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(covers ears)

Shut up! Shuuuuut up!

(directed at Devin)
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Originally Posted by devincf
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This would obviously be more useful for research purposes than having people come back and do up boring ass video blogs.

But then where would the inconsistently used and dull-as-dishwater voiceover come from, hmm!? WHERE WOULD IT COME FROM!?
Also, not exactly saying that I'd want this particular film to be longer...

but I felt like the narrative was basically on fast-forward the whole time. They really whisked from story point to story point too quickly for my liking.

And something is seriously wrong with your script/film when you're justifying piling on cliches in record time because "well, we have too much shit to cover. We'll have to use only the most well-worn cliches so that the audience can easily just fill in the massive gaps here."
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Originally Posted by devincf
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How does the Avatar tech work? It must be some kind of a signal that is relayed between the avatar body and the coffin, right? So how does it work in the Forbidden Zone where the flux keeps everything from working? And why wouldn't it be set up so that the signal that is relayed is recorded? This would obviously be more useful for research purposes than having people come back and do up boring ass video blogs.

Are you my avatar?

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Originally Posted by Me
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Okay, new question. How does the whole remote-consciousness thing work? The avatars don't have minds of their own (except, apparently, for vital functions) which means anytime an avatar is walking and talking it's receiving an unbroken transmission from the human at home base. We're shown, several times, that this is a technological process with an on-off switch; it's not ESP. So how can the signal get through the disruption around the Floating Mountain Area that messes with all other instrumentation?

Did people really go into seeing this movie think the story was going to be groundbreaking and wholly unique? Haven't we known about the story/plot for awhile now?

Isn't the story just a spectacle to show us well-done CGI, 3D, and rich and textured other worlds?

I know going into it that I was expecting a quality James Cameron action movie with a lot of quality CGI and interesting 3D for once. That is exactly what I got and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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Originally Posted by devincf
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How does the Avatar tech work? It must be some kind of a signal that is relayed between the avatar body and the coffin, right? So how does it work in the Forbidden Zone where the flux keeps everything from working? And why wouldn't it be set up so that the signal that is relayed is recorded? This would obviously be more useful for research purposes than having people come back and do up boring ass video blogs.

Maybe the signal used by the Avatar link is stronger/more effective than the scanners in the helicopters. One is a cutting edge bazillion dollar science experiment. The other is mass produced military hardware where they may not have used the very best available. (You go to war with the army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time)

Alternatively, it's a neural hub for the planet and the creatures on it. Being Genetically engineered from the Navi, Jake is 'in tune' with whatever the flux is going on in that place.

On the other hand, a fairly massive leap is required to believe the technology works in the first place. Like Jake is a hybrid Navi/Human. He has five fingers and the Navi only have four. Yet something seemingly as complex as his USB plug works perfectly fine. I'm surprised the humans were seemingly ignorant about much of how Pandora worked, but could still manufacture the Navi in the first place.

I just basically accepted this was a crazy movie with floating rocks and flying lizards (that could support the weight of a 10 foot tall humanoid and remain airborn!) and went with it.
I have a screenwriter friend who has nothing but admiration for Cameron's structural/visual storytelling abilities. This guy is an evangelist for story structure. EVANGELIST! A structuralist machine, basically. He pretty much hates all movies these days.

To him, something like Transformers 2 (something I don't think he'd give the time of day anyway) is no worse than Precious. He admires Pixar for putting forth the effort he thinks nobody else seems to make, but it doesn't mean he likes all their films. Even the ones most loved by people.

Now, that said... I asked him what he thought of Avatar. He sent me a text back that simply said:

I was not happy.
To me this was like a really long theme park attraction. This was my first modern 3D movie (the opening moments of the film made my jaw drop actually), and for a while I was ready to hop on the "game changer!" bandwagon, but as the spectacle wore off I got a little bored (what a spectacle it is though). I've heard the argument that the plot was intentionally bare bones as a means of introducing people to the technology of "immersive cinema." So if Avatar had some intricate plot with complex characters it would have been harder for audiences to get swept up in the "theme park ride" aspect of the film. I don't buy that. I don't care if this was his glorified tech demo, Cameron could have tried a little harder with the plot. Like Shyamalan, Cameron should hire a writer.

I do think future event films (ones not in post-production) will have to deal with Avatar's impact in some way. But Avatar didn't introduce sound to cinema or anything, the impact wasn't that immense.

Now let's pull a "Batman 3." Sequel idea anyone?
Humans drop nuke! Boom. The end. Game changed.
I'm not sure how exactly the Avatar tech works, but it seemed like the Forbidden Zone or whatever it was called just screwed with navigational instruments, hence why flying had to be based on visuals and missles had to be fired line-of-sight.

Also, I seem to remember a part where they are reviewing a shot of the Mother Tree (Ewya?) which looked like it was pulled from the avatar's neural memory. The video logs were for actual observations, and are pretty common for field researchers.
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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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Humans drop nuke! Boom. The end. Game changed.

Ever watched Goldfinger?
Yeah, drop a nuke and not only make the work site uninhabitable, but make what you're trying to dig up possibly unusable.
Yeah, don't you guys know? Radiated Mcguffin is useless.
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Originally Posted by Greg Clark
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Also, I seem to remember a part where they are reviewing a shot of the Mother Tree (Ewya?) which looked like it was pulled from the avatar's neural memory. The video logs were for actual observations, and are pretty common for field researchers.

I thought that map of the sectors was a satellite scan of Pandora..they mentioned this in the movie even, as far as I remember.
It makes sense that they would scan the surface in search for unobtainium.
btw I was thorougly entertained by the movie, although I had read the original scriptment and followed the vfx process of the movie quite a bit. Didnt fall in love but was totally immersed in the 2nd half. My girlfriend liked it too and normally she never goes to any kind of action or sci-fi movie. She got a bit distracted by some of the 3d size effects. She was constantly telling me that it feels as if some of the humans are tiny and others very tall (because of the 3d depth of field). I only saw one shot (where they are fleeing the base in a corridor) where I felt like the 3d space was off and there was a midget running behind.
Biggest complaint with this movie for me:

24 fps 3D

Horrible, horrible motion blurring problems...I'm surprised people aren't more upset about this. Locked off shots and slow moving shots looked glorious, but as soon as anything fast happened (70% of the movie), the resolution seemed to drop in half and you could barely see what was going on. It nearly ruined the movie for me. At first I wondered why such a perfectionist and someone obviously aware of the motion blurring problem, didn't push to shoot and project this at 48 or 60 fps...then I realized there are still film prints being made and those only run at 24 fps I believe...I wouldn't be surprised if I was wrong about that, but the studio probably gave it the thumbs down anyway.

If there's a sequel, I'll be bloody pissed if he doesn't up the frame rate, because by then there'll be more than enough screens for an all digital run and frame rate is controlled by pushing a button.
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Originally Posted by Blueharvester
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I thought that map of the sectors was a satellite scan of Pandora..they mentioned this in the movie even, as far as I remember.

Yes, they only had surface info. They relied on Jake's eyewitness account for detail on the tree's internal structure.
Ambler, I don't know what motion blurring you're talking about. Maybe you got screwed with a bad print or your theatre's projectors aren't up to snuff, but I saw this in 4k and there was nary a hint of resolution loss.
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Originally Posted by Hammerhead
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Yes, they only had surface info. They relied on Jake's eyewitness account for detail on the tree's internal structure.

I'm talking about Weaver and company. After Jake has his first ride/flight/whatever the hell, and Zoe shows him where the Ewya tree is, we cut to a scene set later where Weaver and Norm looking at a screen that has an actual screengrab of the same lighting/angle Jake saw it. Not a topographic scan like the one in Ribisi's office, but the actual tree. In a window next to it was something that looked like the synapse stuff from the opening of Fight Club--I took it as they were reviewing a visual log from Jake's avatar.
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Originally Posted by Ambler
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Biggest complaint with this movie for me:

24 fps 3D

I was initially worried about this too, but honestly it didn't bug me. I could see the stuttering, but didn't think it killed the resolution.

If you recall from that e-mail interview Cameron did with Variety... Cameron is fully aware of the problem with 24 fps 3D and would've loved to be able to fix that by shooting at 48 fps. But it was a battle he thought would be too much considering everything else he was dealing with. A battle for another day, he said.
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Originally Posted by Ambler
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Biggest complaint with this movie for me:

24 fps 3D

Horrible, horrible motion blurring problems...

Hmm I felt this in the first half of the movie. Especially the chase in the jungle where Jake hides in the tree and the monster tries to bite him felt weird. Like my eyes couldn't tune into the right frame frequency. Those two little slowmo moments with the backpack and the jump almost felt like Cameron realized he had to slow down for a moment so the audience could actually grasp what was going on.
For some reason I felt more tuned into it in the second half. maybe cause my eyes had gotten used to the low fps... maybe the vfx studios rendered everything in 48 fps in secret and someday this version will see the light, but I doubt that even someone like Cameron would spent that much more money for an eventual 48fps version.
Right now most of the projectors don't support framerates that high and stereoscopic picture. You need lightning fast hard disks for that, especially for 4k stereoscopic 48fps
I saw it in IMAX and the 3D worked well, but there was ghosting if I wasn't looking directly forward. Also, the 3D looked like a pop-up book to me, a really detailed awesome pop-up book, bit I didn't get the sensation that the images were rounded like I have with some of the Pixar films and such.
I actually wish that they did more of what Pixar did with UP, where they pushed the image further back and enhanced the depth.

There were lots of parts where I simply forgot about the 3D. It was really when you saw deep shots of Pandora (in the jungle and the mountains) that you could really feel the depth and even then, I wish they had exaggerated it to enhance the effect. More pushing back!

In terms of live-action narrative 3D, this was the tops. But Devin is right. We've already seen some great 3D in Up, Cloudy, and Coraline.
Except the parts you liked best weren't live action.
May I direct you to the moment when Weaver demands a cigarette! Toughily!!!?
I had trouble with the 3D at the start of the film. Being 24 FPS was one thing. The other was not knowing what I could focus on. I actually took the glassess off for a bit, trying to figure out how it was working. As far as I can tell, there is still a part of the scene that is 'in focus' and where things are clearest.

By the end I sorta got used to everything.
Which is always why I'm of the mind that as much as I enjoy 3D when it's done well, I really don't think it does anything for cinema as an art form. Cinema already has a well established vocabulary to suggest depth. "Real" depth was never anything that was missing the way sound and color noticeably were. But obviously, I say this with lots and lots of hindsight off the work of much more talented people.

Who knows?
The 3D really kicks your ass with that early shot of Jake coming out of hypersleep in zero g and there's like a godzillion layers of marines coming out of hypersleep behind him. I was overwhelmed by the effect at that point and it took me like 5 minutes to adjust.
I was kind of surprised that there were a lot of shots with pretty strong traditional depth of field so you couldn't focus on something other than what the dop intended. I heard from a lot of people (including a stereoscoper for Sony) that with 3d you shouldnt use 2d depth of field too much, but I guess Cameron still wanted to make a movie that would feel like one when watched in 2D.
That opening was actually really cool. I loved that shock to the system. The zero-gravity stuff looked really good too.

Not sure if anyone else had this feeling, but I feel like the 3D effect sometimes actually decreases the feeling of scale with the big stuff. Shots of choppers flying in the background as Stephen Lang talks in front of the window feel like there's a toy chopper buzzing around.

And ignoring 3D for a sec... I found Cameron's use of smash zooms to feel out of place.
What was interesting to me, not having seen a lot of modern 3D, was how much more effective it is when objects are moving away from the camera rather than toward. Cameron seems to realize this and has very few spears-poking-in-your-FACE shots, but even shots that just included close foreground characters were disconcerting. In contrast, that shot of the space-dragons attacking the gunship, where one Marine is snatched up and flung out of the doorway was fucking awesome and was the most memorable 3D effect for me.
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Originally Posted by mike_tyson
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Did people really go into seeing this movie think the story was going to be groundbreaking and wholly unique? Haven't we known about the story/plot for awhile now?

Kinda like how people went to see 'Titanic' for the guy bouncing off the propeller.
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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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And ignoring 3D for a sec... I found Cameron's use of smash zooms to feel out of place.

Maybe he did them for smoother 3d depth transitions. One of the biggest challenges in 3d is to have fluid transitions of where the focus is on. Too many hard edits with rapidly changing focus distance = headache. I bet smash zooming into something is easier for the eye than a hard cut.
But there are other ways to draw the eye's focus on something without cutting.. Fundamentals of composition and all that.

Also, isn't zooming supposed to reduce the feeling of depth?

I have no problem with the zooming itself. I love old fashioned zooms. It's just something that felt out of place within Cameron's classical style of filmmaking. Like he threw in a more guerrilla technique just to include it.
The dephth/3D was supposed to look better in the jungle. On the base he made it more tight to enhance the claustrophobic feeling so we would experience a more stark contrast to the outside stuff.
Focal control and depth of field in 3D is a nightmare. The zero-gravity sequence is an especially awful example of this. Give me 3 dimensions to immerse me, then force me to look at the stuff in focus.

It's not as disorientating in 2D because your eyes don't have to adjust. It's a gripe I have with the tech in general though really.
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Originally Posted by Bitches Leave
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The dephth/3D was supposed to look better in the jungle. On the base he made it more tight to enhance the claustrophobic feeling so we would experience a more stark contrast to the outside stuff.

Shut up! You didn't even like the 3D! hahahah...