Space (2000)

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Released 8-Feb-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Menu Animation & Audio
Gallery-Photo
Featurette-On Location (3)
Trivia
Featurette-Behind The Graphics
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 173:56
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (97:16) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Sam Neill
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI ? Music Ty Unwin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Space is a six part series that looks at some interesting aspects of space and our place within it. It is hosted by Sam Neill, who does a very good job particularly as he spends most of the series interacting with computer graphics, although I suppose he has had some practice with this in recent years.

    The science included in this series is mostly at the popular level although with a little extra depth in places. There were a couple of occasions where they make definite pronouncements on subjects that in the world of hard science are a little more grey than they portray. On a couple of occasions I found the material a little repetitive, though they may have been trying to drive home a particular point. I found the series interesting and it held my attention most of the time. I think it would be particularly appropriate for early teenagers. They are also guilty of trying to sensationalise some aspects - they harp on about the fact that the sun is going to blow up, but never mention the time frame.

    The graphics used in the series are very good, and in some spots really spectacular. According to the short making-of documentary, they were done right here in Australia. The outside footage was shot in New Zealand, the graphics done in Australia and the production in England in the BBC studios.

    They have chosen an interesting format: they use a simulated hologram projector to place the graphics within a defined area that Sam Neill can walk around and through. He can interact with the graphics and point out the area that is being talked about, like a 10 meter cubed planetarium in 3D. This is an excellent idea and acts as a good counterpoint to the rest of the show which is standard full screen graphics with a disembodied voice-over.

    They also avoid the talking head syndrome when interviewing scientists and others by involving them in some activity, such as playing tennis or some other activity. This makes the series much more interesting visually.

    The series consists of six parts.

Star Stuff (29:08) explores the beginning of the universe, the big bang, and then follows on to the beginnings of our planet and then the beginnings of life.

Staying Alive (29:04) talks about the chance that our planet will be struck by another meteor. According to the series it is actually a very good chance and we should all expect it to happen soon. I found this a little depressing and had to put on Armageddon afterwards just to cheer myself up.

Black Holes (29:04). Well, if the meteors don't get us apparently a stray black hole will. We enter a world of incredible forces and explosions on a vast scale.

Are We Alone? (29:08) We explore the search for aliens, planets that they could live on and what form they might take. They give the famous WOW signal (see my bio) a little more credence that it probably deserves. They flash up some example aliens and it is funny to see that they are all aliens that the BBC already has the copyright for, mostly coming from Dr Who.

New Worlds (29:02) explores the far distant future and how man might move out into the universe and colonise space, first the nearer planets and then further out.

Boldly Go (28:30) examines the technology that would be required to allow us to move out of home, planet Earth, and explore the galaxy.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a fantastic transfer with absolutely no problems with the transfer. There are a couple of minor problems with the source: some scenes have so much computer manipulation and insertion that the original shot footage has suffered a little. There are a couple of occasions where something has been rendered with a limited colour palette, resulting in stepped graduations in some colour graduations but these are very minor. A couple of pieces of stock footage has also been used and these are not of the same high quality as the rest of the series.

    Time coding has not been included on this disc so some players will display no time and others will have to calculate their own. The timings in this review have been calculated by my player.

    We are presented with a 1.78:1 transfer that is 16x9 enhanced.

    Other than the couple of minor occasions as mentioned above this transfer is razor sharp, the image just leaping off the screen. Shadow detail is excellent. As there are a lot of images set in space, a good solid black is essential and this disc delivers. There is no low level noise present.

     The colours are really good. The contrast of the suns, exploding galaxies and all the other celestial objects to the deep blacks is excellent. The colours have good saturation and no noise.

    There are a couple of digital artefacts but I am pretty sure that these are in the source material and not the result of the transfer. They are very minor and won't be noticed unless you are really looking. At 10:36 in the fourth episode Sam Neill is behind the 'hologram machine' with an inserted sky above. Both he and the hill behind have suffered slightly from this treatment.

    The English subtitles are easy to read and accurate to what is being said.

     This is an RSDL disc with the layer change at 10:00 in the fourth episode, Are We Alone? It occurs on a scene change and is not distracting.

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

Audio

    There are two soundtracks on this disc, a Dolby Digital 2.0 and a Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The Dolby Digital 2.0 track does not have the surround flag set, but it is definitely surround encoded with the surrounds receiving clear material. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is surprisingly good.

    Warning: the Dolby Digital 2.0 track is the default track! Haven't seen one of these in a long while, and the real trap is that the menus are in Dolby Digital 5.1, lulling you into a false sense of security.

    I listened mainly to the Dolby Digital 5.1 track and did a quick comparison to the Dolby Digital 2.0. The mix on the two tracks is different. The music is louder while Sam Neill is talking in the 2.0 mix as an example. The bass is much better in the 5.1 mix as are the surrounds.

    The dialogue quality is excellent throughout as is the audio sync.

    The music is good and follows the theme of the series adding a nice audio background to the space shots.

    The surrounds are used actively with both ambience and music expanding the soundstage along with some really nice split surround effects while planets and other celestial objects are whizzing around the room.

    The subwoofer gets a real workout with both redirected bass and a real healthy dose of LFE. There are some real house-shaking effects as universes explode with some very low frequency content.

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

Extras

   

Menu

    A full animated entry to an animated menu along with animated switches between menus. The chapter selection menus have a small segment from each chapter plying in a small insert. The main menu has a Dolby Digital 5.1 sound track. The animation loop runs for 30 seconds.

Photo Gallery

    A series of 23 photos presented at 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced. The photos are inserted into a graphic and only take up about half the screen, making them a little small. They consist of people, locations and graphics from the show.

On Location

    Three small segments recorded with a handy cam on location in New Zealand. Presented at 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 sound track. The quality is about what you would expect from a very small hand-held camera. I did not find these particularly interesting.

Nugget Beach (2:21) shows the crew having some fun during the filming. I am not sure that they expected this footage to end up being published, as there are a few bleeped words.

Fluffing (1:30) shows a man setting up the props for the hologram machine.

Boys Toys (2:08) shows some of the crew playing with some earth moving equipment and other 'boys toys'.

Space Facts

    Several static pages of text with some popular science facts, 27 of them.

Featurette: Behind The Graphics

    This was definitely the best of the extras, a 9:59 making-of that is quite interesting. It is presented at 1.78:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced and has a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. I found the globalisation of the production very interesting. The graphics were produced in Australia - they would batch up the day's work and send it to the BBC in England who would have a look and send back comments. As they were in opposite time zones, this worked really well.

R4 vs R1

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

    This DVD does not appear to be available in Region 1.

Summary

    Space is a visual feast supported by a very good soundtrack along with a little bit of education - popular science at its best.

    The video is excellent.

    The audio is excellent.

    The extras: a documentary on a documentary...actually interesting but short.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Thursday, January 31, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252Q CRT Projector, 254cm custom built 1.0 gain screen. 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.
AmplificationSony STR-DB1070
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

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