I finally saw Avatar this past weekend. To be honest, I wanted to skip the fuss altogether, but E was intent on making Saturday night a proper date, so he treated me to sushi and movie.
I won’t talk about the plot, since that’s been covered extensively online, but I will talk about the graphics, because that’s what I do, or… what I planned on doing before I fell into this whole tech writing business.
Let me just say I was STUNNED. Graphics technology has been improving by leaps and bounds.
It is easier to make surfaces with fixed reflectivity, such as plastic, metal, or water, look realistic to the human eye when rendered by a computer. This is because you can calculate how the light bounces off of the surface and how much is absorbed by the material, etc.
What is difficult is to simulate are organics like skin, plants, dirt… this movie was chock full of organics, blended beautifully with live action filming. Was it seamless? No, you could still tell that the movie was mostly CG, but the difference is getting a lot less obtrusive.
I was particularly impressed by the scene where Neytiri (the CG Navi) holds the human Jake Sully in her arms. There was no difference in the lighting conditions (sometimes a give away) or in in the manner that Jake seemed to be propped up in her lap (touching between CG and real characters is usually limited, especially on TV, due to how difficult it is to get right) I’m interested in how that was actually filmed.
Then there were the gorgeous environments. There was so much detail in each scene it was almost hard to know where to look. The profusion of plants and animals was mind boggling. I can only imagine the massive amounts of computing power and time required to render each frame of the movie. I would watch this movie again simply to pay more attention to the details.
Lastly, there’s the 3D element. My mom complained that you didn’t need to watch the movie in 3D. I would disagree. Until this point in time 3D has been treated as a novelty, or a bag of tricks to be dipped into for extra amusement. You know what I’m talking about. There’s usually a telltale scene where something comes shooting out from the screen: a yoyo, or a falling brick, meant to get thrills from the audience and announce to the world that the film is indeed 3D.
With Avatar, the 3D offered the richness of depth. It was like looking into a room that you could walk into.
I believe that this is the future of movies folks, 3D as a matter of fact instead of a novelty. When the costs of the technology come down, I think 3D will be the standard, just like color film replaced black and white. Just watch.