Nature's Landscapes (1996)

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Released 19-Aug-1998

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary None
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 52:35 (Case: 60)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Brackley-Trans-Lipped
RPI $34.95 Music Stephen McGhee


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English MPEG 2.0 (256Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

   Well, you certainly cannot accuse us of not trying to review everything that gets released here in Region 4, even if it does take nigh on three and half years to do it for this particular DVD. Yes, we return to the very beginnings of Region 4 DVD, when Roadshow Home Entertainment released a small batch of DVDs to test the waters as it were. The unfortunate problem with that initial batch was the fact that they were Pan and Scan, a problem that has to some extent hampered the sales of those early DVDs. Of course, Pan and Scan was not a problem with this particular release as it was meant to be Full Frame and that is what we got. What we also got is a DVD that perhaps in the fullness of time Roadshow may want to return to in terms of remastering. I would suspect that there is a high cringe factor in watching this in the light of three years plus of experience, which has seen Roadshow elevated to the producer of the best local DVDs.

   Naturally, the contents of the DVD are pretty much in accord with the rest of the similar style of DVDs subsequently released by ABC Video: lots of video footage of not just our gorgeous sunburnt country but also the unusual flora and fauna that inhabits it. So we get fifty odd minutes of magnificent scenery, beautiful trees and flowers, stunning bird life and wondrous animal life.

   I suppose that had I seen this when first released I would have been a little more impressed than I am now. Quite simply, quality of presentation has improved a lot over the ensuing three and a half years and this one is definitely showing the ravages of those changes. There are now certainly better efforts available in the ABC Video catalogue than this, but this may still find favour in some places.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in a Full Frame format and it is not 16x9 enhanced.

    It is a bit difficult to give an overall view of the transfer as it really is quite a mixture. There are sections that are crystal clear with a wonderful sharpness and definition to them that would nearly rival the best transfers around. Unfortunately, there are plenty of sections where horrendous grain impinges upon every aspect of the transfer. Naturally enough, there are sections which are somewhere in between these two extremes. I suppose, on balance, the overall transfer is only slightly better than average as far as sharpness and detail are concerned, with clarity in the same general area.

    One area where there are no real problems with the transfer is in the colour - whilst it certainly does not reach the levels of more recent DVDs, there is certainly a nice tone to the proceedings. There is certainly no issue with oversaturation here, although bleed was slightly evident here and there, which is probably a reflection of the inexperience in the medium.

    Another area where the transfer reflects the lack of experience in the medium is in the pixelization that is occasionally present in the backgrounds. Examples are at 3:58 and 4:54. There is also some jitter in the picture at 21:24 which looks like some partially missed frames in the picture. Film-to-video artefacts are virtually absent from the transfer, with only the odd minor instances of aliasing to slightly impinge upon the transfer. There are also no real problems with film artefacts.

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

Audio

    There are two soundtracks on the DVD, the default being in the late and rather unlamented MPEG format. The two choices are an MPEG 2.0 surround encoded soundtrack and a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded soundtrack. I listened to the Dolby Digital soundtrack and only sampled the MPEG soundtrack. There really does not seem to be much of a difference between the two soundtracks, and whilst they are billed as surround encoded, there certainly is not a lot of surround presence in evidence.

    The music comes over well enough in the soundtrack. The music comprises a bunch of popular classical extracts from a range of the ABC orchestras in the country.

    There is really not a lot to talk about as far as the soundtracks are concerned. They do their job well enough and they do not appear to be affected by any dropouts or other blemishes. The music does not exactly impose any great strains on the speaker system and half of them are not used here at all.

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

Extras

Menu

R4 vs R1

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

    As far as we can ascertain, this DVD has not graced the Region 1 release sheets.

Summary

    Whilst it might have wowed us three and a half years ago, Nature's Landscapes does not really cut the mustard nowadays. Roadshow Home Entertainment would probably be wise to send this back for remastering, presuming of course that the source material is not as bad as this transfer does at times indicate. There are certainly a lot better in the ABC Video catalogue nowadays.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Tuesday, March 12, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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