Special Edition

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Details At A Glance

Category Special Interest Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released ? Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 84:05 minutes Other Extras Snapshots
DVD-ROM content: Screensaver, Web Link
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director  
Mill Reef Entertainment
Wild Releasing
Starring An insignificant little blue dot in the vastness of space
Case Amaray
RPI $34.95 Music Ryan Shore

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Just how do you describe this little effort on DVD? There is no plot at all and there is hardly a great deal of point, yet this is apparently one of the best-selling DVDs in the world. Why? Just watch it and it becomes very obvious indeed.

    What we have on offer here is some of the best damn amateur home video that you are ever likely to see. Amateur? Well, the people who shot this stuff are in fact astronauts (okay, probably just some computers directing automatic cameras, but dramatically it sounds better this way) and they were shooting from an orbiting space shuttle at heights of between 247 kilometres and 597 kilometres above the surface of that insignificant little blue dot that we call home - Earth. Just how good is it? Well, considering that I have managed to very occasionally fluke a shot from somewhere around 50 to 250 metres from the subject that is good enough to sell, this is real ego destroying stuff indeed. You have never seen stuff as glorious as this, I can practically guarantee it. All told this is just over 80 minutes of some magnificent video footage of the earth that at the very least explains why so many astronauts have religious affirmations when they venture into space. This is truly awe-inspiring video of our little home. The program comprises 29 sequences ranging in length from 0:40 seconds up to 7:11 in running time, with the only item not being of earthviews (as they are referred to) being a 4:33 video of a launch of the space shuttle Atlantis. The DVD is unfortunately encoded without running times and therefore the only guidance one has to the length of the program is the times listed on the chapter selection insert in the DVD case. The other unfortunate aspect is that the videos do not segue into each other: rather, we have to suffer a few seconds of black screen between each segment.

    However, quite what one does with it is a good question. I doubt it is the sort of thing that one would watch often unless one suffers badly from insomnia, as this really is quite soporific stuff indeed. However, if you want a DVD of beautiful shots of the planet from space, then you are not going to go too far wrong with this little collection at all.

Transfer Quality


    When one considers that this was shot from anywhere up to 596 kilometres above the planet, one has to be amazed at the quality on offer here. Okay, the digital age can do wonders with photography but this is still awe-inspiring stuff indeed.

    The transfer is presented in a Full Frame format and therefore is not 16x9 enhanced. The transfer is an NTSC formatted offering and therefore you will require a display device capable of displaying such a format in order to actually see anything.

    What is on offer here are some gloriously sharp, detailed images that at times almost seem too good to be real and look decidedly like computer generated imagery. Beautifully clear, there is little that one could complain about here from a transfer point of view. There did not appear to be any grain at all in the transfer and there did not appear to be any problem with low level noise in the transfer. Visually, this is a stunning collection of imagery. However, there is one aspect of the transfer that does detract a little from what is on offer and that is the NTSC format. In a couple of the earthviews on offer, most notably numbers 3 and 8, there are fairly obvious indications of the lack of resolution inherent in the NTSC format.

    You certainly cannot complain about the extremely vibrant palette of colours on offer here. It makes it fairly easy to understand why our insignificant little piece of rock in a distant arm of the galaxy is such a gem, with gorgeous blues in absolute abundance. You will get a new appreciation for just how much of the planet is covered by water, believe me.

    There are no MPEG artefacts here at all. There are no film-to-video artefacts here at all. There are no film artefacts here at all. If you notice any blemishes, and to be honest there are a couple, they are inherent in the source material and are completely acceptable within the concept of what we have on offer here.

    Since a collection of images from space actually provide very few clues as to what is being seen, owing to the rather unusual angle from which it is all viewed (remember that the space shuttle is upside to Earth, using its belly as a heat shield against the sun), guidance as to what you are looking at is thankfully available. Whilst my geographical knowledge is pretty good, I found little here that was instantly recognizable and therefore found the guidance, in the form of subtitles, quite helpful. These are provided in a variety of languages, although you will note that one is not shown above. This is my gentle dig at Michael D, who sent out the technical details for the disc with the plaintive query as to what the twelfth language was. Having thus effectively proven himself not to be a Trekker, I shall enlighten him with the news that it is in fact Klingon. My only complaint about the subtitles is that you cannot just flick to the subtitle option to find out what you are looking at and then flick back to just viewing: you either remain ignorant or suffer the subtitles continuously.


    Obviously, watching 80-odd minutes of video footage without any sound would be even more soporific than it is anyway, so they did decide to provide some New Age music to accompany the video images. This soundtrack is the only one on the DVD and is in Dolby Digital 5.1. The music comes from Ryan Shore and it is hardly the greatest stuff ever written, but it does provide a nicely brainless, ethereal accompaniment to the video show.

    There is nothing much of note to say in regards to the soundtrack other than the fact that a couple of earthviews are blessed with a somewhat noticeable bass reverb problem that does detract a little from the viewing experience. Other than that, this is basically your typical New Age music soundtrack that you either hate or put up with.


    There is not exactly a great package on offer here, and most of that is web content - so for the first time ever I shall delve into the new DVD-ROM drive and check the stuff out.


    A nicely cleaned up image of the space shuttle atop the solid fuel booster is the theme here, but the menu is bright and clear.

Snapshots (36)

    Precisely what they say they are - snapshots of various locations on Earth, spread across four pages (nine shots per page). Some damn fine photographs here, let me tell you.

DVD-ROM Content


    When you slip the DVD into your drive, the first thing it does is load a screensaver. Ho hum, you say? Well, that is what I thought too, but the screensaver actually comprises a raft of photographs that are sequentially played. I have failed to make an actual count (and the office is starting to get a bit peeved with me spending time looking at the photos anyway), but it seems like 24 or 30 shots. The photographs themselves include some actually drawn from some of the snapshots on the DVD, as well as other images. Even in relatively crappy 800x600 resolution, there are some quite stunning shots here.

Web Link

    The DVD also creates an icon on your desktop that you can click to directly access the website for the DVD. Once there, you can get more earthviews. There is one pack of 12 available for nix by clicking the relevant link (which kept on coming up with an HTTP 404 Error when I tried it, so I will have to take their word that you can download them for nix - it is supposed to be an instantaneous thing apparently). There are two other packs of 60 stunning images each which you can buy for USD 8.95 each or USD 14.95 for the two. All the images can be viewed beforehand from thumbnail images on the site (I did check most of them out, but gave up in order to actually get some sleep).

    The site also allows you to do such wondrous things as check out the features of the DVD that you have already got, check out reviews of the DVD (but then why would you want to when you have the best right here?), add your own review of the DVD, see what else you can buy from the same source (hint, Wild Releasing have them all locally anyway at a better price), actually buy the other stuff, register your DVD (which entitles you to spend plenty of time downloading a further 10 stunning images for free), obtain technical support for your DVD (the mind boggles here), enjoy links to other groovy sites where you might find space images or other space-related stuff and check out the VHS video tape version (ye gods - why would anyone want this on a Very Hazy System tape?). All in all, not a fat lot of anything really important at all, and by taking a reasonable guess you could probably access the site without needing to buy the DVD anyway.

R4 vs R1

    This is the same version the world over.


    A truly superb collection of images that I am very glad I have seen - but don't quite know whether I will ever watch them again. The screensaver is almost worth the money by itself though. Also well worth the money if you suffer from insomnia (believe me, it works - had the best night's sleep in ages after watching this DVD). Web links? Bah, humbug.

    A very good video transfer.

    A good audio transfer.

    A reasonable extras package, if not exactly awe-inspiring.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
14th July 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL