Beyond the Mind's Eye (1992) (NTSC)

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Additional Footage
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 49:24 (Case: 45)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Michael Boydstun
Studio
Distributor
Miramar
Simitar DVD
Starring None Given
Case Jewel
RPI $24.95 Music Jan Hammer


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, "Too Far Juice" ;-)
Action In or After Credits Yes, Full Credits to all animators

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

Plot Synopsis

     Consisting of no less that eighty one distinct segments taken from almost seventy separate animation shorts, Beyond the Mind’s Eye presents a showcase of some of the best computer animation of the early 90’s set to the original music of Jan Hammer. Quite simply this is a fantastic collection that provides a glimpse into the early history and development of computer graphics and special effects. For anyone interested in CGI, this title, and others in the series, are an absolute must have. Unfortunately, this particular presentation is let down as a result of the poor source chain; namely from digital original to interpositive film to analogue video and finally to digital MPEG DVD. As a result, the detail and colour suffer.

     Amongst some of the lesser known, but just as interesting animations, this title brings you excerpts from the following classics:

     These great segments are part of computer animation history and are worth seeing at least once.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Beyond the Mind’s Eye is a mixed bag as far as the video quality is concerned. Segments range from passable to very poor in quality as a direct result of sourcing the materials from analogue video versions which themselves were taken from inter-positive film sources. This is almost criminal, as the original material, being purely digital in nature, could have been mastered directly from source to DVD almost flawlessly. This is the one, biggest let-down of all of the Mind’s Eye series. Of course by now, many of the original software and systems that would be required to regenerate the originals is probably only available in museums; such is the computer industry. So this may be best they may ever look.

     The material is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.. I assume that this is the original aspect ratio for two reasons – (a) I cannot find any indications anywhere that would imply that this is not and (b) the material was designed on computers which traditionally have aspect ratios closer to 4x3 than 16x9.

     In general the image is reasonably sharp and fairly detailed except in a few places such as 36:31 and 4:54 for example. There are several segments in Chapter 2 which appear soft, however this is due to the anti-aliasing that has been applied to the source materials during rendering. The black levels are very good and likewise so are the white levels. There is almost no low level background noise or film grain to be concerned about. There are some issues resolving shadow detail, primarily affecting Chapter 3 (9:08, 10:50, 17:44, 29:13 are good examples where this happens).

     The single, largest problem with this disc was the chroma noise which is present almost universally, although 7:37, 12:30, 14:10, 16:41, 23:19 are some excellent examples where the chroma noise begins to dominate the image. The colour issues don’t stop there though, as the analogue video sources provide us with several excellent examples of cross-colouration at 11:07 (spider's web), 13:11, 13:16 (colour break-up – Ch 4), 21:02 (singer's costumes), 23:24 (door) and 37:35 (light beam); examples of dot-crawl at 15:24 (red strips); colour-bleeding at 26:56 and 3:36; and finally oversaturation which affected all of Chapter 7 (25:21, 26:28, 28:00). Other than that, the colours were fine.

     Experience has taught me that wherever you find source materials with lots of inherent noise artefacts, you are also bound to find some MPEG encoder ones as well. This disc is no exception, although they are very well contained, relatively speaking. There are some good examples of macro-blocking at 1:19 and 33:19 and some combination Gibbs effect at 6:24, 28:57 and 36:26. There are also some fantastic, textbook examples of aliasing, which is present to some degree or other in almost every segment. The worst offenders are at 14:50, 15:00, 16:59 and to a lesser degree 13:40, 14:40, 23:31. As a result of the generally severe aliasing we also find some good examples of moire effects at 11:45 (panels), 14:28 (chip pins), 18:56 (grille), 26:00 (blinds). Finally, things would not be complete without some fine examples of interlaced frames, again due to the analogue video sources, most of which can be found in Chapter 6 where every cut is interlaced. Others are scattered around (for example 18:15, 19:13, 29:12, 31:47).

     There are also plenty of film artefacts present including blue dots (1:07), black flecks (3:30, 3:39, 26:21, 26;22), white flecks (29:20, 29:21, ), coloured flecks (37:15) and scratches (6:43). My favourite, however, would have to be a frame located at 40:12 where we have a film artefact (hair) combined with a video artefact (chroma noise) combined with an MPEG artefact (macro blocking)! Enjoy ;-)

     There are no subtitles. It would have been nice to have had the animation title, credits, platform and other comments available via a subtitles stream.

     The feature is contained wholly within a single layer so there is no RSDL change present.

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

Audio

     The audio track on this disc, whilst not to everyone’s liking, is very good and deserves more credit than I think it typically gets.

     I listened to the only audio track present, the PCM Stereo 2.0 track. Although not surround flagged, it most certainly is surround encoded and should be listened to as such.

     There is no dialogue (well almost none) but the music is in definite sync with the animation.

     The music by Jan Hammer is nice and varied and blends in perfectly with the sequence of animation segments. This is an atmospheric track, ranging in style from relaxing to, at times, energising. Although many will criticise this choice of music, I find it totally appropriate for the material, that being computer animation. Then again, if you don’t like it, you can always listen to something else whilst watching the feature.

     The surrounds carry not only ambience, but at times also include discrete channels of sound, at 21:02 for instance. This is a very pleasant and enveloping audio track to listen to - you could almost close your eyes and listen, except then you would miss all the real action on-screen.

     The subwoofer is not really used for this material.

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

Extras

Main Menu

     Simple but a little different to what you usually run into. The submenus are actually pages of the main menu. You can cycle through them by selecting next, next.

Bonus Animation (4:01)

    This bonus animation is simply a repeat of Chapter 2, the Panspermia (Seeds of Life) segment, with a vocal track added and digital overlay compositing of Jan Hammer into the scenes. Not really that much to jump up and down about.

R4 vs R1

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

     This DVD is identical worldwide.

Summary

    Beyond the Mind’s Eye is a snapshot of state-of-the-art computer animation from the early 90s. Unfortunately, it is presented on a mediocre disc.

    The video quality is mediocre, having been derived from analogue video sources.

    The audio quality is actually pretty good and I personally like the music.

    The extras. A music video created by compositing the singer into the animation is a poor extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael S Cox (to bio, or not to bio?)
Sunday, October 13, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplayJVC Interiart Flat 68cm Display 16:9. 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.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3802
SpeakersFront LR - NEAR MainMast, Center - NEAR 20M, Surround LR - NEAR Spinnaker DiPoles, Rear LR - NEAR MainMast-II, Subwoofer - NEAR PS-2 DiPole

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