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  Specs
  • THX
  • Full Frame
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Mandarin: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • Animated menus
  • Awards/Nominations

IMAX - Super Speedway

Warner Vision/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 50 mins . G . PAL

  Feature
Contract

It's Grand Prix time again in Melbourne and what better way to celebrate than with this documentary on motor racing. Director Stephen Low has created some memorable documentaries all on this fancy film format called IMAX. IMAX, in case you didn't know, is a film format with 4 times the surface area of normal 35mm film projected onto an 8 stories high screen to give you an amazingly life like and HUGE image, literally putting you the audience into the film.

His past efforts include the great Titanica and this latest effort has brought the thrill of Indy car racing into your home. We follow the pursuits of the Newman-Haus team as they enter a new year in the PPG Cart World Series with their drivers Michael Andretti and Christian Fittipaldi. The building of the car, through testing, onto track testing and then official racing we see each stage from a teams perspective and truly appreciate all the time and effort that is involved and the technology involved.

As a side plot, Mario Andretti provides some insight into his racing past and his feelings now that he has retired and his coaching of his sons racing. He has a small project on the side whereby car restoer Don Lyons is rebuilding one of Marios original 1960's roadster, bringing it back from a skeletal death.

  Video
Contract

IMAX has an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 which translates directly to the aspect ratio of your television. What this gives you is the fullest possible resolution available on dvd outside a 1.85:1 16x9 transfer and the transfer on this disc is exceptional, but not perfect.

Throughout the documentary, you'll notice the imagery looking a little rounded which is due to some of the fish-eye lenses used in the filming - this is normal so don't worry that your TV may be warped. Other than that the picture is incredibly detailed giving the image an almost photographic look rather than video. There is an immense amount of sharpness in the image but it is the detail that really shines here confirming to all dvd owners that this format still has a lot more that it hasn't shown to us yet.

Color saturation is perfect with brightness and contrast captured excellently. Black level is spot on and shadow detail compliments the overall detail of the movie.

The only downside to the picture is that the increased sharpness and detail produces alot of aliasing and shimmering in the image that will deter it from receiving a perfect 10. It seems a THX approved transfer won't help remove these annoying jaggies that become more prominent as the doco carries on.

Be warned, this is an NTSC transfer so you'll need an NTSC capable TV to view this great disc. NTSC probably being another reason for the inherent jaggies in the image. Those extra 100+ lines of PAL resolution would help immensely.

  Audio
Contract

What can I say about the audio other than it being utterly incredible and damn loud. I didn't listen to it at reference level because I couldn't reach it without scaring myself at times. I think I need a bigger room and some better speakers to really appreciate this soundtrack.

Encoded with four Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks in English, French Canadian, Mandarin and American Spanish, this is truly one of the best 5.1 soundtracks I've heard, even if it isn't a Hollywood movie. I can't do the audio justice in this review, you have to hear it for yourself on a decent system to truly appreciate the sound these cars and these racing arenas can produce.

It's not just the cars making all the sounds, one of the scariest sounds comes from inside a wind tunnel (chapter 8) where the rush of wind creates a very eerie sound that will give you goosebumps if you're watching this section in a darkened room.

The dynamic range in this soundtrack is the fullest I've heard and felt ranging from deep bass rumbling to high pitched whirring and anything and everything inbetween. The surrounds are constantly in use with both the onscreen action and the accompanying bluesy musical soundtrack.

Take note of chapter 7 where we go zooming around the track for the first time, chapter 8 in the wind tunnel, chapter 10 when mario takes the wheel and as the sound changes on different sections of the track (especially in the corners) and finally the pre and post section of sound around 22:50 where a whining engine in the testing bay transforms into a loud and violent thunderstorm. Very freaky transition indeed.

  Extras
Contract

Along with the 50 minute feature we are blessed with a 50 minute making of documentary that runs parellel with the main feature. Each chapter is directly related with the main feature chapters and on the scene selection menu (which is animated) you can select to go to the main feature or the making of.

The making of keeps up with the video and audio presentation of the main feature and provides an excellent documentary itself into how an IMAX movie is made. This is an excellent companion piece to the film and renders the dvd as a 2 for one deal in effect. Well worthy of the purchase price.

  Overall  
Contract

First and foremost you need to be a racing fan. You know you are when you're staying awake until 2 am in the morning to catch the live telecasts of either the formula one or Indy Car racing from around the world. If have done this countless times then consider yourself a fan and grab yourself a copy of this disc.

Secondly, you need a fully fledged Dolby Digital 5.1 speaker setup, a subwoofer being a bonus, to really appreciate the audio on this disc. A Big screen TV will help provide an enveloping experience but to truly appreciate this movie, you'd need to see it on an IMAX screen and I sure do hope it makes its way to a screen near you.


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      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-505 Gold
    • TV:
          Hitachi CMT2979 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS777 THX Select
    • Speakers:
          Peterson Labs 100Watts
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sherwood SC-60E
    • Surrounds:
          Sherwood LS-502
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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