star wars

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (Microsoft DS3D/Miles Dolby-encoded CD-ROM)

This month, we review RAD Technology’s flavor (Miles/Dolby) of DirectSound 3D as implemented by the design team of Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace. (Microsoft’s DS3D is a component of DirectX 6.1; for more information, see the sidebar in our August 2000 review of FIFA 2000.)

Two back-to-back logo sequences (Lucas Arts and Big Ape Productions — the development team) precede the game’s intro cut-scene, a fairly long cinematic that sets up the premise of The Phantom Menace. But — yikes! — the game’s main menu screen acts as a forced intermission even before you get there (you have to click on a Start button in order to proceed). Fortunately, John Williams’s glorious score is not interrupted whatsoever by the interface changes. And, exactly as you would expect to see and hear at the beginning of any Star Wars film, once again the famous scrolling text parades against the backdrop of glittering stars, accompanied by Williams’s immediately recognizable theme music — think big sound! read more…

Cincinnati Pops Orchestra (Kunzel) – ‘Great Film Fantasies’  An SACD review by Mark Jordan

Cincinnati Pops Orchestra (Kunzel) – ‘Great Film Fantasies’ An SACD review by Mark Jordan

In recent years, John Williams has written some concert pieces not connected with his extensive film scoring career. But if he wants concert immortality, then he need look no further than his music from George Lucas’ ‘Star Wars’ series. If he would arrange these into an effective concert suite (as opposed to the general selections now available), then we would have a wonderful concert suite (or two) on our hands. We have parts of one or more such suites on this new hybrid multichannel Super Audio CD from Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops on Telarc, but not everything passes the final cut. The music Williams seems to have been born to write is the opening title for the original ‘Star Wars’ (as it will always be to those of us old enough to have had our minds blown by seeing it when it first came out; it is now known by the catchy title ‘Episode IV: A New Hope’). Indeed, the first four tracks on this disc make a nice quasi-symphony. The music for the main titles of ‘A New Hope’ serves as an expansive, inspiring opening, the tender portrait of ‘Princess Leia’ is a fine slow movement, the rollicking ‘Cantina Band’ makes a joyous scherzo, and the ‘Imperial March’ stands as a pulse-pounding finale, albeit a rather dour one. read more…

“The History and Future of Surround Sound” – Tom Holman, TMH Corporation

“The History and Future of Surround Sound” – Tom Holman, TMH Corporation

In his Surround 2003 seminar, Tom Holman of TMH Corporation gave an interesting, anecdote-laden account of the history of surround sound recording, a “drama in five acts, we hope with a happy ending.” Holman went back to the roots of stereo recording to find the events that led to the first recordings in surround sound. As Holman pointed out, it all goes back to Bell Labs’ initial experiments with stereo recording in the early 1930’s. read more…

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