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THE HTF 3D ADDICT: Avatar



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#1 of 13 Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 31 2010 - 01:31 AM





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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.

 

 

 

 


Posted Image

Avatar 3D

 

 

Studio: Fox

Product Release: December 1, 2010

Ratio: 1.78:1

Audio: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English, French, Portugese & Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

Running Time: 162 Minutes

Rating: PG-13

 

Posted Image

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.

 

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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.

 

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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

from you.  

 

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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

 

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.  

 

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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. 


Equipment

 

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

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 13 Matt Hough

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Posted December 31 2010 - 01:59 AM

Thank you so much for the informative review, Ron. Having watched the film several times for the purposes of reviewing the two different 2D releases, I can just imagine how incredible the images are in 3D.


And have you seen the outrageous sums the 3D Avatar is going for on Ebay? I understand Fox wants to wait for more 3D sets to make their ways into homes, but this film in 3D would surely be a prime draw for people to invest in the format. A continuing shame about these exclusivity deals.



#3 of 13 Adam Gregorich

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Posted December 31 2010 - 04:52 AM

Thanks for the review Ron.  I haven't watched the entire film in 3D yet.  I am hoping to do it this weekend. 

 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.

 In the off the record conversations I have had with people I was told general release won't be until 4th Quarter 2013.  Good news is it will most likely be the extended cut.



#4 of 13 AlexS2

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Posted December 31 2010 - 02:01 PM

4th Quarter 2013?


Looks like they will be using the 3D blu general release to kick start the lead up to Avatar 2 then.



#5 of 13 Guest_Hank_*

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Posted December 31 2010 - 10:04 PM

Great review Ron. Go back now and watch some of those scenes in 2D. The movie just falls flat, the Na'vi look very unrealistic and cartoonish. I use the word 'pasty looking'. The 3D is truly incredible. My wife and I felt the same watching the 3D version as you and enjoyed it more than the theatrical experience. I can not wait to have my Panasonic 50VT25 ISF calibrated at the end of this month by Gregg Loewen!



#6 of 13 Ronald Epstein

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Posted January 01 2011 - 03:21 AM

Hi Hank!


I have to admit, as a 2D movie I find it difficult to
watch this film.  It just doesn't have the same
impact for me as it does in 3D.


Absolutely love this disc. It really makes the

viewer feel that the investment they made into

upgrading their display was a sound one.


Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#7 of 13 Johnny Angell

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Posted January 03 2011 - 09:36 AM



Originally Posted by Hank 

Great review Ron. Go back now and watch some of those scenes in 2D. The movie just falls flat, the Na'vi look very unrealistic and cartoonish.

I admit I don't have a 3D TV, but I watched Avatar multiple times in 3D Imax and I was surprised and happy about how much I enjoyed watching Avatar at home in 2D.  Yes I would love to have the panny and Avatar3D, but I still plan on enjoying it in 2D multiple times this year.  The movie does not fall flat for me.


Johnny
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But a family cat is not replaceable like a wornout coat or a set of tires. Each new kitten becomes its own cat, and none is repeated. I am four cats old, measuring out my life in friends that have succeeded but not replaced one another.--Irving Townsend


#8 of 13 TheBat

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Posted January 03 2011 - 10:23 AM

panasonic is now selling a 3D panasonic blu ray player where you can get a free copy of avatar in 3D with it.


Jacob



http://g-ecx.images-...V175015680_.pdf



#9 of 13 Ronald Epstein

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Posted January 03 2011 - 11:11 AM

Jacob,


That is incredible news.  Very affordable for everyone

to obtain their own copy of AVATAR without buying a

$2-4k display.


Hope Panasonic makes this offering with the purchase

of their new upcoming 2011 Blu-ray models.


Ronald J Epstein
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#10 of 13 TheBat

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Posted January 03 2011 - 11:22 AM

i saw avatar in 3D many times. both regular 3D and imax 3D. I enjoyed it. I think I liked the imax version better. less contrast problems. I also enjoyed watching it in 2D on the small screen as well. I dont know if any of you have watched the collectors edition with an extra 20 minutes. I have the same attutide that others have about the lotr:EE. that the longer cut is better. it feels more complete specially with the alternate opening. i would highly recommend it. I look forward to the ee cut in 3D hopefully someday.


its great news that people can buy the panasonic player to get a free copy of avatar.


Jacob



#11 of 13 GregK

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Posted January 03 2011 - 11:46 AM

The IMAX version of Avatar without a doubt was superior to the general run Real-D version.


No phasing artifacts. Double the brightness. Less ghosting.



#12 of 13 AlexS2

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Posted January 03 2011 - 08:26 PM

The traditional IMAX opening night 3D screening of Avatar easily ranks as one of my best theater going experiences of the last decade (you could practically hear the sense of awe emanating from the entire audience), alongside seeing Fellowship of the Ring on opening night back in 01 (that would probably be my number 1 of all time movie going experience)


that said, 2D Avatar still offers a magnificent experience imo, especially at home on a nice HD setup. The 2D picture still offers a tremendous sense of depth, and there is much more opportunity to take in all the details than there is in the 3D version of the film.



#13 of 13 Steve Tannehill

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Posted September 28 2011 - 02:06 PM

I picked this disc up from eBay along with Ice Age 3, for a reasonable Buy It Now price. It came from China, the packaging is mostly in Chinese, but the movie is in Englush (DTS-HD Master Audio) and English subtitles during the Na'vi-speak. This is the best 3D I've seen, both theatrically and now at home. It makes me glad I invested in 3D when my old RPTV died.