Leasing Avatar’s digital assets of Pandora for Climate Change education.

By: Clyde DeSouza

Digital Assests of Pandora the planet from the movie Avatar - (c) Multiverse.net

Digital Assests of Pandora the planet from the movie Avatar - (c) Multiverse.net

Avatar, Pandora and Earth Day 2010:

Today, April 22nd 2010 is Earth Day. It is of increasing significance that we pay attention to the warnings and signals from our planet, many of which we have been ignoring. The recent closure of almost all of Europe has shown what can happen when Nature decides to go one up on us.

A movie when well-done and having a subtle but thought provoking underlying message is a great way to galvanize us towards getting our act together. There is no doubt that in hind-sight after leaving a Cinema from a viewing of Avatar, the sense of immersion that the powerful visuals combined with 3D and the story’ message, impresses on our minds how it’s sad to destroy life and a beautiful planet… simply because we can.

This article looks at how a movie such as Avatar, along with it’s “digital assets” could go a long way and help educate the younger generation in saving our planet – Earth.

Real-time Digital Worlds - Full Dome movies heighten the sense of Audience immersion. Image (c) Planetjeff.net

Real-time Digital Worlds - Full Dome movies heighten the sense of Audience immersion. Image (c) Planetjeff.net

What are Digital Assets?:

Digital Assets in context to this article, are 3D Computer models (CGI), digital sketches and other elements such as video clips and animations done by artists, that go into making modern movies.  Digital assets are increasingly becoming more complex, and sometimes include ultra realistic digital “copies” of real world architecture, people and fantasy places. In reality they are all computer data that reside on Hard-disk or some form of computer data storage, that when used in 3D programs get “rendered” into visually impressive imagery that we see in movies.

Computer technology and hardware is getting more powerful, cheaper and faster by the day. Today it is completely possible to render entire “worlds” in real-time, with a good amount of photo realism that just a few years ago needed hours if not days to render on very expensive equipment. Super computers that cost less than US$10,000 and sit on a desktop, can today do that in real-time!

Virtual Life and “What if Scenarios”:

  • What if… we had all the digital assets of the Pandora world, and rendered it on suitably powerful hardware, thus allowing real-time navigation of this fantasy planet?
  • What if… we went one step ahead, and inserted some Artificial Logic, or “rules” into this real time world, rules that are computer code as seen in “Simulation” games from the common face-book apps such as Farmville to more sophisticated rules that scientists and environment experts use to model real-world climate change in scientific simulations?

We would then be able to come up with multiple scenarios that show the disastrous effects that Human error and deliberate judgment have on an eco-system, in a manner that WILL matter to people. After watching a movie such as Avatar, it leaves the mind wanting to explore the fantasy world more.

It does not become a boring lesson in social morality, but an experience that will leave a lasting impression on the audience, or a study group of young students participating with a teacher in an immersive environment.

Leasing out Avatar’s Digital Assets for Immersive Education:

The video above shows real-time navigation of a game like world, which can be in Stereoscopic 3D (using 3D glasses). The sense of immersion and suspension of dis-belief ranks very high in such an environment. If Blockbuster movies such as Avatar were to lease out their entire Digital Asset Library for educative purposes, a complete Pandora world with rules of Nature could make for interesting case-studies that Teachers and students could get involved in, away from the confines of a classroom, and in an environment that stimulates their minds so as to hopefully drive the message home.

Socio – Political lessons via Real Time Movies:

Avatar, a movie with a message - A better tomorrow for all.

Avatar, a movie with a message - A better tomorrow for all. Image (c) L.A Times

Movies such as Avatar with the tranquil world of Pandora, can send very strong messages and ironically, reflect situations that are of concern in the real world. The image above was taken from a very insightful post on this blog, of an interview with James Cameron, the maker of the movie itself.

We can already use Game Engines for immersive environments called CAVES or for full dome projections in real time. One such example is based on the Unreal Tournament game engine: UTCAVE 2004. When combined with Digital Assets from such powerful movies, going to the Cinema can be an entertaining and educative experience for our future adults, as well as opening the minds of today’s hardened and jaded adults.