Featurette-Behind The Scenes
|Year Of Production||1997|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (91:39)||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Steven Spielberg|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Auto Pan & Scan Encoded||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
This film is more complex than implied by the above synopsis, but to reveal more will spoil the film. Please seek this film out as it is a powerful drama fuelled by some excellent acting. If you need convincing, this film was nominated for 4 Academy Awards and has a solid 7.3 rating on the Internet Movie Database.
The sharpness of this transfer is variable. At times, the level of detail on screen is brilliant, as good as any disc yet released. See 04:42-05:03, 18:08-18:49 and 71:20-72:07 for some excellent examples. At other times it is downright disappointing. For example, 13:31-13:38 is a semi-long shot of the ship's dingy as it is rowed to shore. In this example, the name of the ship isn't clear. Also, 18:50-19:18 features a shot of the Spanish Queen at a dinner table. This scene just isn't sharp. Another example can be found at 19:19-19:34. In this shot the American President is featured at a rally for the upcoming election and again, the scene is just not sharp. Edge enhancement has been used and is noticeable at times. I've noted a couple of examples for you. One is at 11:56-12:01 and the other is at 89:11-89:13. The black level in this film is excellent and scenes set at night or in shaded areas show a very good level of detail.
Colour saturation is very good, with lovely skin tones on both the white and black actors. The accuracy of the skin tones can be seen at 41:07-41:45.
MPEG artefacts are a problem at times. For example, during the scene in which Theodore Joadson is searching the hold of The Amistad, noticeable posterization and macro-blocking occurs in the bottom right of the frame. See 49:13-49:47. Also, at 55:49-56:08 the level of detail on the bottom right of the frame is very poor and some odd, unnatural shearing and jumping of that portion of the screen occurs.
I found no occurrences of film-to-video artefacts and film artefacts were quite rare. I've noted one example of film artefacts for you, see 06:34-06:40.
This is an RSDL disc with the layer change occurring at 91:39. It is placed during a quiet scene and on my DVD player, is negotiated within 1/4 of a second. I didn't find it disruptive at all.
It's all good news for this audio transfer. This is one the best tracks you will ever hear and while not perfect, it close to reference quality. Firstly, thank you Dreamworks for giving us an audio track encoded at the highest Dolby Digital bit rate. There are a disturbingly large number of discs released in Region 4 that have a lower audio bit rate than their cousins in Region 1. This always annoys me as the extra information encoded on 448 Kb/s soundtracks almost always improves the listening experience.
The majority of the dialogue from the African slaves is in their native tongue and is also spoken at heightened emotional levels and yet their dialogue can always be distinguished from the other sounds present at the time. While I can't speak whatever African language was used, I could still hear what the actors were saying. Audio sync was spot on and there were no pops, clicks or dropouts present.
The score on this film is by John Williams, and a beauty it is too. This score was nominated for an Academy Award in 1997 and it is easy to hear why. It matches the on-screen action perfectly and is also very interesting. There are traditional African themes present as well as the traditional Western orchestral sounds that we are all used to. Massed voices are used to great effect at times, bolstered, in my opinion, by the extra fidelity offered by the high bit rate audio.
The one minor failing of this track is in the patchy use of the surrounds. When they are used, the result is sensational, such as during the opening sequence aboard The Amistad. Listen between 00:50-05:07 to hear what I mean. However, once these effects-rich passages pass, the soundfield collapses to the centre only despite the scene offering opportunities for greater surround activity. Still, this is a very well-designed soundscape that has excellent imaging and great fidelity. For example 16:24-16:29 provides horse noises that are not localized in a particular channel, rather they are heard somewhere to the left of your listening position. Split channel effects are used in many places such as at 14:04-14:10 where a bike moves from the centre to left front channel. Another example can be found at 16:08-16:12 when Cinque is pulled from the ocean.
The subwoofer is used sparingly but effectively at various points. Its use is totally appropriate and well balanced so as to add impact to the on-screen action without overpowering it. Good examples of this can be found at 00:50-05:07 and 138:50-139:06.
|Surround Channel Use|
The quality of this featurette is only adequate as a lot of the behind-the-scenes footage is a little soft as well as suffering from video noise and pixelization. It is, however, still worth watching because of the genuine behind-the-scenes footage and interview segments.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 Dolby Digital version of this disc misses out on:
The video transfer is excellent at times but marred by flaws which I found distracting and disappointing.
The audio transfer is excellent and of near reference quality.
|DVD||Loewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output|
|Display||Grundig MW82-50/8. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Mains and Rears: Tannoy Mercury M1. Centre: Tannoy Mercury MC. Subwoofer: Aaton SUB-120.|