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Ambient Space DVD: Reviews and Awards

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Professional Reviews

" upscale, technically flawless, video slideshow..." --James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief, Midwest Book Review

Ambient Space: The Best of NASA Photos, Volume 1 offers an armchair journey into the vastness of space with spectacular images of galaxies, nebulae, the Solar System, Planet Earth, early scenes of NASA, space flight, the shuttle, and the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as other exotic sights and conceptual art.

With a total running time of over two hours, "Ambient Space" is an upscale, technically flawless, video slideshow in a DVD format that incorporates Vat19's 'playlist' technology allowing the viewer to control the order of scenes and even the music for each individual scene selected - or viewers can just hit 'Play All' and enjoy the show. There's even the bonus of 'Desktop Wallpapers'.

As engagingly entertaining as it is educationally informative, "Ambient Space" is the first of a planted series taken from NASA archives and a welcome addition to any personal, academic, or community library DVD collection.

"Ambient Space is recommended for use by almost anyone, and has a higher recommendation for junior-senior high science teaching." --David J. Bertuca, University at Buffalo, Educational Media Reviews Online

Ambient Space is a DVD of images and short movies designed to be used in several different ways. It contains more than 700 images that include the Solar System and planet Earth; astronomical subjects, such as galaxies and nebulae, many taken with the Hubble Space Telescope; early NASA historical photographs (e.g., Mercury Space Program, X-15); images of recent NASA space flight programs, and miscellaneous "Strange & Exotic" images of a variety of unusual space objects, rockets, airplanes, and other images that do not fit into a neat category.

The DVD is organized so that the viewer can either watch the entire series of "slide shows" of photographs (with or without captions, or selectively with captions), or the user may choose to watch various slide shows separately. Also for viewing are a series of five short instructional films on NASA and the space program.

Simple menus, similar to regular DVD titles are easy to follow and allow for basic setup and commands. Instructional help is also provided on the menus.

The images are taken from some of the best NASA materials and organized into "slideshow" chapters, such as "Galaxies," "Nebulae," "Early NASA," "Space Flight," or the "Solar System." The may be watched one at a time or can be viewed all together. The user may also program the slide shows to run in a continuous loop (useful for background to other exhibits). There is also a "Custom Playlist" selection, that lets the user program the order of shows, as well as the music type that goes with each show.

Adding music makes the viewing experience easier to watch. There are three different music choices that can be played, and the user selects from these when starting a slide show. The choices are "Classical," "Acoustic Guitar," and "Ambient" (Ambient is a relaxed techno-type, electronic soundtrack that goes well with photos of space).

A great feature of Ambient Space is the ability to view the images either on a regular or wide-screen display. If you are using a wide-screen, the slide shows fill the entire display (without black bars). Regular screens show a full screen version. You can fill any size screen space completely.

The five feature videos are short cameos with dialogue on: NASA/NACA: The Early Days, Mercury/Gemini/Apollo Programs, Science Fiction: X-Planes, Test Craft, & Concept Art, the Space Shuttle, and the Hubble Space Telescope. All are interesting and provide a brief history and data on each topic.

Captions may be turned "On" or "Off" for the entire show, or the user may toggle them on/off with a button on the remote. The captions are good to have if the viewer does not know much about scenes being viewed, and are very useful for students wishing to learn the names of various space objects, vehicles, or geographic places on Earth. Otherwise, the captions may be distracting because they overlay the middle of each image, and because the captions are plain.

There is a folder of 242 "Bonus Desktop Wallpapers" that can be downloaded (.jpg: 1280x1024 resolution) using a microcomputer (Mac or Windows). Instructions show how to access these.

Ambient Space is a good title for anyone teaching space science or astronomy, or for science programs in high schools and perhaps for colleges. For students, the captions allow for learning the names of various astronomical locations, spacecraft, and even for identifying geographical features on Earth. Ambient Space is a good, visual attention-grabbing show to use as background for science fairs, job fairs, or for parties. The images are relaxing to watch, which can be great for home use as well. The DVD interface and the quality of images are very good.

Ambient Space is recommended for use by almost anyone, and has a higher recommendation for junior-senior high science teaching.

Other titles on additional topics are available in the Ambient series.

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