Belleville belle vue
My copy of the French HD DVD release of Les Triplettes de Belleville arrived this morning from FNAC - a lovely surprise, as I’d completely forgotten it was being released at the end of October and had no idea it was on its way.
For me, this release is a huge deal, because it’s the first full-length traditionally animated film I’ve owned on HD DVD (the next is likely to be Asterix and the Vikings, also due out in France at the beginning of December). I’ve already seen the three Looney Tunes shorts that are included on The Adventures of Robin Hood HD DVD, which made my salivate for more, as well as Satoshi Kon’s Paprika on Blu-ray, but the latter featured a somewhat underwhelming transfer, while the visual style did absolutely nothing for me (anime generally does little for me anyway, particularly when its flat, bland, stilted, washed-out anime like the kind found in Paprika).
Many people are under the misconception that animation doesn’t benefit from HD as much as live action, but my opinion has always been that the exact opposite is true, as I hope the screenshots I’ve posted below prove. Les Triplettes de Belleville looks amazing, with the improved definition really allowing you to appreciate the line work of the pencil animation and the level of detail in the backgrounds. Oh, and as an added bonus, it’s in its intended aspect ratio of 1.66:1, unlike the DVD, which was over-matted to 1.78:1.
It’s not a completely perfect release: the low bit rate of 9.16 GB is slightly too stingy for the encoder to cope with some of the more visually complex shots. In motion, the artefacts that you might be able to see in some of the screenshots below are nothing like as noticeable - in fact, I hardly noticed any of them when I was actually watching the film - but they could probably have been avoided had an HD30 been used instead of an HD15.
Still, all in all a very nice release indeed, and one that means I can now retired my 2-disc standard definition DVD version (all of the extras have been ported over, even if they are, by necessity, PAL to NTSC standards conversions).
Les Triplettes de Belleville
(France Télévisions Éditions, France, VC-1, 9.16 GB)