Avatar – This Changes Everything

December 21, 2009 at 11:57 pm | Posted in Movies, Review | Leave a comment
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Consumers, film buffs, home theatre aficionados; take note. You can bet Hollywood has. James Cameron has produced a “game-changer”. Yes, he also wrote it and directed it – but all in all its more of a production.

What’s a game-changer? Star Wars IV A New Hope (the first, original one was). Jurassic Park was. The Abyss (also a Cameron film) was to a limited extent – the extent that there was a lot of cool stuff filmed underwater. Star wars changed the game with never-before-seen visual FX (light sabers and blasters come to mind) and created a standard for audio presentation (now known as THX) unlike anything the world had heard before. Jurassic Park did it with lifelike dinosaurs that scared the **** outta you and ushered in a new audio era (known as DTS) among other things.

Avatar does it with…3D. Not your normal 3D. Revolutionary 3D. Game changing 3D. Believable 3D. Real-D, IMAX 3D, Dolby 3D…it’s available worldwide in a number of 3D formats…take your pick. Each has ins and outs…but behind them all lies a revolutionary camera system developed by Sony at the request of Cameron. Its not a film camera – but an HD video camera on steroids. It can use video standards, or film standards for how many frames per second it can capture. It’s light and mobile and can be mounted just about anywhere. It fits on a Steadicam mount. It has two lenses that can move independently like human eyes. It films in 3D. I don’t know all the specs but suffice it to say after seeing Avatar tonight (in Real D)…IT KICKS ASS.

There’s other ultra-cool tech that Cameron developed/employed here like real-time viewing of green screen stuff, where the actors are being filmed with green screens and he can see them in the virtual world onscreen as he films it. There is the cool underwater photography he is so good at. There are CGI worlds created that only he could visualize (or artists could draw because they have seen his underwater documentaries) containing amazing bioluminescent flora and fauna.

Apparently, James also knows when to say when. After all, he’s writing, directing, and producing – all while revolutionizing…sometimes you gotta delegate. Need a creature designed to meet your vision? Call Stan Winston Studios. Need excellent audio? Skywalker Sound is the place, they can master in Dolby and/or DTS. Need visual FX that are game-changing? Yep. Industrial Light & Magic. Got a few other things like makeup, design, models, weapons and such that need some awesome creation and detailing? WETA.  Wanna show your 3D creation to as many people as possible?, Turn to RealD. Need to show it to cinephiles REALLY REALLY BIG…let IMAX handle that. No stone is left unturned. All the bases are covered.

Look for my reviews on the optical tech behind this shortly. Then we will cover audio stuff, if anyone cares. I’m sorry to say I didn’t catch who was behind craft services during this…you’ll have to look elsewhere.

In the meantime – just remember – all the 3D formats are propietary – so don’t bother to bring along the glasses from the last film to your next viewing…I know Avatar has a “green message” behind it all – but it apparently does not trickle down to eyewear.

Looking for an all-around great camera?

August 19, 2008 at 1:32 pm | Posted in Photography | Leave a comment
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It seems that I am getting a lot of my traffic from people doing searches about the Olympus SP-560UZ. So, I figured I would write a little about it.

It is  a great camera, with all of the cool features many people crave. Sure, its not going to fit well into your  shirt pocket, but it actually it fits pretty well into the pockets on your cargo shorts, if you are traveling with it! It’s also fairly light, so it’s not a bother to lug around all day while sightseeing. However, it is heavy enough to let you know this is a real piece of camera gear.

The optics are great. It goes from 28-476mm, although EXIF data from it reports much wider than that at times, not sure why. It does face detection, has Image Stabilization and a pretty awesome image processor for really vivid colors. It will go up to ISO 6400 under certain conditions, but realistically count on ISO 800 as being your real ceiling. Be prepared to do some image noise reduction with software after you download shots taken that high! ISO 400 is pretty usable, though, especially if you are making web photo albums, or standard size prints.

As for capturing fast-action stuff – no problem, as long as it is well-lit. It will click along at 1.2fps in high-res mode (in jpeg format – raw shooting takes forever to write the XD card, a pretty big drawback if you plan on shooting RAW mode). If you don’t mind dropping down to 1.2 megapixel resolution, this thing will crank out 15fps! Seems like it does video too, but I can’t recall ever using that mode on purpose.

If you are a scuba diving buff, or a surf-photographer, there is an underwater housing available for it. My buddy has one, and it is very cool. Be prepared to spend as much on that as the camera, though.

So, do I recommend this camera? Absolutely. Will do everything you ask of it automatically, or will allow you to set just about any parameter you want manually. Sure, if you a an advanced photographer – there will definitely be limitations. That’s why I switched to a DSLR. But believe me; for general walk-around shooting of people, places and things…this camera won’t let you down!

Here are some links if you want to know more:

Happy shooting!

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