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Walt Disney Short Films Collection
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.66:1 Widescreen
  • 1.78:1 Widescreen
  • 2.35:1 Widescreen
  • 2.40:1 Widescreen
  • 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 2 Discs
FEATURES
  • @DisneyAnimation: A Short Story about Shorts
  • Optional Introductions for Each Film

Walt Disney Short Films Collection

Dual-Format Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Mark Henn, Mike Gabriel, Chris Buck, Patrick Osborne, Lauren MacMullan, John Kahrs, Byron Howard, Nathan Greno, Stevie Wermers-Skelton, Kevin Deters, Dean Wellens, Jennifer Lee
2015 | 79 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.99 | Series: Disney
Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Release Date: August 18, 2015
Review Date: August 16, 2015

Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca

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SYNOPSIS

From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes an extraordinary new collection of award-winning and beloved short films featuring Disney's Frozen Fever, starring Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Sven and Kristoff, and the Oscar®-nominated Lorenzo (Best Animated Short, 2004). The Short Films Collection includes contemporary shorts starring classic characters, such as the groundbreaking 2013 Mickey Mouse cartoon, Get A Horse! And the holiday treat Prep & Landing: Operation: Secret Santa, as well as celebrated Oscar winners Paperman (2012) and Feast (2014). Enjoy them together for the first time in this must-own collection with all-new extras including an inside look at the Disney Animation shorts, featuring introductions and interviews with the acclaimed filmmakers themselves.


PICTURE

Disney presents their first Short Films Collection on a dual-layer Blu-ray disc. The collection features 12 recent short films from the studio, some of them making their debut here. The titles included are: John Henry and Lorenzo (both in the aspect ratio of 1.66:1), Little Match Girl, How to Install Your Home Theater, Tick Tock Tale, Prep & Landing, The Ballad of Nessie, Tangled Ever After, Paperman (all of which are in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1), Get a Horse!, Feast, and Frozen Fever (Feast appears to be 2.40:1 but the other two are 2.35:1). All 12 films receives 1080p/24hz high-definition presentations.

A majority of the material here was computer animated and it appears they come straight from the digital source. John Henry, The Ballad of Nessie, and about half of the Goofy DIY short How to Install Your Home Theater were classically animated (the other half of the last short was done using computers, an experiment in trying to create what looks like hand drawn cell animation in the digital realm). All of the computer animated portions look rather spectacular on Blu-ray, unsurprisingly, delivering bright, bold colours and excellent definition, even the tiny details popping out. I thought Paperman looked especially wonderful on the format, a primarily black and white computer animated short, attempting to recreate the look of cell animation, and the lines are sharp and the transitions in grays are clean and natural. Detail is impressive, particularly in the likes of Prep & Landing and Frozen Fever, where textures look almost real at times (though this is more of a compliment for the animators and the software).

John Henry, Nessie, and the Goofy short are the three that would have more than likely come from a film source and Disney does their usual de-graining thing with John Henry and Nessie, though Henry has a more purposeful “rough” look to it with rough line drawings, which remain. Despite Disney’s smoothing of the image both shorts still looks pretty good and I didn’t notice any sever problems. The lines look cleaner and more solid than they usually do on Disney’s transfers for classically animated features.

Interestingly the Goofy short (and to a lesser extent, Paperman) looks to have had artificial film grain applied to the image. It doesn’t look entirely natural but also doesn’t look like an artifact and I suspect it’s inherent in the original animation, possibly an attempt to keep what was computer animated looking like it was recorded on film. It’s an interesting effect though I’m actually more surprised they kept it intact here, instead of scrubbing it away.

On the whole, though, the transfers for all 12 films are consistent and all look very good: they’re sharp, vibrant, and generally pleasing.

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

All 12 films feature lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround tracks. They all sound very clean and sharp, with no distortion or damage. Volume levels are superbly mixed and range is excellent. Surround use is adequate with noticeable directionality and splits, most of which is noticeable in the more commercial features with singing, like Frozen Fever. Music is used to great effect in all of the films and fill out the environment nicely, particularly Lorenzo, Paperman, and The Little Match Girl.

There are also some particularly sharp moments where your home theater is used to great effect, the best of which maybe from a “demo” scene in How to Install Your Home Theater, which delivers some fairly robust effects that move around the viewer. This moment may act as a decent demo for your system.

Most of the films are a little more reserved but the tracks present a stunning amount of clarity and also pack a few surprises.

9/10

SUPPLEMENTS

This is where the release disappoints: there’s next to nothing here for supplements. Each film gets an optional introduction by the filmmakers (these can be turned “on” or “off” and the option is given when you play from the menu), but they range between 44-seconds and just over a minute each. They don’t offer much other than brief overviews of the film in question.

What’s most disappointing is the one “big” feature: @DisneyAnimation: A Short Story about Shorts, hosted by T.J. Miller. He talks to a few of the filmmakers involved in the short films here, including Mike Gabriel, Lauren MacMullan, Kristina Reed, Kevin Peters, and Stevie Wermers-Skelton. For a whole 7-minutes they talk about why Disney still makes shorts, and the reasons given are unsurprising: it’s a mix of carrying on the tradition of the animated shorts and experimentation. It’s this latter subject that was of more interest to me, especially for films like Paperman and Home Theater, where they were experimenting with technology to see if they could recreate a flat cell animation look using computers. Paperman is only touched on and Home Theater is ignored, as are some of the other films. It’s a pretty useless feature as it barely gives a history of the tradition or much in the way of detail about how a short is created, other than John Lasseter hears proposed ideas from hundreds of people a year.

Also, who are these features for? Most children will probably find them useless and boring, and adults will, well, probably find them useless and boring. Most children will simply not care and there’s not enough info in them to make them worthwhile for even the most attentive cinephile.

Since most of the release feels like an afterthought I assume this is more of a cash-in for Disney since this is the first home video release for the Frozen short (which is unsurprisingly the key graphic on the cover art) but they could have at least faked some real interest in the topic of short animated features.

2/10

CLOSING

In terms of presentation Disney has done a spectacular job and the shorts all look and sound great. But it’s underwhelming in that it only includes recent shorts—12 in total, barely running 80-minutes altogether—most of which are available as supplements on other Disney releases, and then it fakes an interest in trying to cover the history of Disney shorts (in 7-minutes). I enjoyed most of the shorts that are on here and appreciate them being released like this, but let’s be honest, this is really just a lazy attempt by Disney to get $20 to $40 from parents whose kids are begging them to buy it for the Frozen short (again, it’s what is prominently shown on the cover). Of course because Disney put the other shorts on here there is the advantage that children will discover those shorts, which are really well done and show them that animated films aren’t all just mindless distractions. They can be art, they can have something to say, and they can involve you on something more than a superficial level.

But it’s frustrating because since it’s obviously just being released to get more money from the Frozen money printer I don’t get any sense of commitment from Disney. I would like Disney to continue putting out releases like this, getting their shorts out on Blu-ray, particularly their older ones (similar to their great Disney Treasures DVD releases), but it would be wonderful if some effort went into them. But since there is even the lack of any indication suggesting this release is the first of any sort of series (there’s no “Volume” signifier on the release for starters) I doubt we’ll even get another lackluster edition of shorts like this.




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