Update: Avatar preview IMAX footage review
The Avatar footage has been shown in cinemas already and one keen Filmstalker reader has come back from the screening, via the pub, and given those of us unfortunate enough not to get our hands on a ticket, a little preview.
Scotty is a visual effects artist and has worked on many a big budget film, from Children of Men to Harry Potter, and he knows his stuff. So it's great for us that he's decided to give us his view of the Avatar preview screening.
I've not been lucky enough to get my hands on tickets and I'm rather annoyed about that, but this has to be a second best option.
As a reminder you can see that Avatar trailer right here on Filmstalker along with some gorgeous screen captures, images which are available to view full size on Flickr.
Let's just get straight in there, here's what Scotty said of the Avatar screening footage:
So thats me back from the Avatar preview (via the pub) screening.
Well.... I'll pre-empt everything by saying (as before) I'm a vfx artist on major blockbuster films from Children of Men to Narnia to Harry Snotter so I know what to look for.
At 1st glances the 3D takes some getting used to it's a bit jumpy, soft, some motion blur issues but you get used to it after 5 minutes or so. Like any 3D film I suppose. The live action has the main 3d issues but there wasn’t a great deal featured in the preview. Some of introduction stuff from the trailer but not much more.
After 5 minutes of watching the jungle stuff I had to remind myself its full CG. The characters are a bit hit and miss all be it on a scale between “awesome” and “[expletive removed - Richard] me that’s cool”! The environment is the really amazing thing though, it's just real. Its might be on the more saturated, stylised side of real but you feel like u could step out onto it.
I'm not going to sit here and say its photo-real perfect CG because you know what its not, you still know its CG. There are numerous reasons why you know its CG but somehow after a few minutes of the WOW factor wearing off you start to let the whole "game changer" nonsense go and get sucked into it.
Its simply amazing I've really never seen anything like it and I mean that whole heartedly. Just as the 15 minutes was ending I was there, part of it. I had let the bull shit go and was just watching it completely immersed in this world of giant slightly to smooth blue people. Again not to burst the bubble it I cant say its photo-real, hold a photo up and it looks like an amazingly detailed representation of that photo. But that’s really irrelevant we are not talking about the real world here, we are talking about a film world that is so dense, detailed, vibrant, complex and compelling all the CG hairs, spots, pours, scabs and itchy rashy things in the world wouldn’t make a bit of difference. It just works.
I really can’t wait for this now, to see this world driven by a proper narrative will be the real defining point…… [expletive removed - Richard] …seeing the marines kick some serious 3D ass would do.
Bollocks to the 2D trailer……it made me think twice about even going to the preview. It really needs to be seen as intended on a huge 3D screen in a room full of people in daft glasses.
Well that's what Scotty said, and he should know, he's one of the guys that makes films look so good for us so his comments are definitely worthwhile reading.
Huge thanks Scotty, really appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Anyone else seen it? What do you think?
Well thanks to the IMAX cinema in Glasgow at the Glasgow Science Centre, I got to go and see the Avatar preview footage on their huge screen in 3D, and amazingly the cinema was half empty so it was easy to get a prime seat, right in the middle/middle, just where I like to be.
The first thing is an admission. With the only IMAX being over in Glasgow, the hour journey each way hasn't really enticed me across, so here's the first admission, I've never been in an IMAX cinema before. Second admission, I've not seen a 3D film for a very long time, and definitely not something like this. So seeing the Avatar preview on IMAX in 3D was going to be an amazing experience. However was it really?
You just have to read the article I wrote about the Avatar trailer that we'd all seen and how excited I was by it, the footage looked incredible in places, and some of the action sequences fantastic.
So how would the footage at the IMAX in 3D hold up? Well is the answer, very well, but I am not as excited as I was after seeing the trailer. So let's talk about that footage.
Actually let's not, let me talk about the glasses first. The IMAX glasses were not what I was expecting, they are like huge joke sunglasses and give you enough coverage to see the entire IMAX screen. They are much bigger and better than expected, although it still feels a little difficult to wear over existing glasses, still it worked, and that's the key.
When James Cameron appears right in front of you for the first shot and my first experience of 3D, I was amazed that he leapt right out from the screen, bearing in mind I was half the way up in the seating, it was amazing to see him standing so far out from the Avatar title behind him.
Come the footage itself and I was pretty astounded, the rows of people sitting right and left as the Marine walks through the middle talking about their safety and security really showed the depth of the room and the separation between the people without loosing any of the definition. I was taken aback.
However there were instantly things I noticed that didn't quite feel right. The Marine looked fool 3D, he was in the centre of the picture, but the people sitting either side on the left and right looked like they were flat, cardboard cut-outs, still with plenty of depth between them and the people in front and behind.
As the CG footage kicked in I felt less excited by that than I was with the footage of real life people. I think that's down to the fact that with CG you expect to see something that isn't quite real and it feels less amazing than it does seeing real life people standing there and looking like you could reach out and touch them.
One thing I did find is that you have to not try and focus on something, because your eyes and brain are being fooled you have to let go and relax and let the footage come out to you rather than trying to pick it out yourself.
I did find that come the end of the preview my head was a little fuzzy and I would be concerned how I felt after three hours of watching 3D. However the more time I watched, the more I did relax into it.
What really got me about the CG scenes were the level of detail in it all, not just the faces or the objects closest to the screen, but in every aspect of the backgrounds. While some of the action is going on in the forest and creatures are smashing trees and foliage, leaves and small insects are passing in front of the action, between you and the screen. The detail is fantastic.
However the action isn't. I found it really hard to follow and as soon as it gets going you lose all the great work and detailing for everything on the screen, blurred, confusing, it's as though your eyes and brain can't keep up with trying to reinterpret the images into 3D. Whatever the reason it loses a hell of a lot of the wow factor during those action pieces.
We saw sequences from the first half of the film, the humans arriving on the planet being briefed, the linking with the Avatars, and then the Avatars outside in the planet. We saw some of them facing off to creatures, running from a predator, and of Sam Worthington's character being rescued from more creatures by Zoe Saldana's character, of a group of them watching as he tries to tame a flying creature, and then some battle sequences which led into the trailer footage.
Another negative point, and the final point for this little review, was some of the dialogue. Worthington's character is pouring out the cheesy lines, and perhaps that's something in keeping with his character, but it does sound rather groan worthy at times “let's dance”, or his shouting at the creature trying to charge him down. It all feels a little over the top at times.
Overall I was amazed at the experience, the footage not so much, although it was still pretty amazing to see. I think the full film is indeed going to be amazing. I wonder if the Avatar preview had a little of the opposite effect as intended and lowered our expectations a little, which I think would be good because come December we would be expecting the world with all the hype and waiting and anything would be less than expected.
As for the 3D IMAX, I think I'd be interested in seeing a full film there, however I might be tempted to watch Avatar in 2D and then again 3D, so that my concentration is on the film for the first viewing and the 3D experience for the second.