Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 1 Blu-ray Review
PictureThis is presented in 1080p using the MPEG-4/AVC codec but the individual shorts themselves come in a variety of aspect ratios from 1.33:1, 1.78:1, 1.85:1 and 2.35:1. The quality of the shorts on offer ranges from poor to stunning. The early works, Andre, Luxo, and Red's Dream are now showing their age with animation techniques purely limited by the technology on offer at the time. There's some noise and especially on Luxo tramlines can be seen throughout. I found this strange for a piece of work constructed entirely in the digital domain and can only surmise this was transferred from a print rather from a direct digital source. I would like to think that this ground breaking work hasn't been lost due to lack of backup!
Then we get into the good stuff, from Geri's Game onwards there's not a flaw to be found anywhere in these short films. The only criticism that can be levelled here is the still embryonic stage of the technology and even then Pixar do wonders with the tools they have available to them. Geri's Game presented some fantastic burned autumnal colours of reds, golds and brushed yellows for the leaves in the background of the park. The colours in the foreground offer some natural flesh tones, deep blacks from the chess pieces and fantastic texture effects from the wooden combatants.
Further on in the Pixar time-line and again it just gets better and better. The superb detail on offer from Scully's fur in Mike's New Car, the exquisite offerings of One Man Band and the altogether jaw dropping visual feast from Mater and the Ghostlight again only point to why you bought into high definition in the first place. CGI works have always been on show in the retail outlets to give that pop to the displays on show. With these now on BluRay if I owned a shop I know what I'd be displaying. Without a doubt some of the finest detail, colour fidelity and beautiful visuals I have seen on any format, only let down by some of the transfers from the earlier pieces of work.
SoundLike the video the audio is a similar mixed bag of tricks. The early works were not an experiment in audio reproduction; they were constructed to show the potential for visual impact. We start off with the limited dynamic range stereo of Andre with Luxo and all subsequent titles now being offered in a 5.1 mix.
Panning from the fronts is handled well for the first few features, certainly directing your eyes towards the on screen 'action' Further on steerage between all speakers is beautifully done with full dynamic range being employed for all your speakers in the works of Mikes New Car, Jack-Jack Attack and beyond. Some wonderful use of surrounds is offered in Knick Knack with swirling water from the snow globe, detailed pneumatic drill effects and a thumping collision after an acetylene torch incident. LFE is suitably used as and when needed, from the throaty roars of the cars in Mater and the Ghostlight, through to the alien spaceship presented in Lifted. The high strings on offer in One Man Band beautifully erupt from the front stage drifting towards your ears with absolute pin sharp clarity.
The audio certainly compliments the video on offer, but remember Pixar is all about visuals and great story telling. What we have on these shorts suit the nature of the visuals on offer, again as the years advance so does the technology and audio formats presented.
ExtrasAll of the shorts, played individually or on mass come with their own audio commentary presented by the teams at Pixar responsible for their own works. All the commentaries, bar Mike's New Car which sadly misses out, are insightful, detail the pioneering techniques used at that time. I would recommend anyone to watch with the commentaries on so they can learn how the technology and Pixar's use of that technology has progressed over the years.
- The Pixar Shorts: A Short History. - 23mins
A Wonderful all too short documentary with Pixar staff detailing their experiences of getting this ground breaking company from supplier of hardware to full fledged animation studio. The choices they made, the artistic decisions which stood them apart from everyone else dabbling in this art at that time. They realised early on that to showcase the technology was not enough, what they needed, like any other motion picture, was great story telling and fantastic animation. John Lasseter started them off on that yellow brick road.
- Sesame Street Clips. - 6mins
A selection of short clips from the children's education program Sesame Street where Pixar was employed to get certain ideas across; Back - Front, Light - Heavy etc... All of these shorts use the Luxo multi-poise lamps as their instructional teacher.
The documentary and the individual commentaries are just what this type of disc is screaming out for. They are a joy to watch and listen to, very informative and quite funny at times. The problem here though is that you are left wanting more. Perhaps this is a good thing in so far that a viewer interested in these techniques will do further research, however I did feel that some more opinion from the animators and the technical boffins themselves would have not gone amiss on this disc.
VerdictThis is a wonderful collection for kids, big kids and animation lovers alike. I can say I don't know one person who has watched a Pixar feature and not been thoroughly entertained by it, children and adults alike. This collection of accompanying works provides not only a selection of some wonderful animation and humorous storylines but also a potted history of one of the now major players in today's animation market.
In terms of the visual and audio on offer, OK some of the early works are obviously not of the same quality of the later ones but remember some are almost 25 years old and in computer terms that's an eternity. You could leave this running on A-B loop and wonder at the many detailed, crystal clear, crisp images that will flood both your screen and your senses.
Pixar have always managed to not only produce eye-watering visuals but also incorporate into them an engaging storyline. These shorts are no different and although you may have a selection of these already on the extras of the main features you would have bought, to have them here in one volume, one disc you can just flip through as you desire is certainly a benefit. Myself, other adults and the other smaller beings that frequent the house will watch this disc again and again so really it's a bargain, and one you should definitely have in your collection.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £20.72
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- The Pixar Shorts: A Short History. - 23mins