We don't often have the opportunity to review DVDs on this web site, so when one was recently sent to us we were happy to pop it into the DVD player, relax in a comfy chair, and take in the glory that is 42" of flatscreen goodness.
The problem with High Definition is obvious for anyone who owns an HD player and TV. It enhances flaws (our poor local anchorwoman, for example, is just so covered in make-up now that is borders on the obscene). So while it magnifies the beauty of a PBS Nature documentary, it also makes any mistakes stick out like the proverbial square in the social circle.
The DVD in question is one in a series released by Dry Fly Media called "Rivers in Motion." As the web site describes the series better than I can, I'll give you a description in their words:
In our Rivers in Motion series we’ve captured the essence of some of the great rivers in the west on very high quality video along with a carefully rendered recording of the sounds of the river. Captured and processed with a 24 frame-per-second technique the videos have a feel of 16 mm film about them.
The one I previewed was on the Missouri River and contained 11 river scenes covering 86 minutes of material. The scenes ranged from the confluence of the Sun River to Pelican Point.
So what to make of a video which is basically 11 different shots with a stationary camera of a river with a separately recorded sound track? I began playing this after a very stressful day (it IS final's week here at the university which means lots of desperate students), and I guess it is a telling sign of the times that in the first five minutes of watching the water flow from above in the first scene I grew restless. I guess the problem with the first scene was that there was little about it that made it unique to the Missouri River.
Despite this, however, I began to realize something: my stress level began to slowly ebb. As I moved from scene to scene of the famed Big Muddy, it became an enjoyable experience. Imagine that. Just watching water flow was a remedy for a stressful day. When the DVD finished (a bit garishly with a herd of mule deer) it had achieved, at least for me, its prime purpose. I was far less stressed out than when it began.
The production quality of Rivers in Motion: The Missouri is good but not high definition. It does, as the makers claim, make it feel like a 16 mm movie. However, as HD cameras are coming down in price I wonder if future volumes might indeed be offered in glorious 1080i. The only feature than bothered me a bit was the fact that some of the glorious nature scenes were intruded upon by human beings. This is of course a minor quibble, but I found several points where I was distracted by, for example, a car passing far away in the background, or in later scenes, float anglers and boats passing down river. I guess I just wanted to imagine I was alone on the Missouri, as unrealistic as that may seem.
I think Rivers in Motion: The Missouri would be recommended for dedicated anglers who wish a respite from a long day, for those whose nights are filled with dreams of fishing, and anyone who loves rivers. They are priced at $19.95 and available directly from the makers, Dry Fly Media.
-- Dr. Todd