As Christmas gets closer, some of you are wondering what to get that home video nut on your Christmas list. Upcomingdiscs has decided to help you figure out what get the person who loves home video.
A lot of folks will be entering the Blu-ray market this year. The format is on solid footing these days. You can bet that someone on your list is going to get a Blu-ray player for the first time this holiday season. What better way to help them out then to give them a hand building up that high definition library? So, we’re going to give you some gift ideas that will really go well with that brand-new Blu-ray player. And even if they’ve had a player for some time, you won’t be able to beat these titles.
Every day we’re going to spotlight a different studio and tell you the very best gift titles they have right now. These are often discs that folks might not go out and get for themselves. Show them how much you appreciate them this year with the following titles. Plus, it won’t hurt to get yourself invited over for the next movie night.
We started with Disney, because no one provides more magic than The Mouse House. When I think of Christmas it’s this kind of family fun and entertainment that comes to mind first. There should be a little Disney under every tree this year.
Toy Story Trilogy (10-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)
The Toy Story movies are probably the best computer-animated collection out there.
Pixar had already been making short subject computer animation. If you ever have the opportunity to check out their collection of shorts, you can’t help but be impressed with the evolution of the process as evidenced in these short films. The awards were rolling in for the upstart company, and it was only logical that sooner rather than later they would be the ones to attempt a full length feature film. Of course they were quite a small company at the time with no distribution network in place to launch a major motion picture. There wasn’t much of a promotional arm to the company to create the kind of buzz, pun intended, a full-length film would require. The truth was that Pixar’s small size, which was so much of a creative asset, just wasn’t up to the kind of task they were taking on. The first step would have to be to find a partner with the name recognition and resources to back up such an ambitious project. They would likely be betting the future of the company on this one effort. The choice was obvious. They would tie their fortunes together with the same company that took the very same risk 70 years ago. Walt Disney had created the very first animated feature film with Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. The result started an entire industry and put that one-time fledgling company on the map. Would Pixar be able to make the same impact on the industry that Disney had so many decades before? Anyone who has had the pleasure of seeing Toy Story knows the answer to that question. Lightning did indeed strike twice, and Toy Story would open the floodgates to an entire new industry of computer-animated features.
All three movies are incredible, both in technological achievement and wonderfully constructed stories that will appeal to children of all ages. The discs come with a ton of bonus features that will keep your friends busy for days on end. This series also can’t be beat on rewatchability. This is one of the best gift sets out there. It comes in a really cool case that will become a centerpiece of your friend’s collection.
Think about it. What were the best gifts you ever got? They were those memorable toys. Now you’re all grown up, and the best gift you can give now is a great big Toy Story.
Fantasia / Fantasia 2000 (Four-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
If your friend is into animation classics, they don’t come any better than Fantasia.
Just three years after Walt Disney introduced the world to the animated feature in 1937, Uncle Walt was already experimenting with the idea. The man was always fascinated with music as much as he was with animation and the wonderful fairy tales that would become his studio’s trademark. It was inevitable that he would come up with the idea of blending music with animation to create something quite unique in the world of entertainment. You have to remember that not only had there only been three years since the first animated feature, but that sound itself in motion pictures was still only a couple of decades old. By 1940 Walt Disney had combined both elements to create something truly magical.
Now on high definition after a careful restoration of both the image and soundtrack, there is every reason to believe that this is a treasure that should remain in your family for generations. It’s one of the most important releases in Disney history. It’s one of animation’s brightest moments. The film is broken up into segments. The animation themes and styles are different for each musical piece. Everyone remembers The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Here’s the original classic.
The beauty behind this release is that you’re giving several gifts in one. You get two movies, although the second does not live up to the original. You’re also giving the gift of music. These are incredible performances by both the Philadelphia and Chicago orchestras. Find that classical music fan who also enjoys classic animation, and you’ve got the absolute perfect gift.
Disney’s A Christmas Carol (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
The Dickens you say.
If you have a friend who loves Christmas films but hasn’t found a good one since A Christmas Story, you now have the opportunity to give the gift of a new holiday tradition. Your friend will think of you each and every year when they put in this new holiday classic. You might even get invited over for eggnog and cookies when they run the film again next year.
This is not your typical computer-animated film. The actor’s performances were captured through the motion-capture or “mo-cap” process. The actors are outfitted with bodysuits and dots all over their faces. These provide a tracking system for the computers. The action is recorded through several cameras and used to control the animated figures in the computer. This technology allows the animated characters to deliver nuanced performances in the movie. The actors can use facial expressions and body language unique to their own performance. Every little quirk of that performance is captured and translated to the image. It’s almost like they are playing a virtual-reality video game. The result is an animated feature that has the realism of a live performance.
Just as important as the motion-capture performances is the animation itself. Humans are still not as good in CG as most other elements. There is still just a little something doll-like in their appearance. It’s a technological wall that has yet to be scaled. Add the performance captures, and just a little more life sneaks into the inanimate creations. Add nearly photo-real environments, and the story comes that much more alive. As the “camera” pans through this industrial-revolution London cityscape, the images are quite impressive. There is texture to such things as brick buildings and iron gates that make it very difficult at times to truly tell if you are watching something real or not. Give a huge amount of credit to one of the best animation teams on the planet. As much care went into creating these environments as went into the performances. This is a believable place. Just another element that makes this something more than merely an advanced “cartoon” as some have described the technology.
Remember, it’s better to give than to receive. Giving these Disney classics will be to be giving a little bit of Christmas magic.
And as Tiny Tim is fond of saying: “God bless us everyone“.
Check out more of Disney’s fun and entertainment at Disney Rewards