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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Bambi - Absolutely Recommended!!!



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#1 of 190 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted February 27 2005 - 08:01 AM


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#2 of 190 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted February 27 2005 - 08:14 AM

I'll be picking mine on Tuesday and this review just makes me more eager to get itPosted Image

#3 of 190 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted February 27 2005 - 08:34 AM

Well, David. We've been waiting for your review...and thank you for your usual thorough job. Now, we've just got to wait a couple more days for the actual discs.

Great job! Posted Image

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#4 of 190 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted February 27 2005 - 08:41 AM

Absolutely great review. Thanks, David. Excellent work! Hardly can't wait to receive the DVD. Cees

#5 of 190 OFFLINE   Ernest Rister

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Posted February 27 2005 - 09:02 AM

Outstanding work as always, David. Thanks for your time and unique insights into this film. Your work is always a great pleasure to read, and as I've said before, you're the best DVD critic writing today.

Just a couple of notes from reading the review:

...like the fact that they used Rotoscoping (animating over live-film to capture more realism in movement in hard-to-draw concepts) for Bambi's father's antlers.

Just a quick clarification -- the Disney animators did not trace the antlers from live animal footage. What they did was rather ingenious. In test animation of the Great Prince, they found they were having great difficulty with the antlers, they looked "rubbery", meaning they did not have the stiff rigidity and feel of the real thing.

Finally, a solution was found. A large plaster sculpture of the Great Prince was created, and this was mounted on a pivot device so the head could be positioned at any angle relative to the animator. Then, using a mirror and a bright light, the image of the scultpture was reflected through the glass of the animator's drawing stand, and the animator traced the antlers from the sculpture, repositiong the head as the needs of the animation required.

Rotoscoping live-action footage (in the mode of Ralph Bakshi's films and Don Bluth's Titan A.E.) is a no-no in character animation, it is highly frowned upon as "cheating" by character animators.

But in the case of an animated film like Bambi, my inclination is to allow the line to be drawn even closer to the beginning of the signal chain. I'd suggest that the painted artwork itself is the "source" to which we should adhere.

Fascinating question, David. Never really considered it, thought it makes sense. My only worry is that the film may be stripped of its atmosphere by removing the film grain - film grain gives a sense of density and life to an image, particularly helpful with a film like Bambi.

Let's consider the scene where Bambi's mother tests the safety of the meadow. We see it in long shot, initially, and the film grain (as I've been used to it) gives a sense of density and life to the wide open spaces. I fear that without the grain, we're looking at a static environment, like she is walking onto a lifeless meadow where even the air doesn't move.

That's my worry, anyway.

#6 of 190 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted February 27 2005 - 09:14 AM


You're absolutely right. In many ways, film-grain gives a kind of "life" to an image...and can also add to the illusion that the event was one that was "photographed" rather than animated.

Your impressions about that scene are spot-on. Though one could argue that the artistic intent of that scene might have been to have the meadow seem still and silent...like morning mist...and that removing the grain actually aids this impression.

Of course, these are answers to questions we may never have, but your points are absolutely correct that the sense of the image changes without the grain and depending on the intent of the artist, this might not be for the better (and naturally that's true when film-grain is used as part of the aesthetic fabric of visual style).

I'll also incorporate your comments about rotoscoping into the review...you go into much more detail than the audio commentary!

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#7 of 190 OFFLINE   Ernest Rister

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Posted February 27 2005 - 10:09 AM

Tricks of the Trade: A seven minute excerpt from one of Walt's 1957 Disneyland TV shows detailing the technology of the multiplane camera. Fascinating...though I would have loved the whole episode! David, do you have Walt Disney Treasures: Behind the Scenes at the Walt Disney Studios? I believe this entire program (and much much more) is included. It also has The Reluctant Dragon, which was produced during Bambi's production, and in a brief animated sequence, was the first introduction of Bambi to the world.

#8 of 190 OFFLINE   Ernest Rister

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Posted February 27 2005 - 10:24 AM

One other little note (aren't I the little pain in the kiester):

the first application of Walt's multi-plane camera to replicate a sense of 3-dimensional layering in a feature-length animated film (The Old Mill was Walt's animation short that showcased this new technology)

I'm seeing this in a number of reviews, and I can only assume that this is stated somewhere on the DVD. If so, it's not correct, or I'm misunderstanding the context.

Bambi features lavish use of the Multiplane Camera, there's no dispute there, but the multiplane camera had been used going all the way back to Disney's first animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (the first shot of Snow White is a multiplane shot, and there are a few multiplane effects scattered throughout the film).

The camera received its first serious workout in the feature realm with Pinocchio, which features shots just as extravagant, elaborate and ambitious as those in Bambi. Fantasia also sports numerous multiplane shots, with The Nutcracker Suite a notable standout. Even Dumbo has multiplane effects, although these are relatively simple and rare (though lovely), due to the budget crunch.

I'm not following the statement that Bambi was the first Disney feature to use multiplance camera efects to create a sense of 3-D layering. The morning shot in Pinocchio's village where the camera starts on a church bell and zooms through layer upon layer of artwork would seem to belie that. Am I missing something?

#9 of 190 OFFLINE   Peter Apruzzese

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Posted February 27 2005 - 10:56 AM

David:

What's with the capsule commentary about this DVD? When do we see the full version? Posted Image

Seriously, it's a wonderful review with no detail left behind. Outstanding!

Regarding Ernest's comments about multiplane being used prior to Bambi in a Disney feature, the original poster for Snow White from 1937 says "In the Marvelous Multiplane Technicolor". Here's a link to an image: LINK
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#10 of 190 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted February 27 2005 - 10:56 AM

Ermest,

Yeah, myself and other reviewers are taking the info in the bonus-material at face value with the multiplane camer thing.


yes I *do* have that disc and remember that show now that you remind me! I'll be sure to update...and no problem here...correct away...let's get this review *accurate*!

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#11 of 190 OFFLINE   Jonny_L

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Posted February 27 2005 - 11:05 AM

Great review David.

I've personally never gotten that whole "grain and dirt can't be removed" argument of the purists. If I paint a picture and a bird craps on it, I'm not going to consider the final result as the way it was meant to be seen.

An animated work should look as good as looking at the original cels, only in motion. Way to go Disney for making that happen!

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#12 of 190 OFFLINE   Ernest Rister

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Posted February 27 2005 - 11:13 AM

David: Do they have the audio of the "Two Leaves" sequence? Do they have the "dead hunter" storyboard sequence? Do they mention on the commentary or "Making Of" the suggested story idea that, during the Forest Fire escape, Bambi would come across the dying Thumper, who had been shot by the hunters? (this was abandoned when the story team decided to have Bambi get shot instead) Thanks, David!

#13 of 190 OFFLINE   Kenneth Cummings

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Posted February 27 2005 - 11:24 AM

Thanks for the review DaVid. I never seen all of this movie before, as whenever they had it at school, they would always end it at some point and then never play the tape again (same happened to Hercules, Mary Poppins, and other films), which always annoy me. Now I can finally watch the rest of this film this week...if my annoying habit of not watching films doesn't come back. Posted Image
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#14 of 190 OFFLINE   Ernest Rister

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Posted February 27 2005 - 11:51 AM

Johnny L wrote: I've personally never gotten that whole "grain and dirt can't be removed" argument of the purists. If I paint a picture and a bird craps on it, I'm not going to consider the final result as the way it was meant to be seen. An animated work should look as good as looking at the original cels, only in motion. Way to go Disney for making that happen! My personal taste along these lines is that a DVD should resemble a film print, and so, I like film grain as a matter of course. Excessive grain resulting from 2nd or 3rd generation dupes is an issue, for any classic film, but film grain in and of itself has never been an issue for me. Also, David mentions the soft look of the photography, and surely the production team took grain into account when producing the film. Grain gives density and life to static images, and in an animated film, static images that do not move are a potential issue in that they conflict with the moving animated characters. Just to digress into a bit of animation philosophy for a moment, the Disney team invented and codified techniques to keep their animated characters in motion, even when standing still -- hence the invention of the "Moving Hold", where a character hits a strong non-moving pose, while his flesh and clothing continue to move on his frame as a result of his weight and gravity. Also, Overlapping Motion, where different parts of the character moved in counterpoint to the main movement of the character, were invented to combat the tendency towards rote simplicity of pose-to-pose action seen in earlier cartoons. The fear was that when an animated character stopped moving, it stopped "living", or ceases giving the illusion of life. The same ideas could be applied to the background artwork. Film grain gives life to static background images, and as such, in my view, is an example of a film artifact that actually aids the overall illusion of life in classic animation. Having said all that, I know of no example in the production lore of the Disney films where anyone specifically mentioned film grain as either a plus or a minus. Cel scrawl, cel dust, snowstorms, etc. are a different story, hence it doesn't bother me one bit to see cel dust removed via digital means. The removal of film grain tiptoes close to the idea of trying to make Bambi look like modern animated films, such as Mulan, which are captured and composited by pure digital means, and then written to a three-strip negative so interpositives can be struck for theatrical distribution. Is this a bad thing? Is it historical revisionism? Would Walt have taken issue with it? I don't think Walt would have had an issue with it, especially if it preserved his films for successive generations and above all, made his films marketable for new audiences. One issue that has yet to be addressed in this (or any other review I've read so far) is that many actual production errors in Bambi have been digitally corrected, including the famous "disappearing baby raccoon". There are errors in Bambi that no computer is ever going to be able to fix -- due to the complexity of the animation, characters go slightly off-model, sometimes on a shot-by-shot basis. Such things are impossible in the realm of CGI, because you're working with a fixed digital puppet. In the hand-drawn realm, no two animators draw the same exact character in the exact same way, and so when one animator picks up from another, there are differences in line weight, in motion, in characterization. Also, the artists involved with painting the characters also had their own individual styles, and we saw deviance from character models in the painting as well. This gives humanity to hand-drawn films, but it was also considered to be a flaw at the time. If a character strayed too far off-model, the sequence was sent back or even passed off to another animator (there are numerous examples in Beauty and the Beast where characters stray off-model to the point it became objectionable, in my view). Because Bambi was created by a core group of character animation all-stars, this is not an alarming problem, but you do see it, throughout the movie. No computer can ever fix that, there is no way Bambi is ever going to look like a modern CGI film (unless Michael Eisner's idea of scanning in the old animation of classic Disney films and re-rendering them in the 3-D realm comes to pass). So, how far should they go? You don't see film grain in the DVD versions of Atlantis and Mulan. You don't see characters going slightly off-model because of the individual touch of the animator's hand in The Incredibles. So how far do we go in making classic films look like modern films? I have no answers. Just questions.

#15 of 190 OFFLINE   Steve Christou

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Posted February 27 2005 - 01:03 PM

Fantastic review David.Posted Image Posted Image
I've had the dvd for more than a week now, loved it. Great movie, a true work of art.

My favorite extra is on disc one Inside Walt's Story Meetings, a great feature which I hope they use on subsequent Disney classics.

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#16 of 190 OFFLINE   Ernest Rister

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Posted February 27 2005 - 01:43 PM

...and yet I would have killed for a commentary by John Canemaker.

#17 of 190 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted February 27 2005 - 04:20 PM

Very in-depth review David. I will pick this title up. -Mike-

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#18 of 190 OFFLINE   ArthurMy

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Posted February 27 2005 - 05:23 PM

I got mine today and will be watching it tomorrow.

#19 of 190 OFFLINE   Mark_TS

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Posted February 27 2005 - 07:39 PM

superb review; I can remember a laserdisc reissue in which the digital cleanup caused the backgrounds to look "frozen" much of the time, and it stank. VERY distracting-good to hear the picture is A1...
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#20 of 190 OFFLINE   Ernest Rister

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Posted February 27 2005 - 08:14 PM

I can remember a laserdisc reissue in which the digital cleanup caused the backgrounds to look "frozen" much of the time. Yeah, that was the infamous 1997 "55th Aniversary Edition" release, which had severe problems outside of just frame cropping (artificial brightening, blown-out contrast, poor video "paintboxing", image alteration). And I fear such "frozen" image issues are at the crux of the film grain debate we're having now.





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