Massenet DVD

21/05/2001
Ian Morris
Michael DVD (Australia)
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Plot Synopsis

Every so often something a little out of the ordinary comes along for review that adds a little spark to the review process ... within the context of its rather short length it does a fair fist of presenting a summation of the life and work of this esteemed French composer. Comprising mainly interview material from a wealth of people involved in music or indeed a distant relative of the man, this is not a drag of a programme at all. Fleshing out the interviews are a number of still photographs as well as filmed excerpts from a couple of his operas. Nothing really radically different but a nice job nonetheless ... given the general quality of the presentation here, you certainly have to give this DVD a firm recommendation indeed.

Transfer Quality

Video: It does not take much to figure out that this programme is to some extent a labour of love for those involved in producing it. This is really a seriously good-looking DVD, adding enormously to what is a well thought out programme.

The transfer itself is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. Funny how a small Australia company can produce 16x9 enhanced DVDs, of specialist market material, whilst major multinational off-shoots cannot or will not consistently do the same.

Basically, apart from two rather unusual artefacts, this is a quite gorgeous looking transfer. Nice and sharp, very well detailed, exceptionally clear and with no indication whatsoever of grain or low level noise. The only drop off from these lofty heights is during the archival performance material, and that is hardly the fault of the producers of the DVD. This really is stunningly good stuff.

And then you have this gorgeous colour palette - wonderfully saturated without a hint of oversaturation, this is a visual treat far too good for the sort of programming that it is! Nice solid, unwavering tones throughout the range of colours ensure that there is nothing here to complain about at all. Nicely vibrant, a pity that we don't see this sort of quality more often.

There are no noticeable MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There are instances of rather minor aliasing at various points in the transfer, but nothing that detracts away from the programme. The only let-downs are at 13:04 and again at 18:12 where there is some unusual white dotted banding across the two archival photos being shown. In the case of the former the banding moves during an upward pan. After the superb quality seen elsewhere, this is a rather obvious problem even though it does not last long and is not really that distracting. There did not appear to be any film artefacts present in the transfer.

Audio: The dialogue comes up very well, very clear and easy to understand, whilst the music excerpts are similarly very good. There did not appear to be any audio sync problems in the transfer.