There have been so many versions of Avatar released into the market it’s hard to count them all. But this latest edition is especially sweet. Why? Because it includes the 3D version of the highest grossing flick! The only way to get it (for now) is to purchase a Panasonic VIERA 3DTV. When you pick up a Panny set you can also get the “Panasonic 3D Full HD Ultimate Pack” which includes Avatar in 3D on Blu-ray and two pairs of rechargeable Panasonic 3D glasses. If you happen to have purchased a VIERA 3DTV between between March 10 and November 30 you are eligible to receive a copy of Avatar in 3D via a mail-in request program (hope you saved the receipt!). So if you’re in the market for a new HDTV, you should definitely consider a VIERA 3D set because you will be able to watch Avatar on it the way it was meant to be seen. Expect the Panasonic-Avatar in 3D exclusivity to end and a standalone release in 2011. Full PR after the break.
On October 28 Tron fans were treated to an early glimpse into the upcoming Disney movie Tron: Legacy. Across the world select IMAX 3D theatres hosted TRON NIGHT, “a free exclusive 20+ minute sneak peek” of the movie. I attended the special screening tonight, and here is a summary interjected with my impressions.
When I got to the theatre about an hour before the 7PM screening, there was already a small line forming. While movie-goers waited on line we were handed Tron swag including promotional material about the size of a postcard; one is an image of Daft Punk in costume promoting the upcoming Tron soundtrack and the other is an image of a Tron program character and on the other side a promotion for an Asus laptop (they sponsored the event). We were also required to check-in and wear a bracelet with the TRON NIGHT logo on it. Don’t think I’ll be taking that off any time soon. Before entering the IMAX 3D theatre, we were forced to leave our cell phones behind (for obvious reasons) and a security officer quickly scanned our bodies with a wand to make sure we weren’t harboring any electronic devices. Crazy, right? After receiving a pair of 3D glasses, we entered the theatre and took our (perfect!) seats.
A minute before showtime the event coordinator welcomed everyone to the screening and implored us to share our excitement for Tron: Legacy with friends and on the Internet (what do you think I’m doing right now?). The lights went dim and we were presented with a brief message from the movie’s director Joseph Kosinski. In a typed note, he told us that the scenes we were about to see take place in the first half of the movie and that it is OK to wear the 3D glasses during the 2D scenes. Just in case you are not aware of this, the “real world” scenes were shot in 2D and the “Tron universe” scenes are in 3D. After this brief introduction the sneak preview started right away (that’s right–no trailers). The 23 minutes of (not entirely) never-before-seen footage was split into five scenes. I will detail them as best I can below.
Scene 20: Sam’s Garage- This first scene was set in the “real world”, so it was shot in 2D but still looked brilliant with 3D glasses on (as the director promised it would). The scene takes place in Sam Flynn’s (Garrett Hedlund) garage. You’d recognize this scene from the trailer. In it Sam and Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) engage in conversation and Alan tells Sam that he received a page from Flynn’s arcade. Alan: “These are the keys to the arcade. I haven’t gone over there yet. I thought you should be the one.” Sam: “Alan, you’re acting like I’m gonna find him sitting there working. Just, ‘hey kiddo, lost track of time.’” These lines are in the trailer, you’re starting to remember now.
This next part is included in Scene 20, but it sure felt like an entirely new setting as it took place elsewhere. It cuts from Sam’s garage to the vacant and dusty Flynn’s Arcade. Sam decided to take Alan’s advice and check out where the mysterious page could have come from. Sam finds the circuit breaker and turns on the building’s power. All of the arcade games light up and make so much noise. On top of this Jouney’s “Separate Ways” plays loudly from the arcade’s sound system. Sam looks at the dusty old Tron arcade machine and decides to play a round. He inserts a quarter but it falls to the ground. He is curious about a precise crack in the floor and manages to move the Tron machine to reveal a hidden passageway behind it. Inside he finds a door with a key occupied in its hole and he enters a room. It appears to be his father’s secret office where he stored a certain computer. Sam looks around the room and we are shown images of a young Sam with his now-missing father and a blueprint labeled “Grid.” Sam sits down at the touchscreen computer desk, wipes a thick layer of dust off it, and it turns on from standby mode. He begins to type away but has no luck accessing the system since he doesn’t know the login information. “Let’s try the back door,” he whispers to himself. All of a sudden, a large laser projector-like machine turns on behind him. It emits this whirring sound and suddenly a bright white light flashes and the scene ends. (Click here for more…)
Emily Blunt, James McAvoy, and Michael Caine lend their voices to this upcoming retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The 3D flick will feature original music from the talented Elton John. Too cute to pass up now ain’t it? It opens wide February 11.
Early this week it was reported that George Lucas is very much interested in rereleasing all six Star Wars films in 3D. For years Lucas publically denounced 3D technology in film. According to various sources it was James Cameron’s Avatar that brough him over to the stereoscopic side. Here’s the plan. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace will undergo the 3D conversion process first, which takes at least one year to complete, with a planned release date in early 2012. The remaining five films will follow suit over the course of consecutive years. Why the long wait? Purportedly Lucas has been waiting for the 3D front to explode, both in cinema and at home. Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic special FX company will oversee the 3D conversion, and 20th Century Fox is backing the rereleases.
Though 3D converted films have been panned in the past (I’m thinking about you, Clash of the Titans), as compared to movies shot in 3D (like Avatar), the Lucas and the conversion house promise to deliver a worthy 3D experience come 2012. “Getting good results on a stereo conversion is a matter of taking the time and getting it right,” says John Knoll, ILM visual effects supervisor. “It takes a critical and artistic eye along with an incredible attention to detail to be successful. It is not something that you can rush if you want to expect good results. For Star Wars we will take our time, applying everything we know both aesthetically and technically to bring audiences a fantastic new Star Wars experience.” We shall see. Are you an impacient Star Wars fanboy/girl? Don’t forget that the franchise is coming to Blu-ray next year. Or you can get yourself a Star Wars branded Droid R2-D2 smartphone. Go nuts!
Yesterday PlayStation 3 system software update version 3.50 started to roll out to PS3 users, bringing with it 3D Blu-ray playback support. Way back in February SCEA’s John Koller announced that the PS3 would receive 3D gaming and movies support. It took four months to make good on the 3D gaming promise, and a bit longer to unleash 3D Blu-ray support. Now that it’s here, fire up your PS3 and search for the new firmware update in the settings menu. Remember, you need a 3D-compatible TV for the full effect (for any effect, for that matter). In addition to 3D movie playback, version 3.5o also brings better Facebook integration and a new greif reporting function.
Light painting meets stop motion in this creative video designed by BERG and Denstsu London. Using only a camera and multiple iPads, the team was able to capture illuminated 3D typography in real space. I could blab about how they used multiple long exposures to create the awesome effect, but you should really just watch the video embedded above to see the final product and learn exactly how it was done.
Here’s what you need to know. James Cameron’s epic Avatar is coming to back to theatres for a limited two week run from August 27 to September 10. It will only be shown in IMAX 3D theatres and will include “eight minutes of additional, never before seen footage.” So, if you haven’t seen the highest grossing movie of all time yet this is your chance to catch it the way it was meant to be seen–in IMAX 3D. And if you have seen the movie and enjoyed it the first time around, you might be interested in kicking back a second time to catch the new bits of footage. The movie looks fantastic in IMAX 3D because it was shot for that particular medium. If you purchased the movie on DVD or Blu-ray and haven’t see it yet, hold off on that until you’ve seen it in 3D. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am revealed in an interview with Vibe that the eccelctic group will be filming a movie in 3D with Avatar director James Cameron at the helm. According to Will the movie will follow the band on tour across the world and it will have a storyline that he describes as “dope.” He humbly says, “We have the biggest director, because we are the biggest group on the planet.” Cameron has yet to comment on the project. It’s slated to release sometime early next year. Having seen the U2 in 3D movie back in 2008, I can say I’m stoked to see what Cameron and the Peas can put together. I was highly impressed with the U2 movie (it introduced a sense of realism and coupled with the impressive surround sound it felt like you were in the crowd). Cameron is the 3D king right now, and the Peas are constantly pushing the envelope with sound and visuals. If anyone’s going to make a 3D film based on a current band, these are the players to make it happen.
After a flurry of rumors Nintendo finally revealed its next handheld to the world with the 3DS. Its overall design does not depart from its predecessor the DSi. There are two screens; the top is 3D-capable (widescreen 3.5 inches), the bottom is touch-sensitive. No glasses required! Button and camera positioning remains almost the same. New additions include a home button, a Slide Pad (it’s an analog nub), a 3D Depth Slider that allows you to control the 3D effect from 100% to totally off, and a third camera positioned next to the one on the front allowing for 3D picture-taking. It also packs an accelerometer and gyroscope. All in all the 3D effect was quite pleasing and added a new sense of depth to the demonstrations and trailers. It definitely takes a couple minutes to adjust your eyes to the screen but once that’s done the depth perception becomes a welcome addition to gameplay. Your initial reaction will be “woah, this is neat.” It’s worthy to note that there is a 3D boundary when you’re holding the device in your hands. If you tilt the 3DS ever so slightly or try to have someone else watch what you’re doing from a slight angle the 3D effect gets completely distorted and essentially disappears. As for the analog nub, it feels and works similar to the PSP’s nub and will likely make for some new interesting control schemes for 3DS titles.
Speaking of games, the 3DS section of the Nintendo booth did include a couple playable games but they were extremely barebones and there only to give people a glimpse into the 3D effect. Samurai Warriors 3D had me fighting off an incoming army of ninjas. Thought the 3D effect was there, the gameplay was rather stale and did not make for such a great experience. On the other hand, StarFox 3D brought a sense of nostalgia over me and I quickly became immersed in the playable demo as I took flight in the skies and shot lasers at enemy planes. A vast amount of 3DS handhelds were loaded with 3D environments that you could only explore by manipulating the camera angle with the nub. Resident Evil Revelations cutscenes look fantastic in stereoscopic vision. All in all, the 3DS is an impressive piece of hardware and I’m excited to see how Nintendo continues to build on the platform as we near its release in 2011. 3D is starting to become a trend in the movie industry and now in video games thanks to the PS3 and 3DS. It’ll be interesting to watch the competing companies vie for the top spot with one bridging the gap between 2D and 3D gaming with glasses and the other doing it without them.
The Sony press conference took place at the Shrine Auditorium. And I was there! So please continue on, will you?
3D gaming is all the rage in Sony’s world, and so all distinguished guests of their press conference received 3D glasses. After humorously jabbing Microsoft and their poncho-required Cirque event from the other day, President & CEO of PlayStation Jack Tretton invited Kazuo Hirai to start things off with a gorgeous demo of Killzone 3 in 3D. Though 3D gaming might sound like a gimmick to many of you, listen here: 3D adds a great sense of depth to the game and likely become an integral part of video games. Parts of the gameplay featured the use of jetpacks; during these scenes I felt like I was at a Universal Studios theme park ride, fully immersed in an exciting, different world. In another scene we were taken to the skies via a helicopter and watched a gunman fire at enemies down below. At one point I asked myself if I was witnessing a video game demo or a scene from Avatar. Yeah, it was that good. The 2-part demonstration elicited many oos and ahhs from the crowd. I might have been the loudest. In short, 3D added a tremendous amount of excitement to Killzone; after a few seconds of adjusting to the depth perception any distractions that might have existed disappeared. Killzone 3 from Guerrilla Games drops February 2011 and will be compatible with Sony’s motion controller called Move. 20 games will be made available in 3D for the PS3 by the end of this year. Sony promises 20 additional titles will be created natively in 3D by March 2011, some of which include Crysis 2, Mortal Kombat, Shaun White Skatebording, Ghost Recon Future Soldier, EyePet, Tron: Evolution, MLB 2K11, NBA 2K11, Motorstorm Apocalypse, Gran Turismo 5, and a Sly Cooper collection. A short montage of 3D video and gameplay rounded out the first section of the conference; let’s just say fatalities look fantastic and baseball players throwing balls at you is a bit scary in three dimensions.
It’s been a long time coming but it’s finally here: 3D gaming on Playstation 3. Four games will get the stereoscopic 3D treatment and they are WipEout HD, SuperStardust HD, PAIN, and a demo of MotorStorm: Pacific Rift. Not to far in the distance is The Fight: Lights Out, another 3D-supported game that will take advantage of Playstation Move motion controls. Thanks to a firmware update in April, your PS3 should be ready to play these 3D offerings. Besides installing the lastest update, all that’s required to run these games is a 3D TV. And wouldn’t you know, Sony just announced a slew of 3D-capable BRAVIA sets that come packaged with a Playstation Network voucher to download these four games at no additional cost.
Researchers at MIT have discovered the key to gesture-based computer (a la Minority Report): a multicolored Lycra glove that costs about $1 to manufacture. The glove is covered with 20 irregularly shaped patches that use 10 different colors that are all picked up by a standard webcam. Using a ”new algorithm for rapidly looking up visual data in a database” the glove can be used to “gauge hand position in three dimensions — including the flexing of individual fingers — as well as a possible application in mechanical engineering.” Love it.
Back in the ’50s Hef assigned a photographer to shoot two nude women in 3D; but since it was so expensive to include the 3D glasses at the time the idea was scrapped. Come this June, however, Hef’s dream will finally become a reality. The June edition of Playboy will hit newsstands bundled with a new surprise: 3D glasses! Playboy founder Hugh Hefner: “What would people most like to see in 3-D? Probably a naked lady.” Centerfold Hope Dworaczyk will pop out to readers using the packaged anaglyph (blue-and-red) 3D shades. Says Dworaczyk, “It’s kind of like it says on the rearview mirror. Things may appear larger.” From having Marge Simpson as a centerfold to making the centerfold come off the page in 3D, Playboy is trying its darndest to stay relevent and different. Circulation of Hef’s magazine has decreased from 3.5 million in 2006 to 1.5 million today. Though I can’t imagine the addition of 3D in Playboy help sales, it surely will be a treat for long-time subscribers.
Researchers at the University of Tokyo have created an advanced motion-tracking camera that is designed to attach to a mobile device like a cell phone. It allows for “in-air typing” or Project Natal-style gestures to type out text messages or emails by detecting finger movement. The demo above shows how something like this could replace a physical and touch (virtual) keyboard on mobile devices.
Thanks to state of the art 3D technology, classic pieces of art can now be analyzed to reveal what’s been hiding behind them for so many years.
Here’s a music video that incorporates 3D effects, and you can enjoy it without wearing those pesky glasses. LaughingSquid explains how it’s done: “Known as wiggle stereoscopy, the technique works by rapidly alternating between images shot from two cameras, slightly offset from one another.” Though the effect is certainly visible, the jittery movements of the camera make for a rather unpleasant experience. But it’s great to see artists taking fun creative risks!
I’m going on a hunch here and assuming you’ve seen Avatar in theatres. I mean, $737 million in domestic ticket sales doesn’t just spring out of no where. And I bet you can’t wait to get your mits on your own copy. Avatar is set to release on DVD and Blu-Ray on April 22 to coincide with Earth Day (how cute). The April DVD/Blu-Ray release will not include any bonus features. That means no deleted scenes, no behind-the-scenes featurettes, no nothing. Why, you ask? “Sources at Fox said the April disc will come without extra features so that all available storage space can be used for the best picture and sound possible.” So where’s all the extra features then? Apparently they will be packed into a second release (dubbed “The Ultimate Edition”) of the DVD/Blu-Ray packages in November. And what about the 3D version of the movie; when can we watch it at home the way it’s meant to be seen? That won’t come until sometime in 2011. Consumers likely won’t have 3D TVs to play it on until then anyway. So your safest bet is to wait until November to snag all the extras and play the rest by hear; who knows how fast 3D tech in the home will catch on.
Update: Sorry 3D fans, this update does not push forward the Avatar in 3D release. But it does fix the no bonus features ’til November fiasco. A fresh press release reveals The Avatar Program: “Connecting the two releases in April and November is “The Avatar Program,” an interactive consumer experience that offers an online hub for exclusive content, discounts and more.” The Avatar DVD/Blu-Ray release on April 22 will come with a unique code that can be used to access bonus features online and adopt a “virtual hometree.” Full PR after the break.
Hot off the heels of creating the most financially successful movie of all time, visionary director James Cameron plans to splay his 3D tech on top of the (now) second highest grossing movie, his Titantic. Says Cameron: “We’re targeting spring of 2012 for the release, which is the 100 year anniversary of the sailing of the ship.” Can you imagine re-watching the sinking of the ship and all those dead bodies floating in the bloody sea in 3D? I know I can’t.
Finally, the Nintendo DSi’s camera is being put to exciting use. An upcoming Japanese-only game called Rittai Kakushi e Attakoreda will utilize the DSi’s (inner) camera and motion tracking software to follow your eyes and create a 3D illusion that you are looking behind or in front of certain objects in the virtual world. The tech being used here is not so different from Johnny Chung Lee’s Wii head-tracking experiments. Watch the demo above and it’ll all make sense. Magical, isn’t it?
Yeah it’s around seven minutes long, but if you are even slightly interested in 3D TVs and the forthcoming slew of them entering the market this year it’s worth a viewing. In the video preview a Samsung rep details the Samsung C7000 LED TV, giving us an early peek into the brand new 3D tech that’s embedded inside. There’s SD/HD modes, a 3D mode (duh), a 2D to 3D converter, a sleek remote, and the sporty 3D shades. Man I wish I had a British accent.