The Daily Flash -Eco, Space, Tech (8/24)
Japan's Solar UFOs

Avatar's Alien Language & Tech Innovations (VIDEO)- Thumbs Up or Down?

James_cameron2 Avatar's new official trailer below gives us first glimpse in stereoscopic 3-D of the alien world dreamed up by James Cameron for his coming sci-fi epic with brief flashes of the strange flora and fauna that inhabit Pandora, the distant moon where the movie’s action unfolds.

The trailer features Pandora’s 10-foot-tall, blue-skinned natives, the Na'vi and the weird other-world creatures that share the planet with them. The key to the film is actor Sam Worthington, who plays wounded ex-Marine Jake Sully, a paraplegic whose mind is linked to a biological blue avatar created to let humans interact with the Na’vi.

Cameron's aliens naturally have their own alien language. Cameron worked with Paul Froemer head of the linguistics department at USC who he was lucky enough to encounter a year earlier. Cameron's goal was to beat Klingon with a more detailed and well thought out language. The Navi language started by riffing off things in the treatment, but from there, it went to constructing sentences and a sound system that was pronounceable by the actors but sounded exotic and not specific to human languages. It was accomplished by mixing fragments of Polynesian and some African languages.

Meanwhile, over at over the weekend the geek chorus has a field date savaging the new Avatar trailer with exquisite language of their own. Here's a sampling:


Posted by: Vexxarr | 08/21/09 | 3:46 pm

I gotta say. I say this trailer both online at Apple and in front of Inglorious Basterds last night and I was VERY disappointed. It just LOOKS like a cutscene from Gears of War or Halo 3. It’s nice… Maybe after District 9 I was just looking fore something grittier. I just felt sad after seeing the trailer and thinking “…that’s it?” I will see the film. I hope I enjoy the film but it shows just how far the visual effects industry overall has improved in the past five years.
Here’s the thing…
Avatar_movie_promo_screenshot George Lucas, James Cameron, Steven Spielberg… are OLD. I’m not saying you cannot create compelling sci-fi, fantasy content when you’re sixty… or ninety. I’m just saying that these guys are making sci-fi for consumers who have been raised their entire lives on INSANE levels of eye candy through television, video games, comics, anime. If you’ve ever seen the off-the-charts excess (itself, a parody) of Final Fantasy, for example, with the ridiculous cloud cities, flying motorcycles, absurd gun-swords, you can see it takes a LOT to engage today’s eye candy-soaked consumers. Every new iteration of Final Fantasy gets more absurd. Bigger collars, more nose/ear/lip rings, wilder emo hair, crazier gun-swords.
Basically, James Cameron’s gee-whiz threshold is a *LOT* lower than mine. He may be impressed and amazed by blue guys on flying dragons, but I’ve seen flying aliens on dragons so damned much, it just doesn’t register.
And whether Cameron knows it, we are living in a post eye candy world. We have absolutely reached the limits of eye candy. No — NO! — James Cameron, NO, Steven Spielberg, NO, George Lucas, putting TEN more dragons or robots on the screen does not “dial it up to 11.” NO, not hundreds more dragons. NO, not thousands. You can keep throwing things on the goddamned screen and try to amaze us with the specs of your rendering farms, but we’ll still yawn.
Blue aliens on dragons? Fuck that. How about a story.
The thing that made the original Terminator such a revelation and a revolution was that it was special effects IN THE SERVICE OF COMPELLING CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT AND FASCINATING NARRATIVE.
We’re reached the point where, YES, you can show ten million alien dragon/ninja/cyborg/vampire/orc in super-duper high def, but they might as well be selling insurance or adult diapers since the story is essentially “LOOK AT ALL THEM DRAGONS!”
This movie looks like Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, which was pretty, but ultimately forgettable.
Not interested.
Posted by: daren_gray | 08/21/09 | 4:22 pm

My previous post can be summed up like this: Cameron is like your granddad who sees Lord of the Rings and says “Apparently, they did that orc thing with computers. That’s neat.”
And you’re like: “Whatever, granddad. Here’s your ensure.”
Posted by: meks | 08/21/09 | 4:27 pm

      In the words of some blog: “Avatar looks like a Jar Jar Binks family reunion”
      Posted by: natsfan | 08/21/09 | 4:41 pm

      Nothing about this looks good.
      Posted by: gapthemind | 08/21/09 | 5:11 pm

      Thank you, daren_gray, for saying what my eye-candy-soaked brain couldn’t articulate.
      Posted by: Blenvid | 08/21/09 | 5:14 pm

      Hmm, lots of negative comments so far. I’ve a relative positive history with Cameron films: Terminator, Aliens, Abyss, even Titanic. While all of them featured the latest greatest special effects the industry could provide, and that was cool, why I liked them ultimately was because of their stories, because of how well the stories were told, and because I came to feel for their characters.

      I think the special effects have gotten so good, that at much of the time now, what we are seeing we don’t realize to be generated. If you haven’t watched the special features of the first Transformers movie, I’d encourage you to do so because there was way more than the Transformers which were generated, and I had no idea. So, while Cameron may have been a special effects director before, I didn’t believe or anticipate that I’d be seeing anything new, because of how well it’s done now.

      What will stand out in this movie, I believe, will be what it always has been in the past with his movies: good stories and good characters. The visuals will just be the means to the end that Cameron has always used before.

      Vexxarr, I agree though, that perhaps he should’ve chosen a color for the aliens other than blue. LOL Still, I’m wondering what the story is.

      Daren_Gray, ultimately I agree with your “IN THE SERVICE OF COMPELLING CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT AND FASCINATING NARRATIVE” and had I seen it earlier, I would’ve just said “what he said.” But I’m not sure if what you’re saying in the visuals area syncs with mine.

      You seem to be saying that in order for him to succeed visually, he’d have to pile on the visuals until it would just blow your mind. Correct me if I’m wrong. I’d rather he use less than more. One of my favorite returning themes in his movies is the loss of excess and exposing of our fragility and strengths, judgement day, the apocalypse, the death of many and the survival of few, and it’s particularly the visuals related to the loss of excess that I find most effective. From the looks of the preview I’m not sure that we can say he’s learned this can apply visually as well as thematically. I wish that wasn’t the case.

      Here’s hoping the story and characters have something to offer us. Maybe the next preview will be more than just the unveiling of the scenery.
      Posted by: therantguy | 08/21/09 | 5:25 pm

      Looks solid…but certainly not revolutionary…was actually a little disappointed with the hype vs reality…
      Posted by: wiredmdreader | 08/21/09 | 5:25 pm

      Looks pretty bad. I actually can’t believe what I’m seeing. This is the overhyped Avatar? Pitiful. This show is going tank badly at the movies in the vein of Waterworld.
Posted by: Armada | 08/21/09 | 5:51 pm

First, I’ll identify myself as a proud GenXr. Second, I’ll say that there are WAY to many apathetic, non-imaginative, jaded people posting comments these days, some of which apparently posted here. Don’t judge the film till you’ve seen it. If its not for you, why post about it?

Third, I am looking forward to the story on this. I’m really, really, hoping for a compelling story, despite the eye candy. I’m of the generation that’s been disappointed by recent “lightsaber-ey” movies in terms of story

C’mon Cameron. I’m rooting for you.
Posted by: corsair | 08/21/09 | 5:54 pm

is this a WoW movie?

Posted by: JBob | 08/21/09 | 5:55 pm

I know most people think that James is one of the old geriatric directors, but lets face facts, he’s created some of the most memorable movies of the past 30 years. T1 & 2 still beat the snot out of 3 & 4, same goes for Aliens 1 & 2, all the rest pretty much bite it. Titanic, biggest grossing movie of all time, and he reached the audience that most people didn’t give a crap about.. can you say female? If I remember correctly wasn’t it T2 that ushered in the 3D animation craze that’s now standard in almost every major movie since? The only one I can think of that predates it would be TRON.

I do find it ironic how people can snub a movie that’s been in the works for nearly a decade after a 2 minute clip with no dialogue, show’s the relative shallowness of today’s youth.. instant grat, little substance.
Posted by: cyberbully | 08/21/09 | 5:58 pm

Watching the trailer after reading the comments, I was surprised that it was not nearly as Jar Jar Binks bad as I expected. The trailer is not the film, people. Trailers are cut to big and exciting. Even through the explosions, I can see slivers of the story about alienized humans going undercover, but falling in love with hot-hot babe aliens.
Posted by: KYL | 08/21/09 | 8:27 pm

What the heck. why do you guys already hate the movie that hasn’t even come out yet? I mean, it is just obvious that you guys are pouring out your own opinions about how it is going to be and all that, but it is just a snippet of only two minutes from the whole movie. The way I see it, I think, it looks pretty astounding, though for some I feel a little disappointed in a way, due to the overhype anticipation and stuff. Other than that, I believe Cameron wouldn’t have thrown all the fantastical special effects into one whole crammed up sauce of its screen. I could totally see certain bizarre and alienlike movie experience that might turn this movie into another golden gem like any other top sci-fi films. However, I kind of stand dubious to wonder how great the graphic or animation is going to look like, representing all the alien milieus of Pandora planet and its indigenous people(blue aliens). And for the issue of their skin color as blue, I think it is a good choice to represent its alien mood as a subtlety for rousing somewhat uncanny emotion, and yet eliciting a sort of peaceful sense to it. But to me, I find the blue color rather close to such alien beings, if there are any that is.
Posted by: calcanuck | 08/21/09 | 10:41 pm

My first reaction was “meh - whatever”. But, I think everyone is forgetting that when the actual movie comes out it will be using some new 3D technology that’s supposedly amazing. If that is the case then maybe these visuals will be cranked up to 11 and if the story and characters are solid it could be really amazing. Guess I’m more a wait and see kind of guy.
Posted by: superonion | 08/21/09 | 11:11 pm

Irony of ironies, people are now dismissing movies because they have amazing visuals. Honestly, good looking movies still can have good story lines, you haven’t seen this, so stop being so obnoxiously jaded.
Posted by: voodoowhammy | 08/21/09 | 11:55 pm

Ok, I went and actually saw the 16 minute preview today in Imax and 3D. For those of you who are judging the movie by a trailer, don’t. The movements and detail are AWESOME. The 3D is amazing. The 3D tech is great as there are scenes of “real life” that go back at least fifteen layers. You get chills watching it and the last time I remember that feeling of awe in a movie theater was when Sam Neil stared at “real” dinosaurs in the original Jurassic Park. The only gripe I have is that they released all of this CG into the first trailer and in no way does it do it justice. This is not the opening sequence of World of Warcraft… this is something revolutionary.
Posted by: TechnoTrousers | 08/22/09 | 12:02 am

I have a somewhat unique perspective on this. I initially watched the trailer yesterday, and, like many of you, thought that it looked kind of cheesy and very fake on the small screen. However, I just got back from the Avatar “preview experience” where they showed 15 minutes of select scenes from the first half of the movie in IMAX 3D. Seeing the effects in context, and especially in 3D, lends a completely different feel than the trailer. I understand much better now what Cameron’s been talking about for the last couple of years regarding his new 3D process. It just adds that extra level of immersion to help the audience truly break through the fourth wall. It’s hard to describe the effect, other than to say that these fantastical, cartoony colors and creatures somehow “felt” alive, rather than computer animated. And based on the level of dialog and emotion in the scenes I saw, you can forget about any comparisons to the Star Wars Prequel abominations. I have no doubt that the overall story will not disappoint.
Posted by: RelativelyFast | 08/22/09 | 2:12 am

Not a new idea in the film.

Formula plot - Hallmark Channel would be proud
Formula aliens - why, if you are going CG, would you make the aliens anthropomorphic? Marketing! Exactly.
Cameron foned this one in. It’s all about toys and inevitable FPS game.
 Too bad, the concept [using a remotely operated biological entity to interact with another sentient being] is interesting. Too bad it steps off that train right into wad of bubblegum. If they can put the hero into the body of a big blue being (BBB), why can’t they fix his disability? There are so many great sci fi ideas out there - this is an embarrassment.

Cool, huh? What's Your Take?



I'd have rather seen Stephen Hawking being in his wheel-chair and giving the chance to run and jump around and bang a hot Na'Vi chick.

I'll probably see it to experience the 3D visuals, but I am dreading the story. From what Cameron has said, it's basically Dances with Wolves in space. Yet another parable of the sins of america, the evil military industrial complex, and the "wisdom" of primitive peoples. Whatever dude. Yawn.

I look forward to change, This trailer looks typical as a violent, empty, dollar oriented American rip-off, Avatar has the opportunity to bring positive change.

Always Allow

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