The Royal Wedding

William & Catherine ~ April 29, 2011

 

The Royal Wedding

BBC Productions

Presented by Huw Edwards

Executive Producer: Nick Vaughan-Barratt


Video

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 480i

Codec: MPEG-2

Disc Size: Dual Layer

Runtime: 127 minutes

Chapters: 15


Audio:

English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo


Subtitles: None


Extras:

William & Kate ~ A Royal Engagement”(48 min)

Produced by Wendy Robbins

Narrated by Sophie Raworth


Presentation:

DVD Clamshell Case

Street Date: May 24, 2011



The Movie: 8

Here we are, less than month after the BIG DAY, and already the Official Commemorative DVD of the BBC’s coverage of the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton is available for giveaway prices at your favorite retailer.  It’s a remarkable achievement - and would be all the more wonderful if only the DVD picture quality remotely matched the broadcast - but alas, it doesn’t.  More on that presently.


What we cannot help but stand in awe of is the extraordinary sumptuous pomp of the event and the brilliantly executed direction of the video coverage.  Every conceivable and desirable angle is available, save only the placement of cameras in the Rolls Royces and carriages that carried the royals to and from Westminster Abbey.


               

               
    


The 127-minute coverage begins shortly before William’s exit from Clarence House and follows separately both his and Catherine’s motorcars to the church, the processional, the ceremony entire, the recessional and carriage ride to where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (aka William and Catherine) wave their goodbyes to a cheering crowd ( and to us) under a  stunning flyover by a WWII Lancaster bomber flanked by a Spitfire and Hurricane, before attending a gala reception hosted by the queen at Buckingham Palace.


               

               

               

               

               


The single Bonus Feature is a 48-minute documentary sweetly titled “William & Kate ~ A Royal Engagement” that follows William from his college days at St. Andrews in Scotland, his meeting Catherine, a little on her background as well as as an aside to William’s parentage (I think Diana would have been glowing with pride at the nuptials) and the long friendship and courtship that eventually led to their engagement.  There are numerous interview clips of those who knew them or followed them in the press.  Considering how quickly this piece, too, was put together shortly after the announcement of the their engagement last year, it is neatly done, indeed.


               

               

               

               

               

               


Image: 4/3

You would think that making a DVD dub of a HD broadcast should be not just straightforward but demonstrate knockout picture quality in the bargain.  Indeed, the color and contrast are perfectly captured but detail, sharpness, resolution - call it what you may - has been scrubbed or softened or transferred or scanned at an alarmingly cramped rate.  Viewed at anything larger than a 24 inch computer display, the image is astonishingly blah.  It doesn't help that the DVD is not progressive and has wisps of enhancement lurking about the edges of things, but these are not the problem.  Nor does its relatively high bit rate rescue the picture.  I'm at a loss.


               

               

               

               


I don’t wish to overstate my objection, so to be clear: the picture isn’t garbage, it just simply doesn’t live up to expectation. If there are plans to release this same BBC wedding coverage in HD Blu-ray, it should be rescanned (if that’s the right word) for there is no way a satisfying image can come out of the likes of whatever mastered this transfer. Enough said.

 

The Bonus feature is another matter entirely.  Still interlaced, the picture quality is much tighter in those spots were we would expect it - namely the interview material.  That looks great.  The archival footage is faithful to its sources, and rarely rises to anything to sigh about.  But that is as we expect.


               

               

               

 

Audio: 7/8

It's a good thing that the audio is as clear as it is, since there are no subtitles.  Whether it be the news correspondents or the clergy, we can hear every word.  The music of the cathedral orchestra and blazing trumpets are musically conveyed, without glare or distortion.  There's even a wee bit of bass to the organ.  When the happy couple is at the door of the church, the orchestra is still heard, properly balanced in the distance, along with the cheers of the crowd and the voice of the commentator.  Nicely done.

 

Head Scratchers:

In addition to the soft image there are these: The "menu card", such as it is, is off-center.  There are no sub-menus, and therefore no menu chapter selection. There are, however, fifteen chapters, each starting at significant moments of the pageant, but you'll have to click into them one at a time if you want to find a particular scene. There are no subtitles in any language.


               

               

 

Recommendation: 6

This commemorative DVD of William and Catherine's wedding day is something of an embarrassment in terms of image quality.  Comparing it to last month's broadcast is like a first generation cell phone photo compared to what the current iPhone can produce.  It's like the difference between HD and DVD - and it shouldn't be.  On the other hand, the program is a reasonably complete coverage of the event, and comes with a sensible and well-made bonus feature about the engagement.


               



Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

May 26, 2011


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