Paul McCartney: The Music and Animation Collection appears in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The shorts looked decent but not great.
Sharpness presented a moderate concern. The movie usually looked acceptably accurate and well defined, but it also showed a few soft shots. Wide images demonstrated the least detailed images; they never became terribly fuzzy, but they lacked crispness. The film took on a moderately gauzy look at times. No problems with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and I detected no signs of edge enhancement. Print flaws stayed modest but seemed a little more substantial than I expected. Occasional examples of grit and specks popped up at times.
Colors varied but appeared fairly decent. Even in the tropical settings, the tones never became terribly vivid and lively. Still, they remained generally concise and well rendered; they just failed to become better than that. Blacks appeared acceptably dense and dark, and shadows were reasonably detailed and firm. The image of Collection never seemed bad, but it didn’t do much that appeared terrific either.
On the other hand, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of the McCartney Music and Animation Collection firmly exceeded my expectations. The soundfield seemed very active and provided a really lively experience. Music mostly remained in the front, where it presented good stereo imaging. However, the score and songs also spread nicely to the rear for reinforcement.
As for effects, they featured prominently in all three stories. The different elements popped up all around the five speakers and added a lot of life to the presentation. From flying frogs to shooting guns, the various bits came from appropriate places and moved smoothly around the room.
Audio quality also seemed strong. Speech consistently sounded natural and distinctive, with no intelligibility issues or edginess. Music was lush and lively, and the songs showed fine dynamics. Bass response seemed terrific across the board; whether for effects or music, low-end appeared tight and warm. Effects sounded clean and accurate and suffered from no distortion. Overall, the audio of Collection really impressed me, as it was both enveloping and crisp.
A mix of extras pop up on this DVD. We start with Paul Talks About the Animation Collection. In this six-minute and 58-second featurette, McCartney discusses his initial interest in “Rupert” and his involvement in the cartoon, the use of cel and CG animation, his interest in “Tuesday” and work on it, his general attitude toward the shorts, his voice work, and his plans for future animated films. It’s fun to hear Macca chat about the subject, especially since he remains enthusiastic; Paul can often be on cruise control in interviews, so it’s quite interesting to listen to him go over an unusual subject with some zeal. This featurette proves useful and enjoyable.
Next we get The Making of Tropic Island Hum. In this 12-minute and three-second piece, we find a mix of movie snippets, behind the scenes bits, and interviews. We hear from director Geoff Dunbar and unnamed animators. They chat about the origins of the film and characters, and developing the animation. The program seems simple but informative. It covers the various topics reasonably well, and the shots from behind the scenes add some good elements. Make sure you stick around to the end, as it finishes with shots of an animated Paul and Linda.
After this we find The Making of Tuesday. This one lasts 11 minutes, 57 seconds and follows the same format as the prior show. It includes comments from McCartney, though shots from behind the scenes dominate. We learn of Paul’s interest in the book, visual development, live action photography used as a visual aid for animators and other tools, various animation techniques, and recording the music. The main attraction here stems from all the behind the scenes video, especially since many of these involve McCartney heavily. It’s fun to see him work on the project, and those elements make the program quite involving.
In the next area, we find Rupert and the Frog Song Line Tests. This set runs 10 minutes, 50 seconds and essentially shows the entire short in unfinished form. We mostly see rough animation as it progresses. This seems like an interesting way to watch the evolution of the project.
Similar material appears in Tropic Island Hum: Layouts, Storyboards and Line Tests (11 minutes, 23 seconds) as well as Tuesday: Line Tests and Storyboards (20 minutes, 15 seconds). “Hum” works much like “Rupert” and mainly focuses on the rough animation. The first half of “Tuesday” functions the same way, but the second half gives us a surfeit of storyboards. We get a collection of filmed boards that follow the movie’s progress without auditory accompaniment. All of these domains offer fun glimpses of the various processes.
Some flicks present talking menus, particularly Disney ones that try to make the DVDs kid-friendly. However, none of the others include voice work from arguably the most famous rock star alive today. McCartney provides a DVD menu introduction with comments as himself and in character as Wirral. It’s a fun element.
Lastly, the package includes a small booklet. This presents notes about the three shorts and their characters. We also get information about McCartney and director Geoff Dunbar, lyrics to songs, and some photos and drawings. It offers a nice little piece.
Overall, the three shorts on Paul McCartney: The Music and Animation Collection provide a moderate amount of enjoyment. One seems terrific, another appears somewhat drab, and the third falls in the middle. The DVD features decent picture with surprisingly strong audio and a generally nice set of extras. With a list price of almost $30, the Collection comes at a steep cost; I’d more readily recommend it if it ran for $10 less. Still, I’m sure most McCartney fans will want to add this to their collections.