Super Skyscrapers (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 3 Old 04-29-2014, 06:45 AM - Thread Starter
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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109939&d=1210373637

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

Studio and Year: PBS - 2014
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 240 minutes
Genre: Documentary

Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080i/60

Audio Format(s): English PCM Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH
Produced by: Dan Chambers and Dan Oliver
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 29, 2014

"Towering above the rest"

Film Synopsis:

As urban space shrinks, we build higher and faster than ever before, creating a new generation of skyscrapers. Super skyscrapers are pushing the limits of engineering, technology and design to become greener, stronger, smarter and more luxurious than their predecessors. This four-part series follows the creation of four extraordinary buildings, showcasing how they will revolutionize the way we live, work and protect ourselves from potential threats.

My Take:

“One World Trade Center”

Recently judged to be the tallest building in the western hemisphere, and soon to be a modern landmark in New York City, the structure featured in “One World Trade Center” is engineered to be the safest, strongest skyscraper ever built. This episode follows the final year of the soon-to-open edifice’s exterior construction, culminating with the milestone of reaching 1,776 feet. For One World Trade Center’s head of construction Steve Plate – and the scientists, engineers, ironworkers and curtain-wall installers – this job is suffused with the history of the site and a sense of duty to rebuild from the ashes of Ground Zero.

“Building the Future”

“Building the Future” takes viewers in and around The Leadenhall Building, a pinnacle of London’s recent avant-garde architecture boom and popularly nicknamed “The Cheese Grater” for its tapered shape and steel exoskeleton. The construction of this newest Financial Centre showpiece forced the team behind The Leadenhall Building to radically rethink every aspect of the traditional building model: its pieces were constructed off-site, delivered to the location and stacked and bolted together “like a giant Lego set.”

“Vertical City”

When complete, China’s Shanghai Tower will be far more than a skyscraper — it will be a 120-story “Vertical City”: the country’s tallest and the world’s second-tallest building; a collection of businesses, services and hotels boasting a population equal to the country of Monaco in a community built on a footprint the size of a football field. This episode goes behind Shanghai Tower’s interior wall and exterior skin, a place where residents work, play and relax in a series of eight stacked public parks, each more than 120 feet. Built with highly sustainable methods and earning one of China’s best “green ratings,” the structure will dominate Shanghai’s skyline, towering over its neighbors as a testament to the city’s economic success and the ambitions of its wealthy elite.

“The Billionaire Building”

Upon completion, One57 in Manhattan, dubbed “The Billionaire Building,” will rise more than 1,000 feet and 75 stories, making it the tallest residential tower in the western hemisphere and boasting unprecedented views of Central Park. This episode follows the teams tasked with creating, building, designing and selling New York’s most luxurious and most expensive residential skyscraper. Condominiums at One57, described as “the most bespoke skyscraper ever built,” boast state-of-the-art interiors, including double-height ceilings, full-floor apartments, bathrooms clad in the finest Italian marble and handmade kitchens from UK craftsmen.

A new generation of skyscrapers is rising above our cities in Super skyscrapers. With less space in urban areas we are building higher and faster than ever before. But for these skyscrapers it's not just building big that counts- it's thinking big. These skyscrapers are pushing the limits of engineering, technology and design to become greener, stronger, smarter and more luxurious than their predecessors. All are destined to become the celebrity giants of the future. Super Skyscrapers follows the creation of four extraordinary skyscrapers showcasing how they will revolutionize the way we live, work and how we protect ourselves from potential threats, both from the environment and terrorist attacks.

Each episode follows the rise of an individual skyscraper and their pursuit to be the very pinnacle in security, design, opulence and height. Their ambitions are great, but the risks are even greater- girder sized nerves of steel are required to turn these dreams into reality and it's the high stakes at play that set these giants apart from any other high-rise. Filmed over the course of a year, each episode follows the rise of a single skyscraper during a crucial timeframe in their construction period. With unprecedented access to the build process, Super skyscrapers goes behind the scenes of construction to show these iconic landmarks in the making. A host of architects, designers and engineers reveal the over-riding ambitions of each building and the colossal challenges that lie on the journey from conception to completion.

I thoroughly enjoyed this interesting and informative series that explores the background, building and potential of these technological marvels that stand as monoliths in the skyline. I found the segment on One World Trade Center to be particularly interesting as I have had the opportunity to see it at its various stages. Not to mention the significance of it raising to all of us who personally lived through the tragic events of 9/11. Seeing it stirs feeling of emotion, pride and hope that are hard to describe. It’s truly incredible to witness the innovation of design and the dedication that goes into each of these buildings by those on each side of the equation. Those that are interested in architecture/engineering will probably find this to be a fascinating documentary. That certainly isn’t necessary to enjoy it as I found myself engaged enough to watch them all at one time.

Parental Guide:

This series is appropriate for general audiences.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 74

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency effects: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

  • *Low frequency extension (non-rated element):

Video: 86

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

Super Skyscrapers comes to Blu-ray Disc from PBS Home Entertainment featuring 1080i AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 22 Mbps and lossless PCM Stereo that has a constant bitrate of 1.5 Mbps.

This is a great looking high definition presentation that boasts lifelike detail, vivid colors and natural looking fleshtones. Resolution can be rewarding as images are resolved cleanly and exhibit excellent depth and dimension. Blacks aren’t inky but appear a deep shade of black when onscreen with mixed light/dark elements. The two channel soundtrack won’t test the limits of sound system but sounds fine. The narrated segments and recorded dialogue during the various interviews is crystal clear and definitively rendered. Being a documentary style film there is little call for a surround mix and to that end I didn’t find the presentation lacking in any way.

Bonus Features:

There are no bonus features

Final Thoughts:

Super Skyscrapers was filmed over the course of 1 year and details the raising of a new generation of skyscrapers above our cities. It’s an informative and interesting series that follows four towering monoliths and their pursuit to be the very pinnacle in security, design, opulence and height. It comes to Blu-ray from PBS home Entertainment featuring gratifying high definition audio/video but eschews the inclusion of bonus supplements. If you find the subject matter of interest Super Skyscrapers is worth checking out on Blu-ray.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS4910 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
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post #2 of 3 Old 04-29-2014, 12:07 PM
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I've really enjoyed watching this on PBS. Fascinating.
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post #3 of 3 Old 04-29-2014, 02:55 PM
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I also saw the four episodes when they aired on KOPB (our local PBS affiliate) and I admit I really enjoyed them. On the Netflix 5-star scale, I would put this at a solid 4 stars.

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