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.

BEWARE FAKE IMAX!

May 12, 2009 at 1:32 pm | Posted in Movies | Leave a comment
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Aziz is Bored – REBLOG THE FUCK OUT OF THIS. WARNING: AMC theaters are running FAKE IMAX’s and charging $5 extra for a slightly bigger screen. Boycott IMAX, AMC, and Regal. Don’t let them fool you..

Well, Aziz has brought to the public’s attention what I have been complaining to my friends about forever. Fake IMAX sucks. And those blockbusters you are watching on them are rarely shot in IMAX format. They are converted to it, digitally. It’s similar to the way your home theatre equipment takes your old VHS tapes and “upconverts” them to display at a higher resolution on your big-screen TV or projector. In the “LieMAX” or fake IMAX format this is projected on a rectangular screen similar to your widescreen TV, using twin DLP projectors. In REAL IMAX this digital conversion gets printed on 70mm film and is projected on a square screen. Blockbuster movies such as Star Trek that are not shot with IMAX cameras will not utilize the upper and lower parts of a real IMAX squarte screen. It will letterbox, just like a standard4:3  TV. Movies that incorporate actual IMAX camera footage, such as The Dark Knight, will project letterboxed until the actual IMAX footage displays, filling the entire screen.

Hey, I have nothing against upconversion. I’ve been mesmerized by Faroudja video processors since I got my first laserdisc player. But I’m also a proponent of Real 70mm film, too. If you lived in Phoenix back in the days of the Original Cine Capri and got to see Blade Runner or Star Wars in 70mm mag-stripe – you understand what I mean. If you have never seen a 70mm film other than your multiplex fake IMAX…you need to.

The point Aziz and many others are noticing and complaining about is this is not the traditional IMAX experience. The screen is not ginormous, they don’t do the cool spotlight stuff showing you the speakers (44 of them) and their locations. They don’t warn you that motion sickness can be prevented by putting your head between your legs temporarily. Real IMAX does that.

Real IMAX is supposed to be 6-8 stories tall. Sometimes its projected on a dome which is called OMNIMAX (domed screens have some drawbacks when presenting traditional movies like Star Trek – it will warp the normally rectangular frame). The screen is supposed to be bigger than your field of view…that’s what can induce the motion sickness.

So, here’s what you do if you have never seen REAL IMAX before – go down to your local science museum and watch one! That’s where they usually are, although they can be found in City Centers, standalones, casinos – all kinds of places. But, if you have a decent science museum in your city, you should have REAL IMAX.

It probably won’t be showing Batman, or Star Trek or any other DMR film, but trust me…just pay the 12 bucks to see anything. Most IMAX films are about 40 minutes long, not 2 hours. They are expensive to film, so they are expensive to watch. Just watch. You can watch grass grow in IMAX and be totally thrilled to have experienced it…that’s where their tagline “the IMAX experience” came from. It used to be an experience! Still is, at the right place! However, as Aziz points out in his blog – AMC and Regal are not the right places.

Oh, and if you are in San Diego – the Reuben H Fleet Science Center has an awesome IMAX, with the newest nanoseam technology screen IMAX has…I haven’t been there in 20 years, but with the new technology screen – its on my list to do this summer.

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