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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Ambient Calm: Scenes of Serenity
Ambient Calm: Scenes of Serenity
Jumby Bay Studios // Unrated // November 15, 2005
List Price: $14.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted September 10, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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In 10 Words or Less
A video Valium

Reviewer's Bias*
Loves: My big-ass TV
Likes: A pretty landscape
Dislikes: Being bored, being calm
Hates: Bad, "low-budget" design

The Show
For my wife's first birthday after we were married, I bought her a noise generator, to help her sleep at night. Once we got a dog, she inherited the machine, to help her relax when we weren't home. Now, our daughter uses it to calm down. It's one of the reasons why I'm a big believer in the value of white noise.

This disc is the DVD version of the white noise machine, using quiet, reflective scenes or graphics, in combination with music and sound effects, to create a calming effect. To that extent, this DVD works fine. Scenes display insects, waterfalls, beaches, skies, trees, snow, rain and the sun and the moon, while the audio tracks include natural sound, classical music, jazz, and some guitar and piano instrumentals, as well as a mix of sounds and songs. The sunset and moon scenes are the most visually interesting, while the water scenes offer the most calming effect (as well as some value as a diuretic.)

The only real negatives are the lame digital graphics sections, which are less calming than anything else on the disc. Considering how relaxing the videos are on this DVD, there was no reason to try and push it with these rave backgrounds. Despite all that's good here, the question remains as to who needs a DVD like this. I can't imagine when I would put this disc on, as it's unlikely I would watch the scenes if I was trying to relax. I'd probably be reading a book or closing my eyes and listening to relaxing sounds. But if you want some nice landscapes to go with your soundscapes, this disc does a good job of delivering them.

The DVD
Packed in a standard keepcase with a Vat19 catalog, the disc looks pretty low-rent from the cover art. The DVD has an animated full-frame main menu, with a play-all option, scene selections, set-up and special features. Audio options include three music tracks, sound effects, a mix of songs and sounds or a randomly selected track. One of the best features is the option to create your own playlist of the scenes, with up to six slots. You can also select to play the whole disc randomly, watch the water scenes or the dry ones. These discs certainly do a lot with user options to make an individual experience.

The Quality
The anamorphic widescreen video is solid, with quality color and a good level of detail, but considering the big deal the packaging makes about being shot on HD, it doesn't blow you out of the water. Sure, it's got a pleasant image, but its slightly soft, and the level of fine detail isn't very high. I expected a much sharper image and simply didn't get it.

The audio is presented as Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks for the music and 5.1 for the sound effects, which are strong, but not overpowering, maintaining a center-focused soundfield throughout. On the surround tracks, it's more of a single track pumped to 5 speakers than a true surround mix, but the songs are clear, and the sounds of the water and crickets come across crisply.

The Extras
The only extras are a nicely put-together help section and a series of commercials for other Vat19 productions. These are the kinds of commercials that run at 2 in the morning on those odd cable channels.

Put the disc into your DVD-ROM drive, and you can download wallpapers for your computer

The Bottom Line
As with all of Vat19's "Ambient" DVDs, I asked myself, "Why would anyone buy this?" Well, I bought the noise machine, which isn't much different, but that works in the background. This DVD takes over your home-theater system, so it has to be the focus of your relaxation efforts. If that's what you're looking or, this is where to find it, but for many, an all-audio calming aide is all that's needed.


Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.

Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow


*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.

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