Wild Weather (2003)
Main Menu Audio
|Year Of Production||2003|
|Running Time||232:36 (Case: 231)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Ben Fox|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The exciting and absorbing four-part documentary series, Wild Weather, makes its welcome arrival on DVD.
Almost three years in the making, Wild Weather features plenty of hair-raising footage from some of the most extreme climates and bizarre weather phenomena ever caught on camera. As the presenter Donal MacIntyre notes, the weather is one of the "last truly wild things on Earth — it can't be predicted or controlled".
While television programs crammed with weather diaster footage are not new, what makes this series different is the charismatic, adventurous presenter Donal MacIntyre. An award-winning, Irish undercover investigative journalist for the BBC, MacIntyre adds his name to the long list of great documentary presenters, such as Dr. Robert Winston (The Human Body), Sir David Attenborough (Trials Of Life), and Professor Simon Schama (A History Of Britain), who all share their infectious enthusiasm for their subject with their audience. What MacIntyre lacks in meteorological knowledge, he more than makes up for with enthusiasm. In this series, MacIntyre travels from the North Pole to the beaches of Hawaii, from the monsoons of India to the London Underground. During his travels, he is blasted in a wind tunnel, locked in a freezer, and buried alive in the Artic Circle. He runs a marathon in the Sahara Dessert, and thrashes his way through a tropical jungle in Belize. All to better understand and explain the extremes in climate that some humans survive in day-to-day.
Wild Weather features some creative camera techniques, and some great editing; And like The Human Body, this documentary is made more compelling and informative through the use of excellent SFX and 3D animation. The four self-explanatory episodes: Wind (58:31), Wet (58:02), Cold (57:31) and Heat (57:32), are spread across two discs.
The transfer is good, albeit often grainy. The transfer is also limited by the variety of source material used, which includes home video, news footage, and weather station file footage.
Once again, the wonderful advent of widescreen digital television has provided us with a transfer that is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.
The sharpness and shadow detail of the original material are acceptable, but not great.
The colour is very good, which is important, as colour is used extensively in both the 3D animation and in the story telling.
MPEG artefacts are not a great problem, but there is some slight pixelization at times, such as at 3:05 (Heat).
Film-to-video artefacts are not a problem, but there is some very slight shimmer at times, such as on the telescope (53:10 Wind), and on the ropes (25:05 Cold).
Small film artefacts appear infrequently; an example can be seen at 14:34 (Wet).
English and Greek subtitles are present on the disc, and the English subtitles are accurate.
These are dual-layered discs, with an episode on each layer.
There is one audio option, English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192kb/s).
The dialogue quality and audio sync are fine, but sometimes I needed the subtitles, as MacIntyre would speak during extreme weather conditions, or in wind tunnels, or through an oxygen mask.
The music is credited to Deborah Mollison, and it is suitably dramatic, often adding to the tension. While at times it seemed a little over the top, it suited the 'a little over the top' style of the whole series.
While the Dolby Digital 2.0 audio was not surround encoded (or at least did not have the flags set), I found a pleasing result asking my receiver to decode it as Pro-Logic. The swirling winds and rain appeared from my rears at the appropriate times, such as the tornado winds at 32:40 (Wind). While there was no dedicated LFE track, I noticed some re-directed bass at times, which again was pleasantly surprising.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are surprisingly few extras spread across the two discs.
A very simple menu, it is static with Dolby Digital stereo audio.
Featurette - Interview (8:47)
MacIntyre discusses his interest in weather, and some of the dangerous moments encountered while making this series.
A text biography of Donal MacIntyre's career in British television.
Audio-Only Tracks (x5)
This extra features some of the theme music from the series. One can play these together, or separately, against a static screen.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
From what I can tell, Wild Weather has not been released on DVD in Region 1.
While a program about the weather might not sound exciting, Wild Weather is a thrilling rollercoaster ride through some of the most extreme and bizarre climates and weather phenomenon on this planet.
The video quality is good overall.
The audio quality is also good.
The extras are interesting, but limited.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using S-Video output|
|Display||Grundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-545|
|Speakers||Sony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer|