It's all about fish, water, gurgling bubbles, and Appellate Judge Dave Ryan completely losing his mind.
From the people who brought you Ambient Kittens and Ambient Fire…the ultimate underwater adventure!
Ambient Water, from Vat19's "Ambient" series, is…unique. It's not really entertainment per se; it's really just…fish. Lots of fish. The disc contains eleven segments of aquaria, diver footage, and more aquaria, which you can throw up on your TV to pretend you have a real live aquarium (but without the mess).
Well, that's what they want you to think. I think there's actually a lot more than meets the eye here. This is actually an eleven part journey through the world of piscine entertainment, one with no parallel in the DVD world. Come with me, on a journey under the sea…
• Episode One—"The Real World: Coral Reef"
• Episode Two—"Coral Reefin' II: Electric
• Episode Three—"Underwater Wars Episode One: The Fan
Turmoil has engulfed the Crustacean Republic. The taxation of swimming routes to outlying coral reefs is in dispute.
Hoping to resolve the matter with a blockade of deadly sea urchins, the greedy Clownfish Federation has stopped all swimming to the small reef of Nemo.
While the Congress of the Republic endlessly debates this alarming chain of events, the Supreme Oyster has secretly dispatched two Cleaner Wrasse Knights, the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy, to settle the conflict…
• Episode Four—"Through a Fishtank Darkly"
• Episode Five—"Anemone Doesn't Live Here
• Episode Six—"Pond"
• Episode Seven—"Red-tailed Shark 1138"
• Episode Eight—"Lethal Dorsal Fin"
• Episode Nine—"Bright Lights, Small Neons"
• Episode Ten—"March of the Lobsters"
• Episode Eleven—"Rock & Roll Rocks"
(Please note that your impressions may vary.)
The main selling point of this disc—at least according to the cover art—is that it was "shot in HD." That is probably true; there is no way to prove or disprove that claim. But even if it was shot in HD, that doesn't make it HD. No DVD player—even your best progressive scan players—can create HD-level resolution on your HDTV. There simply isn't enough pixel information in the signal. The imagery in Ambient Water does look great, but not HD great. The unavoidable artifacts of digital video—a slight blockiness to images, especially moving images, for example—can readily be seen. In fact, in a cruel irony for Vat19, the overall high quality of the picture makes the digital artifacts all the more obvious. Ambient Water is clearly meant (in part) to be a demo/reference disc—you put in on to show off your system. It does a good job of that, but not as good a job as a true HD-DVD or Bluray disc would. This image is great—but HD is spectacular.
The other purpose for the disc, I assume, would be to have something to put up on your TV when you're hosting a party. It fulfills that role quite well, too—the images are cool, but not so cool that everyone will ignore you and watch the TV for three hours; the audio is unobtrusive (as long as you select the "coral reef" option—the "freshwater aquarium" option is loud and obnoxious. I own two freshwater tanks; the two of them together aren't nearly as noisy as that audio track.)
There are no extras on the disc, unless you count the ads for the other Vat19 "Ambient" line products. And you should—they're actually quite clever. My favorite is the promo for "Ambient Party," which is a spoof of the…ahem…male enhancement product commercials you see on TV. A word on Vat19 itself: this is the first Vat19 disc we've reviewed, and I, for one, hope we review some more. Calling their catalog "eclectic" is an understatement. Not many DVD houses can boast of selling a virtual fishtank, "The Encyclopedia of Boating Tips," and "Puppy Tales"—not to mention a driver's ed disc and a DVD that summarizes major Supreme Court cases concerning the 14th Amendment.
So there you have it. Fish—the final frontier. Live long, prosper, and make sure you get enough Omega-3 in your diet.
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