As the "Clone Wars" consume the "Star Wars" galaxy, new threats emerge from the conflict, further disrupting the tenuous balance of power. In addition to assassins, bounty hunters, monsters, and more, "Season Three" pits the Jedi Knights against Jabba the Hutt, Greedo, and the deadly brother of Sith apprentice Darth Matul. Mystery, intrigue, and adventure await Padawan Ahsoka Tano as she must prove her strength as a Jedi with the help of a familiar furry ally, Chewbacca. (Tricia Spears)
Special features on Disc One of the three-disc set include "Behind The Story: Creating Kamino" (HD 13:18) and "Jedi Temple Archives" (HD 47:42), which is an extensive database of early test animations, concept art, galleries of original 3D models, character designs, and deleted scenes. Disc Two features "Behind The Story": "Hutts And The Underworld" (HD 15:35) and "Witches And Monsters" (HD 16:09), and more of the "Jedi Temple Archives" (HD 51:08). Special features on Disc Three include "Behind The Story": "Secrets Of Mortis" (HD 02:24) and "Chewbacca Returns" (HD 18:54), and more of the "Jedi Temple Archives" (HD 53:52).
The computer-generated animation is delivered in the 2.35:1 1080p AVC format. Series Three is darker visually and thematically than the previous two seasons (reviewed in Issue 144 and Issue 151), yet the dark and elaborate animation continues to capture the style of the feature films and presents an incredible visual experience. The color palette is warm, with bold and vibrant hues, highlighted by brilliant lightsaber blades and blaster bolts. Contrast is excellent, with deep and solid blacks and shadow delineation that impressively reveals detail. The animation is enhanced with impressive dimensionality. Resolution and clarity is superb and reveals the extremely fine textures. The imagery is sharp and pristine throughout. The animators have once again created a visually dramatic and engaging eye-popping experience that is fascinating to experience. This is an extremely well-crafted picture that is visually stunning. (Gary Reber)
In 2009 I had the opportunity to return to Skywalker Sound to personalize myself using the Smyth Realiser headphone system—a revolutionary virtual surround technology—in the very King Vidor dubbing stage used to record and mix the soundtrack for the series. (See Issue 143 for a comprehensive description of this revolutionary virtual surround headphone technology.) As part of this Season Three review, I again used the Realiser system to precisely emulate the entire in-room listening experience comprised of the sum of loudspeakers, electronics, cables, and the room itself (in this case, the Skywalker Sound dubbing room), including the acoustical signature (entire electro-acoustical system). The headphone system precisely replicates the room's sonic signature (see Issue 144).
As before, because the dubbing stage LCR loudspeakers are positioned behind the acoustically transparent 10-foot-wide transparent screen, the sound heard through the Smyth Realiser system is less dimensional in width than our reference system, where the left and right front loudspeakers are positioned outside the screen and beyond the screen's edges. The sound at Skywalker Sound is, thus, slightly less wide in the front hemisphere of the soundfield and the surrounds, which are positioned on the side walls and above ear height sound as such. Still, as before, the sonic character is effectively holosonically® enveloping with, at times, an aggressive surround presence. Frankly, I preferred the wider, and larger dimensional sonic character of our reference system. What is new is that the soundtrack is finally presented in the 5.1-channel lossless DTS-HD Master Audio™ codex, finally breaking with the lossy compressed Dolby® Digital 5.1-channel format, to deliver the full impact of the 24-bit, 96 kHz masters. As with the previous seasons, the soundtrack translated impressively in our reference environment, revealing a very dimensional soundfield, with aggressive directionalized surrounds, pans, and frontal sound effect positioning. Fidelity is absolutely superb, with nuanced low-level detail fully revealed! The music score is well recorded and sweeping in its soundstage width and depth and extension into the surrounds. Bass extension is, at times, powerful and deep, with plenty of low-frequency impact delivered by the .1 LFE channel during battle scenes. Dialogue, while ADR produced, sounds perfectly natural and is nicely positioned, to create a sense of spatial integration with the scenes. This is a world-class soundtrack that has been tweaked to perfection, as is to be expected by the sound wizards at Skywalker Sound. The sound effects, Foley, voices, and music are all perfectly integrated, for an enthralling sonic experience. Season Three continues to deliver a thrilling sonic experience that is sure to please fans. (Gary Reber)