Discovery Channel-End of Extinction: Cloning of the Tasmanian Tiger (2002)

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Released 11-Feb-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary None
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 50
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor
Discovery Channel
Magna Home Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    End Of Extinction: Cloning Of The Tasmanian Tiger is a fascinating documentary covering the attempt by scientists at the Australian Museum in Sydney to bring the extinct Thylacine (or Tasmanian Tiger as it's more commonly known) back to life using the latest cloning technolgy. The Thylacine DNA was extracted from a 136 year-old fetus which has been stored in the vault at the Australian Museum. Although still in it's infancy this experiment was much publised in the media during 2002, many people by now would have seen photos of the Thylacine fetus in the jar. The documentary makes it clear that there's a lot of work still to be done and despite the many critics its success still remains a possibility. I hope they succeed.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Despite the fact cable TV in Australia has yet to go widescreen digital this Discovery Channel documentary has thankfully been shot in 16:9, although judging by the framing of the interviews and titles it has been produced '4:3 safe' meaning all the critical infomation is within the 4:3 area of the image. For the record nearly all 16:9 TV material is shot 4:3 safe for analogue TV.

    The documentary is presented on this DVD in it's original 16:9 aspect ratio and is 16:9 enhanced.

    The image is for the most part extremely sharp reflecting it's digital source, probably Digital Betacam or DVC-PRO, which looks great when the MPEG encoding is done well but not so great if it's done poorly (more on that later). Grain and low level noise are non existant except for the odd Thylacine stock footage which obviously originated on film.

    Colours are very dynamic and gloriously rich.

    MPEG artefacts are the only real sore point of this transfer. Magna Pacific's MPEG encoder seems to have been set at a constant bit-rate of about 7.2 Mbs, which is fine until you get to shot of a rainforest with lots of fine detail like leaves and branches. As a result there are a few occasions where small MPEG pixel break ups appear but they only last for a few frames; basically if you blink you'll miss them. The first appearence of this artefact is at 01m33s during a disolve from one shot to another. Had the encoding not been set to, and therefore limited to, 7.2 Mbs I'm certain these artefacts would have been avoided. In fact with only a 50 minute running time they could have encoded it at a constant bit-rate of 9.5 Mbs with space to spare. Why the image has been encoded this way is a mystery but if I had to guess I would say that Magna Pacific have someone inexperienced responsible for the encoding. I have seen this exact same problem on Hurly Burly; another Magna Pacific DVD. Film-to-video artefacts consist of some trivial cases of aliasing. Video artefacts are non-existant once again reflecting the pristine digital source. Except for the occasional stock footage film artefacts are also non-existant as you would expect being shot on digital tape.

    There are no subtitles.

    The disc is single layered with the main title having a file size 2642 Mb, meaning there was plenty of space left to increase the bit-rate.

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

Audio

    The documentary has been produced with a stock standard and completely servicable stereo soundtrack (say that 10 times).

    The audio is presented on this DVD with a solo Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 kbs) track in English.

    Dialogue is crisp and clear. There are no audio sync issues present.

    There is a small amount of music present.

    This documentary will give your rear speakers and subwoofer a well earned 50 minute rest.

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

Extras

    No extras.

R4 vs R1

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

    Currently unavailable in Region 1.

Summary

    End Of Extinction: Cloning Of The Tasmanian Tiger is highly recommended for anybody even remotely interested in the Thylacine. The documentary comes as a welcome behind-the-scenes look at the articles which have been published in the media over the past couple of years. Despite a few shortcomings in the video department I highly recommend a look at this DVD.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ben Hooft (My biography. Go on have a read...)
Sunday, May 04, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-655A [SACD & DVD-A], using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe CT-1170 (66cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-DB940. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR-DB940
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2, Subsonic XS-1 Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
IF you can find a copy that is. - Matthew Wilson