Is Avatar: The Last Airbender really coming to Blu-Ray at last? It sure is! The big question is….is it a true HD conversion or just an upscale?
Many consider Nickelodeon’s landmark series one of the greatest cartoons ever made, and it has certainly deserved the royal treatment for quite some time. The series has remained in print to this day, but only in DVD form. Was it possible to truly remaster this show in HD resolution?
If the series was shot on film, like most cartoons in the 20th century, an HD remaster would be easy. But the early-to-mid 2000s were full of digital cartoons produced exclusively in 480i, and they tend to not look very good when displayed on an HD set….observe the visual transition every December when Charlie Brown Christmas changes into Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales. Yuck.
The good news is that we have something to go on: an allegedly HD version of A:TLA was published on iTunes last year. And from comparison shots, we can safely say there’s more going on than just an upconversion. The show was not originally mastered in HD, but we’re guessing enough raw materials existed that they could plug it all back into the computer and make it that way. You can now see the grain in the painted backgrounds (background paintings, at the time, were not digital and had to be scanned).
There is no official word from Nick, but as far as our eyes can tell, this is a true HD conversion. All the DVD bonus features will also be ported to the Blu, save one:
- Audio Commentary on Selected Episodes with Creator, Cast & Crew
- Behind the Scenes: Kung Fu Featurette
- The Making of Avatar: From Real Life to Animation
- Behind the Scenes: The Voices of Avatar
- Featurette: Ask the Creators
- Original Uncut Anamatic – (25 minutes of animated raw sketches from episode #15)
- Behind the Scenes with the Avatar Cast & Crew
- Avatar Pilot Episode with Audio Commentary
- The Making of Avatar – Inside the Sound Studios
- The Making of Avatar – Inside the Korean Animation Studios
- Original Uncut Animatic: Episode # 21 (The Avatar State)
- Interview with Creators and M. Night Shyamalan
- The Essence of Bending with Bryan Konietzko and Sifu Kisu
- Avatar Super Deformed Shorts:
- Bending Battle
- Swamp Skiin’ Throwdown
- School Time Shipping
- Escape From the Spirit World: Animated Graphic Novel
- The Women of Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Book 3 Finale Pencil Test Animation
- Into the Fire Nation at San Diego Comic-Con
The missing feature is Avatar Spirits, a behind-the-scenes documentary that was only available on the Collector’s Edition variant of the Season One set. That set came out years after Season One had already been released, but before the entire series was collected together. Not many people have it.
The Avatar: The Last Airbender Complete Series Blu-Ray will be first released as a Best Buy exclusive on May 1st, followed by a rollout everywhere else on June 5.
Discuss on the Toonzone Forums