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The Little Mermaid (3D Blu-ray): THE HTF 3D ADDICT

Disney

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#1 of 13 Ronald Epstein

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Posted September 18 2013 - 06:50 AM

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What can I say?  I love 3D!  From the moment I began watching 3D content in my home I quickly discovered that I needed more content.  I suspect that those of you just purchasing your first 3D hardware will acquire the same ferocious appetite.  That's why I became the HTF 3D ADDICT.  I personally love images that pop off the screen and come inches away from your face without becoming overly gimmicky.  However, I certainly appreciate the nature documentaries that offer beautiful depth and separation.  These are not necessarily reviews of the film themselves.  I am not going to concentrate on story or supplements -- you can find the 2D reviews elsewhere on this forum.  My job is to let you know exactly what kind of 3D experience to expect from the titles that are being released.   As I will be receiving a handful of new product from the studios expect to see more title coverage.

 

 

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The Little Mermaid

 

Studio: Walt Disney

Product Release: October 1, 2013

Ratio: 1.78:1

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; Dolby Digital French & Spanish 5.1
Running Time: 83 minutes

Rating: G

 

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On A Scale 0-5

 

Overall 3D Presentation Rating: 3

3D Separation: 3

3D In Yo' Face Factor: 0

 

 

The Little Mermaid will forever be regarded as the film that heralded a rebirth

in Disney animation.  During the 1980s, after the studio had released a string

of mediocre titles that included Oliver and Company and The Black Cauldron,

interest in their animation had greatly dwindled.  Returning to their roots, Disney

took a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale and collaborated with top talents Howard

Ashman and Alan Menken, to adapt the story into a Broadway-worthy musical feature.  

In 1989 when The Little Mermaid was released to theaters, Disney found themselves

a new classic -- their first in nearly 30 years.  

 

For more than a decade Disney has been quite successful with their campaign in

re-releasing some of their most popular animated titles theatrically and on Blu-ray,

upconverted to 3D.  Such successes included The Lion KingBeauty and The Beast,

Toy StoryMonsters Inc.Up and Finding Nemo.  With Disney seemingly on a 3D reissue

rampage, it was rather surprising to see them put the brakes on bringing a 3D

conversion of The Little Mermaid to theaters earlier this year.  Many attributed the

decision to somewhat declining box office sales and interest in 3D reissues.    

 

Fortunately, Disney didn't abandon the project entirely, making the effort to 

bring the newly converted The Little Mermaid to the home market with this upcoming

3D Blu-ray release.

 

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Beautifully animated and filled with wonderful characters and music, The Little

Mermaid stands today as one of Disney's greatest achievements. It's the story

of a young mermaid princess named Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson),  who longs to

belong to the world beyond the sea. Despite warnings from her father, King Triton 

(Kenneth Mars), the mermaid falls in love with a human prince she saved from

drowning. Hoping to become human herself, she forfeits her voice to an evil sea

witch named Ursula (Pat Caroll) in hopes of being transformed and winning her

man's heart. Ariel's lovable friends Flounder (Jason Marin), Sebastian (Samuel E.

Wright) and Scuttle (Buddy Hackett) do their best to make the Prince fall in love

with the Princess before Ursula's spell takes an evil turn.

 

Compared with many of the modern Disney animated releases over the years,

The Little Mermaid may seem somewhat dated at first.  It is one of the last films

to use the traditional hand-painted cel animation process.  Looking at the film 

so many years later, I found myself truly appreciating the level of artwork that

translates so beautifully here for the very first time on Blu-ray. 

 

post-269895-0-24690600-1379515012_thumb.

 

There's a huge amount of contrast with this hand-drawn effort compared to 

recent digital efforts by Disney and Pixar.  There's nothing eye-popping as far

as animation or colors go.  Instead, everything has a more subdued, natural look to

it.  Colors look perfect without being over-saturated and black levels, at times, can be

quite inky (check out prince Eric's hair).  Without a single anomaly to be found in the 

transfer, all the details within the film's artwork are well defined.  The film simply

looks as good as one would expect.

 

It's difficult for me to talk about the film's 3D conversion.  Some are going to like

it more than others.  For those that are used to eye-popping visuals with lots of

depth, you will be ultimately as disappointed as I was.  I just didn't feel that The

Little Mermaid looks astoundingly better in 3D than more recent computer animated

efforts like Finding Nemo.  I am guessing the reason for this is because we are

dealing with hand-painted animation rather than something on a computer and 

that it involves an entirely different conversion process.  I'll admit I am no expert

on how this works, but something seems different about this upconversion than

most all the other Disney upconverted releases thus far.  

 

post-269895-0-36152400-1379515029_thumb.

 

While there is a sense of depth, it is kept very minimal.  Most of the animation 

below the sea often seems flat.  I think the most interesting underwater 3D

effect is the presence of water bubbles that seem to place themselves forward.

When the film's action rises above the water into Prince Eric's world, the level

of depth is slightly more pronounced.  In fact there are times where Scuttle's

beak, Sebastian's claw, or a wisp of Ariel's hair seems to almost permeate the

screen.  During a tremendous thunderstorm that takes control of Prince Edward's

ship, the windswept rain takes on an interesting dimensional effect. Yeah, at

times this upconversion looks mostly good, but something tells me that perhaps

this was not the best film to pick for such a conversion -- and certainly it's not

going to be 3D demo material for anyone's library.  

 

Thankfully the film's 7.1 DTS Master Audio Track (downconverted to 5.1 on

my system) is quite immersive thanks to the amount of music, effects and vocals

that are supported through the rear channels.  The very opening moments of 

the film feature a crew of singing seamen whose voices entirely surround the 

listening area.  LFE booms as waves crash around the ship.  Character voices

move in and out of various channels.  Even Ursula's maniacal laughter, later

in the story, is echoed across the entire sound field.  You can say that this is a

powerful soundtrack with exceptional channel separation.

 

...and allow me to add that there's something to be said about hearing "Under

The Sea" and the romantically moonlit "Kiss The Girl" in immersive 5.1.  The entire

sound field has never seemed so alive and it will be hard to keep your feet from

tapping themselves against your chair.

 

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The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition arrives as a 3-Disc set with 3D Blu-ray,

Blu-ray and DVD/Digital Copy.  The packaging doesn't seem to be lenticular but

nonetheless, the cardboard sleeve mimics the movement of the sun's rays as Ariel

reaches for the ocean surface.  New bonus features to this set include @DisneyAnimation,

Disney Intermission (Crab-E-OKE Sing-Along), Deleted Character: Harold The Merman,

Under the Scene: The Art of Live-Action Reference, Part of Her World: Jodi

Benson's Voyage to New Fantasyland, Howard's Lecture and all of the original

classic DVD bonus features.

 

Also new is a 10 Music Track Download.

 

Remarkably, Disney didn't litter the 3D Blu-ray disc with more than a single

trailer for the upcoming 3D theatrical release of FROZEN.

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

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The Little Mermaid is a scintillating mix of dynamic animation, top-notch voice

talent and toe-tapping music by the song writing team of Ashman and Menken.

It stands as one of the biggest Disney classics ever made.

 

Unfortunately, I don't feel this is one of the better 3D conversions done by the

studio.  Depth is far more subtle throughout, with some sequences looking rather

flat.  Whether this was done by design or because we are dealing with hand-painted

animation over CGI is something I don't have the expertise to elaborate on.

 

All that being said, if you own a 3D display, it definitely doesn't hurt to buy the 

3-Disc package.  I still feel that the upconversion does manage to bring something

new to the table.  I just don't feel that it will become demo material when showing

off your new, cool display to friends and family.

 

 

Images are for illustrative purpose only not representative of the picture quality of this disc. 

 

Equipment

 

LG 60PX950 THX Certified 3D display
Oppo BDP-93 3D Blu-ray Player

Denon 3311CI Receiver

Atlantic Technology H-PAS AT-1 fronts, 4400 center; 4200 rear speakers

SV Sound Subwoofer


Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 13 Mike Frezon

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Posted September 18 2013 - 07:46 AM

Thanks, Ron!

 

I pre-ordered this (the 2-D version) so long ago (Wow!  April 19th!) that I had lost track of its release date. 

 

You can say that this is a powerful soundtrack with exceptional channel separation.

 

...and allow me to add that there's something to be said about hearing "Under

The Sea" and the romantically moonlit "Kiss The Girl" in immersive 5.1.  The entire

sound field has never seemed so alive and it will be hard to keep your feet from

tapping themselves against your chair.

 

 

Your review of the audio track just got me VERY excited for this release.  Bring it on!  Just two weeks to go!


There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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#3 of 13 Johnny Angell

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Posted September 18 2013 - 05:25 PM

I am certainly disappointed to read the 3D is unimpressive.  I thought there was so much potential for 3D in this film.  The conversions of The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast were terrific.  They were (mostly) cel-animation, weren't they?

 

However, I love this film, and I have to have it on blu-ray and I might as well get the 3D.  Gotta see it for myself.


Johnny
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#4 of 13 Jason_V

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Posted September 18 2013 - 07:15 PM

It's been preorderded for months...and I don't have a 3D TV.  This is one of my favorite Disney movies and I can't wait! 



#5 of 13 Ronald Epstein

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Posted September 18 2013 - 09:27 PM

I am certainly disappointed to read the 3D is unimpressive. 

 

It's not bad.

 

I just think the other conversions were more pronounced.

 

There's going to be a lot of disagreement with my findings as

people have different expectations when it comes to level of 

depth in a 3D presentation.


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#6 of 13 Mark-P

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Posted September 18 2013 - 09:45 PM

This is one where I'll opt for the 2d only package. I think traditional hand-drawn animation should remain flat, but that's just me. The reason the Pixar "conversions" look so good is because they are not conversions, they are native 3D. The 3D already existed in the virtual CGI files and simply needed to be re-rendered to give the point-of-view for each eye. 


Edited by Mark-P, September 18 2013 - 10:18 PM.


#7 of 13 Ronald Epstein

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Posted September 18 2013 - 09:53 PM

 

The reason the Pixar "conversions" look so good is because they are not conversions, they are native 3D. The 3D already existed in the virtual CGI files and simply needed to be re-rended to give the point-of-view for each eye. 

 

 

 

 

Mark.

 

THAT was the explanation I was looking for and why I believe the more recent

Pixar conversions look so much better.

 

Thank you


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#8 of 13 Johnny Angell

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Posted September 19 2013 - 07:12 AM

Yeah, the pixar conversions are almost like they are "re-shooting" the movie.  Good conversions can be done.  BATB and LK come to mind.  I love those movies and love the conversions to 3D.


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#9 of 13 FoxyMulder

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Posted September 19 2013 - 07:29 AM

I am certainly disappointed to read the 3D is unimpressive.  I thought there was so much potential for 3D in this film.  The conversions of The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast were terrific.  They were (mostly) cel-animation, weren't they?

 

However, I love this film, and I have to have it on blu-ray and I might as well get the 3D.  Gotta see it for myself.

 

The Little Mermaid used the CAPS system for just one sequence near the end of the film but Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King used the CAPS system for the entire film meaning they were already in the computer and probably easier to convert to 3D although i am no expert in all this.

 

I think i'll buy this and get the all singing and dancing edition with 3D but i'll watch it in 2D, i like to have a collectors edition should i sell it on sometime in the future, something i'd do should 4K take off and i re-buy titles.


Edited by FoxyMulder, September 19 2013 - 07:30 AM.

     :Fun Movie Quotes:

"A good body with a dull brain is as cheap as life itself"   

"Maybe it's a sheep dog... let's keep going" 

"Please doctor, I've got to ask this. It sounds like, well, just as though you're describing some form of super carrot"

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 


#10 of 13 TonyD

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Posted September 19 2013 - 07:25 PM

I thought I read somewhere that a few shots were reproduced backwords for this dvd/blu ray.


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#11 of 13 Johnny Angell

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Posted September 20 2013 - 10:09 AM

The Little Mermaid used the CAPS system for just one sequence near the end of the film but Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King used the CAPS system for the entire film meaning they were already in the computer and probably easier to convert to 3D although i am no expert in all this.

I keep seeing references to CAPS but I don't know what it is.  Brief description?


Johnny
www.teamfurr.org
But a family cat is not replaceable like a wornout coat or a set of tires. Each new kitten becomes its own cat, and none is repeated. I am four cats old, measuring out my life in friends that have succeeded but not replaced one another.--Irving Townsend


#12 of 13 FoxyMulder

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Posted September 20 2013 - 10:15 AM

I keep seeing references to CAPS but I don't know what it is.  Brief description?

 

Wikipedia has a good article on it.

 

http://en.wikipedia....oduction_System


     :Fun Movie Quotes:

"A good body with a dull brain is as cheap as life itself"   

"Maybe it's a sheep dog... let's keep going" 

"Please doctor, I've got to ask this. It sounds like, well, just as though you're describing some form of super carrot"

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 


#13 of 13 Johnny Angell

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Posted September 20 2013 - 05:37 PM

Basically, it's ink and paint in the computer if I understand the article correctly.  Which means a feature produced with CAPS is already digital, so no scanning of the source material to get the film ready for a conversion.  That would be a huge time and money saver.


Johnny
www.teamfurr.org
But a family cat is not replaceable like a wornout coat or a set of tires. Each new kitten becomes its own cat, and none is repeated. I am four cats old, measuring out my life in friends that have succeeded but not replaced one another.--Irving Townsend






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