|Category||Olympics||Main Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Souvenir Programme Selected Pages
Notes-The Olympic Code
Featurette-Film Restoration (4:13)
|Starring||Sandy Roberts (narrator)|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 320Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||
|Macrovision||?||Smoking||Yes, extremely briefly|
|Subtitles||English For The Hearing Impaired||Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The 1956 Melbourne Olympics was the first to be extensively covered by film, along with some limited television coverage, and the entire film record has been restored and preserved on behalf of the IOC. Originally, only an unrestored 54 minute collection of highlights from the Olympics had been available, but this has now been restored, expanded and presented on DVD for our enjoyment.
From my personal perspective, the historical insight into both the Olympics and Melbourne afforded by this material is absolutely priceless. Seeing the picket fence of the MCG for the first time was quite a revelation, let me tell you! Also incredibly revealing are the events that are no longer a part of the Olympic games, such as the tandem bicycle racing and the 100 meter running deer shoot. Historical shots of 1956 Melbourne bring back many pleasant memories of my childhood. Even though I was not born at the time of the 1956 Olympics, the snapshot of a still very British and staid Melbourne rings true with many memories of my childhood. Highlights like these are numerous, and the way the documentary has been edited together, combining old, historical audio with newly-recorded voice-over provided by Sandy Roberts has been extremely well done.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer is enormously variable in its sharpness, from remarkably sharp during footage of the marathon to extremely fuzzy and indistinct with some of the indoor footage, such as the boxing. Different film stocks were used in different cameras, and the result is evident in the variable final image. Grain is a variable problem during the presentation, reflecting the source film stock. Colour indoor footage of the swimming and gymnastic events, for instance, is extremely grainy, yet some outdoor footage is remarkably grain-free. Most of this footage appears to have been sourced from 16mm film, so this grain is only to be expected in footage of this nature. Shadow detail is limited at the best of times and non-existent at the worst of times. Low level noise does not appear to be an issue with this transfer, but this is more than made up for by the copious grain in the source material.
The colours varied considerably throughout this presentation, from strongly-coloured and vibrant during the opening ceremony footage to all but completely washed out from one long-shot camera at the swimming. The colour generally had a 1950s look about it, reminiscent of my parents' photo album from this era.
There is some minor MPEG artefacting introduced into some backgrounds, but this is the least of the issues with this transfer. As discussed previously, there were numerous issues with the source material which were not able to be corrected during the production of this DVD, and these are reflected in the final product. The most distracting artefact was that of the image jumping about frequently and distractingly. The image also had a habit of moving around in subsections of the picture, and you would often see a small portion of the image move independently of the rest of the image, with the rest of the image subsequently following. This becomes very hard on the eyes very quickly, and was bad enough to make me feel seasick at times. This problem is compounded when the camera itself is in motion, such as during footage of the torch relay, which is very hard to watch at times because of the immense movement inherent in the image.
Motion blur is also a significant problem with this material, particularly during the track events, where the grassy background would blur into a mass of indistinctness until the motion stopped.
Another problem was during cross-fades, which would dissolve into a mess of low-resolution grain. I was informed that this was inherent in the source material as a result of the video editor used to edit this material.
Aliasing was occasionally present, such as when the MCG picket fence was streaming by, but it was generally not a problem.
Finally, film artefacts were present in copious quantities,
but they were certainly nowhere near as bad as I expected them to be.
The audio is generally quite easy to hear and understand, even for some of the poorer-quality historical audio. Audio sync is not a problem for this transfer, mainly because there is very little audio that directly corresponds with on-screen dialogue.
Of particular note is the way that contemporary voice-over and sound effects are seamlessly combined with historical audio, to create a beautifully coherent whole. There was only one occasion where I consciously noted that the sound effects were artificial - during the men's high jump, where they were slightly overdone - but at all other times the integration of old and new was superbly handled.
The newly-created music for this programme is suitable sombre choral music and suitably dramatic instrumental music, and helps to set the dramatic scene very nicely indeed.
The surround channels were very nicely used for the music and for recreated ambient crowd noise during the indoor events such as the swimming. It gave an excellent sense of actually sitting in the crowd and observing the events first-hand.
The subwoofer did very little.
|Surround Channel Use|
When the main feature is started, you are prompted for whether or not English Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired are required. This perhaps would have been better placed elsewhere.
© Michael Demtschyna
(read my bio)
22nd September 2000
|DVD||Philips 711/SAST AEP-803, using S-Video output|
|Display||Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 4:3 mode, via the S-Video 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|