Ambient Water DVD: Reviews and Awards
"I especially liked the [scene] following what looked like a giant crawfish around on his rounds of the undersea neighborhood." --J. Sunier, Audiophile Audition
I recall seeing at a computer show a fantastically realistic pseudo aquarium software application which featured individual exotic fish which you could purchase and install. And if you failed to feed them daily (electronically of course), when you went into your office first thing in the morning you would find them floating on the top of the aquarium on your monitor. Ambient Water is not like that; plus it's a lot cheaper. Instead, it provides you 11 different underwater scenes running from ten to 30 minutes each. I especially liked the one following what looked like a giant crawfish around on his rounds of the undersea neighborhood. You can loop them for continuous play if you wish, and choose from various water sounds, other sound effects, or music, or a mix. The scenes include freshwater, saltwater and coral reefs. You can build your own custom playlists of both the visuals and the audio accompaniment. There is a bonus of dozens of desktop wallpapers which you can transfer to your PC if you don't mind your word processing files and spreadsheets getting all wet...
"...the images are cool, but not so cool that everyone will ignore you and watch the TV for three hours..." --David Ryan, DVD Verdict
The main selling point of this disc—at least according to the cover art—is that it was "shot in HD." That is probably true; there is no way to prove or disprove that claim. But even if it was shot in HD, that doesn't make it HD. No DVD player—even your best progressive scan players—can create HD-level resolution on your HDTV. There simply isn't enough pixel information in the signal. The imagery in Ambient Water does look great, but not HD great. The unavoidable artifacts of digital video—a slight blockiness to images, especially moving images, for example—can readily be seen. In fact, in a cruel irony for Vat19, the overall high quality of the picture makes the digital artifacts all the more obvious. Ambient Water is clearly meant (in part) to be a demo/reference disc—you put in on to show off your system. It does a good job of that, but not as good a job as a true HD-DVD or Bluray disc would. This image is great—but HD is spectacular.
The other purpose for the disc, I assume, would be to have something to put up on your TV when you're hosting a party. It fulfills that role quite well, too—the images are cool, but not so cool that everyone will ignore you and watch the TV for three hours; the audio is unobtrusive (as long as you select the "coral reef" option—the "freshwater aquarium" option is loud and obnoxious. I own two freshwater tanks; the two of them together aren't nearly as noisy as that audio track.)
There are no extras on the disc, unless you count the ads for the other Vat19 "Ambient" line products. And you should—they're actually quite clever. My favorite is the promo for "Ambient Party," which is a spoof of the…ahem…male enhancement product commercials you see on TV. A word on Vat19 itself: this is the first Vat19 disc we've reviewed, and I, for one, hope we review some more. Calling their catalog "eclectic" is an understatement. Not many DVD houses can boast of selling a virtual fishtank, "The Encyclopedia of Boating Tips," and "Puppy Tales"—not to mention a driver's ed disc and a DVD that summarizes major Supreme Court cases concerning the 14th Amendment.
So there you have it. Fish—the final frontier. Live long, prosper, and make sure you get enough Omega-3 in your diet.