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At my daughter’s prompting, I went ahead and watched RAT (a Universal studios product), a movie that features an all British and Irish cast, and a film that was entirely photographed in Dublin, Ireland.

I don’t recall hearing about this movie before so I had no idea what was supposed to be about or what to expect.

Well, it turned out that this eclectic, quirky comedy of sorts was engaging enough to keep my attention riveted to the screen, but I realize that perhaps others will find its subject matter uninteresting and not to their liking.

However, my interest in bringing this movie to your attention isn’t so much about the film itself as it is about its visual quality, and thereby hangs a tale...


Much ado is being made now days about the Super-Bit transfers now being released by Columbia/Tri-Star (Sony) that it is easy to forget the fact that with care ordinary (?), "standard" authored DVD transfers can indeed exhibit a visual quality that is comparable -if not identical- to that of their SB’d cousins.

In the case of RAT, the 1:78:1 ratioed (approximately) anomorphic video image is of such high quality that the term "reference" immediately comes to mind because the image possesses a clarity and transparency that is highly reminiscent of a true tridimensional dimension. In my opinion, its resolution heavily taxes the NTSC format to the max which, short of being true HD, can’t imagine it been any better. Why? Well, I surmise with a good degree of certainty that it is in great part because of the high bit rate at which this film was authored with! But I am getting ahead of myself...


I decided to check the bit rate by turning on the bit rate meter early on while viewing this film because I became enthralled by its stunning looking image and wanted to find out the possible reasons why. Thus I found, to my total amazement, that the bit rate averaged 8 mbps, often hovering around the 10 bit mark (which is the maximum the DVD format is capable of), but never dipping below 5 mbps, and it was only during the closing credits that the bit rate dipped below the 5 mbps mark (on a total black screen the bit rate becomes zero). Is this Super-Bitting or what!

I know that some will object to this methodology in attempting to determine absolute bit rate, but in my view is as valid a test as it can be deviced without the aid of professional equipment. Furthermore, I think is rather inconsequential if the bit rate meter isn’t absolutely accurate because what is exhibited on an average basis the image quality does speak volumes all by itself; the end results are clearly there, to be easily visually sampled by any one who cares to do so!


The many other positive elements that contribute in producing an image of "reference quality" are also easily observable from this DVD.

Colors are true and run the gamut. Skin colors, in particular, are exquisitely rendered; they range everything from pale ivory to the almost reddish in cast, which is typical of Caucasian peoples of European extract.


Shadow detailing is also superbly rendered, as are reproduction of blacks and contrast dynamics.


As indicated earlier, there is a pristine transparency and clarity to the image that is like looking through an open window to the world outside. I must continue attributing this to the high resolution afforded by the high bit rate used in authoring the transfer, even within the limitations imposed by the NTSC format itself, of course; it isn’t HD just yet.


What's more, the sharp looking, well focused image was not achieved at the cost of indiscriminate application of EE either because amazingly as it may seem I saw none! And if it is present, something that I failed to detect late last night, is so minute that really becomes inconsequential.


The fact that a DVD transfer with no pretensions of being a Super-Bit affair looks as good -and in some ways even surpass it- exists presents a problem for Sony, particularly in view that CTS will continue the selling of the SB hype (yes, I still consider the practice to be mostly hype regardless) by making unequivocal differentiations between SB and "standard" DVD releases.


Be that as it may, I encourage anyone interested in this little flick just to check its image and see what I am talking about.

You might wind up disagreeing with my opinions, which is okay.

I do welcome yours.


By the way, my kid rented the copy I viewed last night. For the intended purpose I only suggest renting, not buying, though...


-THTS
 

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Hi Frank,


I never heard of RAT before. I have noticed that some not so successful titles have gotten the very best treatment. It seems like the stuff that has a major following gets so-so treatment. This isn't always so, but often enough that I notice it. I don't rent DVD's but maybe someone else will comment on this one.
 

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Quote:
I have noticed that some not so successful titles have gotten the very best treatment.
Is that because it costs more money to apply EE? I would assume that it does take more time and money to go through the additional process of adding it to the film. I just recently received "The Legend of Zu" on DVD from Hong Kong and the picture on that disk is quite stunning as well. I just assumed it was because they couldn't afford to mess around with the picture. It's amazing that a disk that looks so great can retail for about 8-9 U.S. dollars.


It would certainly be ironic if it's true that it's cheaper to make a better DVD (fewer/no extras and no EE).
 
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