What can I say? I love 3D! From the moment I began watching 3D content in my home I quickly discovered that I needed more content. I suspect that those of you just purchasing your first 3D hardware will acquire the same ferocious appetite. That's why I became the HTF 3D ADDICT. I personally love images that pop off the screen and come inches away from your face without becoming overly gimmicky. However, I certainly appreciate the nature documentaries that offer beautiful depth and separation. These are not necessarily reviews of the film themselves. I am not going to concentrate on story or supplements -- you can find the 2D reviews elsewhere on this forum. My job is to let you know exactly what kind of 3D experience to expect from the titles that are being released. As I will be receiving a handful of new product from the studios expect to see more title coverage.
Product Release: December 1, 2010
Audio: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English, French, Portugese & Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Running Time: 162 Minutes
ON A SCALE 0-5
Overall 3D Presentation Rating: 5
3D Separation: 5
3D In Yo' Face Factor: 1
Utter 3D Perfection that will be difficult to surpass
It's certainly not news to everyone that Avatar has become the
highest-grossing domestic box office film to date, earning well
over $760 million.
It has always been my opinion that when you strip Avatar down
to its basics, it never breaks any new ground with its all-too-familiar
story and uninspired dialogue. However, when considering the
film's groundbreaking effects work enhanced in glorious 3D,
nobody can argue that Avatar is a technological achievement --
and that's enough to credit its director, James Cameron, on
a job well done.
After all, one of James Cameron's goals was to change
the face of cinema forever by selling audiences on new
3D technology that promised more realistic image quality
than they have ever experienced before. That gamble
turned into a huge success as theaters raced to embrace
the new technology. Long gone are the red and green
cardboard glasses which have been replaced with more
elaborate polarising eyewear. Studios are rolling out
more 3D fare than ever before and consumers are now
able to bring that experience to the home with enhanced
displays that effectively recreate the theatrical 3D experience.
One can't help but wonder how successful 3D would be right
now if not for Avatar leading the resurgence.
With Avatar, Cameron has created a world unlike anything
we have seen before thanks to the advances of motion
capture technology and CGI animation. The technology
disappears within itself to the point that the viewer easily
accepts everything they are watching as real. I was
instantly reminded of all this upon my viewing this evening.
Let me stop for a moment and remind everyone that the
3D Blu-ray of Avatar is only available with the purchase
of a 3D Panasonic television. In fact, James Cameron
worked closely with the manufacturer to incorporate his
personal picture settings into the display. I have always
been a fan of Panasonic displays since in my opinion,
they exhibit the best 3D with less crosstalk than any of the
other brands currently available.
That being said, I ended up winning a 3D LG display this
year in a raffle. My dreams of owning a Panasonic are
on hold for a bit longer. I was actually a little worried that
I would get less than stellar picture quality viewing Avatar
on my LG. Those worries were immediately put to rest.
Back in November I had the opportunity to hear Avatar
Producer John Landau talk about his expectations of
watching his film in the home vs. the theater. He
predicted that the home experience would be superior
thanks to displays being better tuned for 3D than theaters,
allowing better brightness levels when using polarised
glasses that dim the picture.
Mr. Landau was absolutely correct. Watching Avatar
in the home exceeds the theatrical experience. And let
me tell you, I sat in in Mann's Chinese Theater at the
Hollywood Premier of this film on December 16, 2009
and it pales in comparison to the viewing I just had in
my home theater.
Even when wearing 3D eyewear not a detail within
this 1080p transfer has been lost. The image is razor
sharp with no indication of compression or noise reduction
to be found. Skin tones are lifelike and colors within
the human world look very natural and "spot on." With
the enhancement of 3D, you become engrossed in
Pandora's colorful surroundings bursting in vivid purple,
deep blues and lush greens. Most spectacular here are
the night forrest scenes with its piercing neon colored
florals and bioluminescence within the Tree of Voices.
Shot and choreographed specifically for 3D there is
a wondrous sense of depth that never loses its focus
when the camera pans back to add more landscape.
Easily, with all the camera movement that goes on
there's great potential for blurring but I'll be darned if
I saw any. Cameron was careful not to use any
gimmicky 3D shots, but one would be surprised how
effective the process works within the confines of
the screen itself. Most to all of the forest area was
computer generated and within its vastness it's
amazing to find that you focus on the smallest of
objects such as fireflies and and various insects
that entice the viewer's eyes to follow. Things like
dirt kicking back from the feet of a running Na'vi or
fire embers falling to the forrest floor really take
advantage of the 3D process. Of course, one of
the most well-known scenes involve the seeds of
the sacred tree which, in 3D, seem to dance inches
Should I talk about ghosting? There isn't really
much to say. I noticed small traces of it along
facial features of characters and hanging vines
within the forest. But I have to stress, these are
mere seconds within the entire length of the film.
In all, I would say that this is the best authored
disc of a live-action film that I have seen to date.
The menu system is very simple and clean of
clutter. Upon hitting PLAY you have the option
of watching in 2D or 3D. Switching between
scenes involves selecting a carousel of images
that represent each chapter. When hitting PAUSE
the picture freezes without any added menu
information or pop-up boxes. Sometimes the
simplest menu designs are the ones best remembered.
Equally as striking as the image quality this presentation
provides is the disc's DTS-HD Master 5.1 audio. Make
no mistake about it, this is reference audio with an overly
active soundtrack that onslaughts the viewer from every
direction. Rarely have I heard sound that is so clearly
defined through every single channel. Every creak and
snap of the forest floor is well pronounced. The sounds
of insects are constant with many buzzing across the rears,
left to right, behind the viewer's ears. There is a constant
level of ambient sound moving across the soundstage,
immersing its audience into film. It becomes so easy to
lose one's self from one reality to another.
The soundtrack boasts a robust amount of LFE activity
that should result in the viewer feeling the floor shaking
beneath their feet. It begins with the heavy, pounding of
drums within James Horner's score whose bass reverberates
across the entire room. The military walkers and bulldozers
provide booming thuds and roars and as they advance across
the forest floor. Watching this disc should give your subwoofer
the best workout it has had in quite some time.
This 3D Blu-ray of Avatar clearly displays levels of
of perfection that exceeds anything I have seen to
date. Anyone equipped with a properly calibrated
3D display and a moderately priced 5.1 system is
going to find Avatar to be one of the most personable
viewing experiences they will ever have. I kid you
not when I say that I lost all sense of reality around
me. I became one with the film.
It's a shame that this 3D Blu-ray of Avatar is not being
made available to the general public. Most of you reading
this review, who don't own Panasonic displays, will not
have the opportunity to actually watch this disc in your
homes until 2012. I'm personally against the studios
making titles like these available through hardware
bundled purchases. It's unfortunate that it looks as if
this trend will continue.
The one positive note here about the disc's exclusivity
is that Panasonic and Fox seem to have formed the perfect
marriage. The Panasonic displays are rated the best for
3D on the market and along with its purchase you get what
I consider to be the best 3D Blu-ray authored to date. In
this case, it's a win-win for the consumer.
Images are for illustrative purpose only not representative of the picture quality of this disc.
LG 60PX950 THX Certified 3D display
LG BX580 3D Blu-ray Player
Denon 3311CI Receiver
Atlantic Technology H-PAS AT-1 fronts, 4400 center; 4200 rear speakers
SV Sound Subwoofer