By: Paige Gibbs
Na'vi language creator Dr. Paul Frommer and James Cameron's "AVATAR" concept designer TyRuben Ellingson held seminars Jan. 2 for nearly 70 fans at OmatiCon, the community's first international virtual meetup hosted by Na'vi language community Kelutral.org.
The day-long convention celebrated the film with "AVATAR"-themed games, workshops and guest speakers utilizing Discord and Zoom. Virtual attendees spanned multiple time zones and many sessions were hosted in both German and English.
Ellingson hosted an informal Q&A regarding his time as a concept designer for "AVATAR." His vehicle designs eventually became the film's iconic A.M.P. suits and the larger-than-life dragon gunship.
When asked how he felt having worked on a project as big as the "AVATAR" film, Ellingson spoke very highly of working with Cameron and the other designers.
"It's bliss. It's kind of glorious bliss," Ellingson said.
"I know that we can think about our life goals and we can think about the things we want to accomplish. And it's a struggle. It's a struggle for everyone who has dreams to go out and make them real. When you do finally find your way to getting your projects realized… for me to actually have that opportunity was like a dream come true."
His final word came as an exhortation to aspiring artists and filmmakers.
"Start now," Ellingson said. "Like get started now. Shoot crap movies. Shoot phone movies. Like don't wait. There's never a perfect moment to get involved with your dreams."
Community member Kris, known to the community as EanaUnil, led draw-along workshops in both German and English, where she taught the basics of drawing a Na'vi. She ended the sessions by helping aspiring artists fine tune their work.
Frommer spoke on the topic of language learning versus Stephen Krashen's theory of second language acquisition. After a short demonstration lesson of how to practically apply language acquisition as a teacher, Frommer answered questions from eager language learners.
Fans of the "AVATAR" franchise both old and new enjoyed discussing the first film, as well as the promise of the sequels. The next is scheduled to release December 16, 2022. As is tradition at previous in-person meetups, the evening closed with a group watch viewing of the film.
Some fans joined the community at large specifically to attend OmatiCon.
One such fan and Na'vi language learner is simply known as Ducky. She has been learning Na'vi with the German-speaking language community Lerngruppe since March 2020. Ducky was pleased to meet so many new people and have the opportunity to listen to Frommer's seminar, she said.
Being new to the Na'vi language and community, Ducky found OmatiCon inspired her to continue her language journey.
"I think [OmatiCon] was gorgeous, because there were so many people, and a big motivation boost, because it was a wonderful experience," Ducky said.
Kaltxì ma frapo!
The official AVATAR account accidentally revealed, and then promptly deleted a Tweet announcing the next story from the AVATAR universe in comic form: AVATAR: The Next Shadow. From their Twitter:
According to the Tweet, the next entry in the Dark Horse comic series is set to release sometime in January of 2021 and will play a key role in filling the gap between the first film and AVATAR 2, which is known to follow Jake and Neytiri's family as they face new problems with the RDA and other Na'vi clans.
The choice to tell this story in particular is an interesting one. Although Jake successfully defended the Omatikaya from the RDA and was installed as Olo'eyktan, clan leader, by his former rival Tsu'tey in a deleted scene, his knowledge of Na'vi customs and inter-clan politics would be severely limited by his human heritage. The respect he earned as Toruk Makto does not necessarily make him qualified to be a clan leader.
With the history of delays surrounding AVATAR, we will hopefully find out how Jake's story progresses in January 2021.
Kaltxì ma frapo! Last week we received news that a Sign Language variant of the Na'vi language was being developed for the AVATAR sequels, so we reached out to Paul Frommer about his part in the development of the new language.
Paul's response answered our question directly.
We've reached out to CJ and hope to build the same relationship with him as we have Paul. We will update you with more information as it comes.
Kaltxì ma frapo! Today we bring news from Jon Landau, a producer on the sequels, containing some concept art on the Crabsuit, which is a human-driven submersible owned and operated by the RDA.
As you can see, it seems to be amphibious, and we at Kelutral.org have been hard at work theorizing as to what CET-OPS means! Currently, we have the theory that it means Cetacean-Ops, coming from the biological infraorder for whales, Cetacea, but we want to hear your theories, so post them in the comments below!