Blast From The Past … Genesis of a Calibrator … Part 3

ANTI-TRUST                                         MGM

A117

7.5

2.35 16×9

5.1

Extras

DVD-9

Category: Science Fiction / Drama / Documentary

A decent high tech thriller set in the computer industry with allusions to Microsoft.  Plenty of interesting characters and the film is set in Portland although one might think Vancouver every now and then.  Rachel Leigh Cooke is still a dish to look at.  Image quality is generally very good with no hint of artifacts.  There are quite a few extras on this disc including commentary, the trailer, a documentary, a music video, deleted scenes and more.  A nice package.  No one is whom they appear to be.

 

ANTZ                                                    Dreamworks

A120

7.5

1.85 16×9

5.1

Extras

RSDL

Category: Science Fiction / Fantasy / Documentary

This one came from Future Shop for about $25.  The film comes with a number of extras and an animated menu system.  The film is darker than the Disney film.  The characters tend to look a bit like their real life counterparts.  I do not think this one is as fun as the Disney counterpart.  The colour palette is much bolder in the Disney film.  I cannot complain too much about the price of the disc nor the image quality.  Sometimes the voice actor completely over takes the character on screen ruining the all important suspension of disbelief.  Apparently, some scenes are very good for demonstrating the patented Herman-TLV maneuver on the set.  Great for the fine detail.  Funny, looking at the aspect ratio here, you’d swear the ratio was greater than 1.85:1, but it isn’t.  It is 16:9 or at least that is what it should be.

 

APOCALYPSE NOW – W/S (2.35:1) DD:

A00     Video Rating: 7.5                           Paramount

Category: Science Fiction / Drama / War

Look again, the film was reissued to theatres in 1991 hence the new 1991 production date as opposed to the actual 1980/81 production date.  This is actually the first film to get the THX treatment although this is not documented on the disc.  It was done prior to the official start up of that certification program.  The film has not been issued at its original aspect ratio.  The new ratio of 2.00:1 is suspiciously close to 16:9 if not identical meaning that significant cropping has occurred again.  This turns out to be the decision of the film’s Director of Photography so we all suffer.  The aspect ratio is identical to the ratio seen in the opening of Babylon 5.  I do not have this one yet, however it is likely to show up in one form or another within the next two years possibly in the DVD (Digital Versatile (stupid) Disc) format although that format doesn’t offers greater vertical resolution either.  I still need to cut out that cow sacrifice scene.  Makes me shiver just to think about it.  With the DVD, perhaps we will be able to choose the aspect ratio ourselves from full pan and scan to original aspect ratio.  Direct TV showed this film in anamorphic 16:9 as a test.  Would have been interesting to have recorded that program.  With the arrival of the DVD format, I can at last understand what anamorphic images are all about.  It does make a difference as any shimmering on the standard version is now remedied with the increased vertical resolution available in the format.  Paramount hasn’t even joined the DVD camp yet.  They want to make all their product DIVX.  In time, they did join the DVD camp, but aside from some initial releases, all their follow up issues completely lack any 16:9 enhancement which is greatly disappointing and would affect my decisions about replacing certain titles.  The DVD is now on the store shelves and I have been struggling with my wallet in deciding to get the film.  I am holding off and I think that in the long run, I won’t get it at all.  It must be the cow sacrifice scene that is turning me off.

 

APOLLO 13                                           MCA

A125

7.5

2.35 16×9

5.1

Extras

RSDL

Category: Drama / Documentary / TV / Musical

This one is coming from MCA in the Spring of 1996.  I am not sure what the aspect ratio is on the film, but I know that it will be relatively inexpensive especially through Digidisk Entertainment.  This two hour plus film should look and sound very good.  The special effects are said to be  spectacular from James Cameron’s Digital Domain Effects shop.  A music video on NCN showed the film to be at least 1.85, which makes me believe the true aspect ratio is 2.35:1.  It gets David’s thumbs up for purchase so I won’t even bother seeing it in the theatre.  Save some green for the Laserdisc and every dollar counts.  Announced for the end of November from MCA with a special signature edition to come at a later time including all the extras.  As expected, it will be THX, but not AC-3 and for good reason given that MCA will be a backer of the DTS Coherent Acoustics format to be unveiled in early 1996.  The disc will come in with a price of $41.43 which is a nice price for this three sided effort that is sure to please.  I look forward to seeing the special effects.  (Wait, don’t tell me if they make it or not, I don’t want to know yet.)   Low color values and somewhat dull picture for a THX effort.  The special effect sequences really pick up the audio track.  There may be a little too much technobabble in this film for some people to watch.  Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with no accompanying AC-3 audio track.  MCA may be the last company to resist this industry push.  We won’t exactly miss the lack of an AC-3 track though.  Given the material, the film does not lend itself to a heavy surround track.  Somehow the effects sequences have a different feel to them than the live action footage.  The bonus is that the viewer finally gets a more in depth look at how the moon shot process worked and what it might have felt like on the mission.  I suppose we never knew it was so imprecise with regard to steering the vehicle to and from the moon.  I had a chance to compare this disc with the live feed from the TVN Theatrevision pay per view channel in widescreen.  The disc had much more colour saturation and was considerably less grainy.  Here is one case where the Laserdisc beats the satellite broadcast.  The picture insert was taken from the disc and may be the first of many letterbox representations of what the film looks like on disc.  The film is shot in Super 35 and is not an anamorphic effort so it explains why the cropped version looked viewable.  Isn’t that Rance Howard playing the reverend in the Lovell home?  It’s John Sheridan’s father.  This film is being re-issued in January 1997 with the DTS surround audio.  In the future, if they release the films simultaneously with the standard release … I may opt for the DTS version as that is the direction that I will be going in anyway.  MCA is going to re-issue a lot of their big titles in conjunction with the roll out of the DTS decoder units.  The DVD version of this film has been announced for early 1998 in the Signature Edition version of the film.  There is to be commentary and a very reasonable $28 price tag.  But MCA has lowered the price on all their Signature collections even for Laserdisc.  With the addition of the DVD crowd, MCA has determined that the cost of these collections can be made back with greater units sold and they are right.  The DVD looks fine and it also comes with an added bonus commentary track.  Jim Lovell and his wife provide some interesting commentary, but most of the time it is only Jim talking.  His wife will mention only a few things every 15 minutes or so, almost as if Lovell takes a prod to her to get her talking.  I did finally take the time to watch this one through on DVD and it looks great.  I cannot say that the AC-3 jumps out at you, but it is there at the appropriate places.  Lovell reveals some interesting aspects about the real story and he identifies which people were not actually real people.  The DTS Demo DVD has the blast off sequence presented in DTS and a non-anamorphic high bit-rate transfer.  It does look incredible, but is it better than the anamorphic version at a lower bit rate?  The Apollo launch vehicle blasts off a bit too quickly in this film compared to an actual Saturn 5 Launch.

Michael Chen

Michael Chen is the only THX Video Systems Instructor in Canada, and beyond these borders, is one of just two THX Video Instructors in the entire world.  He has actively consulted with Spectracal and ChromaPure and has created numerous education videos on the calibration process with still more to come.  His Video Calibration Training Series has quickly become the most comprehensive and simple to understand learning tool on the market today.  He has also taught classes for both the ISF and Spectracal as well and is now spearheading his all new TLVEXP calibration training program. Let Michael teach you Video Calibration and add that additional income stream to your installation and integration business

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