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Image Entertainment presents
Computer Animation Extravaganza (The Mind's Eye) (2000)

"I think we're getting better at conversation!"
- Man from The Smell of Horror

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: December 04, 2000

Manufacturer: Warner Advanced Media Operations
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild adult humor)
Run Time: 01h:01m:27s
Release Date: November 28, 2000
UPC: 014381975420
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A A-D+B C-

DVD Review

I have long been fascinated by computer animation and graphics. As a result, I've spent somemoments creating my own renders and animations just for fun. Of course, not having the moneyor access to use something as powerful as an SGI machine, my work is pretty much limited to,"Hey, watch the ball roll across the floor!" For those who DO have access to super-computerpower, though, they usually wind up making cool little short films to demonstrate their technique... or to get jobs. Computer Animation Extravaganza is a compilation of such animated shortsand, despite the odd name, this is really just a new entry in the famous Mind's Eye seriesof computer animation videos. 17 shorts (including an 18th "bonus" short) are featured here andunlike the typical Mind's Eye style video, these are not just clips set to music; they are theoriginal, complete shorts as finalized by their creators.

Most collections of any kind of short films are usually kinda hit-and-miss with me, butExtravaganza totally enthralled me. There is not one short on this disc I didn't like (well,there is one, but it was for a technical issue which I'll discuss later). Even the ones that are fairlylow-tech (compared to the ultra-renders) are at least backed up by humor or good stories, whichis really all that matters. While I thought all the shorts were great fun, a few do stand out. Forstarters, the disc opens with the technically impressive Tightrope, which was put togetherby artists from special effects house, Digital Domain. Pacific Data Images (who were behind thefeature film Antz) also have an entry here, the humorous Fat Cat On A Diet. Un Temps Pour Elle is a strikingly photo-realistic short, featuring amazing textures andrender work, equalled somewhat by the amazing Fiat Lux, also photo-realistic.

Humor plays a large role as well, and most of the shorts are meant to be funny. RoninRomance Classics is a funny take on the romance novel genre, Teaspoon tells thetale of a skeleton who's lost his tea set, and the brilliant Tribu is a surreal comedy about atribe of metal beings who worship rocks. Only a handful of the films have any spoken dialogue,which makes them very akin to silent films, when everything had to be said with actions andmusical intonation. Of course, the lack of spoken dialogue is usually attributed to how mucheffort and time must go into actually animating a talking character on computer.

Though only about an hour long, the disc is a wonderful trip through creative computeranimation. While some are vastly more advanced than others, they all show talent and style increating something that either makes you laugh, or impacts you some other way. I've watched thedisc twice already because it's so entertaining and that's really what it all comes down to, beingentertained.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Despite the fact that computer graphics would seem to imply a great transfer, unfortunately that isnot the case here. Most of the shorts suffer severe problems with compression artifacts and heavypixelization. There are also examples of VHS-style problems like tracking errors and tape jumps. The worst example is the virtually unwatchable La Stele, a surreal short in which a toythat looks like Tin-Tin (the old comic character) dances with a shadow to the classic jazz songFever. This is the worst example of the disc's problems, but strangely some shorts arecompletely free of any problems. The final film, Butterflies in the Rain is completelypristine, as are a few others. It would appear that the sources of many of these films (especiallysince Odyssey productions tends to cull their material from VHS) were simply bad quality andaggravated compression problems. As a result, the disc is something of a mixed bag. It'scertainly entertaining, but visually it seriously lacks any punch, with most of the shorts lookingalmost blurred.

(Please see the reader comments attached. Marshall Crawford, Executive Producer at Odyssey Productions, has offered a rebuttal. -Ed.)

Image Transfer Grade: D+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Audio-wise, the disc sounds fine. While a few shorts are mono, most are in stereo with the musicbeing the primary feature. Some directionality is used, but not much. The only short that usedthe surrounds was Tightrope which seemed to use a 2.0 Surround mix. Since music isthe prime feature here, it sounds great and there's nothing to complain about.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 17 cues and remote access
Packaging: Snapper
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Bonus Short: The Smell of Horror
Extras Review: Although billed as a bonus short, the film Smell Of Horror plays after the end credits andseems to be part of the normal course of the film. Regardless, the film is very good, and uses aweird technique to make it appear like it's using very grainy, bad film stock. Oddly enough, itmakes the short almost indistinguishable from claymation or stop-motion work. Other than that,there's nothing else on the disc at all. The menus are nice and the presentation is OK, but nothingreally stands out besides the movies.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

Don't let the bad image rating scare you away. Despite the problematic transfer, this is still aseriously enjoyable package of work and, despite some of the ribald humor in Ronin RomanceClassics, it is also family safe. Highly recommended.


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