A young boy wearing orange robes, with a blue arrow painted on his shaved head, standing in a snowscape

Avatar: The Last Airbender Season 1

For the first season of Netflix’s live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series, our London and New York teams, led by VFX Supervisors Ross Wilkinson and Andy Zazzera, harnessed their VFX bending to breathe life into the iconic creatures from the Avatar universe. From Appa, to Momo and Hei Bai, our teams thoughtfully reimagined these characters for live-action, while staying true to the source material.   

Appa from Avatar soars through the sky with Aang, Katara, and Sokka

Appa Takes Flight

It was essential to perfect Aang’s beloved sky bison, Appa. Ensuring Appa was grounded as a photorealistic creature and diving deep into his movements and biological makeup, our teams looked to real life animals for reference, including manatees, hippos and bison. The teams turned specifically to hippos for Appa’s aerial movements, drawing upon their slow yet majestic motion through rivers. 

The other key in bringing Appa to life relied on finding the best way to make a 20-ton sky bison emote. Maintaining the balance of creature and character, the team emphasized Appa’s emotions through his eyes as well as subtle mouth and head movements, taking a “less is more” approach.

VFX Supervisor Ross Wilkinson shares: “Bringing Appa to life and seeing how much love he is getting from old and new fans alike has been really special and I am so very proud of the team at Framestore for everything they achieved on the show. They are all AvaStars!'”

Appa from Avatar: The Last Airbender
Appa from Avatar: The Last Airbender
Aang hugs Appa
Appa from Avatar: The Last Airbender
Crafting Momo & Hei Bei

Similarly to Appa, our artists approached the task of bringing Momo the flying lemur into the real world by referencing real-life animals. Lemurs, bats, monkeys, rabbits, fennec foxes, and house cats informed how Momo translated into a live-action setting. Our teams turned to the Avatar art books and kept the original design notes in mind to create a Momo that was real and tactile, while still feeling like the flying lemur fans know and love. 

Momo from Avatar: The Last Airbender
Momo from Avatar: The Last Airbender

For the scorned forest spirit Hei Bai, the art books also served as insight, with the original design influences inspiring the team, especially in pushing the stance and silhouette. 

VFX Supervisor Andy Zazzera shares: “Much of our team had grown up watching the original series and there was considerable excitement to be involved. It was an honor to be entrusted with these fan favorite characters, and so wildly gratifying to see fans both old and new enjoying the results.”

Hei Bei from Avatar: The Last Airbender
Hei Bei from Avatar: The Last Airbender


VFX Supervisors
Andy Zazzera, Ross Wilkinson
VFX Producers
Michael Miller, Standish Millennas
CG Supervisors
John Montefusco, Aaron Lawn, Phil Robinson
Comp Supervisors
Sebastien Boulange, Travis Porter
VFX Production Manager
Zamantha De Gula
Additional VFX Producer
Hannah Critchley
VFX Line Producer
Hong Yane Wang
VFX Coordinators
Giovanni Gagliano, Hamish MacLeod, Danielle Temple