- 30 April 2009
- By John Howell
They have yet to release a trailer or even a publicity photo from actual footage, but James Cameron and his team have managed to generate some impressive hype for his upcoming 3D science fiction epic, Avatar. His first movie since Titanic has a budget pushing US $200 million and enough hype to power a mission to Mars. Now it appears the 3D technology he created to turn his vision into a reality, the key to the movie’s success or failure, may be habit forming. A technology writer for Time Magazine, after being shown 15 minutes of the movie, posited the movie’s 3D action had set off actual “memory creation.”
"I couldn't tell what was real and what was animated--even knowing that the 9-ft.-tall blue, dappled dude couldn't possibly be real. The scenes were so startling and absorbing that the following morning, I had the peculiar sensation of wanting to return there, as if Pandora were real," he said.
The New York Times interviewed him later.
“It was like doing some kind of drug,” he said, describing a scene showing Sam Worthington running around “with this kind of hot alien chick,” and being attacked by jaguarlike creatures. He was sprinkled with sprites that floated down, like snowflakes. "You feel like the little feathery things are landing on your arm”.
In the same New York Times article, Dr. Mario Mendez, a behavioural neurologist at the University of California, said it is entirely possible Cameron’s 3D technology could tap brain systems that are undisturbed by conventional 2D movies. An inner global-positioning system that orients a person to the surrounding world, was one example he gave.
“Three-D demonstrably creates a space that triggers this GPS; it’s really very stimulating”.
He went on to say that he had used virtual-reality therapy in working with soldiers at the Veterans Administration hospital in Los Angeles, finding himself jarred by his experience with a “virtual Iraq” simulation.
Cameron himself told Time Magazine that 3D viewing “is so close to a real experience that it actually triggers memory creation in a way that 2D viewing doesn’t.” Cameron also believes that stereoscopic (3D) viewing uses more neurons, which would further heighten the impact of 3D.
So will we all become addicted to 3D films? I’m not sure reality will ever match the hype, but I’m certainly keen to see how close it comes. The last 3D movie I saw, Robert Zemeckis’s excellent animated feature Beowulf, certainly captured my imagination. I remember certain scenes with an unusual clarity (and not just those involving Angelina Jolie).
The only reason I haven’t watched more 3D movies since is that apart from animated cartoons, like Monsters VS Aliens, big screen productions with serious actors and scripts seem hard to find. Perhaps now that Hollywood appears to have caught the 3D bug on a massive scale, with Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson willing converts, we'll be flooded by addictive 3D productions that will transform our viewing experience forever. Or maybe Avatar will come and go and the 3D hype with it? I hope for the former but expect the latter. Only time will tell.
James Cameron’s Avatar was supposed to be released in May, but the international released date has been pushed back until 19 December.
Read our review of Avatar here.
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