BLU-RAY REVIEW: HOLLYWOOD IN VIENNA: THE WORLD OF JAMES HORNER
A year after the composer's death Varese Sarabande publishes the concert and symposium organized in October 2013 for the Hollywood in Vienna event.
We will not dwell here on the quality of this event we have covered extensively through many articles:
Rather we focus on the technical quality of the Blu-Ray.
Great surround audio
Problematic image quality
Missing scene descriptions for symposium
This Blu-ray is a beautiful and moving tribute that all admirers of music of James Horner must possess.
Screening this on a BenQ MW519 Projector at a screen size of approximately 100 inches, the 1080i HD image leaves much to be desired but ultimately gets the job done. The video quality resembles that of your average HDTV broadcast, with the image taking on a grainy, pixellated look in many of the darker camera pans of the audience. There's a hazy blue ambience to the presentation, something inherent in the filming as most who have seen this concert not in attendance were only able to do so via YouTube uploads, and while this is most certainly an upgrade, it won't blow anyone away in terms of image quality.
On the audio front, the disc is labeled as being standard DTS surround audio, and even includes a DTS trailer, something this reviewer collects and enjoys. The audio is actually lossless DTS-HD Master Audio in your standard 5.1 setup. It's a sufficient representation of the concert, with the majorty of sound (music, vocals and speech) dominating the front stereo channels. Stereo separation is quite good, particularly during the Avatar piece, with the tribal drums and other percussive effects. The rear channels are reserved mainly for reverb of the concert performance and an early voiceover narration that opens the Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan piece. To preserve the 'you are there' concert feel, the rear channels are filled with audience applause whenever performances end.
There is also a PCM stereo track, which of course condences the presentation down to two channels, and is slightly higher in volume than the DTS. This track is not advertised on the Blu-ray cover specifications.
All in all, this video presentation of the concert won't dazzle, but it does nicely place the viewer into the audience with impressive audio to sit and enjoy this loving tribute.
There is a warning about the audio capture of the Q&A being somewhat difficult to hear, but the overall sound is fine as is. The one disappointment with the full symposium is that it's actually not the full symposium: The film sequences that are discussed between James Horner and Robert Townson are all missing, understandably due to rights and clearance issues, but it leads to a somewhat frustrating experience because no indication is given about what specific examples are being shown to the audience in attendance, so the home viewer is left without a proper context to place the comments on the approach of each scene.
This is a slight disappointment, in that Hollywood in Vienna provided this very "In Memoriam" tribute to James Horner on their official YouTube channel. It recycles the acceptance speech and performance of "If We Hold On Together" from the concert.