Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Exclusive: Avatar Footage Impressions - "Everybody Just Gasped"

Hi, Michael here. The consensus of those chosen ones who filled the seats of the RAI Auditorium for the Avatar presentation is that they witnessed something historic. Something they would be proud to tell their grandchildren about. Something shared and communal. Something that will bond them for life.

Awe is the second major reaction. The inability to articulate what they just saw. Or perhaps more aptly, the knowledge that their efforts to communicate the experience are completely futile. For Avatar is not something that can be put into words-It is an emotional experience, utilizing technology that shouldn't exist for 10 years or more. It is dreaming with your eyes open.

Read the impressions below (fresh from someone at the showing) to get an idea of what it was like to be in that room, at that historic moment.

WARNING: FOOTAGE DETAILS BELOW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!

Hey man,

This was all part of the 20th Century FOX 2009/2010 presentation. We saw clips of movies not out til november '10. But then Avatar was introduced and the crowd went silent
Sigourney Weaver, Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Stephen Lang stepped on stage and introduced us to their characters and a brief into of the story. They then announced we would see a large range of clips in sequential order
We got to see clips with their scene numbers attached. Which ranged from sc. 8 to scn 48 -54 til 82. 82 is the last fully completed scene we saw which was only in act 2 of the film.
The clips were amazing, can't go into detail too much but we see Jake a lot. My memory of quotes is fuzzy cos of the impression the screen makes.
First clip showed us a militairy briefing with Stephen Lang's character about how brutal the N'avi are.
He says: "My job is to keep you all alive, but I'll fail." Jake is in a wheelchair listening to the brief.

Next scene we get into the lab, see two N'avi on labtables subdued. Jake enters lab with Joel Moore's character Norm Spellman who's a new doctor but knows a lot about N'avi.
Next scene we see Jake and Norm entering two tanks. Jake is getting out of the wheelchair, tries to get into the tank. Someone wants to helps him but he says he can do it himself and gets his limp legs into the tank. Sigourney's doctor Grace says "So you just came out here without any training and decided to get in on this? "

Then we see them take hold of their N'avi's. Norm is adjusting slow, while Jake stands up, wobbles, hits stuff with his tail and then STORMS out of the base into the wild.
Until now, all we saw was the base in 3D, mostly humans and now the 2 N'avi Avatars.
They look NOTHING like the drawing you've seen. They're living creatures with blue skin, bigger yellow eyes than humans with tails. The avatars even look like their human connectors. You will NOT believe the detail. Jake's character will get a wound in a scene we saw later, it looked so real. You could see beneath the skin's first layer, like only real wounds show. We later meet creatures that look like the evolutionary link between a pherodactyl and a bird. They can connect with the N'avi and hunt with them. They connect with only ONE N'avi and do this by swallowing the N'avi's tail with their mouth so they stay connected.

The world outside is amazing. It all lives, breathes and works.
You will not believe the amount of leaves that look like someone created that jungle for real. Later scenes involved Grace, Norm and Jake in the jungle exploring. Jake encounters a animal which stomps towards him, Grace tells him to stand his ground. He does and the animal backs away to reveal a more sinister animal behind them. Jake fights it and runs.
Next scene we only see Jake so I assume he lost Grace & Norm. He is being attacked by very very very nasty black dogs. Not only do we see their teeth, their gums look nasty as well. It's all so photorealistic you first wonder where they got these dogs. They look like our dogs but slightly different and it's only then you realise what this is. All CGI.
Jake gets saved by Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), a real N'avi with bow and arrow. Afterwards he wants to thank her but she gets mad. She says "You not need thank me, this shouldn't have happened. They shouldn't have to be killed if it wasn't for you." The next scene we see is Neytiri and Jake on a treeledge entering a Pandoran village where seeds of a sacred tree touch Jake. I mean touch. They touch his skin and then some fly off while others get absorbed by his N'avi skin.

After that: Cameron entered the stage. He talked about the beasts and how we now saw how it was to walk on Pandora. Now we were going to fly.
We then get introduced to the beasts I mentioned earlier and a small scene of Neytiri riding one ends the scenes that were finished.
Cameron then came back, talked about the specifics of the rendering already mentioned by others and then said: Now imagine 3000 of these beasts.
One more scene was shown then of something that will be near the climax of the movie. A battle between humans and N'avi. It was mo-cap footage of humans with the template CGI. Best to describe it would be World of Warcraft on a high-end PC. That's what it looks like when it's 40% done. And that is NOTHING like it'll end up but it shows WETA, Cameron how the scene will play. And even in that stage, the amount of bodymovement is absolutely realistic. In that scene we also meet the bot that was displayed at the afterparty.

What is most imporant about this movie: Everything lives and breathes. The tree in the scene with the sacred seeds glowed. Not the bast, but the tree underneath glowed like a living thing. Jake encounters plants which look like a kid's slide which shrink when he touches them. Little fireflies and birds fly through the shots without being there. You just take them as the world, like a dove in Central Park. It's not placed there, it lives there and just happens to be in the shot.
There's a shot of leaves somewhere which is so photorealistic you don't want to think it's CGI. You believe this world from the get-go. It's there, you don't need to believe it because you will experience it.
The cast and Cameron came back on stage after the last clip, took a VERY VERY VERY long round of applause and the houselights came on.

The audience afterwards was stunned. Everyone just gasped, wondered and just couldnt believe what they saw. [Cameron] is so proud of this movie and still handles it with great suave like he just folded a paper plane. I am just mindbaffled how a genius like that can contain himself with something like this.

This movie will change the industry. It can now enable me to play a character in a studio, then to be transferred into something different on screen so an audience will believe I am that different character. This is not the Polar Express style 'change of character'. This will enable actors to act without them being cast on looks, but on bodylanguage from now on.

Fifty years from now I'll tell my grandkids I was at this presentation and witnessed it 6 months before the movieworld was changed.
Only shame: I won't be able to see the final product like we saw today. With Cine Expo the most advanced projectors and audio is installed which won't be rolled out to most cinema's til probably next year's summer. But IMAX 3D will make this movie shine like never before, I hope.
I hope this gives you an impression of what we experienced. I had a hard time putting it to words. You just can't fully do it.

Thanks very much to our source who was kind enough to attempt to communicate the experience even though he knows that task is impossible!

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