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DVD FAQ

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Will your DVDs work in my country?

Our DVDs are region free. This means that our DVDs are compatible with any region encoding and will play in any DVD player regardless of region encoding.

What is the region encoding of your DVDs?

Our DVDs are region free. This means that our DVDs are compatible with any region encoding and will play in any DVD player regardless of region encoding.

Are any of your programs available on VHS?

No. All of our programs are specifically designed for the DVD format from the ground up. We take full advantage of all the interactive features of DVD. None of our programs are VHS remakes.

Specific Product Questions

Ambient DVDs: Can I listen to just sound effects?

Yes! All of the Ambient DVDs offer multiple audio options. On any scene where there would be environmental sound effects (fireplaces, aquariums, ocean scenes, flower gardens, etc), we always offer the option of just listening to our Dolby 5.1 surround sound effects.

Ambient DVDs: Can I loop the same scene over and over?

Yep! All of the DVDs in the Ambient Series allow you to loop an individual scene. Most of the Ambient Series also allow you to loop the same scene with a randomly chosen audio selection each time the scene repeats. You can, of course, listen to the same audio selection.

Ambient Fire: Does it have holiday music?

Absolutely! Ambient Fire contains 45 minutes of holiday music classics.

Ambient Fire: I think there's something wrong with the playback of the DVD. The bottom right corner of the main menu is "strange".

Do not adjust your television. Everything is fine. The fire in the bottom right corner of the main menu is called "Saucy Flames" and is supposed to do all of the "strange" things you're seeing.

I don't have Dolby 5.1 surround sound; will the sound effects still work?

Yes. All DVD players are compatible with Dolby 5.1 surround sound. If you don't have a surround sound system, your DVD player downconverts the 5.1 signal to a stereo signal.


Technical Support Questions

This question usually refers to the Ambient Series. Before we start trying to explain how to setup your DVD player, make sure that the DVD you're trying to have fill the entire screen is indeed designed to fill your entire screen. The following DVDs are designed to fill your entire screen: Ambient Fire, Ambient Water, Ambient Party, Ambient Sleep, Ambient Flowers, and Ambient Calm.

Ambient Art, in slideshow mode, always preserves the aspect ratio of the painting. Very few painters designed their canvas to match the exact aspect ratios of 4:3 or 16:9. We decided that it was important, at least in one of the modes of the DVD, to be able to see the entire painting. In movie mode, the paintings will fill the full screen.

Your DVD player has settings which determine how it displays the video on the disc. You will have to consult your DVD player's manual for instructions on how to access the setup features of your DVD. However, you cannot change the way in which the DVD player outputs the video when you are playing a DVD. Make sure your DVD player is stopped.

As far as terminology goes, different manufacturers use different terminology. We will try to be generic.

Most DVD players will give you the following options for displaying the image: Letterboxed and Pan&Scan. Letterboxing is used for fitting a 16x9 image on a 4x3 television without losing any of the image. On a 4x3 TV, it is what causes the black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. Pan&Scan is what allows a 16x9 image to fill an entire 4x3 screen. You lose part of the image this way (the sides, but not the top and bottom).

If you have a 16x9 form factor TV (widescreen), set your DVD player to: Widescreen or 16x9. Do not set it to letterboxed.

If you have a 4x3 form factor TV (standard TV), set your DVD player to: Fullscreen or Pan & Scan. Do not set it to letterboxed.

I have a Plasma TV. Should I be worried about "burn-in" on the Ambient Series?

Not really. Plasma "burn-in" is a real phenomenon that is caused from leaving the exact same image on a screen for very prolonged periods of time. The perfect example of "burn-in" or "ghosting" is in airports where you see Plasmas being used to show flight schedules. Portions of the screen stay static for weeks at a time. Of course, the average user doesn't operate their television in this manner. Although the Ambient Series allows you to watch the same scene in loop mode, there is rarely any part of the image that stays exactly the same throughout the entire scene. In Ambient Water, for example, there's constantly fish moving throughout the entire image.

We've taken a few excerpts from an article by Jack Burden from the Plasma TV Buying Guide regarding "burn-in". His comments are below:

So, how do you prevent burn-in on your brand-new plasma television screen?

(1) Some obvious advice: Do not leave static images on your plasma TV screen. Turn off your unit when you are not watching it. Do not pause DVDs for more than a few minutes at a time.

(2) Know that plasma screens are more prone to burn-in during their first 200 hours of use. When phosphors are fresh, they burn more intensely as they are ignited. This means that relatively new plasma display panels are prone to ghosting, which occurs when on-screen images appear to stay on the screen belatedly. This is probably just a function of the high intensity with which new phosphors "pop," and this phenomenon usually "washes out" on its own, as the screen displays subsequent images. When static images are left on new plasma screens too long (more than a few minutes at a time), though, ghosting quickly develops into something more permanent -- burn-in.

Self-Defense: Break your new plasma monitor in slowly. Keep the CONTRAST set at or below 50% -- any higher only causes phosphors to glow more intensely, which decreases the length of time necessary for burn-in to occur. And, be sure to avail yourself of your plasma's anti-burn-in features. These are monotone gray or snow screen settings that "wash" your plasma screen by recalibrating pixel intensity levels uniformly. This reduces the visual effects of ghosting. It's probably a good idea to run one of these screen "wash" cycles after about 100 viewing hours or so. (Note: These processes will impact the lifespan of the phosphors in your unit, so you should run them selectively and on an as-needed basis.)

(3) Know, too, that some plasma display panels burn-in more easily than others. In my experience, AliS type panels -- the ones utilized by Hitachi and Fujistu -- seem more readily given over to problems with burn-in.

(4) Utilize burn-in protection like power management settings, full-time picture shift (both vertical and horizontal), and automatic screen-saver functions. Check your Owner's Manual for further information.

(5) Realize that quality matters with burn-in as with everything else. You definitely want to purchase a plasma monitor that has really good scaling, so that you can watch 4:3 TV programs in widescreen comfortably. It is just not a good idea to leave black bars on your TV screen for prolonged periods of time, so you are probably better off watching most everything in "full screen" mode. This should not really bother you, if your TV exhibits good full-screen scaling.

Also, higher quality TVs tend to be more resistant to burn-in -- though not entirely immune to it, of course. Of the plasma displays I've owned and/or tested extensively, NEC, Sony, Pioneer, and Panasonic seemed least prone to burn-in once their pictures were properly broken in. Even so, I would NEVER leave a static image on any plasma TV screen, regardless of quality, for more than hour.

Note: You should keep in mind that there are some applications, which are simply not well suited to plasma display technology. Take the static flight schedule signage at airports, for example. It always amazes me to walk into an airport and see a ruined plasma monitor hanging from the ceiling with what is obviously an extreme case of permanent burn- in. The only thing such plasmas are used for is displaying the exact same image for hours on end. This is one instance where a little thought would have lead one in a completely different direction as far as digital signage modalities go. (Lately in airports, I have noticed new software programs that try to compensate for burn-in by keeping the images moving.)

The Bottom Line on Burn-In: Plasma TV burn-in is not an issue that should cause undue concern in the average user. With a modicum of caution, most plasma TVs will probably never have a problem with image retention. A viewer may experience temporary ghosting, but this is certainly not cause for alarm. In truth, carelessness -- i.e., not paying attention to what your TV is displaying and for how long -- is really the leading "cause" of permanent burn-in.

My Ambient DVD doesn't work!

The Ambient series of DVDs are quite advanced. Ambient Art & Ambient Flowers are especially feature-packed and truly stretch the limits of what can be done on a DVD. Trust us, we would know - we have a patent pending on some of our DVD authoring technologies. Sorry, don't mean to brag. :)

The point is that not all DVD players are made equal. We've found that VCR/DVD combos are notorious for being poorly manufactured. The problem you'll find with these combo units is that the DVD will begin to play and before it reaches the main menu, it will jump back to the start of the DVD or turn off completely. Some customers have told us that all they have to do is eject the DVD, toggle the power on and off, and it works. For other customers, the only remedy is to purchase a stand-alone DVD player or use the product on another DVD player. This problem affects probably less than 0.010% of customers.

Please know that all of our DVDs are mass-produced by Sony Disc Manufacturing to the highest of standards. It is a very high quality product.

Are there any settings for my TV to make it display better?

Most TVs have the sharpness set too high for the clarity of DVD. This exaggerates high-frequency video and causes distortion, just as the treble control set too high on a stereo causes the audio to sound harsh. For best quality the sharpness control should be set very low. Brightness should also not be set too high. Some DVD players output video with a black-level setup of 0 IRE (Japanese standard) rather than 7.5 IRE (US standard). On TVs that are not properly adjusted this can cause some blotchiness in dark scenes. There may be an option in the player menu to use standard black level. DVD video has exceptional color fidelity, so muddy or washed-out colors are almost always a problem in the display (or the original source), not in the DVD player or disc.


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