Animusic: Special Edition (2001) (NTSC)

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Released 6-Jul-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Wayne Lytle (Director)
Multiple Angles-Solo Cam
Gallery-Art Development
Gallery-Stage Construction
Alternative Version-Pipe Dream in Widescreen
Short Film-Beyond The Walls
Trailer-Animusic 2 Sneak Peak
Booklet
Rating ?
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 32:53
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Wayne Lytle
Studio
Distributor
Simitar DVD Starring None Given
Case ?
RPI ? Music Wayne Lytle


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Titling Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    It's amazing the discs you sometimes come across as a reviewer. I knew very little about this title prior to viewing it, only having briefly visited their website and realising roughly what their aim was. If you interpret the disc's title literally you will realise that this is all about animated music, however Animusic is so much more. The highly sophisticated music and animation flow harmoniously and in perfect synchronisation as though they are one entity. There are no human participants or figures, only animated machinery and programmed tunes. Machines are seen to be blowing horns, wielding drum sticks and playing stringed instruments such as guitar and cello. Many of the instruments represented here are completely unique and would never really work in a physical sense - so some suspension of your belief is required while enjoying this disc.

    I've never been particularly fond of programmed MIDI music, because regardless of the rhythm or melody the overall feel is always extremely clinical and sterile. In my personal experience I've found that MIDI files are useful for experimenting with ideas or composing home demo material - but I would never sit down and listen to a CD of MIDI files to relax. That said, the MIDI music accompanying the animations here is excellent and of a very high standard as far as programmed compositions go, but I must say that the musicianship is far removed from the warmth and spontaneity of a real human performance. MIDI files are utilised in this case to trigger the animation software so that the movements on screen match what is heard. Maybe in the future the same effect could be achieved using real musicians.

    Above all, this disc is about the instrumental music - and technically speaking the musicianship is spot on. The animators are clearly musicians themselves, as the most fine pieces of detail from chord fingering and muting to string slides and vibrato all translate to the screen with amazing accuracy. Even variances in drum sounds, from heavy hits to light taps are all visible within the computer animation. I think that for this reason the disc helps to visualise music in a way that reveals the layers that are present in a group performance, and the minor touches that add a certain memorable quality. Most of all, I think this disc would be an awesome teaching aid for school music classes due to the interesting combination of cutting edge computer animation and amazing instruments.

    The feature itself is fairly short at only 33 minutes and is comprised of seven short pieces, each with a different feel and setting.

    This is apparently the second time this collection has been released on DVD and I'm not sure if the original is still available. This disc has the Special Edition title, obviously establishing it as the definitive version. I haven't seen the earlier release, so I can't compare the two as far as features and quality is concerned.

    You don't necessarily need a heavy duty appreciation for music to enjoy Animusic. The animation is amazing and well rendered, while the disc as a whole certainly qualifies as an impressive demo disc. Every aspect of this production is very clever indeed and has been completed with the most meticulous attention to detail. Whether or not it will still be as impressive in ten years time remains to be seen, however with Animusic 2 due this year it seems that more of these great pieces are waiting to be enjoyed. This is highly recommended for anyone with an interest in music, or computer animation, or both.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This NTSC video transfer is presented in an aspect of 1.33:1 full frame and does not contain any time coding - a frustrating conundrum for a reviewer like myself who likes noting time indexes.

    This is a very sharp and clear transfer, with virtually no imperfection to speak of. The NTSC image does exhibit the flaws of the format, with many jagged edges to be seen on occasion. Shadow detail is a concept necessary for determining the luminance of live action photography and does not apply to animation. There was no low level noise evident in the transfer.

    The colours used in the CG rendering are rich and vibrant. This transfer appears to be taken directly from the digital source, so no bleeding or oversaturation can be seen.

    Obviously there are no film artefacts to worry about here. There is similarly no sign of compression artefacting to be found. The video bitrate is mildly variable, but dips only in the fades between tracks. Aside from these small dips the bitrate manages to maintain an impressive 10.25 Mb/s average, often peaking at over 11 Mb/s. The challenges involved in encoding this detailed video stream are discussed in the commentary.

    An English titling stream is included, which serves only to briefly introduce each piece. The font is very nice, in the style of the Animusic logo.

    This disc is dual layered, however no layer transition is evident during the short feature.

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

Audio

    There are three available soundtracks accompanying the feature on this DVD. The default soundtrack is a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo stream encoded at 224Kb/s, bettered by an excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 stream encoded at 448Kb/s. A wafer thin commentary is also included.

    There is no English dialogue in the music or the feature, as the music is completely instrumental. Audio sync is absolutely perfect and completely faultless.

    The use of the surround channels in the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is quite rich and enveloping. Atmospheric noises such as water and speaker hum can be heard in the rear channels, as well as some dedicated usage for percussion and the like. In the track Drum Machine a deep bass drum booms loudly in the rear left speaker, to great effect. The default stereo stream does a good job at interpreting the complex mix, but once you hear the 5.1 mix you'll never go back to the stereo again.

    The subwoofer is used to add depth to kettle drums and bass instruments. Although the music is entirely electronic there is a great degree of depth to be found here and it is certainly not tinny in the slightest.

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

Extras

    This is great collection of extra material, covering most aspects of the production process. All of the extra material on this disc is presented in an aspect of 1.33:1 full frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, unless otherwise noted.

Menu

    The menu pages are very well animated and include equally complex page transitions. Audio clips from the feature are used as accompaniment.

Audio Commentary-Wayne Lytle (Director)

    This is the same commentary Wayne recorded for the original Animusic DVD, with an added portion at the end thanking his fans and briefly mentioning Animusic 2. It sounds a bit like he is reading sometimes, but he is generally easy to listen to. Wayne shares some interesting info about the software that is used to interpret the MIDI files and really knows his stuff musically. He also discusses some of the effects that are used and dwells a little too long contemplating if the fictional instruments would work in real life. Of particular interest to my reviewing ears was Wayne mentioning the difficulty he had in finding an authoring house who would take on the task of encoding his animation to MPEG 2 for DVD. It seems that due to the level of fine detail many authors wouldn't touch his work for fear of failure. This is certainly an interesting commentary and well worth a listen.

Multiple Angles-Solo Cam

    Up to three alternate angles are accessible for each piece of music via the Track Index menu. The specific angles focus on the major instruments of each piece.

Gallery-Art Development

    Also offered for each individual track, some of these are very extensive and cover everything from early conceptual art to simple renderings.

Gallery-Stage Construction

    A short animation is given for each track, illustrating the detailed construction of the virtual sets.

Alternate Version-Pipe Dream in Widescreen (3:27)

    This is identical to the original Pipe Dream track, except it has additional information and rendering on the sides making the picture wider. The image is 16x9 enhanced and appears to be a little less sharper than the full frame version. This is available in both stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1.

Short Film-Beyond The Walls (4:36)

    This is an early animation from the Animusic team, but the future direction is clearly there. Some of the rendering isn't as complex as their more recent work, but this is still very interesting viewing.

Preview-Animusic 2 Sneak Peak (1:37)

    If this short sample is anything to go by, Animusic 2 should surpass this disc in terms of video quality. The picture here is excellent and is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with 16x9 enhancement. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0.

Booklet

    A foldout 4-panel colour booklet is included, with a handy navigation map to help you find your way around the disc.

R4 vs R1

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

    Animusic Special Edition is encoded for all regions, and appears to be identical across the globe. Price and availability does vary, so it would be wise to shop around a bit for this one.

Summary

    Animusic Special Edition is an amazing visual and aural experience, presented on an excellent DVD. The audio and video quality is first class, while the extra material provides an interesting insight into the complex and time consuming production process. This is the stuff demo discs are made of. Bring on Animusic 2, I say!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Thursday, August 19, 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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