The Official Review of the 2008 FIA Formula One Championship
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An up-close and exciting review of the 2008 Formula One season, including all of the latest news and footage not seen on TV. Louis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, and the rest of the drivers and teams from the world's most popular motor racing series battle it out in races from Australia to Brazil, including F1's first ever night time race on the streets of Singapore.
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Surveying the reviews on the Amazon.co.uk site for the UK/PAL version there is not one complaint about video quality, amongst 12 reviews, whereas most of the reviews for the US edition do mention it amongst a smaller overall number of reviews. Therefore I think this is a US-market flaw only and the original footage is all fine. I also noticed that the in-car footage does not generally have this problem even though it is inherently a little bit lower overall quality, and neither does most or all of the off-track footage. It seems to be limited to the track-mounted and/or hand-held broadcast cameras. Seems very much like a US-market-only technical glitch in format conversion (perhaps PAL to NTSC).
It is very disappointing for the US market to be treated to poor quality control when it is a market that the car manufacturers supporting Formula1 regard as critical. Previous year-end reviews suffered from excessive compression to fit all the footage onto one disc, but now with a double-disc set I am certain this could have been practically immaculate (2007's review was, for example).
Moving on, I still give this product three stars, still enjoyed watching it as it's the only NTSC record of another dramatic and exciting season of Formula 1 racing. Lewis Hamilton was a well-deserved world champion finally, congratulations to him. The last race of the season was one of the most exciting races I've ever seen.
However, with this NTSC version , I was immediately put off by the terrible video quality during panning scenes. This was most evident when the camera locked-on (or panned) the cars going through turns or down the straights. The video of the car shifted and stuttered trying to keep pace with the cars. This is so distracting I felt compelled to write a poor review and advise others to skip purchasing this video.
At any rate, since I already had viewed the PAL version of this video off the web and it didn't have these flaws, I wanted to blame my new Samsung LCD. So I headed back to the computer to compare it to the DivX torrent I watched before. The verdict was easy to see; the PAL version was flawless while the problems persisted on the NTSC version. In other words, I paid $27 to watch an inferior encoding of the footage and no refund is possible on open material.
Bottom line on this one, if you live in N. America you are better of scouring the web for the PAL version and just watch it on your computer or re-encode it yourself for NTSC. This version is a major disappointment and I would suggest to anyone considering this to save their money and skip this year's installment.
In my opinion, much of the criticism is overstated. The 2008 season review DVD is eminently watchable, despite some artifacts and ghosting on some of the race footage. How serious and prevelant is it? Not very. Should one expect a professionally produced DVD costing about $30.00 to be nigh on perfect? Absolutely. It is frustrating that this one is not quite there in terms of video quality? Only if you let it become so.
I wonder if the reviewers upset with the video quality are too young to remember what it was like to use VCR's. Those of us who struggled with videotape degredation, and the vagaries of using such a cumbersome system, still marvel at the convenience and overall reliability of DVD, and are perhaps a little more forgiving of the occasional artifact, etc.
The 2008 F1 season was incredible, and pretty much went down to the last corner of the last race. For those of you thinking about picking up this DVD, don't listen to the naysayers suggesting you save your money and pass it by. You can buy with confidence, safe in the knowledge that you will enjoy some incredible footage of a truly fantastic year of Formula 1 motor racing.