Avatar; a Visual Masterpiece

By: Maddie Turner

This week I decided to focus on a bit of a throwback movie.  Avatar captivated me from the start, and each time I have seen it since, it gets better and better.  The visual effects are unmatched in this film, even today.  The vibrant colors, and realistic mix of graphics and recorded scenes are unlike anything I have seen prior.  The article, “How Pandora Comes Alive: Visual Effects in AVATAR” describes the cutting edge new technology used in the film.  The director, James Cameron, aimed to produce a movie that made the viewer feel as though they were actually on the plant Pandora, where the story takes place.  He accomplished this by through creating stereoscopic cameras and virtual cameras that gave the movie a 3D feeling while also improving the quality of the graphics.  Stereoscopic cameras allow for facial expressions and minute changes in eye movements to be tracked and recorded.  Below is a screen capture showing the main character Jake Sully played by Sam Worthington.  The green dots track movements on Worthington’s face which are then combined with the computer generated character Jake.  It surprised me at first to see how human-like the characters looked, and when seeing the photos side by side, it proves how similar they really look.

Still from YouTube video “Avatar: Motion Capture Mirrors Emotions” (December 2009).

The inclusion of the stereoscopic filmed scenes and vibrant world of Pandora, as well as many colorful, imaginative plants, animals, and landscapes, are a visual masterpiece.  While I enjoyed the film’s plot, what brings me back time after time is to witness the beautiful scenes of Pandora.  Below is the climax of the movie, when the community comes together around the Tree of Souls to pray for the health of a friend.

Still from Avatar (2009)



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10 Responses to Avatar; a Visual Masterpiece

  1. mediaphiles says:

    After Avatar, none of all the other movies can impress me so with their visuals. That’s why I gradually grow a distaste for movies that have nothing to offer other than visual effects. Isn’t Avatar such a movie I should despise? No. I’d like to argue that, contrary to many others’ views, Avatar has an amazing script. The story is emotion-driven from the very start, and grows and expands to an unimaginable scope. It goes deep into character building, offering not only impressive male and female protagonists, but also many and more memorable side characters. It has the confidence to tell a story slowly, a virtue I rarely find in today’s blockbusters. I just love this movie.

    -Kevin Yu

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I agree, this movie is simply captivating and sets a very high standard for visual effects. I am amazed by all the advanced technology used to create these creatures and blown away at what designers are able to create. I am marveled at the imagination of the people behind this movie and their abilities to take these images in their head and make them a reality on screen. The animations of the avatars are impeccable. These creatures have such fluid mobility and emotions that make you swear they are real people. It is hands down one of the most epic science fiction films of all time and deserved all the praise it got in 2009.

  3. mediaphiles says:

    It’s been too long since I’ve seen Avatar, but just like you I absolutely love this film—from the visuals to the narrative. In thinking about special effects and animation, I think your post ties in really well with our discussion on film as art. Far too often, with sensational, heavily animated films like this, we overlook the creative minds who made it all possible.

    -Lydia Geisel

  4. mediaphiles says:

    The visual effects from this movie are absolutely breathtaking. Fortunately, James Cameron is coming out with more sequels and one features scenes from the bottom of the Mariana Trench(that’s crazy)! By far, this movie has set the standard and I do not believe I can think of a movie as visually stunning as Avatar. I also give my praise to the actors, who execute every moment in that film perfectly. I hope to see more films like this in the future. It deserves all the praise that it gets.

    -Shelby Halliman

  5. mediaphiles says:

    You make some really good observations about the visual effects like the similarity between the appearance of real humans and avatars. That screen grab next to the picture of the actor served as really solid proof of just how similar they looked.

    -Max Lissette

  6. mediaphiles says:

    I love how you focused on the visual effects because that’s what made this movie so crazy beautiful. Its also amazing how similar the actor looks to his avatar- I love that! The tree souls scene is just magical. Your post makes me want to watch it again.

    -Kendra Thornotn

  7. mediaphiles says:

    I loved your article of choice for your blog post! So cool! As a film student, I sometimes forget the importance of the technical aspect of everything, such as stereoscopic cameras. The power of the film is how real it feels, even though ironically it is all fake.

    Katherine Naylor

  8. mediaphiles says:

    I loved Avatar when I first saw it, and even the second time I saw it. Maybe it’s just me, because it looks like everyone here is excited for the sequels. I understand that the film did very well and made a massive amount of money, but was a sequel even necessary? This was a great film, but to me (maybe I’m just a cinic) I can’t imagine that anybody would set up 4, count them FOUR, sequels with any intention other than making money. There’s art and beauty to the first Avatar film, but I really can’t get excited about the prospect of a five film saga. Imagine if Titanic had four sequels. For me that’s kinda what I feel now I guess.

    Russell Lawrence

  9. mediaphiles says:

    Avatar captivated me from the start, and each time I have seen it since, it gets better and better. I agree with your statement. I absolutely love this film because of its visual effects are unmatched in this film, even today. The vibrant colors, and realistic mix of graphics and recorded scenes. Knowing how the media production was able to accomplish this task, I am very curious to figure out. It is one of my dreams to be in the movie business.

    – John Armstrong

  10. mediaphiles says:

    I’ve always loved this movie, though it originally was one I was upset about. By no means was it the movie that disappointed me, but rather, my two brothers went to see it in 3D without me. So I never got to see it in theatres or in 3D. Very disappointing. That all being said, this movie was and still remains a great one.

    Michael Cyphers

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