Nickelodeon’s upcoming series of films based within the universe of Avatar: The Last Airbender will be animated using CGI. The Avatar franchise experienced a massive revival last year – due in large part to the coronavirus pandemic – from audiences who sought something to watch while quarantined in their homes. Fans and critics alike have praised the series for its celebration of Asian culture as well as its commitment to accurately choreographing and animating real martial arts techniques.
The original Avatar animated series ran from 2005 to 2008 and was animated using traditional 2D animation. This was especially a feat considering how much intricacy and care the show’s animators invested into accurately animating complex martial arts choreography for the show. However, in the years following Avatar’s initial run on Nickelodeon, mainstream 2D animated films have fallen by the wayside with leading animation studios such as Disney and Dreamworks nearly exclusively releasing films using 3D animation. It seems now that Avatar’s next wave of films will be following suit.
In a recent interview with ViacomCBS, Nickelodeon CEO Brian Robbins says that Avatar’s upcoming series of films will be animated using CGI. Although Avatar Studios has yet to give any official word on its upcoming projects, Robbins confirms that the studio is “well on their way in development on a series of CG films and a new Avatar series.” Check out Robbins’ full comments below:
And one of the other big projects that we’re working on, on the theatrical front is Avatar. We signed a deal to bring the original creators of Avatar back into the studios. They started Avatar Studios, and they’re well on their way in development on a series of CG films and a new Avatar series.
Although Robbins does not elaborate on his statement, the fact that he distinguishes the CG films from the new Avatar series is worth noting. Given the specificity of his language, it is possible that the 3D style of animation will be reserved for Avatar‘s films whereas the upcoming series may continue to be drawn in 2D. However, it is equally possible that Robbins simply misspoke and both projects will be animated using the same style; there’s simply not enough information to concretely confirm either way at this point.
It would be a shame for the Avatar: The Last Airbender franchise to depart from its 2D animated roots. As the show’s creators have reiterated time and time again, Avatar is highly influenced by the kinetic animation style of Japanese anime. To depart from 2D animation would be to compromise this aspect of the show entirely. While there is definitely space in the franchise’s upcoming slate of projects for more experimental styles of animation, 2D animation should remain a fixture of the franchise for as long as possible.