Digital Video Essentials

Digital Video Essentials (2003)
First Look Entertainment

Many home theater enthusiasts are familiar with the ’Video Essentials, ’ a release that contains test patterns, reference images and very detailed instructions how to calibrate and properly set up your home theater equipment in order to get the best possible presentation out of them. The original release had a fairly step $45 price tag, and thus was of interest to only the most hard-core enthusiasts. Also, stemming originally from the Laserdisc era, the quality and material on the release did not really reflect the level of quality that is possible with DVD.

With the new release ’Digital Video Essentials,’ our friend Joe Kane corrects all that. Not only is the new release much more affordable, it also contains new footage. As a matter of fact, the release has been entirely redone from scratch. While the tutorial is in general the same one as before, it has been newly recorded and uses better examples and more updated equipment examples to help viewers set up their own home theater and is also covering new technologies, such as high definition presentations, DTS and 6.1 channel audio presentations in the process. As before, it is easy to follow and the results are immediate and stunning if you’ve never seen or heard a calibrated home theater before. As previously, the tutorial works on two levels, for casual viewers and for the hard-core people who really want to get into the nit-gritty details of their equipment and set-up, far beyond the understanding of a casual observer. The tutorial takes a good amount of time to explain the essentials of a home theater setup, explaining what different video modes are, how certain connections affect the quality, what the bottlenecks of the equipment typically are and so forth.

The DVD features an anamorphic 1.8:1 image that is rich and has been perfectly mastered, clearly serving as a showcase for how good material can look on DVD. Rich and detailed, absolutely sharp, the material is without even a hint of artifacting of any sort. The same goes for the audio, which hhas been perfectly mixed, as you would expect from a reference disc.

For years ’Joe Kane’s Video Essentials’ has been my weapon of choice to calibrate our equipment and I am glad to see that with this updated version, he is going one step further. I think every home theater enthusiast should go through this tutorial at least once just to understand how his equipment works and how it works together. The importance of properly calibrated equipment is also often underestimated and in his tutorial Joe makes it possible for virtually anyone to improve their setup and thus the performance and quality of their home theater presentations. With the new $25 price tag, it is also affordable for everyone, and thus, this release gets my highest recommendations. It may not be an entertaining feature film but it may turn out to be the most important DVD you ever bought!