Relax with Nature, Bring California Home
Creator Greg Voevodsky returns with Volume 3 in his Power Floe Virtual Vacations series. This time we're off on a six-day tour of the California coastline, from San Francisco to San Diego, with stops in Monterey, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, and Santa Monica. For those unfamiliar with the series, Virtual Vacations is producer/director/editor Voevodsky taking his video camera to various scenic, secluded locations and capturing 10-12 minutes of the area's natural beauty. No music, no narration, no scrolling text—just that perfect vacation moment we've all wanted to capture and take with us.
Marketed as a stress reliever, the Virtual Vacation series is perfect for anyone who has spent or always wanted to have spent time in these environments, reliving the sound of the crashing surf, the distant fog horns, the local wildlife, and the grandeur of the sunrise and sunset. There is something very calming and hypnotic about these digital diversions—a great escape from work, the family, and the daily stressors and anxieties of life. Whether you're meditating, having trouble falling asleep, or just closing your eyes to relax, you'll find yourself carried away to another time and place just long enough to make a difference.
The six-day format was a nice idea but loses something in the translation, as the encoded "play all" function tags an opening and closing title sequence to each day/location. A simple fade would have been more effective. The disc is chaptered so as to tailor your experience to suit your needs. While the imagery focuses on the surf, you will see and hear sea gulls and pelicans, the occasional local surfer, a parasailer in Santa Barbara, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and the Pier in Santa Monica.
Presented in 1.33:1 Full Frame format, California Dreams is like looking through an open beachfront window facing the Pacific Ocean and the West Coast surf. The colors are most impressive during the sunrises and sunsets, while the blacks (few and far between) are strong. There is however evidence of a fine grain, as if you haven't cleaned your sunglasses in a while. This is most apparent against the crystal blue skies, but not enough to diminish the disc's invigorating effects. The Dolby 2.0 audio track effectively utilizes your home theatre setup (minus the sleeping subwoofer) to surround you—making it feel as if you're right there on the beach.
The only bonus features included are previews of other titles in the series: Hawaiian Dreams (Hawaii, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, and Oahu), Hawaiian Zen (more island color), and California Zen (more coastal sights and sounds).
California Dreams is a unique escape from the monotony of our daily lives, a sense-memory treatment for those who have lived in or visited these exotic locales, and an enticing sample for those who may or may not visit someday. While the disc may have limited appeal, Slingshot is commended for continuing to bring new material to a strong niche market. Case dismissed!
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