Walking with Dinosaurs (1999)
Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Main Menu Audio & Animation
|Year Of Production||1999|
|Running Time||223:05 (Case: 230)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Tim Haines|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Case||Village Roadshow New Style|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, narration in credits|
One last note: this discs are presented in a double-button case of a newer variety. Essentially, what this means is that two button-cases were simply glued together on one side to fit the two discs. This is a horrible arrangement, and one that has caused quite a lot of consternation on forums, which is understandable given how hard the disc is to extract from the button-shaped holder found inside this case. I strongly urge Village Roadshow to consider abandoning the use of this case, as even the style of packaging used with the Alien Legacy disc is preferable to this.
While this transfer is excellent overall, it is denied reference status by some extremely small problems that would mostly escape the attention of all but the most serious viewer. The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced, in direct contrast to the double-VHS version, which is only available in the Pan & Scan format. Incidentally, such a version is not available on this DVD presentation, automatically-encoded or otherwise. The transfer is razor-sharp most of the time, except for the few shots that were accomplished with real locations. A few backgrounds were blurred, with their subjects appearing slightly less defined than their foreground counterparts, but this appears to be a source-material issue. Shadow detail was excellent, as you would expect from a more-or-less entirely computer-generated series of television episodes that were only produced last year. Low-level noise was not a problem except in certain shots, which were also accomplished using real-life subject matter such as the polar skyline. Among the worst examples were some shots in the area around a Cynodont nest from 24:50 to 25:30, but this is sadly not the only example. Since the rest of the transfer is so good, I am prepared to give this section the benefit of the doubt and assume that this is a problem with the way the footage was shot rather than a transfer problem. It is hard to determine whether these slips in sharpness are deliberate or not.
The colour saturation was spot-on from start to finish, with each and every subtle feature of the landscape being rich and deeply textured to add to the life-like feel. Dinosaur skin tones were faithfully reproduced, and the myriad of stony, dirty, or bushy tones that form the environment were so life-like that it made me want to crawl into my screen and join the picture, except for the frightening reptiles that appeared on-screen at most of these moments. MPEG artefacts did not appear to be a problem most of the time, but some shots of water seemed to suffer from loss of detail in the background at inopportune moments, particularly during the third episode. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some aliasing in minute areas of the picture, and the problems with detail in the backgrounds of some shots may in fact be aliasing as well. Some shimmering in the entirety of the picture became evident at moments such as 96:00, which I believe would be a problem inherent in the conversion of the digital picture to celluloid form. Film artefacts were almost completely absent from the transfer, although I could swear I saw small white marks in the occasional frame.
The packaging claims that subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Portuguese, Dutch, and Finnish are available during the main feature. Only the first of these options is available, and the subtitles in question are rather variant from what Kenneth Branagh is actually saying at most points in the feature.
The first of the two discs in this set is presented in the RSDL format, with the layer change placed in the same manner as with The Black Adder, Series 1, in between episodes. As the layer change is placed between episodes, it is totally undetectable, and therefore completely non-disruptive.
The score music presented with the documentary was composed by Ben Bartlett, and it is quite striking and powerful, with a certain marriage to the onscreen events that John Williams would certainly be proud of. Indeed, the themes for the Pterosaurs have a certain wandering feel to them that make the onscreen action seem all the more life-like, and the first-person shots from the perspective of the migrating Pterosaur seem utterly convincing to say the least. The tragic, minor sound of this creature's final journey is haunting to say the least, as are many themes used when a Dinosaur is forced into a situation that would seem tragic and wasteful to we modern humans. This is a score that is definitely worth owning on compact disc, as it has a sort of power that I would normally associate with such films as Star Wars or Robocop. The only complaint this brings me to is that an isolated score was not provided, as the combination of the music and the onscreen action without the narration or sound effects would be quite entertaining to say the very least.
Being that this is a straight stereo mix, there was no activity to speak of out of the surrounds, which is a bit of a disappointment when you consider the amount of opportunities for a frightening surround experience this subject matter presents. A Tyrannosaurus Rex thundering from the rears to the fronts as he wanders across the screen would have been a truly magnificent thing to hear. The stereo channels had a great deal of ambient and heavy sounds pouring through them with presence being emphasized over direction. Some splitting of the stereo channels was noted after a listen through a pair of headphones, but this is hardly a good substitute for some well-placed directional effects. The subwoofer had a whale of a time supporting most every sound in the mix, from the Dinosaurs' footsteps and growls, through to the bass-heavy music. There was scarcely a moment when the subwoofer had time to sit still, and its thuds could be heard throughout the room (and most of the house).
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video quality is excellent, but could have been slightly better. It would be interesting to see what this DVD looks like on a progressive-scan player.
Considering that this is only a stereo mix, the audio quality is quite brilliant.
The extras are reasonable considering that there is a whole disc dedicated to the making of the series.
|DVD||Grundig GDV-100D/Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output|
|Display||Samsong CS-823AMF (80cm)/Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-835|
|Speakers||Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer|