This review is sponsored by
|Category||Test/Demo||Notes - DVD Control
Notes-Sound Level Meter Setup
|Running Time||Not Applicable|
|Region||1,2,3,4,5,6||Director||Joseph J. Kane, Jr.|
|Starring||Sam Dalton (Narrator)|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Video Essentials is at its heart a calibration DVD for your home theatre system. It allows you to correctly set up your audio system and your video system for optimum results. Does it make a difference? By golly it does! I have personally been a fan of Joe Kane and his work ever since the days of the laserdisc-only A Video Standard, the forerunner of this DVD. Prior to this time, I could never adjust my TV so that I would be happy with the image. Now, I am perpetually delighted with the quality of the image my TV produces, and perhaps more importantly, I understand what all those picture controls do and how to correctly adjust them.
How good is Video Essentials? Well, I insist that all reviewers for this site use this disc to calibrate their systems soon after joining the team. I also use this disc to test all the DVD players that I review. I don't think I can recommend it any more highly than that.
Disclaimer: Video Essentials is an NTSC disc. It will correctly calibrate your system for NTSC playback. The same settings do not necessarily apply to PAL playback. Nonetheless, they are often very close, and this disc will give you the understanding you need to make informed adjustments to the front panel controls so you are no longer just fiddling with controls "until the picture looks good".
The narrator describes each control individually and then walks through an on-screen simulation of what that control actually does - more than likely not what you think! Brightness, for example, controls the BLACK LEVEL of your image. Contrast controls the range between the BLACK LEVEL and the PEAK WHITE LEVEL of your image. Once the function of each control has been explained and demonstrated, you then get to set the control for yourself.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced except for one specific test pattern towards the end of the disc.
The transfer was superbly detailed. For the purposes of this review, I watched this DVD on my reference DVD player, something which I haven't done for some time, normally viewing this DVD on whichever DVD player I have on the bench for testing at the time. I'd almost forgotten just how good this source material looks because of this - some of the images in the Image Montage in particular are just magnificent. Crisp, sharp and clear, the images on this DVD are a pleasure to watch and a benchmark for other DVDs. Shadow detail is excellent except when the source material is lacking in this regard. There is no low level noise at all, which is only to be expected for a program mastered in the digital domain as this one was.
The colours were beautifully rendered, once again, as is to be expected from a reference DVD. Vibrant, clear, crisp colours were the order of the day, with not the slightest bit of colour bleeding apparent at any time.
The only problematic sequence on this DVD is the textured floor and walls of the simulated home theatre. This takes on a very blocky appearance whenever it is panned, despite the bitrate of this sequence being set very high. In view of the high quality of the rest of this presentation, I hesitate to call this transfer-related macro-blocking, and will give the disc authors the benefit of the doubt and suggest that it is inherent in the source material, but it really does look very ugly in motion indeed. Coming as it does very early on the disc, it is quite a jarring visual image which has lead me to mark down the quality of the video on this DVD slightly. Aliasing is a slight problem with this sequence also. Film artefacts were restricted to some of the film-based elements within the Image Montage.
There is little to complain about with regards to what is fundamentally a utilitarian audio track. It is clear at all times with never the slightest difficulty in understanding what the narrator is saying. There are no audio sync problems because there is never a time when the on-screen action directly matches the soundtrack.
The pleasant but unremarkable music is by Mark Gasbarro. I guess it must be doing something right, as I have heard the Image Montage music many dozens of times and am not sick of it yet.
The surround channels carried some music and test
signals when appropriate without being overly remarkable. Ditto for the
© Michael Demtschyna
(read my bio)
18th December 2000
|DVD||Loewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 4:3 mode, via the RGB input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer|
|Speakers||Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Hsu Research TN-1220HO subwoofer|