Avatar …. the beginning, read on ..

Is it the Sifi plot line ? the amazing special effects ? the pace at which it reached $ 1 Billion Dollars ? the technological advancements ? The hype created on the internet ? James Cameron the name ? Whatever maybe the reason, Avatar is definitely going to be the highest grossing moving of all time. I guess you already know that, but the fastest movie franchise to make over $1.3 Billion Dollars has something right, that is making audiences wanting to see it more. And the fact that it is one of the most pirated movies of all times is not making a difference to its collections either. I am not going to do a review of the movie, you can find tonnes of it on the internet.

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Personally, I believe this marks the stand point of the movie industry trying to desperately fight off illegal movie downloads and piracy. You can download the movie but you cannot download the ‘experience’, and thats what its boiling down to. Setting the stage up, were some animated movies that got onto 3D, then came IMAX and now IMAX 3D. 3D technology has existed for a long time, but somewhat sidelined as they wanted to make a version compatible for the home, and also keep down on cost. What followed was that the global piracy causing the movie industry to crash or get there pretty quick. Now the focus of movie makers worldwide is to keep the users away from the homes and get them back into the theaters.

And then out of the ‘blue’ James Cameron works up his average script which is rumored to be 17 years old and unable to materialize as technology did not exist. Don’t know about that one … lol. I say average script cos its very predictable, in face I found this awesome picture bought up by someone on failblog.org, priceless.

Having said that, the visual treat that your eyes is subjected to and the experience that your mind is subjected to is unbelievable. Most friends of mine who saw the movie in 2D did not like it, obviously since the ‘experience’ was missing.

Apart from the technology required to shoot the movie, like the awesome motion capture that brings the characters to life, quite literally, the content of the movie also hid well thought of Science. And of course so, the most expensive movie ever made must have definitely had technology advisors that made most of the decisions regarding the science that the movie would feature. Some examples of this would be :

  • The choice of putting Pandora on a moon in the real Alpha Centauri star system (the closest system to Earth) was neat since scientists are looking at moons for life.
  • Those floating mountains. Many comments expressed disappointment with them, however, it’s not quite as implausible as you may suspect. The filmmakers put thought into this: Superconductors expel magnetic field lines, so the effect could make these mountains levitate like magnets away from the surface. (Details here).
  • Sigourney Weaver’s portrayal of a research scientist was uncharacteristically good. Dr. Grace Augustine conveyed the natural curiosity about the world that you would normally observe in Research Scientists.
  • If gravity on Pandora is less than that on Earth, larger organisms would be supported, like the giant ‘Home Tree’.
  • Pandora’s atmosphere is not breathable to humans. In Star Wars, Star Trek, and just about any other sci-fi film, there are countless planets with human-breathable air, which is not very realistic.
  • The hybrid antimatter/fusion rocket combined with a beam-powered light sail. That’s exactly the sort of complicated trick that real-world engineers would use to reduce fuel and mass constraints on the spacecraft to travel at sub light speeds to other planets.

In fact just to be able to satisfy the blazing questions of all the geeks out there, as well as some critics who just seem to need a reason to bash up something or anything of interest, the movie staff came up with the awesome pandorapedia. An encyclopedia for anything ‘Pandora’ or ‘Avatar’. (More ‘Avatar science’, links at the end)

Like, the 3D hyper realistic holographic image projectors, the 3D Heads Up Displays in the flight control rooms, the title technologies showcasing direct Brain-Machine Communication, or even the AMP (Amplified Mobility Platform) for the humans on ‘Pandora’ are all technologies that are based on more scientific fact than fiction. Looking at some of them :

3D Holographic image projectors : CNN had tried its hands with 3D holographs a while back with its recent election coverage. Granted, the anchors and reporters being videotaped weren’t actually looking at holograms. Instead, they were looking at monitors, and CNN used 44 small, fixed cameras and 20 computers to insert virtual holograms with real-time effects processing. Fake holograms! Wait, that’s kind of redundant, isn’t it?

Brain Machine Communication of the Avatar : Brain Machine Interfaces and Mind Reading by computers is growing ten fold every year. New research in this field is enabling a new genre of applications for the computer check out more details here.

Amplified Mobility Platform (AMP) : Already featured in movies like the Matrix Trilogy and the Iron Man, this seems to be the next form of Personal Military technology that is going to be widely anticipated and made available. Tests on primitive versions of this technology already are under trials under the name of exoskeletons. more on Wikipedia about exoskeletons and powered exoskeletons.

Amino Tanks: Used to harbor the avatar to deliver the required nutrition to survive, this innovation is also being used in various research laboratories for organ regeneration.

There is a lot of resources available for the science of the movie. You can check out some of the links below :

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    • Dolphy
    • January 13th, 2010

    Really nice writeup Melvin……came to know a lot about the movie…BTW i saw the movie in IMAX 3 D it was too good….worth the money !

    • Aron
    • January 16th, 2010

    nice writeup dude!!

  1. Nice information man…!
    Loved it!
    Didnt like the movie that much but yes, d experience was fantastic!

    Best Regards

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