I came away from watching Avatar the other evening stunned by the ingenuity and beauty of the world that James Cameron and his team created. Like any design geek I loved the futuristic hardware and the user interfaces that were even more seductive than those in Minority Report. What really blew me away though was the biology of Pandora. The design of the eco-system was both visually seductive and functionally believable, at least for the most part. I was particularly enamored with the little ‘helicopter lizards’. One only needs to watch an episode of Planet Earth to know that some of these weird creatures created by Cameron could be quite plausible and I couldn’t help wondering how much of a leap is it to go from representing the plants and creatures of Pandora in cinematic 3D to bringing them to life in real life 3D?
Avatar makes the idea of designers creating new life forms that much easier to believe. I am sure there is much that is technologically challenging about going from software models to flesh and blood but personally I found many of the biological ‘inventions’ of the movie just as desirable and interesting as futuristic inventions of the past like the Star Trek communicator or the light saber from Star Wars.