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WALL-E cover

Blu-ray Reviews: WALL-E

Not previous published

2008 - Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Director: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy and Sigourney Weaver

Movie: 4.5 Picture: 5 Sound: 5 Extras: 4.5

Running time: 98
Video: 2.35:1, 1080p24, MPEG4 AVC
Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio ES Matrix 3/3.1; Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Arabic: Dolby Digital EX 3/3.1 @ 640kbps; English Audio Descriptive: Dolby Digital 2/0.0 @ 192kbps with Dolby Pro Logic flag
Subtitles: English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Arabic
Features: Yet to be completed

No review as yet

Comparison: Blu-ray vs PAL DVD

Here are some comparisons between the PAL DVD and the Blu-ray version of this movie.

At the top of each is the full frame (suitably shrunk down) used in the comparison, with a 250 pixel wide detail from the frame underneath. The left side is from the PAL DVD. The image was captured digitally from the disc, scaled up from its native 720 by 576 resolution to 1,024 by 576 (to present in the correct aspect ratio), and then, in order to be comparable to the Blu-ray version, from that to 1,920 by 1,080. The detail is from that last scaled version, and has not been rescaled again. The right side is from the Australian Blu-ray. This has not been scaled at all.

Different applications were used to capture the two frames, so I am not normally comfortable comparing the colour between the two, merely the detail and sharpness. Having said that, the colour is virtually indistinguishable between the two, except for pure reds being a bit more pumped on the DVD version. For those visitors from NTSC lands, generally the PAL DVD is just a touch sharper than the NTSC DVD.

A comparison such as this represents just about the ultimate in comparisons. It can't get much better than this for comparability, because:

  1. This movie is CGI, so film degradation problems can never intrude. There are never issues about which print the disc was created from. All the Pixar people have to do is type in the relevant output resolution into their rendering computers and let it rip: 1,920 by 1,080 for the Blu-ray; 720 by 576 for the PAL DVD.
  2. This movie is new, with virtually simultaneous release of both the Blu-ray and DVD. So the same technology has been used at every step of the process, with the only difference being the capacity of the media carrying the movie: Blu-ray or DVD.
  3. Consequently, the framing of both versions is identical. In the second of the following, I allowed the macro I use to define the detail, and didn't move it at all in either case. In the third one I copied the selection area from one to the other, again without further adjustments.
  4. Finally, the DVD version is a superb encode. The best, I think, that I've ever seen. There is virtually no MPEG2 noise. The only sympton that this is DVD rather than Blu-ray is the lower resolution.
Having said all that, I should also note that doing this comparison was a pain, for reasons
detailed here.

So let's see how they scrub up. With this first shot you can see greater sharpness for WALL-E himself, but look in particular at the top right corner of the detail. See those arcs on the Blu-ray version? They mark the use of a Fresnel lens to blow up the video display of the iPod, something that isn't apparent from the DVD:

Comparison 1

Here again we see significantly greater sharpness with the Blu-ray, and notice the near absence of the small screw or rivet head underneath and to the right of the lens. This is almost absent from the DVD:

Comparison 2

How good is Pixar? EVE looks like an alien device, but is in fact manufactured by humans. She has opening doors on her front. Completely invisible joins would be too much to ask. Now look at the bottom right corner of the details. On the Blu-ray, this join, which Pixar has troubled to include, is clearly visible. On the DVD it is barely discernible here, and not noticable at all on other parts of her chest. Notice also the small vertical lines in the blue face display, visible on the Blu-ray but not the DVD:

Comparison 3

I'm pretty sure Sputnik 1 and 2 (the others didn't look like this) were well and truly burnt up in 1958, still this is amusing. It also shows one of the few noticable edge enhancements in the DVD, despite which the top prong is still almost invisible:

Comparison 4

Greater resolution should provide greater detail. As you can see from the Blu-ray, the clothing is textured and even has stitches:

Comparison 5

A long shot reveals the differences in clarity, detail and sharpness:

Comparison 5

© 2002-2009, Stephen Dawson