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Avatar Spirits is a Nickelodeon documentary, directed by Kurt Mattila, about the making of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Its total run time is near half an hour, and it describes the creative process involved in the making of the hit television series.
The documentary begins by explaining how the idea for Avatar began, with a sketch by Bryan Konietzko of a robot monkey with a futuristic staff, a tall polar bear dog with an arrow on its head, and a small bald boy. The arrow was eventually removed from the animals and placed on the boy's head. Around the same time, Michael Dante DiMartino was getting into the story of Shackleton, and how he and his team had to survive in the South Pole. Bryan Konietzko thought of a way to combine these two ideas, where there was "fire people" attacking these "water people", and from there the idea of the four nations began to form. The robot monkey evolved into Momo, the polar bear dog evolved into Appa, and the young boy evolved into Aang.
Two weeks later, the idea was pitched to Eric Coleman, who was in charge of development, and he said he liked the idea. The duo subsequently began to make a pilot, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears were put into making it happen. Bryan had to move to South Korea for several months, and some of their designs had to be revised because they were too complicated. It was worth it, though, as the pilot was a success and the children loved it, resulting in the show being picked up for thirteen episodes.
To create the thirteen episodes, they brought on more crew members to help out, such as John O'Bryan, Andrea Romano, the Track Team, and many more. Included in these were Sifu Kisu and Sifu Manuel Rodriguez, who provided a basis for the animators to animate the martial arts moves that the bending forms were based on.
"Avatar was not an easy show to work on," says Giancarlo Volpe, in regards to the different style of animation the show used. Volpe says that Mike and Bryan had particular things in mind for the show – they wanted certain angles, as if there were different lenses on the drawing.
The documentary begins to focus on other crew members and what they did, beginning with the Track Team. Mike describes how they wanted the show to have a unique sound, so they went with people that they knew well, rather than the normal musicians for these shows. The Track Team subsequently explains what instruments they used, and how they created the music for the show.
Following this, voice director Andrea Romano speaks about the series' voice acting. She helped coach the voice actors on what exactly they were supposed to do, for example, if the script says that a character gasps, it was her job to tell the voice actors what kind of gasp it was and when to say it.
The documentary ends with the crew describing the finale. It was always intended to be the finale, and Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko made it very clear they did not want to do any more. To do this the best way possible, they wanted the best animation, the best writing, and any way to make this exceed expectations and make it the best possible. The Track Team even did live streaming for the first time, in order to ensure that this was their best yet. After all of the hard work put into the finale, all of the crew and friends and family of the crew went to the Paramount theater to watch the finale on the big screen.