Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles-Hydora Campaign (1999)

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Released 19-May-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Audio Commentary-Filmmakers
Audio Commentary-Technical Commentary
Gallery-Photo
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Trailer-Roughnecks:The Starship Troopers Chronicles-Tesca Campaign
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 96:42
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Chris Berkeley
Alan Caldwell
David Hartman
Sam Liu
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Pat Allee
David S. Clark
Steven Melching
Timothy Schlattmann
Greg Weisman
Jon Weisman
Clancy Brown
Elizabeth Daily
David DeLuise
Bill Fagerbakke
Nicholas Guest
Jamie Hanes
Tish Hicks
Case ?
RPI ? Music Wayne Boon
Nathan Furst
Jim Latham


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Russian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Hindi
Hungarian
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Russian
Swedish
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Taking into account the fact that I have only received a test disc for this series and that there could be a problem with the labelling of this disc, I am not entirely sure what is happening with this series as far as the order of the episodes they are releasing. This disc is marked as Volume 3: Hydora Campaign, and contains episodes six through ten. The last disc I received was marked Volume Two and contained episodes sixteen through twenty, not even close to the correct order and somewhat annoying as one of the characters was missing in volume two and is back again here in volume three. This release order also seems to be happening in R1.

    This jump backwards has highlighted several things. One is that the animation improved as the series went along and obviously the animators became experienced in what was a very new medium at the time (this is two years before Final Fantasy). The second thing that improved is the depth of the storyline - this particular series of episodes was little more than a series of run-and-shoot operations.

    One of the interesting things pointed out by both the commentary and a user comment on the review of Volume II was that motion blur has been applied to moving objects. This does give the image a more film-like appearance, something that they were working fairly hard at creating, and it is even more interesting when they point out a section of footage which they ran out of rendering time for and which they had to leave the motion blur off, leaving us with a nice little comparison to see the effect. They also talk about the rendering time taken to produce each frame - somewhere between fifteen and twenty minutes per frame (and usually closer to twenty). This took a moment to filter through my mind - that is twenty minutes per frame times 24 frames per second for a staggering total of CPU time to produce each show. The twenty four frames per second comes again from the fact that they wanted a film feel for the show. This is interesting in R1 terms as it was shown on TV which meant that they would have had to perform a 3:2 pulldown to create the 30 frames per second required for their TV system, deliberately introducing judder into the pans. I wonder if that is one of the things that they associate with a 'film-like appearance' in R1.

    This particular set of six episodes is set on the planet Hydora, a water planet. These episodes were the first set outside of the Earth solar system and of course immediately follow on from Volume 1. The first section deals with chasing down a bug space transport, a living spaceship that sets down on the water planet. This ship soon leaves, but only after dropping of a whole swarm of bugs that take the rest of the next four sections to chase down. The next section places Ibanez, Rico's love interest, on the planet as she gives up her seat on the transport back to the mother ship to a couple of wounded troopers. This gives Johnny the opportunity to try and impress Ibanez with his combat skills, much to Dizzy's disgust. Next we take a little trip down a water spout to the home of 'mummy bug' and a few thousand eggs just waiting to hatch. Up next is a particular spot on the planet that seems to be swallowing troopers at an alarming rate, leaving no trace of where entire squads have disappeared to. Of course the 'A' team is sent in to investigate and what they discover is not to their liking.

    While there is a small amount of character development with the team still learning to live and fight together, I was a little disappointed with this series of episodes, as they spend most of the time simply running and shooting, even if the backdrops do change. Also, at times the squad just seems to be going out of their way to prove that the bugs may just be smarter than they are.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The 1.33:1 non 16x9 enhanced image is pretty similar overall to the previous, though later, episodes that I reviewed. The only major difference is the small segment where motion blur has not been applied and single stepping the footage produces the expected sharp images for each frame, even on moving objects.

    Sharpness is good, as is the shadow detail. Again, there are many scenes reproducing an underground environment, and lighting is dim at times. Sometimes the motion blur that has been applied shows up as a series of diminishing images behind the moving object rather than a blur.

    Colours are well rendered and mostly stable, though sometimes affected by the dot crawl that some scenes exhibit.

    Artefacts are limited to the dot crawl that is visible in a number of scenes. A particularly clear example is the rock spire that one of the troopers is stuck on at 13:55. Looking closely at this I can't decide if it is a rendering error or a compression artefact - pieces of the rock appear to move independently of other pieces of what is meant to be a solid rock.

    The subtitles are easy to read and accurate to the dialogue. Unfortunately, only the main feature is subtitled but not the commentaries.

    This is an RSDL disc with the layer change at 57:38. It is right on a scene change so it is only mildly annoying.

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

Audio

     There are two Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks on this disc (English and Russian), four Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks (French, German, Italian and Spanish), and two commentary tracks, both Dolby Digital 2.0.

    Dialogue quality is good as is the audio sync, allowing for the fact that this is an animated series.

    The music continues its techno rock theme and works well both for the show and probably with its target audience.

    Surrounds are in use but again not to the extent that I would have expected for a show like this.

    The subwoofer is much the same - in use, but nothing spectacular.

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

Extras

Menu

    The 1.33:1 menu is of course not 16x9 enhanced and continues its mechanical theme. On the left is a view out of a spaceship port and on the right a picture of our troopers on the ground. There is no audio.

Film Makers commentary.

    This is the first of two commentaries and is definitely the better of them. Producer Audu Paden is joined by executive producer Jeff Kline, story editor Marsha Griffin, and composer Jim Latham. They chat about many different aspects of bringing this series to life, but be warned - there are some very big spoilers in this commentary and the next.

Technical Commentary.

    Again, Audu Paden hosts this commentary and is joined by various teams from the companies that actually produced the animation for the series. This commentary struggles a little for two reasons; one is that the material they try to talk about is technical and they seem to struggle to find a way to bring this down to the average viewer's level. The second reason is that I suspect that the majority of banter and goings-on that these chaps indulge in during production could not be repeated on a G-rated disc. There are hints of this that bring a promising line of comments to an abrupt silence. One interesting thing that is pointed out is the little Easter eggs that the animators sneak in at times - in one scene there is a little grey alien on the front of one of the trooper's boats - this is the mascot of 'grey team'. The teams that work on a particular episode appear to have been identified by colours.

Photo Gallery.

    A series of concept drawings from the series broken down into a number of groups: Backgrounds (10), Bugs (5), Characters (20), Props (17), Structures (8) and Vehicles (12). They are presented inset into the same spaceship window that appears on the main menu. There is no audio. Selections take you forwards or backwards through each collection or return you to the selection menu.

Filmographies.

    A short biography of a number of the cast and crew along with a picture of the person and if appropriate the character that they voice. Audu Paden does not have a photo of himself but of one of the characters that was modelled on his face as a cameo type appearance.

Trailer (1:48)

    This is the same trailer that we saw on the previous disc. Presented at 1.33:1 and not 16x9 enhanced, it starts with a propaganda-type advert and then moves onto describing the Tesca Champaign. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0.

R4 vs R1

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

    Other than some differences in the foreign language audio tracks and subtitles, the two regions appear identical except for the inclusion of a second trailer on the R1 disc for the Pluto campaign.

Summary

    Whilst lots of fun, the later series are a definite improvement on this earlier material. The character development that occurs in the later series just adds so much more depth to the series. You can see the seeds of this development in the start of the Rico, Dizzy and Ibanez love triangle.

    The video is very good.

    The audio is good.

    The extras are interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR800
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

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