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HTF Bluray Review: Lighthouses of the Pacific Northwest



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#1 of 2 OFFLINE   Leo Kerr

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Posted October 07 2010 - 08:02 AM

Lighthouses of the Pacific Northwest

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The Disc (Technical)
Blibbet Entertainment and Spears & Munsil release a feature by Stacey Spears.  The imagery is accompanied by a score by Johnny Bregar.


The 2010 feature is presented in a native aspect ratio of 1.77:1, with a 24bit DTS-HD Master Audio surround soundtrack.  The feature runs approximately 45 minutes.  The menu is simple and fast, and the disc opens directly with the menu.  The optional ‘subtitle’ track identifies each lighthouse and its latitude and longitude at the beginning of each segment.  There is no narration.


The special feature is the 2008 animated short, Big Buck Bunny.


The packaging is a standard Bluray case.  MSRP for this disc is $19.98, and was released in the United States on September 28, 2010.  The feature and the special feature are unrated, and are (in my opinion) suitable for all audiences.


The Feature — ••½
Take twenty-two lighthouses from the Pacific Northwest, in various states of repair, use, and activity.  Combine with a 4k digital cinema camera.  Add music.  Enjoy.


While that actually sounds fairly simplistic and easy, in reality — it isn’t.  For a feature of glamor shots of lighthouses, there seem to be two fairly significant omissions: lighthouses at night, and views from the lighthouses, or even inside them.  Perhaps, for technical and logistical reasons, these were not possible.  Which leads to the second general weakness: the lack of connection between the sound and the image.  It almost feels like they received seven compositions from Mr. Bregar, and matched them up with the seven segments that were closest in length.  A human viewer will attempt to make connections between sound and image when they are presented together, and being unable to do so seems to yield an unsatisfactory result.


The Picture — •••••
The feature is encoded at 30+ megabits per second VC-1 codec, in 24fps 1080p.  And technically, the picture is remarkably good.  The only plainly visible image processing is from the time-lapse photography — which does not count.  There are a few places where I feel the exposure might have been a trifle off, or perhaps could have been improved through some grading adjustments, but all told, the picture quality is excellent.


An aside that I am placing here.  On the Oppo BD-83, the subtitles fade in and out smoothly and elegantly.  On my other Blu player, they ‘step in’ in about four steps.
The Sound — ••••
The soundtrack consists only of the music composed by Johnny Bregar.  The recording is a full 24-bit, 48kHz sample rate, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and is very clean and clear.


What is somewhat disconcerting to me is that this is my first experience with a music-recording where rather than using the surround channels as surround channels, all channels are used as primary channels, with the listener perched somewhere in the center of the performance.  The music is all small-ensemble music, and given the closeness of the recording, it leaves little in the way of ambience, space, or even room-tone.

The Extra
Big Buck Bunny is an approximately nine minute animated short, somewhat in the style of some of the early Pixar shorts.  It was re-rendered from the original files for HD, and was encoded with the VC1 codec and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.

In The End — •••
An amazing digital cinema system — the RED ONE — by itself can not save a production.  Some of the footage would make for excellent advertising material on the beauty of High Definition.  I fear what this project really needs is a heartless editor willing to throw out half of the run-time, and make a much shorter, tighter, and stunning show-piece.



#2 of 2 OFFLINE   Jason_V

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Posted October 07 2010 - 10:53 AM

I'm disappointed this one didn't make it to DVD (according to Amazon anyway).  This would be a perfect stocking stuffer for my lighthouse obsessed partner.  Posted Image