Ian Thorpe: Beneath the Suit (2003)
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Pool Side (5)
Featurette-Beneath the Suit (4)
|Year Of Production||2003|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, jewellery anyone?|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Ian Thorpe - Beneath The Suit is a tricky disc to review. It is very well produced, but likely to have limited appeal. It presents all manner of insights into the moist world of one of the greatest swimmers of all time, but does so in a very episodic way, which makes any kind of plot synopsis too hard for this reviewer.
If you are a fan of the man, or of swimming, then this will be a wonderful insight into his lifestyle and his success. If you are looking for some Saturday night entertainment, then this is unlikely to provide any satisfaction. Divided into innumerable short sections, the DVD provides a peek beneath the Lycra, into the world of a living Aussie legend. I will try to give an understanding as to what is available on the disc, by covering each "featurette" in the extras section. Suffice it to say the "plot" is a series of snapshots - all essentially extras - into the life and times of "The Thorpedo".
The video quality of this transfer is very good indeed. For a disc such as this, it is of reference quality. Despite the cover stating it is in the "Original Theatrical Ratio" of 1.85:1, it is presented 16x9 enhanced in a ratio of 1.78:1. Given that it has never seen a theatre in its life, I think we can safely assume it has not been altered for this DVD.
The overall transfer is essentially flawless. Grain is totally absent, and contrast and colour saturation are uniformly excellent. There is a preponderance of blue and black from the Lycra and aqua, but plenty of primary colours crop up in some of the non-pool related scenes. Blacks are deep, solid and without low level noise, whilst the transfer is so sharp you could cut yourself on it.
I noticed no MPEG artefacts at all. Edge enhancement was never an issue (albeit you can occasionally see a hint of an outline around Ian during some of the blue-screen segments). Aliasing was not a problem anywhere during the main feature, but is distracting during "The Making" segment. Given that some of the source material (a very little) is televised race footage, the overall video quality is nigh-on perfect.
There are no film (video) artefacts of note.
The standard English subtitles are well timed and highly legible, being presented in a clear font. They are extremely close to the spoken dialogue at all times. They only seem to be used when Ian is speaking however, so they are not available during the "Freestyle" coaching segments.
This disc is single sided and dual layered (RSDL formatted), but the the layer change is not evident, and is (presumably) wisely placed between the numerous short segments.
The overall audio transfer is very good indeed for (what is essentially) a documentary, being clean and clear at all times. There are, however, occasional clicks and pops between the various sections of video, and the transition from segment to segment is not always seamlessly managed from an audio perspective.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is encoded at 448 kbps. Dialogue was always crystal clear and the audio sync was essentially perfect throughout.
There is little in the way of noticeable original music. What there is, however, is credited to John Chaplin and Damian Russell. It is a functional new-age / electronica affair, slightly reminiscent of those "copyright free" electronic loops you get on audio clip-art CDs.
The soundstage is most notably dialogue driven and therefore pretty much frontal. There are some good panning effects as Ian swims across your field of vision, with some rather nice separation across the main speakers. The surrounds are frequently used however, to provide ambient effects such as bubbles and splashes, which lend a surprisingly effective surround sound presence on occasion. Music occasionally peeps through the surrounds too, but it feels more like leakage than a deliberate mastering effort. Front to rear panning effects are not uncommon and, with the wash of waves overhead, are occasionally impressive and somewhat startling.
Subwoofer activity is largely unnoticed throughout, although the music does direct a small amount of bass through the sub. There is little deep bass present in a swimming pool I suspect.
|Surround Channel Use|
The entire disc is probably most easily treated as an "extra" due to the short nature of each segment.
The main menu is a pretty stunning sub-aquatic shot of Thorpey ploughing through the water, with a rather nice soundtrack full of glugs, bubbles and splashes. Let it run for a couple of loops and you will get a rather cheeky "Easter Egg" of the man himself, cleaning your screen. It provides access to the following segments:
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The DVD does not appear to be available in Region 1 or Region 2, which is rather surprising given "The Thorpedo"'s fame - but then again, maybe not.
Ian Thorpe - Beneath The Suit is a specialist DVD. For swimming fanatics, or aficionados of the man, this is a lovely DVD. For most of us non-fanatics, who barrack for this modern day legend nonetheless, the disc may be worth a rental. Slick and with very high production values, great video quality and generally very impressive audio, this is a good example of sports-marketing in the noughties. Recommended for "Swimfans" everywhere.
The video transfer is generally of reference quality.
The audio transfer is very good, albeit with some minor audio glitches at some of the segment transitions.
This entire DVD is an extra.
|DVD||Harmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output|
|Display||Panasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES|
|Speakers||JensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer|