The Saddle Club-Adventures at Pine Hollow (2001)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Biographies-Character-Character and Horse Profiles
|Year Of Production||2001|
|Running Time||85:22 (Case: 83)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Lara Jean Marshall
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, clips from the studio recording of theme song|
††††Set within Australia and produced in Canada, The Saddle Club, Adventures at Pine Hollow is a television adaptation of the popular childrenís novels written by Bonnie Bryant. It tells the story of three pre-teen girls, Carole (Keenan MacWilliam), Stevie (Sophie Bennett) and Lisa (Lara Jean Marhsall), as they face the trials and tribulations of growing up in world that never stops changing. The one thing they hold in common is a love of horses and it is on this basis that they form ďThe Saddle ClubĒ and an enduring friendship that holds them together as they face lifeís many challenges. In many respects the story lines are very melodramatic and most certainly canned, but they are appropriate and do touch on some of the deep issues that uniquely face this particular age group. The series uses a potent mix of action, adventure and drama to confront many issues, primarily focusing on relationships.
††††This feature is a movie length version, created from several segments of the series. As a result, the time progression, whilst at least linear and coherent, does have the distinct feel of being a story in parts. There are two main climaxes in the presentation, (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) one involving death and the other involving birth (of horses, not people) which are designed provide the impetus for determining which relationships have real meaning and which ones are based on false pretences. Of course the show wouldnít be complete without a healthy dose of morals, and so it is that Veronica (Heli Simpson), the shows spoilt and manipulative rich girl, is required to learn the hard way that decisions have repercussions and money cannot buy everything.
††††Put simply, parents could do a lot worse than letting their young daughters enjoy The Saddle Club, Adventures at Pine Hollow. Iíd rather my daughter watch this Canadian/Australian produced show than some of the American drivel that is availabl,e that tries to educate them to become miniature consumers with no sense, rather than any normal type of human being. In that respect this series comes recommended by a father who would prefer his daughter learn useful life skills and self-respect.
††††I was quite surprised by the quality of this video, finding it to be superior to what I would have expected. I have suspicions that this was recorded on tape rather than film due to the lack of typical film artefacts, but there were no analogue tape artefacts present either (except in some very special cases).
††††The main feature is presented as 1.33:1 full screen and is not 16x9 enhanced. Not being able to find anything to the contrary, and consistent with the series being intended for TV distribution originally, I suspect that this is the original aspect ratio.
††††This presentation is quite capable of producing sharp and detailed images but is consistently let down by what appeared to be very poor camera focus (1:30, 7:01, 18:42, 35:13, 47:21, 55:24, 66:30, 75:24, 79:54 are just some of many examples) which in a few cases is so bad that almost all the detail was lost (57:23, 57:53). The black levels and shadow detail were very good considering the material, and the white levels were reasonably well handled except for one case of overexposure at 64:43. There was a reasonable amount of grain or noise present in the image, but I couldnít quite place what the cause was. Iím fairly certain it is not chroma noise, nor is it low level noise, and I donít think it is film grain, although it certainly looks like it.
††††The colours were fairly restrained, lacking any significant vibrancy or saturation. It is only on closer inspection that it becomes evident that the colours are almost perfectly natural; skin tones are extremely precise and the scenery (native Australian locations), clothes and other structures all produced some of the most natural colours I have seen. Itís funny how we come to expect the colours on DVD to be more vibrant than real life. I did not notice any evidence of colour bleeding or over-saturation or any other colour artefacts, but there are some very badly edited cuts, such as where the sky colour and ambient light intensity abruptly change at 14:54Ė15:03.
††††There are no noticeable MPEG artefacts. There are a few aliasing examples at 4:43 (caravan), 7:20, 22:18 (barrier gate) and a few moire examples at 37:22 (video/TV), 37:42 (slats) and 64:38 (corrugated iron shed).
††††There are no film artefacts at all! (Hold a moment, I'm just clearing some hard drive space for the incoming mails).
††††There are also no subtitles at all. This is a bad habit the studios are getting into, not just locally but worldwide, although the US Region 1 version had two sets of subtitles for this feature. Iím almost tempted to recommend someone start a lobbying group for the hard of hearing, as this really is a form of discrimination, and although my hearing is perfect there are times in many movies where the dialogue can be easy to misinterpret.
††††There is no RSDL layer change on this disc, because the feature is wholly contained in a single layer.
††††There was only one Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded track in English, so naturally I listened to that. This is a no-frills, basic audio effort, consistent with almost all made for television titles. I do have one minor gripe though, that being that the theme music recording level was set too high, forcing me to adjust the volume down and then back up during the start.
††††The dialogue is very clear, although it tends to be slightly louder (+3db) in the centre channel than the other main channels whenever a voice would pan between the speakers. This is not as distracting as the lip sync delay, with the audio lagging approximately 300-400ms behind the video. These sorts of things are trivial to fix during the mastering process, and are therefore unforgivable. Also unforgivable is the presence of clipping or sibilance at 31:10, 42:37, 50:36 which can be easily and automatically detected and removed during mastering.
††††The music by Dale Cornelius is fairly unspectacular although the theme song Hello World, arranged by Dale Cornelius and written by Belle Perez, Patrick Renier and Jim Soulier is not that bad, despite the fact that my wife canít stand it. I personally think the theme song, and in particular its lyrics, are extremely appropriate, fitting in with the series perfectly and I also like the fact that it is actually sung by the three main characters Keenan MacWilliam, Sophie Bennett and Lara Jean Marshall as opposed to professional singers. Like the colours, it has that real-life feel to it that I appreciate even though it lacks the polish.
††††The surround channels are used sparingly to provide ambience, mostly for the theme song. Although there were several occasions where they could have been used for various effects, they werenít.
††††The subwoofer slept through this feature. I decided I wouldn't disturb it *ssshhh*.
|Surround Channel Use|
††††The main menu was simply animated and supported by the theme song. Navigation was clear and easy.
††††This is a small collection of static extras:
††††There are several significant differences between the US Region 1 and our local Region 4 product. After much consideration, Iím leaning towards the local product on the basis that the PAL transfer quality and local availability is likely to outweigh the additional audio track, the subtitles and a few extras in a snapper case (good on you, Warners Australia). A summary of the two releases is below:
††† The R4 version misses out on:
††† The R1 version misses out on:
††††This title is not for adults. It is for young pre-teen girls aged 7-11, give or take a little. Anyone outside of this group is unlikely to find this material even slightly interesting.
††††The video quality is often let down by poor camera focus.
††††The audio quality is simple, yet acceptable.
††††The extras are similarly acceptable, albeit somewhat incomplete.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||JVC Interiart Flat 68cm Display 16:9. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.|
|Speakers||Front LR - NEAR MainMast, Center - NEAR 20M, Surround LR - NEAR Spinnaker DiPoles, Rear LR - NEAR MainMast-II, Subwoofer - NEAR PS-2 DiPole|