- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080i/60
- Audio Codec: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (640kbps); Dolby Digital 2.0 (320kbps)
- Subtitles: English SDH
- Region: A
- Rating: Not Rated
- Discs: 3
- Studio: Discovery Channel
- Release Date: November 10, 2009
- List Price: $49.98 [amazon-product align=”center”]B002KLQ2YA[/amazon-product]
BestBuy.com: Purchase Discovery Atlas: Complete Collection on Blu-ray at CD Universe Shop with us for more Blu-ray releases at Amazon.comOverall The Collection Video Quality Audio Quality Supplemental Materials
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(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG and thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
The Discovery Atlas Collection is a series of travelogues that ran on the Discovery Channel focusing on individual nations. Their unique interpretation to the genre, however, was to include a spin that, rather than focus simply on geography or nature, focused on a select group of people from each nation dealing with the modern conditions in their world. The series focus on the changing social conditions, the meeting of the old and the new, and the challenges facing both young and old in this new global economy helps it to stand out from a crowd of travelogue series on the air.
South Africa Revealed: Home to more plant species than the entire US and more animal species than Europe and Asia combined. The world leader in wildlife conservation. 10% of the country is set aside for wildlife conservation and1/3 of the population is Zulu.
The episode follows a black gold miner owning his first home after 25 years of hard work, a young girl part of the first generation of blacks born into freedom determined to be the first in her family to graduate from high school and gain a college degree, a wildlife conservationist/vet. There’s also a focus on the challenge facing the nation and its fight against HIV/AIDs than anywhere else in the world.
France Revealed: Narrated by Candace Bergen, France Revealed shows the new France with a focus on the Eiffel tower receiving 6 million visitors a year, world’s most visited monument. A bullfighter is followed and free-runner in Paris slums is profiled. Also “revealed” are a bomb disposal expert and a rock climber.
Japan Revealed: Narrated by Masi Oka, Japan Revealed shows Geisha in Kyoto, Japan’s original capital city, how schoolgirls in Tokyo influence trends around the world and the country’s the summer festivals.
Mexico Revealed: Edward James Olmos narrates this episode that features the history of the Mayan Empire and the pre-Hispanic ruins. Young cliff divers are shown and a monarch butterfly preserve is explored among the many other splendors of Mexico.
China Revealed: James Spader narrates this episode dedicated to the most populous country on the planet with its 1.3 billion people. China is expected to be the world’s next superpower. The ancient clashes with the modern; capitalism and commercialism. There are more construction projects in China than anywhere else in the world.
Italy Revealed: Narrated by Isabella Rossellini, the “floating city” of Venice, built on the profits of the maritime trade is explored. Sicily, the stronghold of the mafia and Milan the fashion capital of Italy are examined through the lives of a fashion designer and a free diver. Italy has more world heritage sites than any country in the world. A female teenage auto racer is and in Siena, the most dangerous horse race in the world is run with neighborhoods pitted against each other.
Egypt Revealed: Omar Metwally narrates this episode on Egypt. It shows the ruins of Luxor built for the pharaohs, the celebration of Ramadan, the Nile, the desert oases away from the Nile, date gardens; traditional roles of women in rural areas and examines how men run Egyptian society holding 98 percent of government positions.
Russia Revealed: Dan Oreskes is the narrator for this episode on the new post-communist Russia. The episode follows a reindeer herdsman in Siberia. In the capitol of Moscow, more than 100,000 millionaires thrive along with the Russian mafia — the population has swelled to over 10 million. In Dagestan the ancient traditions are finally reviving after many years of communism. St. Petersburg, is the cultural capitol of Russia with theatre, opera and the circus. A 17-year-old training at a circus school to be an aerial acrobat is profiled.
India Revealed: Narrated by filmmaker Mira Nair, this episode turns its attention on the home of the world’s largest democracy with 1/6 of the world’s entire population. It shows Mumbai the center of the Bollywood phenomenon, Indians below the poverty line, New Delhi and the growing middle class in the new economy. A wedding planner with a booming business and a swami profiling the nation’s ingrained caste system are profiled.
Australia Revealed: Actor Russell Crowe narrates this episode focused on the nation continent. It is the oldest landmass on Earth. After its humble beginnings as a penal colony for the British Empire, Australia now has one of the world’s highest standards of living. The episode profiles a lifeguard, the celebration of Australia Day, extreme rowing marine sports, Australian Rules Football, a camel wrangler in the heart of the Australian desert and camel races. The outback and aboriginal paintings along with the convergence of ancient civilization and the new Australian nation are also focused on.
Brazil Revealed: Sela Ward narrates this look at the home of Carnival the largest celebration in the world. It looks at a river merchant who carries provisions deep into the Amazon. The Amazon River carries 20% of all the world’s fresh water. The importance of soccer to the nation is profiled along with a woman learning to Samba in preparation for Carnival and others preparing for the big celebration. The country is also the world’s biggest producer of beef and a professional rodeo rider is profiled.
The Discovery Atlas: Complete Collection was originally captured in high definition and it is provided in this Blu-ray collection in a three-disc 1080i/60 AVC/MPEG-4 encoding. The picture quality is a bit inconsistent, an obvious result of various sources. There are moments when the image shows amazing clarity and stability yet others where it is flat and soft. Video noise and blocking are sometimes issues and occasional color banding shows up in the sky.
The audio on this release is provided in two options, an English Dolby Digital 5.1(640kbps) mix and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 (320kbps) mix. Neither mix offers anything very exciting. The 5.1 mix only provides very little low-level ambience in the surround channels and some weak low frequency support. The 2.0 mix is a little tight in the soundstage with some subtle stereo effects across the front.
The only supplements offered are a few bonus vignettes that offer some additional cultural information on the countries included. They claim to be in high definition, but they look much more like up-scaled standard definition to my eyes.
The supplements provided on this release are:
- Bonus Vignettes (1.78:1; 1080i/60):
The Definitive Word
Discovery Atlas is an engaging travel series that puts the focus back on people rather than nature and geography. Although its video and audio don’t quite reach the levels we’ve seen from documentaries of this ilk from the likes of the BBC, it is still a solid effort from the Discovery Channel and should be a welcome addition alongside similar materials.