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David Poland

By David Poland

Avatar in 2D

I finally got to Avatar in 2D yesterday, curious to have a personal perspective on what a significant percentage of people across the globe are seeing, as well as what the non-3D DVD might look like when it comes down the pike.
The answer is, not unexpectedly… it was fine.
The big difference for me was that the Na’Vi skin is even more real looking in 2D. There is more texture, as the focus seems sharper in close-ups.
What is still mind-blowing, after seeing the film in 4 different formats, is the undeniability of the world that WETA and Cameron created on computers. The next big step that this film takes in facial capture is a huge deal. But for me, it is when you step away from the storytelling and animal/humanoid characters for a moment and look at the landscapes. They feel absolutely real.. so much so that I doubt many people think about them much. On the second group of Star Wars films, the landscapes were mostly architecture. It was often beautiful, but it seems to me, a lot easier. But no one in the audience doesn’t know what a leaf really looks like… or a tree… or a sunset… or a puddle being splashed through.
I would still advise people that Real-D 3D is the most complete version of the Avatar experience. But the film is so visually dense that, really, there are benefits to seeing it in 2D. There is a limit to how much we can process and how fast. With less for your brain to do while watching, it seems to me that, in an odd way, breathing in Avatar is easier.

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12 Responses to “Avatar in 2D”

  1. lazarus says:

    To be fair to what ILM did on the Star Wars prequels, the story really wasn’t in any of those environments long enough to really immerse the viewer in those locations. Plus, Avatar was ABOUT getting in touch with nature, so there was a necessary incentive to achieve such texture.
    If I’m not mistaken, the artists at ILM did just as much research in terms of geography, flora, fauna, etc. to make sure those worlds seemed believable, unique, and alive and I think they did a great job (and really should have been more awarded for it). To dismiss it as simple architecture is a bit unfair.

  2. mutinyco says:

    Interesting. One of the things I kept looking for, but felt was slight, was skin texture. Which makes me assume, since digital is usually sharper and cleaner than celluloid, that the image for 3D is ridiculously compressed. I particularly was aware of how soft the live action elements looked, especially in close-up — and how much clearer the pure CGI images were by comparison.

  3. I’m sticking with RealD, if only so I can use those nifty glasses they sent out. 🙂

  4. mutinyco says:

    Yeah, just to note, I saw the RealD…

  5. I saw it at the Cinerama Dome with XpanD glasses. Is there really a big difference between the different 3-D formats? (apologies if this subject has already been worked over around these parts)

  6. David Poland says:

    Fair enough, Laz.
    I don’t mean to write it off and when it happened, I felt it was written of by Jar Jar hating press way too lightly. It was remarkable and historic.
    But as I wrote, this is another step. ILM made virtual architecture 95% real. To make nature seem 95% real (or more), just seems like a bigger step to me.
    Interestingly, Spielberg has chosen to making Tintin less real while using much the same tech as Avatar.
    And Mut… yeah… I think a lot of that was a function of the 3D build. As you know, they were dialing up and down, shot by shot. In 3D, the near-to-the-end Neytiri, in a room (no spoiler), was striking, I thought, because it seemed more defined than any previous shots of her. And indeed, the 2D looks more like that more often… at least to my eye.

  7. bmcintire says:

    It looks like AVATAR did better yesterday than Tuesday with $18.4M. Dave’s pal Nikki is saying that Fox is (conservatively) estimating $50M for the weekend. I am thinking Friday and Saturday will be HUGE and I would not be surprised to see them top that with those two days alone.

  8. Deathtongue_Groupie says:

    Another $18M yesterday. How is this thing not a serious threat to DARK KNIGHT’s record as someone suggested yesterday?
    Let’s suppose that NYE dents the numbers for tonight and it drops to $12M, that’s still $280M. Let’s say it drops to just $60M for the weekend and next week’s grosses drop down to $10M a day. That puts it $380M by next Thursday. Let’s say that the first non-holiday, the-kids-are-back-in-school weekend/week sees a 50% drop, even at that much of a fall off puts it at $430M.
    So, after Jan 14th, those last 3 weekends in January cannot deliver the last $100M? Right now, the IMAX screens alone are delivering over $10M each weekend and that’s not likely to drop that sharply as many turned away from all the sell outs will make their 2nd time an IMAX screening. So, I’m to believe that $60-70M is unrealistic from the remaining theaters as it winds down?
    Those IMAX screenings are all in 3D, btw. Just so I’m not totally hijacking the thread 😉

  9. mutinyco says:

    Does anybody know what resolution Avatar was mastered at yet? We discussed this without resolve once before. I assumed it was 2k, if for no other reason than image complexity, but I could be wrong.
    But since you said it seemed sharper in 2D, I’m assuming information rates that in a standard 2D image would go into sharpness and clarity are disbursed in 3D to deal with the more complex image layering, thereby degrading the overall image quality.

  10. Tofu says:

    Top Story on Google News right now? Obama & Family saw Avatar in 3D.

    … Cameron is going to sink the Titanic. Again.

  11. Telemachos says:

    I’m fairly sure AVATAR was mastered in 2k.
    btw, Deathtongue, I don’t think it’ll have $10m+ weekdays next week. It’ll do $60-odd million for the weekend, but with the holidays officially over it’s going to end up with weekdays closer to around $5-6 million. (Look at how the box office drops sharply after New Years, even for huge films like ROTK and TITANIC).
    Even with the holidays over, though, I still think it’ll challenge TDK.

  12. sharonfranz says:

    I saw it on Real-D 3D on a normal screen and IMAX. Real-D 3D on a normal screen was clearer, but IMAX was more immersive. It’s too bad I can’t get both: the fully immersive experience of IMAX with the crystal clear picture of a normal screen. But overall, I have to say I prefer the IMAX experience.

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