Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Avatar - The Movie (in 3D) 

I'm not a huge fan of Hollywood, but there are some strong movies out there this season, and this is probably the one you want to see first.

Computer technology has just reached another landmark turning point. Rendered reality in 3D that is seamless and believable. Once again in our life times we experience an epic event. Of course as entertainment it is now wonderfully exciting to contemplate what is possible. The Avatar story line - the American Indians plight transplanted 6 light years away to another solar system - is a familar one, although the Rambo Marine Corp veteran thing was a little passe. Hopefully by the time we really do have the technology portrayed in the movie we do not have to rely on grunts and high explosives to carry the day.

Sometimes the physics was a bit flakey or inconsistent but overall Avatar gets high marks for entertainment, exilaration, pace and believable story line. And it is a super cool triumph of technology with a story book Disney ending! What is not to like?

At least we are spared the omnipresent 32 piece orchestra that travels everywhere in Disney movies, dah, dah, dah, da. Sounds effects though are totally immersive as well. Ten years from now we will be looking back and mark how Avatar launched the next generation of movie

Looking back just thirty years and I see the first computers that did not even have a display screen, just teletype writers with paper roll as output. I remember writing BASIC programs that simulated moon landings and underwater scuba warfare using asterix, dashes and slash characters printed out as maps on the teletype paper roll. Then writing assembler routines to write characters and lines bit by bit in 8x8 grids on the first display monitors by direct access to the display RAM and writing in between the 60Hz refresh rate of the TV line scan. Then the thrill of using a graphics library in Turbo Pascal to draw charts, and working on simulations with a high end graphics workstation from Silicon Graphics. Now the average gaming PC has
way more power than available ten years ago on $50,000 SG boxes, and of course the Sony PS/3 epitomizes that.

We've come a long way in thirty years!

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