Living Reef

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Details At A Glance

Category Screensaver None
Rating Exempt
Year Released 2001
Running Time 92:47 minutes
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director  
Boulton Multimedia
Boulton Multimedia
Starring Lots of fish
Case Transparent Brackley
RPI $31.95 Music Christopher Buckman

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio No
16x9 Enhancement No
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Let me see - a screensaver and therefore the plot would be?

    This is just a bunch of video footage shot around some coral reefs showing a lot of fish swimming around. Now whether that has any great meaning in the overall scheme of things, I do not wish to speculate. All I can say is that there is a lot of pretty fish, there is a lot of pretty coral , there is a bit of other pretty marine life and the whole thing does look quite good on screen.

    I am guessing that there is some market for these sorts of DVDs, but quite why you would want to turn what in many cases would be a quite pricey piece of display gear into a glorified digital fish tank, I don't know. However, if you do feel the need to turn your HT system into a glorified digital fish tank, then this is the DVD you need. Alternatively, if you need a ninety three minute screensaver for your computer, then this is the baby you need, too.

Transfer Quality


    Now I suppose the first obvious statement to make is that if you are going to produce a DVD of fish swimming around, then you best make very sure that you have some very good quality footage, otherwise the whole concept dies one very ugly death. Guess what? This does have some very good footage. That is not to say that it does not have problems. After all, this was shot underwater, which presents its own unique challenges for even something as simple as focusing, and I can well imagine that the photographer has one eye on the camera shot and the other eye on the lookout for minor little hazards like sharks. So we do get the odd little lapse here and there but overall there is not much to complain about overall.

    The programme is presented in Full Frame and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is well detailed and quite sharp throughout. Shadow detail is good, although there is admittedly not much of a natural problem here with that aspect of the programme. This is generally quite a clear transfer and there does not appear to be any significant problem with grain at all.

    This is a bright and vibrant transfer, with the colours being the sort of gems that only nature can seem to come up with. Some of the more garish fish cause a bit of a problem with oversaturation, but thankfully these are quite few and far between. Similarly some of the very small, garishly purple fish seem to create a bit of a bleed problem but nothing too noticeable.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Some of the fan corals in particular seemed to cause problems as far as shimmer goes, which is a slightly consistent problem, but there was nothing much else in the way of film-to-video artefacts to disrupt the display. You might well notice a small instance of cross colouration at 39:54 in the fish, but again nothing too extreme at all. There seemed to be a couple of minor video glitches here and there in the transfer, such as a slight pause at 39:51 and a bit of a problem at 60:12, but I doubt that these would be noticeable for the purposes of what this DVD is for. After all, I doubt too many people, other than marginally insane DVD reviewers, would actually watch this like a hawk for the entire 93 minutes! Just remember to push the off button after you have watched the programme if you decide to join the insane world of DVD reviewers, as the DVD is mastered for continuous play.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is just the one soundtrack on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack - so I naturally listened it. Whilst it is called an English soundtrack, obviously it is just a music soundtrack.

    The music comes from two CDs by Christopher Buckman, and the usual environmental-type sounding efforts they are. The only issue I have is that whilst the use of the Dolphin Dreams CD, complete with dolphin and whale calls, is not entirely inappropriate for the programme, the use of the Rainforest Butterfly CD definitely is. There is something mildly odd about watching fish swim around to the sounds of bird calls. The music is a little recessed so that it does not overpower the visual side of things, but other than that is quite listenable and free of any great problems.

    Obviously with this type of DVD you are not expecting anything much from the soundtrack and that is what we get - nothing much. There appears to be no use of the surround channels and no use of the bass channel. Serviceable and mildly functional I guess, unless you have a problem with fish swimming around to the accompaniment of bird calls.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Nothing at all, not even a menu.

R4 vs R1

    This is the same DVD the world over.


    If you are in the market for a screensaver for your television or computer, then I suppose that there is nothing much wrong with Living Reef and it would suit your purposes admirably. I cannot help but feel that something more could have been done with the whole experience, such as captions to identify the fish and corals you are looking at, even some notation as to what reef was being looked at. You would have to be pretty desperate to want to watch the DVD otherwise.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
17th February, 2001

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. 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 C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL