Sector 7 Transmission 1: "Secret transmissions have been intercepted from Sector 7. Download the first in a series of six video file transmissions. Additional transmissions coming soon." After the 20 second or so download, you see a brief, 4 screen shot of surveillance video of a Transformer doing its thing. Ho-Hum. Web-Enabled Items Coming Soon: Transformers Profiler: "The Transformer Profiler serves as an in-movie guide for learning more about the production including cast, crew, locations, etc. Once downloaded, access the Profiler from the extras menu while watching the movie." Menubots: "Transform your in-movie menubar to one featuring a Transformer. Select from multiple looks including Bumblebee, Optimus Prime and Megatron." My Clips: Mark your favorite clips from the movie and then re-order them into a custom playlist. You can also share your new playlist with other connected users who also own the HD-DVD." So far, not a lot to choose from, but it seems as if Paramount will be spending MUCH more time on this type of material. Keep checking back! Video: Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 11-S1 DLP projector, which has a native resolution of 1080p. I am using a Toshiba HD-XA2 for a player and utilizing the HDMI capabilities of both units. Since the Toshiba is having technical issues displaying 1080p, I am having it output 1080i and the Marantz is responsible for the up-conversion to 1080p. Transformers is encoded in the MPEG-4 AVC codec at 1080p with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. When I saw this picture in the movie theater over the summer I was disappointed at the presentation as the print looked to be worn already and a little dim. It was my hope when it came time to review the HD-DVD that we would get a better image, and I am very happy to say we have. The HD image is bright and punchy showing a boosted contrast level making the picture look hot, which is a trademark to Bay’s pictures. This picture, however, brings the heat even more with numerous shots set against sun drenched backdrops to cast a beautiful golden glow on everything. Colors are warm and rich and even though there is higher contrast levels, the colors still maintain accuracy. Black levels are exceptional showing great depth and detail in even the darkest of scenes. They maintain good delineation between the light and dark parts of the picture and I did not notice any black or color bleeds. Flesh tones are accurate for the most part, but the actors are always at the mercy of the numerous colors in the shot, radiating from computer monitors, environmental effects or robot’s rushing by. Sharpness and detail are excellent and better than what I remembered in the theater presentation. Normally, I’d want the home environment to match the theater environment as close as possible, but Transformers is a movie for a digital age and it’s translation to home theater reflects that idea. Video noise is very minor and some film grain is noticed, but nowhere near as bad as in the theatrical presentation. Edge enhancement is not noticed nor was there any print dirt. Not surprising, this is reference material. Audio: The Dolby Digital Plus soundtrack was attained by a 5.1 analog connection. For a release this big, Paramount made a misstep by not putting a lossless track on the disc. Regardless, the 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus (DD+) track is, not to sound too repetitive, reference material. I don’t recall hearing a more active soundtrack for a very long time, where all 5.1 channels are used almost equally. There were a couple points in the movie where I noticed the fronts were barely engaged and the two surround channels were doing all of the work. Transitions between each of the channels are seamless and I found myself looking up to see if the planes were flying over me. Fidelity is excellent producing a clean and clear presentation that is free from any distortion. Bass effects come alive in the action scenes, obviously, but they do not overshadow the rest of the soundtrack. As the robots set off various explosives aimed at the viewer, the low bass rumbles your way, increasing in intensity as it washes over you. Voices are natural sounding but ADR is noticed in a couple scenes. Again, this is reference material. Bonus Material: With the advent of HD-DVD, we are faced with several different audio and video codecs being used on each disc. Due to this, I have begun adding the encoding details as part of the explanation of bonus features when applicable and relevant. For this release, the extras are in MPEG-4 AVC, 1080p unless otherwise noted. Disc One Feature Length Commentary by Director Michael Bay: Bay sounds a little congested in this commentary, but he is informative and a little bit cocky about his place in Hollywood. He loves to drop names, but at the same time, he seems to have a real love for this property. He talks about the initial fan reaction to him directing, and the lengths people will go to get information about movies. The usual stuff applies here, where he comments about the production, cast, and film making process. Bay still seems like a bit of a fanboy when it comes to his films and genre stuff in general. Transformers Heads-Up Display (H.U.D): Choose this option and you will see a pop-up video type trivia track and occasional pop-up video windows to highlight animatics, stunts, actor and crew comments, what have you. This is a fun way to watch the picture and it gives you a primer for the more extensive and detailed docs on Disc Two. Disc Two The extra features on this disc are split up into three parts: Our World, Their War, and More Than Meets the Eye and then each of those parts have multiple chapters. Our World (49:17) consists of four parts: The Story Sparks, Human Allies, I Fight Giant Robots and Battleground. It starts out with Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay explaining how the project started and Bay’s visit to Hasbro. Bay talks about how the script changed and what goes into making “Bayhem”. The second part goes into the actors and their characters and some of the training they went through. The third part shows some of the training the actors went through to make them on-screen soldiers as well as some behind the scenes material of the stunts. The fourth part deals with the locations and how the vehicles interact with them. Their War (1:05:07) consists of five parts: Rise of the Robots, Autobots Roll Out, Decepticons Strike, Inside the Allspark, and Transformers Tech Inspector. The first part has a Hasbro guy and the screenwriters explaining the history of the show and how they had to sell the fans on this new, big screen version. This part also shows the conception and design of the Transformers. The second part shows us the actual vehicles they used, including the new Camaro, the Solstice, the Hummer, and the stunts with them. Part three focuses on the wickedness of the Decepticons and the fighter jets they are based on. Part four shows the CG modeling of the Transformers and ILM and Digital Domain’s work on the picture. Part five, Transformers Tech Inspector, allows you to select an N.B.E (Optimus Prime, Megatron, etc.) and examine the head, torso or base of the robot in closer detail. The sections spin as if you are viewing the CG model. You can also look at the individual parts, such as the guns, closer as well. Unfortunately, you cannot pause the spinning views. More Than Meets the Eye consists of three parts: From Script to Sand: The Skorponok Desert Attack, Concepts and the trailers. The first part (8:54) goes in depth into the Skorponok attack in the desert with the stunts, CG, visual effects and explosions. The next part (2:12) is a slideshow of the concept art for the production set to the score. Finally, the teaser trailer and two theatrical trailers are available. Conclusions: Pure entertainment value for the kid in us is about the best description of Transformers I can give. The HD-DVD from Paramount is my new reference disc, and although I would have loved a lossless audio track, what is presented AV-wise more than makes up for it. The set also has some great extras that cover most of the film making process. This type of material allows us enthusiasts to be that much closer to hi-def nirvana in our theaters. Is it any surprise this HD-DVD comes… Highly Recommended!