I am very surprised to what this thread has become. First of all let me say that I loved the trailer and I think the characters and environments look amazing.
I think all this argument that has been going on this thread is just a matter of taste, some people like the design of the characters and some don’t and for that reason they find them believable or not.

On the other hand I just want to remind all of you like countless others have done in this thread that this is a trailer and most of the shots I can bet that are still WIP’s. It’s so easy to nitpick and trailer and find tons of flaws. I remember the first trailer for Ironman. The shot where he avoids the missile shot by the tank and then he shoots back a missile and destroys the tank. In that first trailer the shot looked just ok and everyone here could have ripped it apart, but the shot that was actually in the movie was so different and so well done and so far from the one in the trailer that it seemed like a totally different shot.

So please be aware that this is just a trailer people, full of WIP shots. It may seem fun to analyze it and nitpick it but I find it disrespectful to go to far, specially the last example. Come on. Taking a still out of the trailer and working on it. That’s a bit too much to me.

Either way. Can’t wait to see it and I hope I can get to see it in 3D.

Cheers everyone.


Yeah, I think the nitpickers don’t get the scope of this thing. Yeah it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, with the blue cat people and the vibrant colors and the eco-friendly storyline.

But every sinle leaf in that jungle is 3D modeled and textured and lit and rendered. Stereo doesn’t leave much room for cheating with 2D substitutes and compositing tricks, even the background mountains need to be in 3D. And of course birds and animals and water and fire and smoke and fog, too.

This thing is so huge that whatever ILM did for this summer’s movies combined has to pale in comparision. Just the effort in itself has to command a certain level of respect IMHO.


In reference to the scope of the film, yes it is top notch, but that is difficult to apply to say… a film, as adverse to a game. In a game, epic scale is a feature, in a James Cameron film, epic scale is a given and while it makes logical sense to people that know about the buisness, it doesn’t make a difference to people in the audience who aren’t aware or don’t care about how hard it is to model and light every leaf on every plant on every outcropping on every floating mass of rock. That said, the CG is fantastic as far as creating an alien world goes, and I think the problem many are having is that most of us are coming from having recently seen District 9, a dirty, gritty, intense film dealing with aliens to this trailer that shows a more colorful fantasy like idea. My main problem is the composition, a common problem in film, because it’s so hard to light things properly to either match the set or in this case, match the CG. Light is a very hard thing to emulate, especially when you’re trying to compromise between a CG environment and real actors, because while emulating real light in CG, you have to emulate the problems of CG light for the live action set, which seems like a backwards step when you first think about it. Beyond that, I have to say that the trailer could do with more human dialog, to present the quality of the acting, and to make it less of a montage of characters (2 humans were prominently featured, Sam’s character and the rugged military antagonist looking guy, neither of which spoke while being shown) and a little more story could give people something to grip.

I’ll admit, I like spoilers, but if I hadn’t read in advance about the film’s plot, I probably would have thought a lot less of the trailer, because nothing in it is compelling about the people, the aliens maybe, but the people are… like cardboard cutouts and action figures. I also think they could have taken a few more steps away from the Matrix APC design. There’s a distinct lack of clean lines on human technology in this trailer. Instead we get busy blocky designs with needless jagged edges and extrusions.


I have huge respect for the work that’s gone into this; I really enjoyed the 15 minutes of “Avatar Day” 3D footage, and I’m looking forward to seeing the entire film. Even so, it’s my understanding that Cameron claimed viewers would accept the Na’vi as being equal in realism to the live action actors, and for me that’s simply not the case. To me, that kind of claim is an open invitation for nitpicking.

The Na’vi are beautiful, and I appreciate their creation took a tremendous amount of effort and skill, but they don’t “fool” me the way Davy Jones and Benjamin Button did. I don’t think there’s anything disrespectful about contemplating and discussing why that is.


God almighty… 35 pages worth of comments for a trailer posted 4 days ago… :surprised This movie its going to be an event…

As for myself, i will do everything humanly possible to not see any teasers, trailers, interviews, images (this one its too tough though), etc, so i can see the movie the opening day as clean of spoilers as possible; i think this movie its going to be one of a kind and i want to enjoy it to its fullest. If someone knows how to blend state of the art visual effects (sometimes delivering stuff that´s actually “never seen before”) with really good and solid stories and memorable characters, that´s James Cameron.

I cannot wait for this :bounce:

  1. This is a CG forum frequented by a lot of professionals and enthusiasts. We’re not the general audience, we can’t ignore facts here.

  2. I’m this fed up with dirty gritty ‘realistic’ movies. There are worlds beyond 50% saturation and high levels of noise/grain/chromatic aberration and I welcome a fresh style.


I watched the 15 minutes preview at a IMAX 3D and it was amazing.
The trailer doesn’t do it justice, at all.
I’m pretty sure than within 20 minutes in Pandora you’ll stop caring that it’s all fake.
My brain was so amazed about how incredible the animation was that I accepted the world as real.

This is pretty much the best CGI I’ve ever seen, whenever you’ll like the Na’vi design or not.
The main problem I see is that a lot of hardcore sci/fi fans will be turned off by the cat-like character design, but I think this movie can and will sell big with the kids. That must be why Mattel is making the toys.

Fox really should do another Avatar Day but marketed properly: announcing it on TV, with print ads, etc.


I don’t think so at all. I really think all these companies need to chill a little on the marketing. I’m REALLY looking forward to this movie and it looks great but by the time december comes, people will have such unrealistic expectations of a movie that unless one of these creatures physically shake peoples hands during the movie… people are going to be disappointed. A 15 min preview was absolutely genius from one sense because it gets the word out over how good this movie really is. But at the same times its not good because the movie actually sounds to be as good or better then made out and over the course of the next few months people imagination of what such a movie would look like will be so over the top it will be impossible.

If you look back… was “Titanic”, biggest movie in history at the box office (without inflation) hyped up this much? Video games, toys, movie cups, pop corn containers, 15 min previews, etc etc etc? No. It was more of a movie that snuck up on you. Good solid previews that attracted a few old people and the love story type of crowd and then word got out over how good it is and wham!

Then you look at a movie like King Kong. HUGELY marketed, hyped etc but then how well was the domestic box office in comparison to Titanic???

What I’m trying to say is… there is no better marketing then just the movie itself once people see it. Everything prior (marketing schemes) to that will guarantee a huge opening night but cause alot of people with unrealistic expectations to rip on the movie and not recommending it to there friends. I mean, for crying out loud. Look at what the marketing has done already in this thread? Look how many critiques etc.

Anyways, FX themselves… I love that de-saturated dry look IF it fits into the movie. I love the bullet slow-mo IF it fits into the movie. I love the CG look IF it fits into the movie. I don’t like those FX when they use them just they can or to build a movie around them other then the original matrix or something. So, I expect I won’t be picking apart the CG in this movie as I believe it will end up second-to-none overall… but the acting of these CG characters is what I’m looking forward to seeing :cool:


What I’m the most concerned is that for now this situation looks very similar to Wachowski’s Speed Racer movie. The f/x on that movie were pretty big and advanced but it was a movie dismissed by the audience because of its look.
I’m very afraid that the same thing can happen to Avatar, by looking at the teaser trailer reactions the visual design is turning off a lot of people.

The mainstream film-goers still haven’t heard that much about this movie, it’s mostly a niche audience that is aware of its existence.

What I’m glad is that they have partnered with Panasonic to show clips from the movie at shopping malls all around the world with 3D HDTVs, but I still think they should redo Avatar Day 2 weeks before the premiere to regain momentum and good word-to-mouth comments.

Also, I think we shouldn’t compare this movie with Titanic, even when it was directed by the same guy.
They are not the same thing, not even close.
Avatar will not reach the same audience as Titanic because the last one was considered like a serious epic disaster love story movie and that stuff is more easy to sell than a fantasy original scifi IP.


Well I certainly agree that it won’t reach as big of audience and no-matter what they do I don’t think it will ever be as big as titanic because of that.


I think you might have skipped over some of my post, particularly the positive points about liking the alien worlds and concepts. My first point was that when you’re watching a movie you shouldn’t have to ignore breaks in the suspension of disbelief because of technicalities. That’s like saying the one man animated film portraying Romeo and Juliet through the eyes of seals is genius, because only one guy did it, I commend their work, I however don’t excuse it’s flaws when they could be fixed.

I then noted on the contrast in people’s present experience and the more fantasy like visions of James Cameron’s Avatar, which doesn’t meet the present expectation


I was fortunate enough to see the preview three times in New Zealand, mainly owing to the lack of publicity. The cinemas were only 1/2 full each time… which was nice!

First off, the trailer was underwhelming to me- not because I didnt think the aliens looked good, but because its so awkwardly cut together.

However then I saw the preview, and my enthusiasm was immediately restored. The avatars are inexplicably real. They have weight, dimension, flesh muscles and bone. Its such a powerful combination, all you wanna do is be with these creatures and learn about them. I felt like I was 8 again, experiencing jurassic park for the first time. From the facial twitches to the subtle muscle flinches in their arms, everything is there.

3D is the way to experience this movie. Someone said it best when they said “its like a waking dream”. There are scenes like the forest at night, where you literally feel like your on another planet. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but its how I felt.

I didnt see a single flaw during the previews, but then again I wasnt looking for them. Why would I want to break the illusion? How often are we given the opportunity to experience aliens and an alien planet in such an intimate fashion? While this obviosuly a cg forum, and discussio of cg is the point of the exercise… It annoys me that people cant relent and allow themselves to be taken on a ride. More than anything I treasure those memories as kid when movies were magical, and I always aim to get my mind back to that state. (but then again, this is post 3d screening)


[Note: I’ve only seen the teaser trailer, not the 15 minute 3D IMAX trailer]

What strikes me most watching the trailer is that, despite the detail and photorealism of the images, the underlying design lacks originality and uniqueness. None of the environments, vehicles or creature designs even approach the iconic quality of those seen in 2001, Star Wars, Star Trek, Blade Runner, Independence Day, The Matrix, or even Cameron’s own films, Aliens, The Terminator, and The Abyss.

The spacecraft in the opening adhere slavishly to the NASA model, down to the fonts and the coloration of the reentry vehicles. The attack aircraft looks like an Apache helicopter with an A-10 tail and dual fans instead of a helicopter rotor. I understand that realism was a goal here, as it was with “Aliens”, but this is several hundred years in the future (I expect)- design standards would likely have changed, and some artistic license is warranted. The mechs- well, this is just personal opinion, but I’ve seen hundreds of more interesting, realistic mech designs.

And the aliens are, disappointingly, anthropomorphic to a fault. They’re just tall, thin humans, with blue skin, large eyes, catlike ears and noses, and a tail. Their hands and feet look EXACTLY like ours. With their oversized eyes, they look like Disney characters, only in the flesh. Cat people aren’t exactly the most original idea- see “The Island of Dr. Moreau” by H.G. Wells, “The Man- Kzin Wars” novels by Larry Niven, and the “Thundercats” cartoon,” among hundreds of other examples. The ones in “Avatar” would probably fall into the cliché of “Petting Zoo People”:

If realism is a goal, then why are these creatures so humanoid? It is almost IMPOSSIBLE that evolution could produce something that close to us elsewhere in the universe. And it’s not necessary for narrative- “District 9” manages to make the audience empathize with a giant, walking shrimp- you really only need the eyes to convey human emotion. I understand these creatures are supposed to be beautiful- the aliens in “The Abyss” were beautiful- but not HUMAN beautiful. James Cameron now has the most advanced, revolutionary filmmaking technology at his disposal- he’s spent years talking about how this will let filmmakers create whatever they can imagine- and he gives us aliens that are only SLIGHTLY more different from humans than Klingons are. I am disappointed, to say the least.

For that matter, why does the planet look so much like a terrestrial rainforest? They could create ANY ENVIRONMENT , and they made earthlike trees with green foliage. For any kind of ecosystem to exist there have to be plants to convert solar energy (or geothermal energy) into chemical energy, but they don’t inherently have to be green. There are red and brown algaes on earth - on other planets, they could be any color.


It’s physically impossible (don’t start up with magnetic fields, you don’t know what you’re talking about) and it’s also a cliché.

Also, why would Mech designers leave the pilot’s whole body  unarmored, inside of a glass pod that can be shattered in combat (which we see occurring in the trailer.) Even if you couldn’t come up with a virtual viewport that gives the pilot as much situational awareness as a glass window, you would only leave his head exposed, and armor the rest.

All of that said, I’m still looking forward to “Avatar”. Cameron’s films have always delivered a compelling balance of action and character development, and I look forward to seeing how that plays out, even if I find the visuals disappointing. I just hope he hasn’t pulled a Lucas, spending all his time on the tech, and forgetting all about story and acting.


…one of the environments, vehicles or creature designs even approach the iconic quality of those seen in 2001, Star Wars, Star Trek, Blade Runner, Independence Day, The Matrix, or even Cameron’s own films, Aliens, The Terminator, and The Abyss.

So what? Maybe that wasn’t the idea. Also, why is Independence Day included in that list? That’s just bizarre.


There’s no justification for all-cap sentences either, but…

Sorry BenBolin, your post is pointless. Movies can be plain old entertaining you know- they don’t need to be hyper-real, iconic masterpieces. Yes, the movie was touted as looking real, but aside from that, it’s sci-fi. Just turn off the armchair expert part of your brain and enjoy it.


I’m sorry but that’s just total dis-respect and an unnecissay slap in the face to just about everyone who worked on the film. Save your trash posts for movies.yahoo.com or something.



interesting critiques, BenBolin. while i agree that certain elements of Avatar borrow from other works of fiction, i’m also gonna throw out that there’s no such thing as TRUE originality. picking on how things aren’t original now-a-days is too easy because there’s always going to be something to compare even the most original piece of work to. it all comes down to taste…which is why i can understand when people say they don’t care for the designs of the Na’vi.

i, personally, don’t mind that the Na’vi are humanoid, especially considering that there’s no evidence that aliens AREN’T humanoid. in fact, what we’re lead to believe about REAL aliens (if they exist) points to them having more similarities to us than they do any other animal on our planet. why would evolved/intelligent beings look like a bug/reptile/rodent anyway?

anyway, a lot of your critiques/worries will be laid to rest once the movie comes out. it seems like you’ve made some critiques without knowing the reasons or the full story of why they made the movie the way they did. if you end up watching the movie, i hope you can enjoy it.


To BenBolin-

Saying things like this:
“The spacecraft in the opening adhere slavishly to the NASA model”
“the aliens are, disappointingly, anthropomorphic to a fault”

Surely you acknowledge that the best way to make anything believable is to base it on things that actualy exist? Why WOULDNT the spacecraft look like something NASA created, arent they a space agency? In the context of this movie Id much rather have a ‘practical’ design than some fanciful Star Wars ship like the one which uses SAILS to catch solar winds…
Regarding the Avatars, you realise theyre human/alien hybrids, so yes, they look like people. And yes, the Na’vi themselves do resemble humans strongly. its about making them accesible, since you’ll be spending most of the movie with them. Who cares about the hardcore statistical proabailities of aliens looking like us, its a Sci-fi Fantasy. A truly sci-fi movie which explored these possibilites to logical extremes would appeal to such a niche market of geeks, that it woudlnt have a chance in hell of recovering the cost.

Meanwhile your complaint about how nothing is explained- its a teaser. nothing is ever explained in a teaser, its a bunch of clips to give you the essence of a movie. If you really want to know, there are some answers out there.
You criticise the floating islands. Ok… you say dont use the magentism argument. welll I’m going to, but it provides an explanation. I dont care if its not physically possible, all I care about is that its Justified within the context of the movie. So here it is:
the islands have some naturally occuring room-temperature superconducters in them (dont ask me what that means), and apparently the planet which Pandora orbits is highly magentic… hence the rocks float. You can see this other planet in the shot with the horses running towards that big tree.


Cameron has been playing up the technical feats in 3D of this movie for quite some time now. So much so, I’ve wondered at what expense of a meaningful story. So far I’m getting a jacked-in Matrix vibe so far - except we’re dealing with living creatures.

I think people have a point in questioning technical or design choices made for the movie illustrated in the trailer.
No one should get protective as this production comes with bold claims laid down by Cameron himself. Of course he is getting allot of support but that doesn’t mean everyone must tow that line.

As for myself, I guess I will need to see this Cinematic 3D CG Benchmark movie in the form its meant to be seen in IMAX with 3D glasses. I’ll willingly disconnect my spine from my brain to avoid thinking allot and watch the CG show unfurl. If the story ends up being solid and exceeds the technical goals being paraded, kudos to Cameron because I will not have expected it. Because so far from what little is stated, the premise is a bit anemic.


What’s pointless is insulting people for discussing and criticizing films (and the visual effects they contain) in a forum dedicated to doing exactly that. I know what “plain old entertainment” is- films like “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Star Wars”, “The Terminator”, “Aliens” are all “plain old entertainment.”- Good entertainment combines exciting action with inventive visuals, and compelling characters and situations. It doesn’t require you to “turn off” any part of your brain, because it’s interesting on multiple levels. There’s a quote by movie reviewer James Rocchi that applies here: “I can’t shut my brain off and have fun, anymore than I could rip out my tongue and enjoy a meal, because my brain is where I feel fun.”

Naturally all films aren’t iconic masterpieces, but those are the films we remember. And when a director like James Cameron claims his new film is a revolution in filmmaking, I expect him to live up to that claim.

I don’t demand absolute realism in my entertainment, but I do like a consistent level of realism throughout. In Star Wars, I can accept spaceships that fly like airplanes, and lightsabers and the force, because the tone is established early on- the opening scrawl in fact begins- “Long Long ago…” this is a fairy tale.

But NASA-like spacecraft, floating islands, and uncannily anthropomorphic aliens don’t seem to belong in the same universe with each other.


I am not in any way questioning the talent or abilities of the artists who worked on this film, not even the designers- I’m sure they were working closely with Cameron, and he no doubt had a lot of input, as well as the final say. Any fault in the final design lies with him. As for the execution- it’s as close to flawless as humanly possible.

Plenty of artists do fantastic work on terrible movies. This may turn out to be fantastic work done on a fantastic movie. We shall see.