Africa (Blu-ray) (2013)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 27-Mar-2013

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Menu Animation & Audio-incl audio navigation
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Outtakes
Deleted Scenes
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 348:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Katrina Bartlam
David Attenborough
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case ?
RPI ? Music Sarah Class
Will Slater


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080i
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Just when you thought it must be time for Sir David Attenborough to give the game away, back he comes with a new and stunningly beautiful television series. Obviously, the man himself is not as personally involved in the filming as he used to be, however he certainly appears in Africa itself and provides the voiceover. It would be easy to assume that you had seen all of this before in every other natural history documentary which spends time filming lions, cheetahs, hippos and other African animals. If you did assume that you would be wrong. This series is a stunning achievement because it captures things in a different way or things which have not been shown before. For example, instead of normal lion behaviours we are presented with the treat of seeing small lizards trying to catch flies climbing on lions as they sleep. We see hippo's surfing, chimps using tools to get honey, fish jumping to escape predators and much more besides.

     The series consists of 6 episodes each of which runs just less than an hour. They include the main episode plus a short making of segment at the end of each episode which is a great addition showing the challenges involved in getting some of the amazing footage. The episodes are spread across three Blu-ray discs. The six episodes are

  1. Kalahari
  2. Savannah
  3. Congo
  4. Cape
  5. Sahara
  6. The Future

     Despite knowing the work of the BBC Natural History Department very well and being completely across how amazing their camera work is, this show is still a revelation technically. The detail and close up on display here is quite amazing. The colours and the action jumps off the screen, obviously assisted by the definition of Blu-ray. The amazing scenes follow one another in a seemingly endless array of dazzlingly different insights into Africa. There are also quite a lot of shots from the sky and space giving different views of the continent.

     This is natural history television of the absolute highest quality.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     The video quality is nearly excellent, only really let down by being 1080i.

     The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio which is the original aspect ratio. It is 1080i HD encoded using the AVC codec.

     The picture was extremely clear and sharp throughout except during motion when some blur due to the interlaced encoding was on display. Shadow detail was excellent throughout. The detail on display during the close up sequences was amazing.

     The colour is excellent throughout with the colourful animals, sunsets, jungles and various other landscapes looking spectacular on this transfer.

     Besides the motion blur mentioned above there are no other artefacts.

     There are subtitles in English which are clear and easy to read.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio quality is excellent.

     These discs contain an English soundtrack in DTS HD-MA 5.1. This is a great audio track for a television show, enveloping and with lots of specific directional effects. It doesn't hit the heights of major blockbuster movies but is excellent considering the source.

     Dialogue was very clear and easy to understand throughout.

     The score is written by Sarah Class and performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra. It suits the grandeur of the nature on display very well and sounds great on this audio transfer.

     The surround speakers provided lots of atmosphere and some specific directional effects in certain scenes. They were well used and added to the atmosphere of the show rather than just being done to show off the back speakers.

     The subwoofer added bass to the music especially during dramatic sequences.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     A good selection of extras are included on the third Blu-ray disc.

Menu

     The menu includes scenes and music.

Exclusive Interviews with Crew

     A number of interviews are included which cover the approach for the series, highlights from the series for each of the crew members interviewed, anecdotes, challenges and surprises. The interviews are

Outtakes (4:29)

     An amusing set of outtakes from filming including a great sequence where a lioness steals one of their cameras.

Exclusive Deleted Scenes

     Two extra scenes which were shot but then not included. Both are well worth watching. They are

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    According to Blu-ray.com (who I would expect to be correct) the US issue of this series is in 1080p. The extras are the same. I would expect the UK version to be the same as ours so this makes the Region A release probably the best there is. Blu-ray.com also states that the US issue works in Region B players but caveat emptor on that one.

Summary

    A magnificent new and different nature series on Africa by the BBC Natural History Unit.

    The video quality is nearly excellent.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The extras are worthwhile and reasonably substantial.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, April 19, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplaySharp LC52LE820X Quattron 52" Full HD LED-LCD TV . Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into amplifier. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationMarantz SR5005
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
The 1080i Issue -