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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: IMAX Under the Sea 3-D



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#1 of 1 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

Michael Osadciw

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  • Real Name:Michael Osadciw

Posted January 09 2011 - 04:19 PM



UNDER THE SEA 3-D


Release Date: AVAILABLE NOW
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Packaging/Materials: single disc keepcase in lenticular slipcase
Year: 2009
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 41 minutes
MSRP: $29.99 each




THE FEATURE

SPECIAL FEATURES

Video

2-D & 3-D 1080p 1.85:1

HD

Audio

DTS-HDMA 5.1 English

Dolby Digital 5.1 French & Spanish

DTS 2.0

Subtitles

English SDH, French, Spanish

N/A


The Feature: 3.5/5


The opportunity is here to revisit these popular IMAX created videos in 3-D.  The three titles recently released by Warner Bros. are Under the Sea (2009), Deep Sea (2006), and Space Station 3-D (2002).  With all of the hype of 3-D TVs and a seemingly lack of supporting software, how do these titles maximize the 3-D entertainment experience?


Under the Sea was released on Blu-ray in March 2010 in 2-D as well as 3-D using anaglyph glasses.  I think Warner Bros. tried to ride the hype of 3-D in the theater and the anticipation of new product in the home with that release.  Having seen it, the effect was…well, lacking colour.  The flimsy paper glasses with red and blue filters tried to create three dimensional perspective but didn’t quite hit the mark.  Fun and campy for a brief moment, yes!  Lasting?  No way.  It’s gone the way of my 3-D sticker books of the early eighties and I’m surprised it found its way to a high resolution format like Blu-ray.  Now that 3-D has really taken off in a more advanced form in home electronics (well, sort of), this is the first time we can really see what the 3-D intent was.


From the makers of Deep Sea and Into the Deep, Under the Sea explores the Great Barrier Reef and in the Pacific Rim with IMAX cameras capturing images never seen in such high resolution before.  With the cameras so large and tough to move around under water, those operators must have pipes of steel on their arms!


3-D Video Quality: 4.5/5


The aspect ratio for all three films has been reformatted to 1.85:1 from their IMAX 1.44:1 ratios.  While some may wish to see original aspect ratios on disc, or at least the option to have it, I find the reformatting to be perfectly acceptable for the big screen viewing environment in the home.  IMAX theaters have the benefit of the height of using 1.44:1, but as we know all modern home theaters are using the wider 1.78:1 screens instead of the “taller” old 1.33:1.  While we tend to get more side information with 1.78:1 screens, with IMAX films this could be considered a reduction in height if we consider the sides as constant width.  I’m a bit curious as to why the reformatting to 1.85:1 rather than 1.78:1, but this is still, in my opinion, the best way to view this since (almost) the full picture area is taken up on screen for the most immersive experience.


This review was done using Toshiba’s Flagship Cinema Series 46WX800 LED 3-D LCD display.  Equipped with Toshiba’s active glasses in conjunction with their BDX3000 Blu-ray player, I was ready to set the system for calibration.  The television’s grayscale was calibrated to D65 using the Konica-Minolta CS-1000A spectroradiometer, an Accupel HDG-4000 video generator, as well as having a full system check.  The end result was a wonderful 2-D image with a Yu’v’ dE grayscale error of 2.5 or less across the board.  The average gamma of 2.2 with a reference light output of 35.49fL.  Time did not permit for me to do a full thorough calibration in 3-D mode with the meter taking readings through the glasses.  Watching video through the glasses changes the entire look of the image because of the tinting (darkens the image) as well as the shift in colour (depends on the glasses per manufacturer).  Thus, to view 3-D with the correct intent in mind, a separate calibration should be stored for the 3-D mode.  So this 3-D review is intended to discuss the entertainment value of the 3-D on this disc rather than the image accuracy through the glasses.


Using IMAX cameras, Under the Sea and Deep Sea were filmed with IMAX dual-strip 3-D, while the older production of Space Station was filmed in single-strip 3-D 30-perf.  While I’m not entirely familiar with the technical aspects of production, I can report to you the 3-D entertainment value of these films.

Under the Sea has the most effective 3-D imagery of the three.  From the edges of the corals reefs, to the big fat fish swimming right up to my face, I was absolutely stunned as to how productions shot for 3-D can be so effective and entertaining.  I felt like I was un my SCUBA gear, swimming under the surface of the water counting the fish swimming by and studying shrimp behaviour.  I felt as if I could see around the objects.  I could reach my fingers out in front of me and tickle under the chin of the big fish that curiously comes closer to me each second.  The illusion is that it is completely there, but my hands can’t grasp the image.  This was a highly entertaining production that seems to have similar shots from Deep Sea which makes me think they were filmed at the same time, yet I found the 3-D in this feature to be more effective by a small margin.  I will withhold a full “5” score on this title only because I don’t know what else 3-D can deliver on Blu-ray based on the five titles I’ve viewed so far.


Audio Quality: 3/5


The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 encoding of this soundtrack is sufficient.  The music sounds good and spacious and the water sound effects are effective across the front channels.  There is a mild amount of surround information but I can’t say I was paying attention as much this time around.  I was hooked into the image more and the sound became lesser importance to me.  Jim Carrey’s voice comes across as playful and fun just as if he were reading a storybook to a group of Grade 1 students.  Overall, no complaints here.

Special Features: 0.5/5

Like the previous releases, no features are present but a short 7-minute HD documentary of the filmmaking Filming IMAX: Under the Sea.  The 2-D version of the title is also found on the same disc.


Recap
The Feature: 3.5/5
3-D
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality:
3
/5
Special Features:
0.5
/5


These IMAX films are a great introduction to 3-D Blu-ray.  Entertainment is brought to a new level previously unseen in the home.  With captivating visuals and a sense of depth greater than any 2-dimensional television, the images in Under the Sea have only been seen this real by those who filmed it.


Michael Osadciw

11.01.08


Michael Osadciw

THX/ISF Professional Video Calibrator

Video Contributor

CANADA HiFi Magazine






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