The disc presents a widescreen 1.78:1 1080p 2D and full 3D transfer. The 2D version is pretty decent looking with bold lush colours; the deserts look particularly rich with fiery oranges and reds. The location shots are in the bright desert sun and so this can lead to some high detail loss, but it is rare, and consequently blacks can also suffer – so whilst the film does not make exclusive use of the black, it is nevertheless tending towards the grey at times. Outside of the desert environment things do improve, blacks go deeper and greens and blues really shine. All interior scenes, whilst having nothing actually wrong, just lack the punch that the exterior shots have. A clean and near grain free print that did does show a few marks due to its age, but nothing too distracting.
On to the 3D print which loses none of the verve of its 2D cousin. Colours are, once again, bright and engaging; the desert reds and forest greens showing a great deal of solidity. Blacks that could be slightly problematic, with the help of the 3D glasses do improve in depth despite the added brightness needed, never thought I’d be writing that! Detail was extremely clear, as you would expect from IMAX, from the digital dinosaur skin, to desert sand grains and fossil bones. What is slightly lacking, though, is any 3D ‘wow’, there are many locating shots of the various desert digs, but none show any of the real depth 3D is capable of, the introduction of the graduate students shot does work particularly well, as do the overhead shots in their lab, with plenty to see and ‘grab’, but distance shots seem remarkably flat. The dinosaurs themselves are clearly rendered, set in real backgrounds, and are animated to ‘point out’ of the screen, which they do very nicely, and obviously, but it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before but better looking and with more subtly.
There were numerous instances of crosstalk, particularly during the first fifteen minutes, but after that time it cleared up ok and even though it was noticeable during that time, it wasn’t overly distracting. Didn’t spot any digital artefacts or banding issues, no edge enhancement either. All in all, for a live action/animation composite, this was merely just a good picture rather than one to showcase the benefits of 3D.
Three sound tracks to choose from, English, French and Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1, I concentrate on the English. Since this is a documentary don’t expect huge amounts of bombast; that is not what is on show. What we do get is clear and precise narration and the various participants’ dialogue is clear and natural sounding. The dinosaurs themselves are given huge voices that make full use of the sub, as do their footfalls – their scuffles are also given some direction through the surrounds. Mock thunder and the helicopter blades do add some decent surround effects, but it is with the score where the main ‘action’ comes from and where all the speakers are given a chance to shine and really place you in the centre of the room. Making full use of the full dynamic range the score adds a huge amount to the sound environment. In all a fine clear mix that accompanies the visuals well.
- Making of – HD 26:41
Shot in HD with 5.1 DTS sound, this is a very detailed documentary that talks about how difficult it is to shoot these IMAX films, problems with the huge cameras, the cost of the film and simple logistics of making a shot – half a day to build a rig on a jeep for the introduction shot of the graduate students, a shot that lasts less than thirty seconds, effective though it is. Details on the shoot, the various sites visited and participants involved are discussed. The latter half encompasses the digital effects work needed to make the dinosaurs ‘alive’. Effective and engaging, if only all making of documentaries were this informative.
- Meet the Creatures
Twelve of the dinosaurs featured can be accessed to give text information about their lives and jump straight to their part in the film.
After downloading the necessary files needed you have access to the Dinosaurs alive community and some other useless text.
Of other titles available
Dinosaurs Alive is likely to have a very limited market, despite the subject matter being one of the most exciting things to a child’s mind, the reality of this documentary is rather mundane, fossil digs, little discovery of anything new and precious little dinosaur action – the BBC have previously done excellent work and they offer a far better watch than this.
As a Blu-ray package a stunning 2D picture is let down by its 3D counterpart, with little to engage or excite; yes the dinosaurs themselves perform well, but the more subtle depth needed to create the illusion of 3D is rather lacking except for a few, admittedly excellent, shots. Sound is decent and the making of documentary is a terrific watch, and at the low price point all add up to a pretty decent package.
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