Pixar Short Films Collection: Vol. 1, Blu-ray (1984-2007)

by | Nov 14, 2007 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

 Pixar Short Films Collection: Vol. 1, Blu-ray (1984-2007)

Studio: Walt Disney Home Entertainment/Pixar Animation Studios
Video: Various aspect ratios; 1080p HD
Audio: English 5.1 or 2.0 Uncompressed PCM; English, French, Spanish, Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0 Surround
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Supplements: Audio commentaries; “The Pixar Shorts: A Short History” featurette; four Sesame Street segments produced by Pixar; Easter eggs
Running Time: 54 minutes
DVD Rating: ***1/2
AV Quality Rating: *** (for the older short films); ****1/2 (for the newer films)

Pixar Animation, the studio responsible for animated classics including ‘Toy Story’, ‘Finding Nemo’ and most-recently ‘Ratatouille’, has compiled thirteen of its short films from over the past twenty years for inclusion on the ‘Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 1’ DVD.  The thirteen short films, in chronological order of their release date are: ‘The Adventures of Andre & Wally B.’, ‘Luxo Jr.’, ‘Red’s Dream’, ‘Tin Toy’, ‘Knick Knack’, ‘Geri’s Game’, ‘For the Birds’, ‘Mike’s New Car’, ‘Boundin’, ‘Jack-Jack Attack’, ‘One Man Band’, ‘Mater and the Ghost Light’ and ‘Lifted’.  The first four short films were mildly interesting (although not terribly funny) and had primitive animation.  However, I can appreciate that they were groundbreaking at the time of their releases and laid the foundation for the animated shorts and feature films to follow.  The remaining nine short films are very enjoyable to watch and the animation is often outstanding.  My particular favorites are ‘Knick Knack’ (a frustrated snowman who can’t seem to escape the confinement of his snow globe) and ‘Lifted’ (an alien who is having difficulty abducting a human into his spaceship).  If you are a fan of Pixar or computer animation in general, you will want to pick up a copy of this DVD.  Recommended.  

The high definition video quality of this Blu-ray DVD is mixed.  The early short films are of average quality (clearly limited by the source material) while the newer short films are excellent.  All images are clean and the newer films have razor sharp detail.  Blacks are consistently dark throughout the collection.  Strength of color increases with each succeeding short film culminating in the newest shorts having vibrant and rich colors with well-saturated hues.  Picture defect mastering is solid with no major flaws or compression artifacts.  The overall audio quality is also mixed with the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track (when available) serving as the basis for this review.  As with the video, the later short films are much stronger in audio presentation than the early shorts.  For the few shorts that have any, dialogue is crisp and properly positioned in the center channel.  Surround channels are most active in the newer shorts, where they are utilized for both ambient sound effects and/or the music.  The low frequency effects, when present, are punchy and tight.

[I did some comparisons of the standard DVD and the Blu-ray, both on my Pioneer Elite Blu-ray player. I must take back part of my previous allegations that there is little difference between the standard and hi-def formats on well-transferred recent animation – especially when done directly from the digital originals. Even on the earliest Pixar shorts, many details with sharp lines showed serious “jaggies” on the standard DVD while in motion, and even worse when paused. These all evened out and disappeared in the Blu-ray version. There was less depth and less detail in the backgrounds on the standard disc, which became discernible on the Blu-ray. The artifacts gave the films on the standard DVDs more of an artificial “computer animation” feeling (even on the technically-sophisticated ones), whereas the Blu-ray drew you more into the alternate reality of the animated world. ..Ed.]
– Calvin Harding Jr.


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