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An Explore3DTV Guest Editorial by Nick Constable, 3D Imaging Consultant
This review focuses on the stereoscopic experience of "Avatar" on Blu-ray 3D. I won't waste any time on a story review because there are a lot out there and most of you have already seen the movie anyway.
I recently received the Panasonic exclusive copy of "Avatar" on Blu-ray 3D via a promotion that offered a mail in rebate with the purchase of a Panasonic Blu-ray 3D player. This particular Panasonic promotion ends March 26th, 2011.
A few weeks before I received my copy, a veteran Hollywood Stereographer and close friend mentioned that he noticed the stereoscopic 3D was much deeper on the Blu-ray 3D version of "Avatar" compared to any theatrical version he has seen. After viewing the Blu-ray 3D, I was astonished by the difference as well.
Both live-action and CG scenes offer much more depth than ever before and actors are now fully rounded with this Blu-ray 3D version. Another plus is that the original 1.78 : 1 (16:9) aspect ratio was used for the Blu-ray 3D as opposed to the cropped 2.35 : 1 aspect which was used widely for digital 3D theaters other than IMAX. So none of the picture is missing or cropped out on the Blu-ray 3D, allowing the complete picture to fill the 3DTV screen, which is always best for 3D viewing.
By far, the Blu-ray 3D version of "Avatar" truly immerses us into the world of Pandora like never before. The 3D now works as a better enhancement to the story itself, which opens up a few questions, theories and speculation.
Some believe when a 3D movie is shown on a smaller screen (compared to a movie theater) that the 3D automatically becomes stronger and deeper because of screen distances. This can somewhat be true if they were sitting too close or too far to the side of the screen in the theater and then viewed the same movie at the correct distance with a 3DTV; however this does not explain the better roundness and extreme depth differences noticed on the "Avatar" Blu-ray 3D. Also, even with great picture settings, most 3DTV's (including mine) do not allow for stereoscopic adjustments to the 3D itself when an official Blu-ray 3D disc is being played.
My conclusion is that this version of "Avatar" on Blu-ray 3D is a different stereoscopic convergence rendering other than what was presented in theaters. Whether it was purposely re-rendered for Blu-ray 3D or a maybe a previous render decided to be too strong for a wide theatrical release, I don't really know. I haven't received any comment from Panasonic or PHL regarding this as of yet.
By far, "Avatar" on Blu-ray 3D is the best version yet. I can now say that I have two Blu-ray 3D discs in my collection that have great depth and roundness; Avatar and the adult movie, "Erotek Dimensions 3D" (although Erotek has actual out-of-screen effects).
The Avatar Blu-ray 3D disc offers 2D and 3D playing modes, several language options with menus in 3D. Panasonic also offers James Cameron's Viera 3DTV picture settings for Avatar on Blu-ray 3D however, I'm not a fan of higher frame rate effects in dramatic works (as mentioned in a previous interview) so I used my own custom settings.
Viewing distance from screen: Approx 15 ft.