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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Home Theater Intro Featuring CeRT
Home Theater Intro Featuring CeRT
Other // Unrated
List Price: $55.00 [Buy now and save at Bitstreamanimation]
Review by Joshua Zyber | posted January 13, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The Program:
It may take you longer to read this review than it will to watch the disc. Since the disc in question has only 1 minute 42 seconds worth of content on it, I'll try to speed this along.

The Home Theater Introduction Featuring CeRT is a short demo trailer designed to wow guests when you fire up your big screen and surround sound. It stars a cutesy CGI animated robot with a three-eyed head that looks like a CRT video projector. The robot walks into a room and triggers a computer countdown that "initializes" your home theater equipment, sounding off a rotation of tones from each of the speakers in a 5.1 audio system. Then a customized message appears on screen welcoming the guests to your home theater. 102 seconds on the nose. Then it's over. That's all there is to it.

The program is cute and kind of fun, and the speaker walkaround (with audio mix by Skywalker Sound) is a pretty effective way to show off your equipment. The disc can be ordered from www.bitstreamanimation.com in one of two varieties: either a Standard edition with generic greeting for $40 or a Customized edition with the name of your home theater personalized in the intro for $55.

I do have a couple of gripes, though. First off, although the disc offers your choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS 5.1 surround sound, it defaults to the DD 5.1 track every time. Since the program actually starts playing as soon as you put in the disc, without going to a set-up menu first, you have to pause the disc or adjust your soundtrack options on the fly while it's playing. This is a nuisance.

My more serious complaint is that the $55 price is simply not justified by the 102 seconds worth of content. Consider that you can purchase a competing product from www.cinemawise.com that offers a personalized animated intro (in your choice of several different styles), a concession stand greeting, 10 minutes of randomly-generated movie trivia questions, and a film-strip/roller coaster "Enjoy the Show" animation all for $49.95, and you can clearly see which is the better value. The CinemaWise Movie Night Custom disc provides a real movie theater-like experience, and when you order it you can choose to have the disc default to its DTS track.

I have both discs. I enjoy them both for what they are, and expect to randomly alternate between them when I have company over, but if I were going to recommend just one for purchase, the CeRT program would fall a distant second.

The DVD

Video:
The CeRT's CGI animation is pretty slick, with a sharp 16:9 widescreen, anamorphically-enhanced picture and good metallic colors. There are no edge enhancement halos, but unfortunately the digital compression quality isn't so hot. On a large screen you can see some minor color banding and compression artifacts. Most viewers probably won't notice, but it is disappointing nonetheless.

Audio:
The soundtrack by Skywalker Sound is pretty great. Sound effects are crisply recorded and reproduced with excellent fidelity. The tones that pop up from speaker to speaker are warm and enveloping, and the subwoofer channel gets a nice workout as well.

Both sound options are excellent, but the DTS track is the more robust option and has better kick from the bass channel. Unfortunately, both soundtracks are 5.1 mixes and will not trigger a center rear channel if you have one. This isn't a problem, per se, but it's a minor oversight that might have been nice to address.

Extras:
Knowing that the short program content wouldn't be enough for most people, the disc producers tried to make up for it by throwing in a couple of bonus features. Sadly, they didn't come up with anything all that interesting.

There's a brief bit of text information about the company, an original sketch drawing of the CeRT robot, a short test walk cycle for the animation, and a couple pages of storyboards. After this there are a few Dolby Digital and DTS trailers. That's about it.

The Home Theater PC crowd may be more excited to hear that the disc also contains a 1080i high-definition version of the program encoded as an MPG TS file. There are basically no instructions provided at all for how to install or run this, however. If you've already got the equipment and know what you're doing, I'm sure this is a nice treat. The rest of us probably won't care.

Final Thoughts:
Do I dislike the CeRT Home Theater Introduction? Not at all. It's fun for what it is and I foresee myself using it on occasion. I just don't think it's a good value for the price being charged, especially in light of a superior competing product available for a few dollars less. If the price tag isn't an issue, by all means enjoy.

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