DVD Aquarium (2000)

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Screensaver None
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 40:24
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Holborne Australasia
Starring None Given
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Well, I never expected when I started my film reviewing career that I would end up spending 40 minutes watching a TV screen full of fish, but here we are!

    Plot - there is, of course, no plot. Fish swim. They don't know why. They probably don't even know they're doing it. I've read that recent academic research has found that the memory span of your average fish is of the order of 8 seconds. That means that in the space of time it takes them to meander the distance from one side of the TV screen to the other, they've forgotten they ever did it in the first place, and can promptly turn around and enjoy the experience for the first time - again. And again. Etc. I can quite understand that, but I can't understand why any academic would bother trying to determine that fact.

    However, I digress. The disc under review presents two 20 minute looped video recordings of two respective static sites within the tropical marine fish tank at the Sydney Aquarium. They are intended to be used as virtual fish tanks, or possibly as the TV equivalent of PC screen savers. "Aquarium 1" shows a moderately open grotto formed by sloping rock walls, with a range of corals and anemones. "Aquarium 2" shows a flat rock wall backdrop with less coral. Each has a wide range of very colourful reef fish swimming throughout the scene. The soundtrack to each consists of a continuous drone from a filter pump combined with bubble sounds. The audio appears to be the live audio recorded at the aquarium.

    I visited the Sydney Aquarium several times over the early years following its opening in the late 1980s. While it was enjoyable I never felt it was great. However, the addition of the massive reef tank plus a few other additions has elevated it to one of the world's great aquariums, and I genuinely recommend it to everybody. The views on offer on this disc don't attempt to capture even a small part of the feeling of visiting the Aquarium - they are more a novelty. Personally, I rather prefer my own real tropical aquarium (which I admit is not a marine aquarium), to a screen saver even if it is more work.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The picture is from a standard definition video source, and is framed in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. As a result the picture isn't as sharp as we would normally like to see in a film, but on any average size display this wouldn't be a noticeable problem. Shadow detail isn't really an issue, although at times some fish swim very close to the front of the tank, and since it is top-lit the definition becomes quite poor. There is no low level noise. Colours do bleed to a small extent from some of the fish, especially those with reds, oranges and yellows, but again, on an average display device this wouldn't be an issue. This is not a disc you would want to sit in front of and watch seriously (believe me), so these comments are really being overly picky.

    There were no compression artefacts or other distractions.

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

Audio

    There is a single audio track available which I've described above. It is pure digital stereo. I found it best to lower the volume quite considerably and to switch off the subwoofer. At reference levels the sound is simply irritating and disruptive to a happy home. I noted certain background sounds throughout the show. Presumably these were the muffled sounds of Aquarium staff going about their jobs while the video was being made. They are most unobtrusive and you need a very quiet room to pick them up. There is no dialogue, no music and no surround activity.

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

Extras

    There are no extras on the disc.

R4 vs R1

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

    This is a purely Australian production. While coded as multi zone, I can find no mention of it being sold outside of Australia, and presumably New Zealand.

Summary

    This is very much a novelty disc. I fancy that it will not get many spins in my player, although it makes a very nice screen saver for a PC with DVD ROM.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Murray Glase (read my bio)
Wednesday, November 22, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-K310, using S-Video output
DisplayPioneer SD-T43W1 (125cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D906S
SpeakersRichter Wizard (front), Jamo SAT150 (rear), Yamaha YST-SW120 (subwoofer)

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