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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Encounter in the Third Dimension (1999)

Encounter in the Third Dimension (1999) (NTSC)

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Released 1-Jun-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Trailer-Alien Adventure; Haunted Castle
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Audio Commentary
Featurette-Making Of
Theatrical Trailer
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 35:59 (Case: 57)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Ben Stassen
nWave Pictures
Starring Stuart Pankin
Cassandra Peterson
Case Scanavo-Opaque
RPI $34.95 Music Louis Vyncke

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (224Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.44:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     Encounter In The Third Dimension is the first full-length computer animated 3D IMAX film from Belgian-born director Ben Stassen and his team at nWave. If you haven’t yet seen a 3D film at IMAX, a little bit of an introduction is necessary, as these films do not use the traditional 3D that requires red and blue cellophane glasses. It’s a bit more sophisticated than that. Rather than risk confusion, an excellent explanation of how the system works can be found at, which perfectly explains how this 3D technology works.

"To project a 3-D film, two individual images representing the perspective of the left and right eye are simultaneously projected on screen. Without special glasses during the presentation, it will seem like you are seeing double, because in fact you are seeing double. Fortunately, 3-D glasses correct this problem. Each lens of the 3-D glasses has a special filter which blocks out the opposing image, allowing each eye to see only one image. Your brain perceives the fusion of the two separate images as one three-dimensional image."

"There are several ways to project the dual images necessary to exhibit a 3-D film, however not all processes require two separate projectors. The anaglyphic film format simultaneously projects two different images from one single strip of film. One side is coated with a green (or blue) image, the other side is coated red. Spectators are given glasses that sport one green (or blue) lens and one red. The green lens turns the green (or blue) picture on screen to black, while the red lens turns the red image on screen to black. The result is a three-dimensional picture in black and white."

"To see 3-D in colour, the images for the left and right eye must be kept separate. Before today's large format theatres, which use two separate synchronized projectors, previous methods placed two 35mm frames in various configurations, either over and under each other or side by side."

    As director Ben Stassen touches on a bit in the commentaries from all 3 films, the advantage we have with the new CGI era of filmmaking is that you can do things that are not possible with live action filmmaking. The ability to have an entire shot in focus, from the distant background right up to the nearest foreground, is something that can be impossible in a live action scenario, which is essential in 3D. Adding to that, the ability to place the camera wherever you like in your 3D world allows for some great 3D tricks and gags.

    I should also mention the shutter glasses that come in the Ultimate 3D collection. They're not quite as comfortable as I would have liked, but the films all run for under 40 minutes, which is not too long anyway. When in use, the lenses flash very frequently, and I wouldn't recommend wearing them for more than a couple of hours, as they can cause a bit of a headache - as I found out after watching 3 films in a row, rewinding all the good parts a few times.

    Now that’s all the technical stuff out of the way, so onto the review itself. I will not be reviewing this title as a movie (unlike a few critics out there), because I see it as exercise in computer generated 3D filmmaking more than a movie. Encounter In The Third Dimension is basically a not-too-technical documentary on the history of 3D cinema. The detail covered within the production is not enough to keep the viewer interested for too long if watched in 2D, but in 3D, it is a different story altogether (more on that later). We get to see a re-creation of one of the earliest 3D movies ever made, along with some clips from 1950s 3D films, all the way up to more contemporary 3D films such as James Cameron’s Terminator 2: 3D – which is a prominent feature at Universal Studios in the USA. Hosted by “The Professor” (a live action character) and M.A.X (his flying CGI robot sidekick) – acted and voiced by Stuart Pankin respectively – the film also features a musical number from "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark" (the only other live action character). Encounter provided some interesting information on the history of 3D cinema, while at the same time showed off some brilliant effects, everything from objects making you reach out for them to rooms and hallways providing an incredible sense of depth. Even the intro credits looked amazing.

    I found the 2D version of Encounter to be a moderately interesting look at the history of 3D cinema, and felt its characters over-the-top in an unappealing kind of way. When I switched to 3D, I found myself completely immersed in everything that was happening for its entire running time. I give it a high recommendation as far as the 3D side of it goes, but not so much as a 2D documentary.

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Transfer Quality


     The transfer of the 2D film is excellent, and is of reference quality. The transfer of the 3D film is of the same quality; only in 3D it appears to be less sharp. I think that comes down to the viewer’s ability to handle the 3D effect, though.

    The film is presented in a full frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, which means there is no 16x9 enhancement. I should mention that this is a Region 0 NTSC disc.

    Being digitally remastered from the large format film, the image is extremely clear and extremely sharp. The detail of the image is as crisp as can be. Shadow details and black levels are spot on. There is no low level noise. If there is anything slightly derogatory to mention about this transfer, it is that I found the 3D version looked better after a slight adjustment to the brightness and contrast settings on my TV. Parts of the presentation made me feel like I was watching cut scenes from a video game, which is why the increased brightness and contrast helped the effect whilst in 3D.

    Being a computer generated film, the colours were vibrant throughout its entire running time. Reds were bold and bright, never bleeding or smearing.

    There were no MPEG artefacts nor film-to-video artefacts seen in the entire production. Some slight aliasing was noticeable on a couple of occasions, but was never distracting.

    The 3D portion of the DVD copped the layer change, which occurred at 28.11, and was unfortunately mid-sentence. The 2D portion fits comfortably within 1 layer, and required no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     This is an excellent audio transfer that enhances the production by creating an incredibly immersive experience for the viewer, and is of reference quality.

    There are three different audio tracks on this DVD. The default is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks. There is also a dts 5.1 soundtrack and an audio commentary, which presented in Dolby Digital 2.0.

    The dialogue was always clear and intelligible. There were no problems whatsoever with audio sync throughout the entire running time.

    The music by Holly Knight, John Paragon and Louis Vyncke was perfectly clear, never becoming distorted or too loud. With support from all channels, it is presented very well in this audio transfer.

    The surround channels were used constantly to support everything including dialogue, sound effects and music. Creating a 360 degree environment, the surround channels were used very effectively, and helped draw me into the on-screen action incredibly well while watching the film in 3D. There was not a single second that my concentration lapsed throughout the entire film, and a lot of that was contributed to by the surround sound mix. As far as Dolby Digital versus dts goes, I noticed a more 360 degree environment whilst listening to the dts track, but the Dolby Digital mix is still of a very high standard.

    The subwoofer was used just as well as the surround channels, in that it perfectly supported all music and sound effects with some great bass. Like the surround channel usage, the subwoofer was mixed perfectly, adding greatly to the experience. I also give the edge to dts in the subwoofer department, if only just.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     All extra features are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. There are 3 audio tracks to choose from, but they are all identical.

Trailer - Alien Adventure Teaser (0.40)

Trailer - Haunted Castle Trailer (1.26)

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    The Main Menu features a static picture of Elvira, with some CGI animated smoke in the background. There is no audio.

Scene Selection Animation & Audio

    The Scene Selection menu features a static picture in the background, with animated thumbnails for each scene. There is no audio.

Audio Commentary

    This was a pleasant surprise. This screen-specific audio commentary features Executive Producer/Writer/Director Ben Stassen, who was a real treat to listen to. Stassen barely took a breath for the entire running time. He delves into all aspects of the production, from his background in filmmaking, to his inspirations and motivations, to technical aspects such as how certain parts were composited. There is not one thing you could possibly want to know about the production that Stassen doesn't mention. His Belgian accent isn't too strong in that it is unintelligible, and his excitement and obvious pride in his work makes this commentary quite easy to listen to. You really get a great insight into the effort put into the production, and I recommend this commentary to all those interested enough to want to listen to it..

Featurette-Making Of (4.46)

    This is just an extended trailer for the film, with some snippets from the EPK (mentioned below) thrown in to extend it out to almost 5 minutes. Not required viewing, as all the interesting stuff is contained within the EPK..

Theatrical Trailer - Encounter In The Third Dimension (1.16)

Featurette - Electronic Press Kit (10.26)

    This was actually a decent featurette, featuring about six minutes of soundbites - interviews with cast and crew. Not too informative, but good to hear from a few other people involved. This was followed by roughly two and a half minutes of B-roll footage, which showed some behind the scenes footage of the actors, and a behind the scenes look at some of the computer work involved. This was all followed by about two minutes of selected clips from the film.

R4 vs R1

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

     This is a Region 0 release, which is made for all regions.


     Encounter In The Third Dimension was not an incredibly interesting and informative film when watched in 2D, but was the complete opposite in 3D. It managed to provide 36 minutes of fantastic entertainment which intrigued this viewer from start to finish.

    The video quality is excellent and is of reference quality.

    The audio quality is excellent and is of reference quality, which enhanced the overall production substantially.

    The extra features are better than anyone would expect, with a fantastic audio commentary, and a good (if too short) look at some behind the scenes action. Not the most elaborate set of extras, but better than I was expecting.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Pockett (If you're really bored, you can read my bio...)
Thursday, July 18, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayTeac 82cm 16x9. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
Speakers5 Sony speakers; Sherwood 12" 100w Powered Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE