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Hurin

Macross: DYRL? DVD Review (Bandai/Emotion/R2)

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As many of you know, I have been re-subtitling the fx (region-free) DVD of Macross: Do You Remember Love?

While doing so, it occurred to me that, since I was putting so much time and effort into this movie, I might as well re-subtitle the best quality DVD available. So, I sent away to YesAsia.com. Two weeks later, it arrived.

UPDATE: The subtitles for this Region 2 DVD are now available.

First, there is something to be said for owning an official release of this film. It deserves our support as much as possible. More profits for official Macross products may in fact encourage more Macross projects and products. But, aside from that, I'll stay away from the politics of bootlegging and just get to the review. . .

Package Contents

Right off the bat, you realize you're holding something "official" because there is more than a DVD inside. The DVD comes with a couple postcards and some liner notes. The DVD case, of course, also has the Bandai/Emotion logo on it.

region2contents.jpg

region2cover.jpg

region2cover2.jpg

ADDITION: I recently found another thread with good pics of the DVD contents. You may want to check it out.

The First Big Surprise

Part of me always wondered why the bootlegs of DYRL aren't just straight "rips" of the official Bandai/Emotion release. I still don't have an answer for that. . . but I can confirm that the transfer of this film is not the same one used for the fx DVD. Part of me harboured some doubt that there would be any difference at all. But, rest assured, there is. . .

Video Quality

The video quality of the bandai/emotion release is absolutely stunning. Now, the fx DVD was no slouch either. Indeed, I found it hard to believe that the fx release could be improved upon to any great degree. However, the bandai/emotion R2 DVD is noticably brighter and a bit more vibrant.

Brightness

The Bandai/emotion release is quite a bit brighter by default than the fx release. Some might be concerned that blacks might appear more gray in this release. However, I didn't notice this in anything but the opening sequence (where the Macross emerges from the shadows). . . and if such a thing is a concern, you can adjust your TV's picture/brightness levels to compensate. The increase in brightness without appearing to wash out shadows and other details really makes this movie shine.

Color and Vibrancy

The Bandai/emotion relase excels here. I had no idea that there were so many different colored lights flashing on the Macross in the opening sequence! Here, you see them all. On the fx DVD, the different colors are harder to make out. The rest of the movie does appear marginally more vibrant. I would constantly be astounded at how bright and vibrant everything looked, and think to myself: "The old fx DVD never looked like that!". . . but then I'd compare to the fx DVD and find that (aside from the brightness), the fx DVD wasn't actually that far off the mark. But a difference is noticable.

Overal Quality

There was a bit of "banding" and "noise" on the fx DVD that I really now only notice when I compare it to the official Bandai/Emotion DVD. Once again, the opening sequence shows this most clearly as the Macross emerges from shadows. In the fx DVD, there are horizontal gray bands of "noise" as the Macross emerges. These are (thankfully) absent on the Bandai/Emotion DVD. Such things are not as apparent in other parts of the DVD. But if this opening scene is any indication, you can rest assured that the Bandai/Emotion DVD is a less noisy transfer of the film.

As a matter of fact, according to an MPEG analyzer, the bitrates between the two films are substantially different:

Bandai/Emotion: 9200000 bps

fx: 7700000 bps

Sound Quality

Both the fx and Bandai/Emotion have a Dolby Prologic surround mix. However, the Bandai/Emotion one is surpisingly superior. I expected a subtle difference, not a huge one. I got a huge one. I was always mildly annoyed by the level of hiss in the fx DVD's sound stream. As you turned up the volume to really enjoy the movie on your home theater, the hiss really became noticable in quiet scenes. In the Bandai/Emotion release, there is no discernable hiss at all!

Interlacing Issues

So far, as expected, the R2 Bandai/Emotion release is in the midst of a clean sweep. Though, in image quality, the fx DVD isn't too terribly far behind. But, here is where there is a surprising (and for R2 owners, disappointing) result for the Bandai/Emotion DVD.

As has been noted from time to time across the web, the Bandai/Emotion release is interlaced. Of course, so is the fx release. However, the fx release seems to have been mastered to DVD in such a way as to make it much more friendly to PC DVD playback software and/or HTPCs (Home Theater PC). Whereas the Bandai/Emotion DVD quite frankly doesn't get along with PCs as well as its knock-off cousin.

Let's get one thing straight: The R2 Bandai/Emotion DVD plays very well in table-top (stand-alone) DVD players and it looks wonderful on my own Panasonic RP-62 DVD player (progressive). The problems I'm describing here are only really visible when the Bandai/Emotion DVD is played on a computer.

You may want to visit this site for a primer on video interlacing before continuing on. . . you've been warned!

When played back on a computer, the R2 Bandai/Emotion DVD shows a lot of interlacing issues. I tried three different computer with three different video cards and four different DVD decoders. First, the NVIDIA DVD Decoder with an NVIDIA 6600GT video card showed some "jumpiness" around static objects (such as the red text under "Macross" in the opening sequence) and angular backgrounds. So, I tried the Cyberlink DVD decoder. This solved the "jumpiness" issue, but at the expense of an annoying flickering in some scenes (especially the opening sequence where the camera pans across the Macross bridge). So, I tried another computer with an NVIDIA 6800GT video card and saw the same things. Finally, I tried my laptop with an ATI 9200 video card and the WinDVD Decoder. This was the worst experience of all as I saw a lot of combing and other issues. Basically, solving one interlacing-related problem caused others to appear. No tweaking of settings alleviated all problems. So, I decided to investigate:

When the raw MPEG files of the Bandai/Emotion release are played back in "Flask". . . it shows that the software player is constantly jumping back and forth between interlaced and progressive mode. This indicates that the film stock was transferred to video with some odd, problematic, or bad 3:2 pulldown flags. In other words: They converted the film to video poorly.

Oddly, the fx DVD does not exhibit this behavior. The playback is listed as "interlaced" and never switches to "progressive" throughout the playback. This would explain why its playback is so much smoother and more stable when I view it on my HTPC.

I suspect that whoever created the fx DVD went about encoding it to DVD video differently than did Bandai/Emotion. Fx may have even used an inverse-telecine method before encoding it that results in better deinterlacing when played back.

Now that I know what to look for, I can sometimes see very vague signs of these de-interlacing artifacts on the Bandai/Emotion DVD even when playing back on my table-top DVD player. But, the signs of them are slight and I doubt anyone would notice them if they hadn't read this and then compared the same scenes to the fx DVD. Table-top DVD players (especially good ones) simply do a much better job of de-interlacing DVDs than do computers in almost all circumstances. Computers show de-interlacing problems a lot more severely, on the whole, than do stand-alone players.

Some day, I hope to try to do a inverse-telecine process on the Bandai/Emotion DVD myself and thus get the best of both worlds together on one DVD. But that's a project for the future. Right now, I'm still working on subtitling the fx DVD. And, I've already got a rough version of the Bandai/Emotion DVD re-subtitled. But, it needs a bit of tweaking.

ADDITION: I brought these problems up over at the animeondvd.com forum. Some very helpful people further explained and confirmed this DVD's issues.

Conclusion

If not for the de-interlacing problems with the Bandai/Emotion DVD, I'd say that the R2 DVD is nearly perfect and would highly recommend that those with the monetary means (about $75 when imported from Japan) track down a copy and replace their fx copies as long as they would be able to view it. Though, obviously, to view this DVD, you will need a region-free DVD player, or you'll need to extract the DVD to your computer's hard drive (while simultaneously removing the region code). But, if you choose to extract to your hard drive, I highly recommend that you then re-burn it (now region-free) to a Dual-Layer DVD and view it via your home theater system. Playback on a computer ranges from tolerable to downright messy depending on your DVD playback software.

So, in a nutshell, I'd highly recommend this DVD to those who can re-burn it to a Dual-layer DVD (or possibly two DVDs). I also recommend this DVD highly to those who have a table-top DVD player than can play Region 2 DVDs.

However, if you will be buying this DVD solely to watch on your computer, I would recommend that you stick with the fx DVD as it does not suffer the de-interlacing artifacts that the Bandai/Emotion DVD diplays on computers.

Edited by Hurin

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Thank you for the report! It's great to know this ahead of buying one, especially since I watch DVDs only on my PC! :)

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So this is bootleg?

http://www.valkyrie-exchange.com/video-boo...ectEdition.html

I thought this was the original DVD.

Nope, it's a bootleg. But it's a very good quality bootleg.

It's the only one you should really consider if you don't have a Region 2 DVD player.

H

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Excellent review Hurin. Any extras on the japanese DVD?

I am still waiting for a remastered edition with DD5.1 and the flashback scene included. Will it ever be one?

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Excellent review Hurin. Any extras on the japanese DVD?

I am still waiting for a remastered edition with DD5.1 and the flashback scene included. Will it ever be one?

The opening menu (when you actually see it since the DVD jumpes straight to the movie by default), is exactly the same as the fx one and takes you to the same extras: A few trailers and/or promotional pieces about the movie (in Japanese of course).

There is the closing concert/credits scene from Flashback. I was hoping for a less jarring transition to this footage in the official Bandai/Emotion DVD. . . but it looks exactly the same as the fx DVD. (disclaimer: I really dislike the concert footage. I just seems too "tacked on" to me and both the animation style and video quality don't mesh well with the rest of the film.)

H

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I added two links to the body of the review.

First, this link to a good overview of the DVD's contents.

Second, this link to AnimeonDVD.com where we try (and largely succeed) to get to the bottom of the interlacing issues.

H

Edited by Hurin

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snip

Hurin....did you try using Zoom Player coupled with FFDShow/DScaler/Avisynth and tweaking them?

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Hurin....did you try using Zoom Player coupled with FFDShow/DScaler/Avisynth and tweaking them?

407779[/snapback]

For IVTC-ing?

I tried several automated and script-based solutions (though perhaps not that exact one). Those automated solutions only work where there's a discernable pattern. But with the R2 DYRL, it's just all over the place.

I recall one set of conglomerated scripts and apps that actually did analyze each frame and tried to determine if interlacing artifacts were present on an individual field-by-field basis. But it wasn't possible to tune it well enough. . . so it would throw out good frames and keep some bad ones. So I just started doing it by hand. . . and then burned out. :)

Edited by Hurin

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Is there anywhere this DVD is still available? Valk-exchange has gone and yesasia advises the item is out of print.

Any pointers please guys?

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Is there anywhere this DVD is still available? Valk-exchange has gone and yesasia advises the item is out of print.

Any pointers please guys?

Well, the official Bandai one is expensive (like all DVDs in Japan). CD Japan still sells them here. But at $70 plus shipping (but again, normal price for Japan).

Best,

H

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