the means to realize his vision did not yet exist. Now, after four years of production, AVATAR, a live action film with a new generation of special effects, delivers a fully immersive cinematic experience of a new kind, where the revolutionary technology invented to make the film, disappears into the emotion of the characters and the sweep of the story.


2009 20th Century Fox, Lightstorm Entertainment, Dune Entertainment, Ingenious Film Partners

Director: James Cameron

Writer: James Cameron
Producers: James Cameron and Jon Landau

Actors: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang

Composer: James Horner

Release Date: December 18, 2009
Running Time: 2 hrs. 40 min.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Production Budget: $237,000,000


Opening Weekend: $77,025,481 (Domestic) $241,571,046 (Worldwide)




Academy Award


Best Achievement in Art Direction

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Best Achievement in Visual Effects


Best Motion Picture of the Year

Best Achievement in Directing

Best Achievement in Editing

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

Best Achievement in Sound

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Golden Globes:


Best Director - Motion Picture

Best Motion Picture - Drama


Best Original Score - Motion Picture

Best Original Song - Motion Picture

Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards


Best Action Movie

Best Art Direction

Best Cinematography

Best Editing

Best Sound

Best Visual Effects


Best Director

Best Makeup

Best Picture

Black Reel Awards


Best Supporting Actress
Zoe Saldana

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards


Best Cinematography

Best Original Score

Directors Guild of America, USA


Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures
James Cameron

BAFTA Awards


Best Production Design

Best Special Visual Effects


Best Cinematography

Best Director

Best Editing

Best Film

Best Music

Best Sound

Florida Film Critics Circle Awards


Best Cinematography

Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards


Best Art Direction

London Critics Circle Film Awards


Director of the Year
James Cameron

Film of the Year

Online Film Critics Society Awards


Best Cinematography

Best Director

Best Editing

PGA Awards


Motion Picture Producer of the Year Award
James Cameron
Jon Landau

Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards


Best Cinematography

Best Film Editing

Best Production Design

Best Visual Effects

Writers Guild of America, USA


Best Original Screenplay
James Cameron

Empire Awards


Best Director

Best Film

Best Actress
Zoe Saldana


Best Actor
Sam Worthington

Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films


Best Actor
Sam Worthington

Best Actress
Zoe Saldana

Best Director

Best Fantasy Film

Best Music

Best Production Design

Best Special Effects

Best Supporting Actor
Stephen Lang

Best Supporting Actress
Sigourney Weaver

Best Writing

American Cinema Editors


Best Edited Feature Film (Dramatic)

American Society of Cinematographers


Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases

Art Directors Guild


Excellence in Production Design Award

Cinema Audio Society


Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Motion Pictures

Costume Designers Guild Awards


Excellence in Costume Design for Film - Fantasy

César Awards


Best Foreign Film

Image Awards


Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Zoe Saldana

Irish Film and Television Awards


Best International Film

Motion Picture Sound Editors


Best Sound Editing - Music in a Feature Film

Best Sound Editing - Sound Effects and Foley in a Feature Film


Best Sound Editing - Dialogue and ADR in a Feature Film

Visual Effects Society Awards


Best Single Visual Effect of the Year
For Quarich's escape.

Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
For Neytiri.

Outstanding Created Environment in a Feature Motion Picture
For the jungle/biolume.

Outstanding Matte Paintings in a Feature Motion Picture
For Pandora.

Outstanding Models and Miniatures in a Feature Motion Picture
For Samson/home tree/floating mountains/ampsuit.

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Feature Motion Picture


Best Single Visual Effect of the Year
For Neytiri drinking.

Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture
For the end battle.

Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture

Outstanding Created Environment in a Feature Motion Picture
For the Willow Glade.

Outstanding Created Environment in a Feature Motion Picture
For the floating mountains.