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National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Screencaps
December 28, 2008
Christmas Vacation: Introduction / The Movie Christmas Vacation: Screencaps
Christmas Vacation: Features & Specifications Christmas Vacation: Conclusion






National Lampoon's
Christmas Vacation

Features: English Dolby soundtrack.
Codec / Resolution: VC-1 / 1080p
Movie File Size: 13.24 GB
Average Bitrate: 18.2 Mbps
Distributor: Warner Home Video
Region: Region-Free
Movie Release: December 1, 1989
This Release: December 5, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hr 37 mins
MSRP: $28.99
Current Price: Check Price / Purchase (HD DVD)
Current Price: Check Price / Purchase (Blu-ray)
The following are screencaps from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation on HD DVD. Some give this release a few frowns because of the quality, but I find it looking rather good. It's not a reference HD title for sure, but this is a clean transfer. Director Jeremiah S. Chechik (with the help of writer and producer John Hughes) puts a softness on the film which is intentional. Christmas Vacation is not only supposed to be a comedy, but is also supposed to convey a cozy holiday atmosphere. This is done successfully. Interestingly enough, John Hughes — who did not direct this film — has done this in other popular films in order to bring you closer to the characters and basically make you feel at home with them.

Screencaps of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation on HD DVD

Shown below are screencaps from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. The transfer isn't anything amazing, but if you're looking for something better than your DVD version, this is it.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - Blu-ray
Click Here for full-res screencap

In this sequence, there is noticeably more grain than usual.

Iron Man - HD DVD
Click Here for full-res screencap

If we look at the full-resolution screencap, we'll notice a soft and somewhat grainy image. This is due to the camera's focusing point. In the first screencap above, Chevy Chase is coming out crystal clear. This is because his face and the focusing point of the video camera, are the same. However in the image below, his face is away from the focusing point, leading to a perceived "grainy" image. When the camera is focusing either in background or the foreground of a subject, the camera reveals the grain of the transfer because there's nothing to physically focus on.

Overall, I think cameras were placed very close to Chevy Chase because this entire movie revolves around his expressions. This was pretty much the only option, because it is very difficult to use a zoom on a camera. Using a zoom becomes problematic because then you're dealing with another issue such as depth of field, and your character's face just won't look proper set against the background.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - HD DVD
Click Here for full-res screencap

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - HD DVD
Click Here for full-res screencap

Below is an example of the softness being used in the film. Unfortunately, I think some primary colors suffered because of this. The scene doesn't too bad moving at a few dozen frames per second, but still, the colors are muted, and focusing is off. The problem with scenes like this, is the characters are moving around so fast, you don't have time to frame each "shot" like an "A & B" camera shot where either camera will be in focus. Today, the technique is much more disciplined, but back in the 80's, following characters from scene to scene, was a task and not entirely practiced to the point we have today.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - HD DVD
Click Here for full-res screencap

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - HD DVD
Click Here for full-res screencap

This scene looks soft, but at the same time, given the Christmas atmosphere, the red robe Chevy Chase is wearing looks really nice in the movie, and this is one of the few scenes where primary colors come out.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - HD DVD
Click Here for full-res screencap

Final Thoughts

It's too bad we couldn't get a more bountiful transfer. Warner Brothers packed this HD-15 disc way too tight, when they could have opted for an HD-30 disc, increasing the video (and audio) bitrates.


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