|Rating||Not Rated||Other Trailer(s)||None|
|Year Released||1999||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||88 minutes (approx)||Other Extras||None|
|Start Up||Mode Selection then Movie/Menu|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None||Dolby Digital||5.1|
|16x9 Enhancement||No||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||
|Subtitles||English||Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, sort of - an Easter Egg|
When this DVD is first inserted, you are presented with two options; watching the DVD in Entertainment Mode, and operating the DVD in Interactive Mode. The Entertainment Mode replays a significant portion of the DVD's contents sequentially, but very soporifically. This journey through the DVD's contents takes approximately 90 minutes. However, you would be doing this DVD an injustice if you were to judge it on the level of interest generated by the Entertainment Mode. This DVD really comes into its own as a multimedia resource when it is used in Interactive Mode.
One gripe I had with the authoring of this DVD was that timing information is not encoded, with the DVD player display stubbornly displaying "--:--:--" throughout so that I could only estimate the actual running time of this DVD.
This page also leads to several pages of data and photos of Mars and its two moons, Phobos and Deimos.
Firstly, we are presented with a 360º panorama from the surface of Mars. This is available both in 2D and in 3D formats. The 3D format utilizes the typical red and blue glasses common to this type of stereoscopic presentation, which are included in the DVD packaging. The 2D presentation is fascinating, but the 3D presentation is not all that convincing, with only a limited 3D effect apparent.
Another option accessible from this menu is the option to Explore [the] Surface of the planet. In essence, this is the same panoramic view presented in the 2D/3D presentation but in static form, allowing you to select various features for a close-up view. Many of these close-up views are also in unconvincing 3D and after a while all the rock formations begin to look the same.
The final option accessible from this menu is Life On Mars, which leads to a series of text and still image screens covering the possibility that life existed on Mars in the distant past. This is very interesting indeed.
Additionally, you are able to access a synthesized version of Gustav Holst's The Planets suite from this menu, with some additions from Ryan Shore.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer was acceptably detailed, with still images in particular being beautifully rendered with copious amounts of detail. The moving images are variably detailed, mainly dependent on the source material with the older material being far inferior to the more contemporary material. Shadow detail was acceptable given the nature of the material. Low level noise appeared in the older archival footage but was absent from the contemporaneous footage.
The colours were accurately rendered. There is little more to say about the colours, other than what we have on offer here is any and all shades of orange; orange, dark orange, light orange, sienna, burnt sienna, brown, yellow. Did I mention orange? There is a lot of orange on this DVD. The Surface Views come as quite a shock as they are not orange, in comparison with the aerial shots of the planet.
There were a few minor MPEG compression artefacts present, particularly during the Planetary Views multi-angle content. In these cases, you could make out a very small amount of pixelization as the image panned across the screen with a resultant slight loss of detail. Given that six high resolution video streams are interlaced with four audio streams, this is understandable. Aliasing is not a problem with this transfer. Film artefacts are copiously present in some of the more historical footage, but quite absent from contemporary imagery.
The 2.0 mono audio is problematic. It is very metallic and muffled-sounding, as if it has been over-compressed or processed in an odd fashion. This significantly decreases the intelligibility of this audio, and is somewhat of a disappointment. In contrast to this, the 5.1 audio is beautifully clear and detailed.
The music was adapted and performed by Ryan Shore and was not particularly noteworthy.
The surround channels carried some minimal musical ambience but that was all that they did. The .1 channel was active during the initial DVD International logo, but fell silent thereafter.
The video quality is remarkably good given the source material available.
The audio quality is poor during the 2.0 audio but good during the 5.1 audio.
© Michael Demtschyna
(read my bio)
6th June 2000
|DVD||Loewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 4:3 mode, via the RGB input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer|
|Speakers||Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Hsu Research TN-1220HO subwoofer|