First thing i have to say: I still love this movie. Didn't loose
any of its charm. The songs are just beautiful and the story is
I think most people will be happy with the PQ on this disc. Yet,
i have a few complains.
Non-videophiles should probably stop reading here.
The main problem, which induces every other, is grain. There is
simply too much for an animation type movie. Its not intentional
here, like in AI or Pi, its simply due to the age or quality of
the print used.
Put into perspective:
Pocahontas (1995): a grain desaster, the transfer is terrible
Hunchback (1996): less grain than Poca, more than Hercules, though
Hercules (1997): not perfect, but quite ok actually
Mulan (1998): about the same as Hercules
Tarzan (1999): non-issue
New Groove (2000): non-issue
So the grain seems to get less, the newer the release. Thats to
be expected, but neither of these are 'old' movies. I mean 1996?
Although i prefer the clean look of Tarzan and New Groove, I found
the grain in Mulan and Hercules acceptable. The amount of grain
in Hercules is borderline.
The grain is not so bothersome in itself. Its enough to lead to
bitrate starvation, though. Meaning: grain is random noise, it sucks
up bitrate without encoding any actual information. A 7.0 Mb/s transfer
from a grainy source is going to have more compression artefacts
than a 4.0 Mb/s transfer from a clean one. See Fast and the Furious,
low bitrate, no grain -> no compression artefact.
I didn't measure the bitrate but its very obvious that its simply
not nearly appropriate. Apart from a few scenes, there is only a
bit of vertical edge enhancement in the transfer and almost no horizontal,
great. Yet, the edges are far from being clean. They are soft and
often undefined. The bitrate starvation leads to lots of compression
artefacts in many scenes.
Many edges (and traditional animation has lots and lots of edges)
have so much mosquito noise that it looks like EE ripples to the
untrained eye, yet they are not in this case.
Many of the solid colored areas (and traditional animation has
lots and lots of solid colored areas), like faces in semi-shadow
show rather severe blocking artefacts in form of posterization and
From 1.4 times screen width away, i found this very difficult to
watch at times. So i went into the second row of seats (~2 times
width), and many of the issues got much more acceptable. At 2.5
times width this might actually look like a good transfer, so i
think most casual viewers will find this transfer just fine.
Every other aspect of this transfer is almost perfect. I found
the colors to be dead on, the shadow delineation is great, so is
Overall, i slightly prefer both Mulan and Hercules to this transfer,
although they are non-anamorphic. As i said, Hunchback could be
a tad more detailed, Mulan and Hercules are not far behind in actual
detail. Yet they have a fair bit less grain and AND probably more
bitrate to fight that grain, since they have less data to compress
(non-anamorphic), and less extras on the disc.
Neither of these transfers are even close to Tarzan and New Groove.
So my rating would actually be in the order of their age. Again,
i find this rather puzzling, because i don't consider 5-6 years
to be a long time for a film print. Maybe there where considerable
improvements over the last years in the animation to film techniques
that lead to less grain even on the negatives. Thats my best guess
What makes me angry is the fact that the video bitrate is so obviously
insufficient, yet they include a DD5.1 track, a DTS5.1 track, 2
DD2.0 tracks (if i remember correctly) and a commentary track. And
then they even cram all the extras in.
It would have been better to have a DD5.1 track and the commentary
only, with problematic material like this. And the extras on a second
disc, even if its not enough to actually fill it. Thats what i like
about some of the Vista Series titles. They use a second disc for
extras, even though they aren't that plentyful. Bitrate considerations
on the first disc being a primary concern.
Even better, they should have used a better film print, if available
anywhere at any cost, or even the negative.
Anyway, apart from the compression issues and with a proper seating
distance, or less revealing system, this will satisfy most.