Sea Symphony (2002)

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Released 28-Feb-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category New Age Menu Audio
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 58:43 (Case: 60)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Lin Sutherland
Studio
Distributor
Below H2O
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Vic Kaspar


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.0 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    If you'd like your very own marine aquarium but you just can't find a tank big enough for the manta ray, or else you like to snooze on the sofa with delicate impressionist music and a gala spectacular of underwater life, then this is the DVD for you. The latest in the ABC musical nature series, Sea Symphony is an hour of the reef and underwater seascapes that we very much take for granted in Oceania but are the stuff of fantasy in colder climes and land-locked countries.

    The DVD is arranged into 15 chapters, each highlighting a particular species and accompanied by its own score. All of the scores are of impressionist ilk with the delicate melodies of Debussy and Satie together with original scores by Robert Chromicz making a fitting soundscape to the grace and elegance of the marine fauna. I wasn't convinced that Mendelsson's On Wings of Song was quite the fitting accompaniment to a rather lecherous looking potato cod but maybe I wasn't doing the fish justice. There's the usual large shoals of reef fish oscillating in fish-like manner over colourful corals but there is some very spectacular footage too - the sight of over 20 bronze whaler sharks, of no mean size, weaving through a wall of unconcerned looking lesser fish or the grace of a formation of manta rays was truly impressive. I was also taken with the footage of the ugly, yet strangely graceful manatees followed through the crystal clear brightly sunlit channels and shallows of the mangroves.

    I'm not quite sure what audience the DVD is targeted at but if you like the background of marine life and delicate soundscore, this is a worthy addition to your collection. It would make an ideal (suitably licensed of course) distraction for a dentist's waiting room or perhaps the airport lounge just after your flight has been announced as delayed!

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Track Listing

1. Gymnopedie No 1,2&3 - Eric Satie
2. Claire de Lune - Claude Debussy
3. Shimmer - Robert Chromicz
4. Prelude to the Afternoon of a faune
5. Beau Soir - Debussy
6. Evolving Days (reprise) - Chromicz
7. Diver - Robert Chromicz
8. Arabesque - Debussy
9. On Wing of Song - Mendelsson
10. Turning Tide - Robert Chromicz
11. Explore - Robert Chromicz
12. Evolving Days - Robert Chromicz
13. Diver (reprise) - Robert Chromicz
14. Barcarolle Op 60 - Chopin
15. Sea Breeze - Robert Chromicz

Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a superb video transfer and it is very hard to criticise the DVD video production.

    Sadly, the video is only presented at 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. It is hard to imagine a more fitting title that would have benefited from enhanced widescreen production - shame on you ABC - especially now digital TV is upon us.

    Overall, the transfer is very sharp. The clarity of picture is only really limited by the available ambient light which naturally diminishes as the water depth increases. The only really grainy footage was of the hammerhead sharks in Chapter 7 where either the depth or else time of day gave a rather gloomy and grainy picture. By way of contrast, the brightly sunlit shallow footage of the manatees is some of the sharpest and clearest video that I have seen on DVD. Most of the footage was well lit and so there is very little by way of shadow detail but what there was was reasonable.

    Colours were very natural looking and were naturally rather washed out in most footage as they were filmed underwater. Again the shallows footage, especially of some of the reef corals, produced some excellent video with bright vibrant colours. There were no colour artefacts.

    The only MPEG artefacts to be seen were very mild, occasional aliasing, seen infrequently on long straight fish bits such as the tails of the eagle rays at 11:09. This was not a distraction. The video was very clean and I presume the programming was captured on videotape - there were no film artefacts seen.

    There is no narration and the only text was a brief chapter title burned into the video with no subtitle options available.

    The disc is single layered and hence has no transition point.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtrack is of excellent quality. Two audio tracks are available; Dolby Digital 5.0 and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded.

    There is no dialogue, so there was nothing for the audio to sync onto, not even a stream of bubbles!

    The musical symphony is mostly based on classical themes with a contemporary arrangement by the musical director Vic Kaspar. This was mostly tastefully done but I found his arrangement of Debussy's Clair de Lune a little too synthetic and reminiscent of a downloaded MIDI file played back on a rather cheap soundcard. The original compositions by Robert Chomicz were unspectacular but appropriate and fitted in nicely with the rest of the score and the video.

    The surround channels were mostly used for low level ambience, which was fitting, but once during a reef scene gave an impressively 3D effect to a roll of breaking surf.

    The subwoofer was allowed to sleep for the soundtrack as the audio is coded without LFE.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Well it's easy to comment on the extras - there aren't any - not even a booklet - but the back cover blurb is reasonably informative in lieu. Would have been good to have a bit of background info on Lin Sutherland's superb camera work and video production even if it was just a guide to location.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There doesn't appear to be any R1 versions of this title produced yet but it's unlikely there will be any substantial differences.

Summary

    A nicely produced DVD with a superb video transfer of spectacular underwater reef cinematography and a relaxing soundtrack. A great addition to the ABC natural sights and sounds series. Recommended for wild-life enthusiasts or those who enjoy the marine antics of fish and can't be bothered to set up an aquarium or slip on the scuba gear!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Sunday, March 03, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-900E, using RGB output
DisplayPioneer SD-T50W1 (127cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderDenon ACV-A1SE. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTheta Digital Intrepid
SpeakersML Aeon front. B&W LRC6 Centre. ML Script rear. REL Strata III SW.

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