Ben Hooft

Site Reviewer

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Vital Statistics

Age Group Now closer to 30 than 20, but not by much... & single I should mention... ladies? :D
Video Likes Original aspect ratio. Open matte transfers are also fine as long as top and bottom of frame were part of the original shot composition by the cinematographer.

16x9 enhancement for widescreen presentations.

Transperant compression.

A clean, clear, crisp and colourful transfer. Is that too much to ask? The remastered version of The Shining is an excellent example of how all movies should look regardless of age. MGM's James Bond collection is an excellent example of how movies shouldn't look. The older films in particular are a mess of film and MPEG artefacts.

Video Dislikes Film artifacts, I really really hate film artefacts, they can be removed and shouldn't be there, once again The Shining is a perfect example.

Compression artefacts, particularly when there's enough space for a higher bit-rate.

Posterization.

Telecine wobble.

Pan & scan transfers.

I don't have a major problem with aliasing, the problem is inherent with interlaced TV in general. If you have a problem with it buy progressive scan equipment & stop complaining!

Audio Likes DTS-ES 6.1 & Dolby Digital 5.1 EX

Constant detailed surround activity even in the quietest moments of the film.

Realistic & imaginative sound design.

A wide dynamic range.

Lots of bass when the occasion calls for it.

Audio Dislikes Poor 5.1 soundtracks like the one found on Silence Of The Lambs SE which are obviously stereo soundtracks processed with a matrix encoder & then passed off to the consumer as a "remastered" 5.1 soundtrack.

Silence in the rear channels. Rule of thumb: if there is sound in the front speakers there should be sound in the rear speakers to.

Distortion, which is a sound recordist's biggest sin (I should know, I am a sound recordist!).

384kbs Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks because they roll-off at 18khz NOT 20khz. Technically this is not hi-fi sound. The real ironic thing is that even VHS can reach 20khz. 448kbs encoding should be mandatory for Dolby Digital 5.1: full range up to 20khz!

Favourite DVDs Seven R1 (Why R1? Better compression)

Cast Away R1 (Why R1? DTS-ES & better compression)

Final Fantasy

The Mummy UE

Gladiator R1 (Why R1? DTS-ES 6.1)

Any Given Sunday

The Shining R1 (Why R1? Longer cut)

Late Show

For All Mankind - Criterion Collection

Lord Of The Rings: 4-Disc Extended Editions R1 (Why R1? Better audio & video transfers)

Black Hawk Down 3-Disc CE

Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels R2UK (Why R2UK? Directors cut & RSDL w/ far better compression)

Amelie - SE 2-Disc R2UK (Why R2UK? DTS, commentary with loads of extras & one of the most phenominal transfers I've seen in some time)

Least Favourite DVDs The Fifth Element (Why? Again, huge movie, no extras)

Silence Of The Lambs SE (Why? Poor sound)

Columbia Tristar's 'pre special edition minimalist releases' like Black Hawk Down & Panic Room. We all know they'll release special editions in the near future but they're not exactly advertising the fact.

Superbit: the biggest marketing gimmick in the history of DVD. The only true Superbit DVDs that have been released are Dreamworks & Universal's DTS only releases in Region 1 like Out Of Sight, Dante's Peak & Galaxy Quest. Unlike Superbit they use the FULL capacity of the DVD & have full-bitrate DTS for the highest quality audio. What annoys me most is that some Superbit releases like Mummy Returns don't provide ANY extra quality because the original release already has a high video bit-rate & DTS.

Most Eagerly Awaited DVDs Due South TV series box set (which I have recieved & it is very cool!)

Blade Runner SE w/ Ridley's commentary & 5.1 audio

Titanic SE w/ 16x9 enhancement & DTS

Another concert DVD by Jewel (the sound on Live At Humphrey's By The Bay is much to be desired)

Apocalypse Now SE w/ Coppola's commentary, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse & more footage from the film presented separately (remember there is a 5 1/2 hour workprint).

All the Warner Bros Looney Tunes cartoons restored & remastered on one big DVD box set (almost there).

The Space Movie. Released in 1979 to celebrate the 10th aniversary of landing man on the moon The Space Movie is the finest documentary ever produced bar none. The music is by Mike Oldfield & the producer is none other than the Richard Branson who produced this through his then small Virgin Films company. A few years ago I scoured the globe & managed to find the last remaining brand new copy of this doco on VHS, that's how much I like it. I've also personally asked Richard Branson to re-release it but that's another story!

Opinions About Specific Movies and their DVDs

Titanic The Movie: Great the first time, good the second time, needs editing by the fifth time, just skip straight to the sinking by the tenth time. Bring on a directors cut that's shorter (hey Peter Weir did it with Picnic At Hanging Rock).

The DVD: Releasing the DVD without 16x9 enhancement was an insult (how was it given THX approval?) A 16x9 enhanced version with DTS is definately in order.

The Matrix The Movie: Love it. Highly imaginative, great FX, great sound and injected millions into the Australian economy.

The DVD: Set the benchmark for all future releases, particularly the "Follow the White Rabbit" feature which has now become a term in the DVD dictionary. I would still like to see a DTS or Dolby Digital 5.1 448kbs release in the future (looks like we'll be waiting some time for that).

Terminator 2 The Movie: Has lost it's appeal with me after 10 years and many many viewings. The countless plot similarities to first film get a little irritating. They both end in a factory; what a coincidence? Unfortunately unlike a fine wine it's not improving with age. The first one is better.

The DVD: There's so many different versions out now I'm not sure what to say.

Star Wars The Movie: Classic. No better word to describe it.

The DVD: A most impressive restoration.

Godzilla The Movie: One of the worst scripts in movie history. A waist of money, a waist of talent and a waist of my time!

The DVD: Excellent DVD but still not nearly enough to save the film.

Independence Day The Movie: Another corny script, but entertaining none-the-less. It is the second biggest American w*** of all time (not that there's anything wrong with that), second only to Top Gun, it's a close call.

The DVD: Great transfer except for that nasty MPEG artefact at 7:45, big smacks for that Fox! Will be interesting to see if the new version fixes this.

Equipment

DVD Player Pioneer DV-655A, SACD & DVD-A , using S-Video output
Display Loewe CT-1170 (66cm) . Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio Decoder Pioneer VSX-D1011, THX Select, DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete, DTS 96/24 & DD 5.1 EX . Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
Amplification Pioneer VSX-D1011, THX Select, DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete, DTS 96/24 & DD 5.1 EX
Speakers Front & Centre: Monitor Audio Bronze 2, Surrounds: Sony SS-SRX7S, Surround Back: Paramount Pictures Bookshelf Speakers

Top 10 DVDs

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1. Black Hawk Down: Collector's Edition (2001)
The wait was worth it. A stunning 3-disc set.
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2. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within: Collector's Edition (2001)
State-of-the-art video & audio + loads of extras.
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3. Mummy, The: Ultimate Edition (1999)
Fine transfer, DTS, loads of extras - 3 commentaries.
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4. The Mummy Returns: Collector's Edition (2001)
Why not just call it an Ultimate Edition?
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5. Bad Eggs (2003)
Tony Martin - a DVD fan's best friend.
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6. The Late Show-The Best Bits of: Champagne Edition (1992)
Literally half a days worth of entertainment.
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7. Three Kings (1999)
Fine transfer, extras are highly informative.
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8. The Matrix (1999)
Set the standard for all future DVD releases.
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9. Ghostbusters: Collector's Edition (1984)
Brilliant restoration, good extras, great commentary.
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10. U2-Go Home: Live at Slane Castle, Ireland
Great concert. Great sound. Great DVD

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