Here’s what Time Magazine had to say about Pandora:
Just as James Cameron’s sci-fi epic Avatar marked a new level of technological innovation for movies, so too is Pandora: The World of Avatar reinventing the modern theme park. Among its otherworldly attractions: an animatronic character that’s “as lifelike as possible” and a botanical garden that glows with neon after sunset. The park’s flagship is Flight of Passage, a ride that combines 3-D projections and virtual reality to create the illusion that guests are flying atop a living, breathing mountain banshee (a creature that figures prominently in Cameron’s mythical universe). The park says it’s the highest-rated attraction at Walt Disney World, per guest surveys.
That is really a lofty achievement. Especially considering it started off as a land that many Disney fans predicted would fail, to the huge crowds and high praise the land has received since opening in May of 2017. It seems the Avatar brand takes many bumps and bruises on the internet, but when it comes to performance it tends to click with people and shine. If you are a fan of Avatar and have yet to visit this amazing place, it needs to be #1 on your bucket list. It’s a sight to behold that immerses you so much you start the feel as if you are on the moon Pandora.
I’ve noticed a lot of checklists from the Mattel Avatar figure line that are online that claim to be complete but are far from it. So I thought I’d put together a complete checklist of what was released in the US distribution region. As far as foreign releases I am not 100% sure, I have seem a couple variants and one set we never received here at all.
Each figure comes with its own i-TAG with a few exceptions.* The tags could be used in front of a webcam by going to www.avataritag.com where you could then manipulate their movements in real time. It was a lot of fun but sadly the website no longer is active. Two i-TAGs were exclusive to pre-ordering Avatar The Game for PS3 and Xbox 360 at Best Buy.
*The Movie Master 7″ figures, the video game exclusives, and the 2010 SDCC set didn’t have i-TAGs
Click on any photo to enlarge.
Watching Avatar-Post Avatar Depression or Pure Bliss?
After the first few weeks of Avatar being out in theaters a phenomenon that became known as PAD or Post Avatar Depression started happening. Specifically it was being discussed in length on the newly created Avatar Forums. Everything Avatar was huge in those days and soon major websites were even picking up on the story. It seemed most people that loved the movie fell into two main categories. It either made you extremely happy or in some cases it depressed you. The depression came from things like the realization of how imperfect out own world is, wanting to visit Pandora but not being able to, and even wanting to become one of the Na’vi. The feelings of happiness also come from similar things. People fell in love with the Na’vi way of life, they wanted to visit Pandora and could by going to see the film again and again, and it even inspired people to take better care of their bodies and live more naturally.
On the fan forum site “Avatar Forums,” a topic thread entitled “Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible,” has received more than 1,000 posts from people experiencing depression and fans trying to help them cope. The topic became so popular last month that forum administrator Philippe Baghdassarian had to create a second thread so people could continue to post their confused feelings about the movie.
“I wasn’t depressed myself. In fact the movie made me happy ,” Baghdassarian said. “But I can understand why it made people depressed. The movie was so beautiful and it showed something we don’t have here on Earth. I think people saw we could be living in a completely different world and that caused them to be depressed.”
-CNN.com Audiences experience ‘Avatar’ blues 1/11/10
It became such a big deal even CNN was reporting on it. I want to know how you felt when you first watched Avatar, from the good to the bad, and I’d like to know how you think seeing Avatar 2 may make you feel. Do you think it will help having an actual Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to go visit? Send us an email or leave a comment and we will follow up on every ones feelings in a future article.
The Avatar sequels All of these cutting-edge developments are being trained on Avatar 2, 3, 4 and 5 which are in production in New Zealand and LA for release beginning in 2020 until 2025. Everyone expects the sequels to break ground – and in multiple ways. Cameron has reportedly test shot sequences underwater. Yet with technology moving so fast, striking a balance between taking risks on innovation and using tried and tested routes is one the VFX super must weigh.
Avatar: “The risk lies in not doing it”
“The risk lies in not doing it,” declares Letteri. “We’ve never been conservative about what’s required of us to figure out a way of doing what hasn’t been done before. If you don’t try you are never going to get there.”
While not strictly a visual effects technique, high frame rates can be another tool to accentuate realism. Letteri worked on The Hobbit which was filmed at 48 frames a second although the hyper-vivid quality was not to everyone’s taste.
“We are testing [HFR] for Avatar,” Letteri confirms. “Audiences are used to seeing 24 frames per second where the intermediate frames go blank and their mind fills the space with an image. It engages the imagination in a certain way. There’s a case for high frame rates with stereo 3D and lots of fast motion and you want to erase motion blur. It depends on the intent of the filmmaker. They might experiment and see if it can be used it to the advantage of certain scenes within a film.”
He feels that audiences are more likely to suspend their disbelief seeing some physical effects like miniatures and stop motion “because there’s a physical reality to it even though they know it’s not real” but that CGI is unforgiving. “We have to get everything absolutely right and not slip up otherwise the fact that it’s not real will strike a more discordant note in the audience’s mind.”
That said, he says it’s often easier to solve a problem in a computer “because you quickly run into limitations when you do it physically.
“I think we’ll be able to reach a point where we won’t be able to tell what’s real and what’s not,” he says. “You will hit the limit of what you need every pixel to look like to do exactly what it would have done if you photographed that character. For some kinds of effects, I think we are already there.”
A keen astronomer who has long harbored fantasies about traveling to outer space, Avatar is a dream come true.
“When Jim said ‘let’s go to Alpha Centauri and make a whole new world” I couldn’t wait,” he says. “That’s where I’m going.”
Joe Letteri the director of Weta shares a bit about working on Avatar and the Avatar sequels. Joe grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and has worked on films ranging from Star Trek to Jurassic Park and is a pioneer in the motion capture world.
August 22, 2019, will mark ten years since Avatar Day. The day when James Cameron released a free screening of 15 minutes of Avatar to the world. Some future Avatar fans never got to see it, but it was a distilled version of the 25 minute segment that was shown at Comic Con earlier that year. The footage included six scenes plus a rapidly edited “action montage” consisting mostly of images already shown in the trailer that had already been released.
It got mixed reviews at the time, from the enthusiastic through to ‘close but no cigar’. For those of us who were to become fans of the film, it did not matter what people thought as we each have our own unique and individual connection to the film, the world, the themes, the story and the language.
Avatar Day was probably the first time that a movie promotion that had gone quite so far in making an event out of a film tease. It seems to have been done for a number of reasons, besides creating hype for the film. It was a way of introducing the audience to a relatively new immersive 3D experience and also convince industry that there was a market for 3D technology. It was also a call for movie theaters to upgrade their projection equipment because it was getting close to show time!
So as ten years since Avatar Day approaches in 2019, how do you think it should be marked?