Earth Scapes (1994) (NTSC)

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Trailer-Earthdance
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 37:37
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By David Fortney
Studio
Distributor
Simitar DVD Starring None Given
Case Jewel
RPI $24.95 Music Various


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Earth Scapes is a set of time lapse and slow motion images of various landscapes and terrains set to the music of various New Age composers. It is produced, photographed and edited by David Fortney. Personally, I thought that titling this programme EarthScapes was a bit ambitious given that the film was entirely shot on the North American continent, but I will resist from making remarks about the myopic and parochial attitudes of Americans.

    Since there is no "plot" as such in this feature, I will simply list the following details for each chapter. There is no thematic connection across chapters.
 
Chapter Title Location Music Description
1. Opening Titles N/A N/A N/A
2. Monument Valley Monument Valley, Arizona
Canyonland National Park, Utah
Vangelis, "The Bounty" Closing Credits Clouds, canyons, desert features
3. Canadian Rockies Canadian Rockies, Alberta, Canada Patrick O'Hearn, Delicate Fairly stunning mountain and lake scenery
4. Waterborne Various waterways
Niagara Falls
Pacific Coast
Suzanne Ciani, Anthem Forests, waterfalls, wildlife
5. Wonderland Lake Tahoe, Central Valley
Sierra Nevada Mountains, California
Mychael Danna, Dierdre of the Sorrows More mountain and lake scenery
6. Colorscapes Flowers of the Western States Richard Burmer, Across the View Various close-ups of flowers and flower fields
7. Desert Winter Death Valley, California
Nevada High Deserts
Richard Burmer, A Story from the Rain Desert scenes and closing credits

    This kind of disc only works well on DVD if the audio and video transfer are of reference quality, because then you can use the DVD as a demo disc to show off your home theatre to admiring fans and groupies. Unfortunately, as we will find out, the transfer quality is shockingly poor, barely better than a VHS tape. My suggestion is to avoid buying or renting this disc unless you are interested in the scenery and music and don't care about the quality of the presentation.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a made-for-video feature, presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 so don't even bother wishing for a 16x9 transfer. I don't even know where to begin in terms of describing how bad the video transfer is. Put it this way - this disc would be a very useful disc to educate someone on how to spot video and film artefacts.

    The film itself appears to be somewhat grainy with slightly desaturated colours. It has some dirt and scratches but no major marks. I would rate the sharpness, detail and black levels as below average.

    The video transfer appears to have a number of glitches. I originally started noting the approximate timer locations of these but I gave up after encountering the fifth. Suffice it to say that you will encounter a video glitch in the transfer ever 5 minutes or so. The transfer itself seems almost designed to show off what video/MPEG artefacts are - I can detect examples of pixelization, colour smearing, posterization, shimmering (17:45), and moiré (24:39). The only MPEG artefact I did not detect was ringing (Gibb effect).

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

Audio

    There is only one audio track on this disc, Linear PCM 2.0 at 48kHz/16 bits resolution. In theory, this should yield CD-like quality but I suspect the audio transfer was derived from video tape as well. The mastering level of the transfer is exceedingly high, definitely higher than any other DVD that I have encountered and at least 6-9 dB ABOVE most CDs. The transfer level is so high I can hear "clipping" in various places on the soundtrack. Interestingly, I heard more clipping if I engaged my Dolby Pro Logic decoder.

    As the audio track is in 2 channels, the surround channels and sub-woofer are not activated during the presentation.

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

Extras

    Well, what do you know, there is an extra on this disc. It has some "preview" excepts from another similar DVD entitled "Earthdance". The audio and video transfer of the except is of a similar level of quality (i.e. low) as the main feature so I have no compulsion to acquire Earthdance to see what it's like.

    The menus consist mainly of scene selections. The top level menu allows you to between select "Continuous Play" and "Random Scene Access", but on my DVD player the Continuous Play option does not seem to do what it suggests - at the end of the film, the DVD player reverts back to the main menu.

R4 vs R1

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

    This DVD is the same the world over and is formatted for NTSC displays.

Summary

    Earth Scapes contains some spectacular cinematography of various landscapes set to some nice New Age music. It is presented on a minimalist DVD with a poor video transfer and equally poor audio transfer. The DVD has no real extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Sunday, January 21, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (203cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3300
SpeakersFront left/right: B&W DM603; centre: B&W CC6S2, rear left/right: B&W DM601

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