Sleuth DVD

I watched Sleuth on my Sony S7000 and 53" XBR last night. I just love this film, I've been waiting for years for a LD re-pressing that never happened, and then it is released on DVD. YES! This is what I saw:

Lots of visible macroblocks on the intro credits and the first shot of the outside of the house. Just look at the "blockies" at the top edge of the red roof. Then we get a scene change and the picture looks fine. Actually this film is incredibly sharp, especially considering the age (1972). No sign of any DVNR softening, actually the detail is so sharp that it accentuates the interlacing effect on panning shots.

A couple times during this film the macroblocks pop up, but most of the time (99.99% of the time) the picture is superb.

Now here is the kicker, this film is 139 minutes long and the disk is a flipper (both sides of the disc). So the average bit rate is high, I checked with the Sony's bit meter and the film is indeed VBR. So why the occasional visible macro blocks?

The only thing I can think of is that Anchor Bay is a low budget operation and they used some cheap inexpensive MPEG2 VBR encoding system. Or I hate to say it but maybe encoding at a house that has a DVNR was out of Anchor Bays budget. A grainy picture or a bit of film damage can really tax the MPEG encoding, A little softening at the right places could easily of eliminated the "blockies" that I saw.

The sound is mono but it is encoded at 384kbps 2.0 channel AC3. Congrats to Anchor Bay for doing this, I wish more studios would encode their mono and 2.0 films at 384kbps or 448kbps!

Despite the "blockies": this is a good transfer and a must buy for any fan of the film Sleuth.

Note: the sound does go away for the last minute of the film. I thought I remember it being this way, kind of like he looses his mind. Some people on the net are claiming this is a flaw and Anchor Bay will correct this in the future. I don't know if this is true.

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