Aardman Classics (1978)

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Released 22-Jun-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Claymation Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Director And Production Team
Biographies-Crew
Gallery-Photo-Behind The Scenes
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1978
Running Time 145:23 (Case: 150)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (86:43) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Peter Lord
David Sproxton
Nick Park
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Donaldson
Kahn


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio Varies
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Varies Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    From the surreal to the cleverly comedic, Aardman studio's highly varied body of animation is perplexing. The studio's consistent output for the last three decades includes such work as Wallace & Gromit and Morph, and more recently the Mel Gibson voiced feature film Chicken Run. The content of this DVD covers their rarely seen catalogue of animated short films, ranging from Down & Out (1978) to the more recent computer animated short Minotaur & Little Nerkin (1999). The nature of this broad collection is such that there is something for everyone, from the typical plasticine animation Aardman is famous for, to their very first attempt at computer animation, Owzat (1997).

    A very diverse blend of animation styles are at play in this collection, the most common being the trademark use of plasticine. The short, Humdrum (1998), utilises complex shadow puppetry to portray a bickering pair of housemates, while others use simple computer animation and effects. Each short film is absolutely unique in its style, creating a memorable and often dark atmosphere.

    Of the twenty-four short films collected here, most are quite serious and attempt to bring across a genuine social comment. I must confess that this disappointed me in a way, because I was expecting a good laugh when I sat down to view the disc. With this in mind, be aware that younger kids will definitely not appreciate some of the more surreal moments to be found here, particularly the grim, apocalyptic and repetitive Babylon (1986). So, don't purchase this disc under the impression you're going to see a prequel to Chicken Run, because you'll certainly be disappointed. I would place many of the themes found here on a par with the animations by Leunig, and if you're familiar with his work you know roughly what to expect from this collection.

    I'll give you a rough outline of a couple of my favourite films from this collection below;

    Obviously, my favourites were on the lighter side of this collection. I'm hesitant to recommend this as a disc for the whole family, mainly due to the dark nature of some of these films. On a whole, the animation is up to Aardman's high standard and will certainly appeal to fans of this renowned studio.

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Track Listing

1. Pib & Pog (1994)
2. Minotaur & Little Nerkin (1999)
3. War Story (1989)
4. Wat's Pig (1996)
5. My Baby Just Cares For Me (1987)
6. Stage Fright (1997)
7. HumDrum (1998)
8. Pop (1996)
9. Owzat (1997)
10. Adam (1991)
11. Indent (1989)
12. Al Dente (1998)
13. Loves Me, Loves Me Not (1992)
14. Babylon (1986)
15. Next (1989)
16. On Probation (1981)
17. Sales Pitch (1981)
18. Palmy Days (1981)
19. Early Bird (1981)
20. Late Edition (1981)
21. Confessions of a Foyer Girl (1978)
22. Down & Out (1978)
23. Going Equipped (1989)
24. Not Without My Handbag (1993)

Transfer Quality

Video

    Most of these short films are presented in 1.33:1 full frame, although there are several exceptions. I noted a couple of other aspect ratios ranging from 1.85:1 to 1.66:1, however none are 16x9 enhanced.

    This entire transfer appears to be sourced from an analogue master tape. The transfer isn't particularly sharp and exhibits a handful of artefacts associated with analogue video sources. Low level noise can be seen on just about any solid background.

    Colouring is consistent and never oversaturated. There are no examples of bleeding to be seen.

    There are no MPEG artefacts present. Some minor film artefacts such as dust and dirt are visible most of the time, but the vintage pieces from 1978 contain the most obvious decay. Telecine wobble can also be seen regularly. Minor analogue tape errors are present during the first few minutes of the feature, appearing in the bottom half of the frame.

    There are no subtitles included on the disc.

    This disc is dual layered (DVD9 format), with the layer transition placed during the feature at 86:43. The barely noticeable transitional pause is placed in a black, silent moment between the films Babylon and Next.

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

Audio

    There are two soundtracks accompanying the feature, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo stream and a filmmaker's commentary.

    The English dialogue can be a trial at times, and this issue is discussed in the commentary. The quality of the voice recordings is less than average on occasion, and the accents can be much worse. Audio sync is acceptable and seems to be spot on.

    A couple of minor pops and clicks can be heard intermittently and never become a major issue. The audio level varies slightly from film to film, but shouldn't be a problem to the average ear. The fades between some of the films are clunky and certainly not seamless - this is easy to discern by the audio cutting prematurely without fading.

    There are a couple of good examples of stereo panning throughout the soundtrack, most notably during the split screen sequence in Wat's Pig.

    There is no surround or subwoofer activity present.

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

Extras

    There are a couple of interesting extras included on the disc.

Menu

    The menu page is silent, static and isn't 16x9 enhanced. A short clip of the Nina Simone tune My Baby Just Cares For Me loops in the background.

Feature Commentary

    This is a fairly involved commentary, featuring input from a broad range of staff at Aardman. A lot of interesting insights are to be found here, as well as some very long silences. Some voices confusingly appear without any introduction or explanation of their role, while some short films (the excellent Stage Fright, for example) aren't accompanied by any commentary at all. Fans of plasticine animation will find some interesting moments, but no huge revelations.

Biographies (6)

    Thirteen pages of text for six of Aardman's staff are included, featuring founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton. There is a slight navigational glitch here, preventing you from scrolling through the pages chronologically. They are easily accessible if you work backwards.

Photo Gallery - Behind the Scenes

    There are 28 stills to view, all taken on the set during production of the array of films.

R4 vs R1

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

    This disc is coded for all regions. There doesn't appear to be a Region 1 NTSC version available.

    Region 2 UK gets a massive 64 page glossy booklet including photos and interviews. The French and German Region 2 releases have much shorter runtimes.

    If you're an Aardman fanatic the Region 2 looks like the better option, even though the disc content appears to be identical.

Summary

    Aardman Classics is rewarding viewing for anyone who appreciates the art of animation. There are a wide variety of films included in this collection, some of them rather dark, surreal and slightly depressing - and for this reason I wouldn't recommend it for young kids. That said, thinking viewers will no doubt revel in the stark imagery to be found in some of these little gems.

    The video transfer is a bit disappointing, lacking in sharpness and showing its analogue origins.

    The audio transfer is a decent stereo effort.

    The extras are relevant to the feature and offer some interesting information.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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