Disney delivers quite a few special features over two of the discs (some of them are repeated on the other discs as well.) The set contains three Blu-ray discs: a dual-layer one for the 2D version of the film and a set of features, a single-layer disc for more features, and then another dual-layer disc presenting the 3D version of the film and some 3D features. It also includes a dual-layer DVD featuring the standard-definition version of the film a few features, and then another dual-layer disc presenting a digital copy of the film. Iíll go through them disc by disc.
The first disc, presenting the 2D version of the film, first has an audio commentary featuring director Mark Andrews, co-director Steve Purcell, story supervisor Brian Larsen, and Editor Nick Smith. Itís an energetic if somewhat irritating track, with Andrews (who is all over the features on this release) dominating, going over the various production history of the film and talking a lot about the designs and technology that went into it. Itís mostly interesting, though Andrews can be a little much, but the technical details still manage to prove fascinating. Still, most of the material here is covered elsewhere in the features so the commentary isnít a necessary feature to visit.
The first disc also presents two short films. First is La Luna, which I believed played with the film theatrically. Itís a cute tale about a boy learning the family trade involving clean up on the moon. We also get The Legend of Mordu, which is an animated version of the story within the film about how an arrogant prince would become the demon bear that appears. Both run around 7-mintues and are each presented in Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (there is also the option of 2.0 surround and a Descriptive Service.)
We then move on to a series of behind-the-scenes features starting with 12-and-a-half minute Brave Old World. This feature concentrates specifically on research that was done on Scotland. Members of the crew travelled there and took various pictures, video, and made sketches of the landscape. They also traveled through villages and castles, soaking up the culture as best they could. Itís an interesting feature, though it rushes through everything, which is typical of most Disney features. But the video footage and pictures make it worth looking at.
Merida & Elinor is an 8-and-half minute feature about the development of the mother and daughter and their relationship. It also looks at the physical design and the issues they ran into Merida and her hair, which was incredibly complex to render.
Bears runs over 6-minutes and concentrates on the bear design, including footage of the research that was done. It gets into detail about the movements of the bears and their expressions.
Brawl in the Hall is 5-and-a-half minutes and shows the process of creating the fight scenes in the film, getting down to the particular details in creating reactions of characters after getting hit, and even shows some of the choreography footage that was taken as the animators tried to act the fights out.
Wonder Moss is under 3-minutes and looks at the complex algorithms that went into creating the various vegetation that appears in the film, specifically the moss that grows all around. I found this to be probably the most fascinating aspect off all of these mini vignettes.
Magic looks at the various magical elements that appear in the film, and how they went about using the natural settings in creating a magical feel. It also looks at the design of the Whisps and witch that appear in the film. It runs over 7-minutes.
Clan Pixar is a roughly 5-minute segment that more or less shows a day in the life of an employee at Pixar during the making of this film. It shows them at work and then shows how they loosen up or get inspiration. Thereís even footage of when the employees got to try haggis for the first time. Interesting and amusing but not the strongest feature here.
At 8-minutes Once Upon a Scene looks at the development process of story points, scenes, and characters. We get a number of rough animations laying out possible scenarios, particularly how to introduce characters or situations. It shows a couple of alternate openings as well. I donít believe any of the material here was actually used.
Thereís also a series of extended scenes. As mentioned in features found on the second disc (and the special features of various other animated features) the animation process is so consuming that most scenes deemed unnecessary or harm the flow of the story are removed well before the actual animation begins. Here we get (mostly) finished sequences and a sampling of the various trims that were made. A complete scene is shown and then a scissor icon is displayed indicating the bits that were trimmed. Some of the trims are very minor, but you can see why they were as the trims ever so slightly speed up the scene. One scene, though, involving a trip to the ruins where Merida first meets Mordu, was trimmed down because it was deemed too frightening for children. The trims here involved some more violent imagery. A reference to Loch Ness (shown here in a rough state) was removed from this sequence simply because it was felt it would distract too much. We get four scenes running over 12-minutes, complete with introductions by director Mark Anderews.
In all we get a decent technical overview on the making of the film, and some intriguing looks at the research and design of the film, but itís all fairly standard stuff for special features and doesnít offer anything all that surprising. None of it never gets all that deep into each process they cover.
The disc then closes out with an Info icon that simply shows a disclaimer about the bonus material. There is then a simple ĒMaximizerĒ which helps you configure your home theater set up at its most basic.
This closes off the first disc and moves us on to the second single-layer disc, which surprisingly has very little on it.
Less than 3-minutes in length, Fergus & Mordu presents an alternate confrontation between the king and the demon bear out in a lonely part of the forest on a snowy day. In the introduction Andrews explains they wanted to test out a new snow algorithm but it appears it wasnít used. We only get a rough animation of the sequence.
Fallen Warriors is simply 2-minutes worth of deleted segments that were actually finished. Theyíre all quick trims and presented in a simple montage.
Dirty Hairy Men goes over the design of the characters and their surroundings, keeping in mind that they live in a very dirty world. The piece runs under 4-minutes.
Also at 4-minutes is It is EnglishÖ Sort Of, which looks at how the Scottish dialect was incorporated into the film. Itís explained that the dialogue was written ďnormallyĒ (meaning American English I can only assume) and then a consultant (a ďScotĒ) was asked to translate it. Itís actually a cute feature, presenting quick interviews with Kevin McKidd, Kelly MacDonald, Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane, and Emma Thompson.
Angus is a 3-minute segment that looks into the design of the horse Merida rides, and is similar to the featurette on the bears in the that it shows the research that went into the design, as well as the work that went into each part of the horse.
The Tapestry, after hitting home the obvious metaphor of how said tapestry is presented in the film, focuses on the work that went into creating realistic fabrics. Participants state that with earlier films they faked the textures on a flat service, I assume with bitmaps, but this time actually rendered the fabrics right down the fine fibers to give them a more realistic look. This allowed them to zoom in and out. Itís actually rather fascinating but it unfortunately only runs 4-minutes and only offers a high level view.
After this there are various promotional pieces. There are a number of short bits that I assume appeared during commercial breaks on television, possibly one of the Disney channels. There is a segment called Feast Yer Eyes which is a 4-minute montage of animation (possibly tests) followed by a few skits called Relics, Clan Dun Brock, Launch, and Flying Cuts Theater, all running 29-seconds to 70-seconds a piece. There is then a number of theatrical trailers including the U.S. one, the U.K. one, and the Japanese one. Interestingly the U.S. and U.K. ones are similar, though the U.K. one is shorter and features the names of the voice actors. The Japanese one chooses to focus on the supernatural aspect of the film a little more.
And then finally we get an art gallery, and one of the more creative ones Iíve seen. Presenting hundreds of images ranging from focusing around Characters, Color Keys, Development Art, Environments, and Graphics, you can navigate through the various galleries, either scrolling through them or listing them as thumbnails with your remote. You can also flag some as a ďfavoriteĒ for easy retrieval later, and you can also grade them out of five stars if youíre so inclined. It took a while to load (even on my PS3) but itís a clever set-up for a gallery, and loaded with quite a bit of art.
And thatís it for the second disc. There isnít much on here so Iím unsure why they felt the need for the second disc, though itís possible the gallery took up a bit of space.
The DVD then presents the standard-definition version of the film, and includes the commentary and two short films as features. The second dual-layer DVD then includes the digital copy of the film that you can load up to a supported portable device or computer. The 3D Blu-ray disc apparently only presents La Luna in 3D.
As usual Disney covers a lot of ground in their features, but frustratingly the features take a real high-level view of the work, hurrying through everything. Some of the technology created for this film is fascinating, particularly the programs written for the rendering of the hair, grass, moss, and fabrics. I actually wouldnít have minded a more in-depth look at these areas, possibly with a look at the various stages of the process, which are otherwise only hinted at here. As it is thereís some fascinating material to be found and itís all well worth looking through. 7/10