Random thoughts from an unusual company

I had to give up on Avatar 3D after 30 minutes

Tim Davis  19 December 2009 10:38:15
The 3D was very clever, I could see how it was very 'round', for example in the forest when the hero was watching the creepy dog-things slowly stalk him. But the 3D only worked when things were still, or moving slowly. If they moved quickly from left to right, or the camera panned, then all I could see was a series of ghosting flickers. The action scenes, such as when he was being chased by the monster, or being attacked by the dog-things, were just a mess of flickering patterns. It was worse than a torrent. I tried swapping glasses with Gab, but it was the same.

So, unfortunately I had to give up on it. My understanding is that the only point of the film is the 3D (and that certainly seemed to be the case from the little I saw), so I figured I was better off going home and decorating my tree. Gab wasn't bothered, she was already asleep.

Everyone else in the cinema seemed to be happy, so I think it's just me. Gab calls me the Princess, and this was one giant pea.

The annoying thing is I only wanted to watch the movie because everyone is banging on about how revolutionary it is. If you don't see the movie, then you have to spend the next few months listening to people tell what you are missing. We did that for Titanic, eventually gave in and saw it and it was rubbish. We didn't want that to happen again, so we decided to get it out of the way asap. If it turned out to be fairly good (which I expected it to be), then that is a bonus, and if it turned out to be poor then at least we had an answer when told to go see it. Now, of course, we are stuck having not seen it, and so we will have to put up with people saying "Oh, it gets much better in the big battle at the end.", "You missed the best effects", etc, etc.


1Tim Davis  19/12/2009 12:15:06  I had to give up on Avatar 3D after 30 minutes

Someone asked what the reference to the 'pea' was. It is the fairytale "The Princess and the Pea", where only the Princess can feel the pea under several layers of mattresses. Only I seem to be bothered by these video effects. I don't think anyone else either notices or cares. Gab never notices. She just sees me getting fidgety and then I tell her what is bothering me and then it spoils it for her because then she can see it too.

2Carl  19/12/2009 12:50:28  I had to give up on Avatar 3D after 30 minutes

Interesting read...

{ Link }

3  19/12/2009 13:59:18  I had to give up on Avatar 3D after 30 minutes

Ok, now I'm screwed. Obviously the IMAX screen at the BFI Waterloo wasn't configured properly. I should have complained, but then they probably couldn't have fixed it during the show. I guess we have to try and see it again somewhere else. My heart sinks.

4Greg  19/12/2009 21:43:44  I had to give up on Avatar 3D after 30 minutes

I can't see that movie either. All movies with quick cuts and shaky cameras (I'm pointing at you Cloverfield!) make me nauseous.

5Andrew Pollack  20/12/2009 05:19:58  I had to give up on Avatar 3D after 30 minutes

That's a shame, Tim - as I know what a huge fan of James Cameron you are.

My biggest fear in going to see this movie is that, like you, I won't be able to deal with the 3D.

6Tim Davis  21/12/2009 09:28:20  I had to give up on Avatar 3D after 30 minutes


I checked with Sam who was at the same screening and he and his friend had no problem with the 3D. Gab didn't either until I pointed out the ghosting to her. So I guess the 3D is rubbish after all. But only for me.

What this means is I can't watch Avatar, and even worse I can't watch the slew of 3D movies which will be made using this technology over the next few years.

7Sean Cull  22/12/2009 10:02:44  I had to give up on Avatar 3D after 30 minutes

If you have a dominant eye / lazy eye you will get ghosting.

Its the same as the optical puzzles that the opticians use - I can never see the patterns but my children can

I had read that it might be a problem and when I went to the film I couldn't see the 3D effects. The clearest indication is whne the 3D titles appear as two seperate and overlapping lines of text.

My wife got the 3D but didn't think that it was that special


8Rob Novak  12/01/2010 07:02:08  I had to give up on Avatar 3D after 30 minutes

It's actually quite possible that you have developed the ability to view film at life speed. Projectors run through film at 15 frames per second. The human eye can detect anything less than 24 as static images, so a fan blade in the projector cuts the stream of visible light twice per frame - in the middle and on the seam - producing 30 images on the screen, supposedly "not discernable from real live motion" by the human eye. But I can tell - I see more than 24/sec. I was a projectionist in high school and college, and see details in film that are ignored by 99.9% of the public. I'm guessing based on what I know about you that you have developed the same...!

So why do I still go to movies? I can tell myself to relax and enjoy instead of concentrate and get annoyed. And the fact that I see all movies now in a recliner with a drink in hand doesn't hurt!

9Tim Davis  13/01/2010 12:42:30  I had to give up on Avatar 3D after 30 minutes

Thank you Rob. You have made feel much better. No one else ever notices any flaws I notice in movie projections, or low-bandwidth cable broadcasts, or DVDs.

Once we went to see Master and Commander and I had to give up on it about two-thirds through. While I was arguing for our money back, the movie finished and people started wandering out complaining of headaches. One side of the screen had been gradually fading in and out of focus. No one noticed it, but it made their eyes hurt.

I have sometimes wondered what other people see when they look at a movie image. Is it all a blur to them? Can they not see the skin on an actor's face crawling as the compressed image tries to keep up with his expressions? Can they not see waves of shading flow across the background making it look like the walls are breathing?

Gab is starting to notice this stuff. I have broken her.

However, most of the time it really doesn't bother me. I'll happily watch fuzzy cable shows because they are disposable, and usually it is the dialogue that matters anyway, especially in sitcoms or crime dramas.

I was just so disappointed because I love 3D and HD and big immersive screens and all that and what I seemed to get with Avatar was 'bad 3D'.

I'm planning to give Avatar another try, maybe these effects won't be so noticeable on a regular screen rather than IMAX. Also, I will be prepared for them. The 3D was perfect when everyone stood still. I'll just relax and let it all flow over me. It' s what James Cameron would want anyway.