Animusic 2 (2005) (NTSC)

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Released 6-Jul-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Wayne Lytle (Director)
Multiple Angles-Starship Groove & Fiber Bundles
Gallery-(8)
Easter Egg-Loop Function
Alternative Version-Pipe Dream 2: Wire, Solid, Shaded; Pogo Sticks Rehearsal
Alternative Version-Split Screen: Resonant Chamber; Gyro Drums
Featurette-Making Of-Set Construction
Booklet
More…
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 38:53
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 Amaray Variant
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
16x9 Enhanced
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

    Some years ago I took a punt on reviewing a DVD I knew very little about, called Animusic. Featuring catchy music, stunning CG animation and a DVD transfer of superb quality, it quickly became a favorite in our household. The team behind that production have made a follow-up, aptly titled Animusic 2, which ups the wow-factor considerably. If you're familiar with the first DVD, the second one is certain to impress.

  1. Starship Groove (4:08) - Set on a floating island in outer space, a group of robots play out a percussive, melodic tune with a very groovy bent.
  2. Pogo Sticks (3:19) - Here, we have the return of the stick bass from the first Animusic DVD, this time accompanied by his family and a couple of xylophone friends.
  3. Resonant Chamber (4:30) - A beautiful acoustic piece, played on a giant, robotic stringed instrument with spider-like fingers and multiple guitar-like necks. I imagine this is the kind of instrument Pat Metheny would appreciate.
  4. Cathedral Pictures (6:07) - Prepared for Hewlett Packard to promote their range of HD digital projectors, this was a contract job for the Animusic team that necessitated a recognisable piece of classical music. Mussorgsky was settled upon, and this became the first and only Animusic piece to date to utilise an outside musical composition. It's grandiose to say the least, with pipe organs and lots of brass.
  5. Pipe Dream 2 (3:54) - A welcome return to the familiar Pipe Dream set of the first Animusic DVD, this time with an entirely new musical accompaniment.
  6. Fiber Bundles (5:15) - The brightest, most colourful and electronic of the batch, this piece has so much going on in so many layers you need to watch it several times to appreciate its complexity.
  7. Gyro Drums (4:12) - A gyro ball-contraption filled with drums, cymbals and assorted percussive instruments begins with a simple beat and builds throughout, adding layers and getting bigger. This one's a favourite with the youngest in our family.
  8. Heavy Light (6:30) - A suitably elaborate closing number, set in a Mayan-esque temple with lasers and pulsing lights that emerge from the ancient brickwork.

    Animusic is essentially music-driven animation. The music is software synthesizer or midi based, then transferred into an algorithm that is utilised to synchronize the CG-animated figures with the music. The proprietary software that performs these calculations has been developed by the Animusic team over a period of ten years. Check out their website for more info.

    According to the official website, Animusic 3 is currently in production, with plans for a Super Pipe Dream. My kids are already talking about it with excitement.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    This NTSC video transfer is presented in an 1.78:1 aspect, complete with 16x9 enhancement. Although this was the intended aspect of the original production, the producers saw fit to include an alternate rendition of the main program in 1.33:1 full frame video. This is much, much more than a simple pan and scan job; the main feature has essentially been re-shot with optimized camera angles that take advantage of the alternate screen format. It's said that there are noticeable differences between the two versions, but I'm yet to pick up any thus far. The technical reasons for this dual-ratio presentation are explained in the Director's audio commentary.

    Despite the originally intended ratio being 1.78:1, the actual default version for playback is 1.33:1 full frame. All settings can be easily changed in the setup menu.

    The video stream has been encoded at an extremely healthy bitrate (8Mb/s+), the trials of which are also documented in the commentary. There are no dire compression issues evident, only the slightest hint of MPEG grain on occasion that I only found while viewing on a large projection screen. I highly recommend the two 720p versions (.wmv) that are available for download from the Animusic website; Starship Groove and Resonant Chamber.

    The animation on this DVD is sharp, clear and smooth. The finer textures and tones in the CG animation leap off the screen. Colour rendering is consistent.

    A single subtitle stream is included, merely to show the title at the beginning of each animated clip.The font is quite creative.

    This disc is DVD9 formatted. I wasn't able to find anything resembling a layer pause or transition on my equipment.

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

Audio

    There are three soundtracks available, all of which are Dolby Digital encoded. The default soundtrack is stereo (224Kb/s), while a 5.1 channel surround mix (448Kb/s) my be selected on the fly or via the setup menu. An informative Director's commentary is the third option (192Kb/s).

    The soundtrack is comprised entirely of music; there's no spoken word whatsoever (aside from the Director's commentary, of course). The choice of instrumentation is varied and a surprising degree of colour and depth is achieved despite the use of an electronic medium. All of the music is entertaining, catchy and extremely memorable. Audio sync is spot-on at all times.

    The stereo mix is active, with plenty of pans and use of the stereo sound field relative to the action on screen. The 5.1 surround mix has been constructed in a similar, more conservative way; active and enveloping whilst staying true to the on-screen action and certainly not going overboard. The subwoofer picks up the lower end of the music, particularly the bass guitars and kick drums where applicable.

    The score has been credited entirely to Wayne Lytle, except for the instantly recognisable classical piece in Cathedral Pictures, composed by Modest Mussorgsky of course.

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

Extras

    It's clear a great amount of time and thought has gone into producing these extras, some are almost as intriguing as the main program itself. There's a lot to get through here, enough to keep the kids (and yourself) busy for a long time.

Menu

    The menu pages are superbly animated, with familiar scenes and characters from the Starship Groove clip. In order to access the special features, you need to go to the index page and select a specific scene for its relevant extras. All of the menu pages and extras are presented in 1.33:1 full frame aspect with stereo audio unless otherwise noted.

    After three loops of the main menu, the feature begins playback automatically with default settings (full frame video, stereo audio, titles on).

Audio Commentary- Wayne Lytle (Director)

    Wayne discusses the difference between their automated animation process and the parts that require 'manual' animation, such as camera movements. He also discusses his experiences composing the music and interacting with the animators, production staff and artists who have contributed to Animusic 2. The commentary is much more relaxed than his previous effort and he shares some amusing anecdotes along the way, also asking for viewer feedback on a number of production issues. Wayne's son, Andrew, drops in to say hello and offers some of his thoughts as well.

Multiple Camera Angles- Starship Groove (4:05)

    The entire Starship Groove sequence is presented here with three alternate angles that can be switched using your remote. Cam 1 stays with the robot on left of stage, while Cam 2 floats around the right side. Cam 3 lingers around the middle and focuses on the percussive robots.

Still Gallery- Starship Groove (3:15)

    A great series of conceptual drawings and early rendering shots that show the development of the characters and set pieces.

Alternate Version- Pogo Sticks Rehearsal (3:21)

    In this slightly longer version of Pogo Sticks, all of the characters are present from the beginning of the song, together in one room as though they were having a jam. This clip is 16x9 enhanced (1.78:1).

Still Gallery- Pogo Sticks (2:15)

    Interesting alternate artwork and designs for the Pogo guys and their world.

Split Screen- Resonant Chamber (3:49)

    An interesting view of the Chamber piece, in which the screen is split into six boxes, each one containing a part of the enormous instrument. The very nature of the model is so complex that is would be impossible to show all parts of it in action at once, so having a split-screen view fills that void.

Still Gallery- Resonant Chamber (3:00)

    From early pencil drawings, to simple renderings and the final product, we see the development of the chamber instrument.

Set Construction- Cathedral Pictures (1:40)

    Accompanied by a nice drumless mix of the audio, this short clip shows the set being pieced together from bare floor to full grandeur.

Still Gallery- Cathedral Pictures (2:55)

    Like the other galleries, these stills show some interesting drawings, designs and the like.

Alternate Version- Pipe Dream 2: Wire, Solid, Shaded ()

    This is a very interesting rendition of the full Pipe Dream 2 sequence. As the clip plays, the video seamlessly fades between different stages of the animation process, showing the bare wire models, solid colourless shapes and final product. A portion of the sequence also goes into split screen.

Still Gallery- Pipe Dream 2 (2:40)

    Because the model is essentially recycled from the first Animusic DVD, I would assume the designs and conceptual art presented here date back to the making of the first Pipe Dream.

Alternate Angles- Fiber Bundles (5:15)

    Even by Animusic standards, there is an awful lot going on in this one. With the use of four alternate angles, the sequence has been broken up into percussive, melodic and bass-heavy versions with the final product tacked on as well. Each audio mix isolates the relevant instruments and a handy overlay menu appears to assist in switching between angles. This is an interesting, very well made feature. This clip is 16x9 enhanced (1.78:1).

Still Gallery- Fiber Bundles (2:50)

    More pencil drawings and early renderings of the set piece.

Split Screen- Gyro Drums Quad-view (4:11)

    Like the Resonant Chamber extra feature, this piece breaks up the Gyro set into four split-screen sections, allowing us to see more of the action at once. Of all the extras on this DVD, with its plethora of swinging robotic arms and bombastic four-minute drum solo, this one is undeniably my kids' favourite.

Still Gallery- Gyro Drums (2:20)

    More pencil drawings and early renderings of the Gyro set piece.

Set Construction- Heavy Light (2:13)

    Like the Cathedral Pictures extra feature, this clip show the construction of Heavy Light's elaborate Mayan Pyramid set piece from the ground up.

Close-Ups- Heavy Light (1:58)

    A shorter edit of the Heavy Light sequence, showing finer detail in the sets and robotic laser-beam-firing appendages.

Still Gallery- Heavy Light (3:10)

    Pencil drawings and digital art relating to the Mayan-esque Heavy Light set piece.

Easter Egg- Hidden Loop Button

    On the main menu, press the right arrow button on your remote to highlight a secret loop button. This button launches the main feature and will loop it, beginning to end, ad infinitum. I experimented a bit and found that it is possible to go to the setup menu first, load your preferred settings (soundtrack, aspect ratio, etc.) then return to the main menu. Pressing the loop button then launches the main feature loop with your preferred settings. Pretty clever!

Booklet

    A four-panel, colour, glossy booklet is included with a handy menu flow chart, track listing, credits and a rundown of the special features.

R4 vs R1

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

    This release is identical in content across the globe. Like the first Animusic title, this can be tricky to find in Australian (Region 4) stores. Some stock it happily, while others deny its existence. If you're reading this review I would presume you're internet savvy-enough to track down this one from an online retailer or the official Animusic website.

Summary

    Animusic 2 is a technically impressive, highly entertaining DVD for the whole family. If you're familiar with the first Animusic title, this one is certain to impress.

    The video transfer is first rate. Considering the extreme detail inherent in the animation this is the best one could hope for in an SD format.

    The audio transfer is great.

    The extras are extensive, insightful and very well put together.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Monday, July 20, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba HD-D1, using HDMI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3806 (7.1 Channels)
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora III floor-standing Mains and Surrounds. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Center. Mirage 10 inch powered sub.

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