Spirit DVD Puts You In The Director’s Chair

DreamWorks’ Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron hits home video today, saddled with plenty of extra features, including a DVD-ROM activity that lets you make your own movie using actual assets from the film.

Dubbed “tradigital” by producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, Spirit combines digital and traditional animation in telling the story of a young mustang on a quest for freedom that leads him across the beautiful and treacherous American frontier.

While critically acclaimed, the film didn’t see the kind of stampede at the box office producers had hoped for following the tremendous success of Shrek. DreamWorks is hoping that those who missed it at the local cineplex will bring it home and make it a success in the lucrative animated video market.

Bonus items include behind-the-scenes looks at the animation and music of Spirit, as well as interactive games, storyboards and filmmakers’ commentary. Kids and adults alike should get a kick out of learning how to draw Spirit with the help of animation supervisor James Baxter.

However, the most remarkable extra is a DVD first that lets you piece together your own version of Spirit from animation, characters, backgrounds, music and sound effects used in the film. “Spirit’s Make A Movie Studio” requires a computer with a DVD-ROM drive. The interface looks like a simplified Avid editing system where assets are dropped into a timeline. The program is based on the actual system employed by the filmmakers. Using a microphone, you can even add your own narration, dialogue and sound effects. Slap on titles and end credits and you’re ready for your big premiere, for which you can print out tickets and posters.

While those not familiar with video editing software may need time to play around with this feature before they get the hang of the movie making process, the programmers have made it simple enough for both kids and adults to use. In fact, youngsters may have to wrestle the mouse away from mom and dad.

Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron is available from DreamWorks Home Entertainment for a suggested retail price of $15.95 VHS and $19.95 DVD.

Also debuting on home video today is Disney’s big-budget dragon flick Reign of Fire, featuring a behind the scenes look at the special effects by The Secret Lab.