Anna Kournikova-Basic Elements: My Complete Fitness Guide (2001)
|Year Of Production||2001|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4,5||Directed By||David Wohlstadter|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Polish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Russian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes|
Alright I'll admit it - I didn't choose to review Anna Kournikova Basic Elements - My Fitness Guide for fitness reasons. There, are you happy! I will try and resist the temptation to make any tasteless jokes for no other reason than they will probably be removed by the editor anyway, however I must emphasize the word 'try'.
Clearly there are going to be two distinct audiences for this DVD. One will be the fitness aficionados who I'm sure make up the minority. The other is just about every warm blooded heterosexual male hoping for a glimpse of Anna Kournikova's basic elements (sorry, couldn't help it), many of whom are probably blissfully unaware that she actually plays tennis.
I can't help but feel that this was perhaps dreamed up by some marketing people anxious to cash in on Anna Kournikova's good looks and popularity. You can't blame them for trying though - she is after all the very definition of 'eye candy' in the heterosexual male dictionary. Nevertheless I will attempt to switch off the hormones for an hour or so and provide you with an open minded review of Anna Kournikova Basic Elements - My Fitness Guide.
The feature is broken up into 5 main sections (which in turn are broken up into many chapters), each designed to provide a specific workout for the body. The sections are:
All of the exercises are relatively easily done as they involve very little in the way of equipment, although you will need a second person for some of the exercises (Anna has her trainer for this video). All you really need is a skipping rope, some hand weights, a medicine ball and one of those large blow-up balls (the name of which is completely unknown to me) which is used to rest against for various stretches - none of which I actually had mind you while reviewing this DVD (it was more like a cold drink and a couch during the review session). In the footwork exercises Anna also uses some witches hats (to step and run around), however I'm sure there are many other objects you could use to achieve the same result.
Further to this Anna covers other aspects of fitness including breakfast tips, daily calorie allowances and nutrition, all of which are reasonably well known but it's good that it's reiterated here for those who perhaps think that getting fit is all about the exercise.
The feature has been shot in what looks like a warehouse somewhere in the States, with various abstract backgrounds brought in to tart it up and make it look less like a warehouse and more like a set. The production values are very good with a a fair bit of effort going into the lighting and camera work. Even a jib-arm has been used (a jib-arm is a smaller video version of the film industry's crane for those of you who don't work in the television industry).
Not knowing much about fitness and exercise videos I must concede that it's very difficult for me to say whether this is a good one or not. Certainly however the exercise techniques demonstrated by Anna couldn't do you any harm - that is unless you fall within the category of people who are mentioned in the disclaimer at the very beginning - i.e. pregnant women and people undergoing medical treatment. But for the rest of you guys out there who have absolutely no interest in exercise videos, this is 52 odd minutes of Anna Kournikova in skin tight lycra and that's all you really wanted to know.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. The intro and some of the tennis footage intercut throughout the feature are presented in faux widescreen, somewhere between 1.78:1 and 1.66:1. I say faux because the framing of the footage suggests it was shot 1.33:1, and the black bars have simply been added to the top and bottom during post production.
Sharpness is good but not great owing to what appears to be an NTSC composite source judging by the interlacing errors and dot crawl which I'll cover shortly. Edge enhancement appears to have been heavily applied during many of the wide and mid shots which gives the image a very harsh look and causes numerous aliasing problems (again which I'll cover shortly). Given the video source, shadow detail is not great either but the entire room in which the feature was shot has been very evenly lit (apart from the windows which are deliberately a 'few stops over') so there's little in the way of blacks and shadows anyway. There is a little video noise present throughout, most likely due to the footage being analogue at some point during the production.
Colours have that distinct NTSC look them - they're not particularly vibrant and are quite flat at times. Skin tones are accurate although the balance from camera to camera (there was more than one used during the shoot) does vary a little.
Artefacts are the major sore point of this transfer - we have nearly all of them on display here. By far the most significant problem is interlacing errors. The conversion from NTSC to PAL has not been kind to this transfer and it's easy to see why. During the post production, many slow-motion and strobing effects have been applied to the video, presumably to accentuate the moves of the various exercises. As a result the original frame rate is completely shot to hell and the conversion to PAL simply doesn't cope. Throughout many of these slow-mo and strobe shots interlacing errors can be found. It gives the image an obvious unnatural and uneven motion - the first significant example appears at 3:42 during a piece to camera by Anna - indeed, all of Anna's pieces to camera throughout the feature suffer from this problem. You need only to switch your player to slow-motion to see the artefact clearly - every few frames you can see a 'ghost' from the previous field and even the odd repeated frame. Furthermore, the strobing effect introduces some quite severe aliasing to the image - one of many examples is at 38:19. Why this is so I can only guess. As mentioned previously the edge enhancement also introduces more aliasing, so many of the fine lines in the background suffer from the staircase effect. While only minor, dot crawl is also present throughout the feature although it is not present in the graphics which suggests it was introduced during the transfer of the original camera tapes. Typically it can be seen along the edges of various white objects. Finally, the only artefact the transfer doesn't suffer from is MPEG artefacts having been given 'super' bit-rate which for the vast majority of time sits well above 9Mbs.
There are no subtitles which may have been a problem had Anna's Russian accent been a little thicker.
This is a single layered disc.
The main file size is 3549 Mb - pretty good for a 52 minute feature especially considering I've seen movies nearly 2 hours in length from Columbia Tristar which are compressed to this size.
The very unimpressive video transfer is perfectly complemented by an equally unimpressive but far less problematic audio transfer.
The main audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0 in glorious mono. There are also 5 alternate languages all of which are 2.0 mono as well. OK, Anna & her trainer's dialogue are mono anyway (they're both wearing lapel microphones with radio transmitters) - I can understand that. But why the music is mono as well has got me completely perplexed. I'm almost certain the source music would have been stereo, after all when was the last time you bought a CD recorded in the last 20 years that's mono? That's right - zip!
The dialogue is very easy to understand with real no issues to speak of. There are no sync issues.
The music is upbeat and mostly electronic, exactly what you'd expect for a fitness video.
Being a mono affair from start to finish there is absolutely no surround use, nor is there any front left and right use and come to think of it there's no subwoofer use either. Very boring indeed.
Interestingly the translated dialogue in the Polish and Russian tracks is applied over Anna's existing English dialogue instead of replacing it (much like translations you hear in the news) so you can hear both voices. In order for this method to work successfully the original dialogue has to be set at a much lower level, but unfortunately it hasn't so both languages are very difficult to decipher (not that I speak Russian though). And just in case you wondering (as I was) - Anna did not record the Russian translation for this DVD. Fair go! I would have actually considered that as an extra!
|Surround Channel Use|
Extras. What extras? Surely a small tennis highlights package could have been bunged on here without too much trouble. Not to be.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Given the conversion artefacts I can say with certainty that the Region 1 NTSC version would be the version of choice.
If you're into fitness videos and transfer quality doesn't worry you then I see no reason not to recommend this. If you're not into fitness videos and are just into Anna Kournikova then you may be a bit disappointed. The A Date With Anna - The Making Of The Anna Kournikova Calendar DVD which has been released in Region 1 may be more what you're looking for.
The video quality is very ordinary and should never have been given the seal of approval by Columbia Tristar - I am bewildered that it was. This is one transfer that should have remained in NTSC - it would have been a significant improvement.
The audio quality is satisfactory given the content but the music, despite how unremarkable it is, really should have been in stereo.
The extras are non-existent.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-655A, SACD & DVD-A, using S-Video output|
|Display||Loewe CT-1170 (66cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Pioneer VSX-D1011, THX Select, DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete, DTS 96/24 & DD 5.1 EX. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Pioneer VSX-D1011, THX Select, DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete, DTS 96/24 & DD 5.1 EX|
|Speakers||Front & Centre: Monitor Audio Bronze 2, Surrounds: Sony SS-SRX7S, Surround Back: Paramount Pictures Bookshelf Speakers|