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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Thirty Years of National Geographic Specials
Thirty Years of National Geographic Specials
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Review by Chris Hughes | posted February 11, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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Features: Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1. Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo). Subtitles: English. Never-Before-Released Featurette: The Best of Cameramen Who Dared. Photo gallery with rare images by world-renown photographers. Interactive trivia quizzes and timelines. DVD ROM features.

The Movie:
Several generations have grown up with National Geographic Magazine and for the last thirty years people of all ages have been enjoying their outstanding television specials. The Geographic Society has long been instrumental in the funding of research into sociology, biology, anthropology, geology and a host of other disciplines. Their programs have featured such noted researchers as Jacques Cousteau, Jane Goodall, Dianne Fossey and others all of whom you'll find on this disc. Thirty Years of National Geographic Specials presents clips from many of these most memorable programs along with informative narration and a host of interesting extras.

The Picture:
The material for this DVD comes from many sources. There are video elements, 16mm film, still camera work and even 70mm footage. All of the images have been preserved in beautifully and transferred to DVD with the utmost care. The colors vary from clip to clip but are never over saturated. Black levels and shadow detail are very good and quite consistent, even in the sections where video elements are over twenty years old.

The Sound:
The stereo soundtrack (Dolby Digital AC-2) is about what you'd expect. The dialogue is easily understandable throughout and, more importantly, the mix is consistent from clip to clip. You won't have to fuss with your remote to keep the sound in check. In addition, the audio elements seem to have been carefully restored in order to reduce hiss and widen the overall dynamic range.

The Extras:
Thirty Years of National Geographic Specials contains many of the standard extras you'll find on other National Geographic titles. There's a three-question trivia quiz, the answers for which can be found by watching the main video program. There are also trailers for three other National Geographic discs. Another section contains a photo gallery of images taken from the pages of National Geographic Magazine. Next there's a cool interactive timeline of National Geographic publications and programs that includes a number of interesting pictures and explanatory text. Finally there's an additional video title called The Best of Cameramen Who Dared. This second video track is on par with if not better than the main program. It's a fascinating exploration of the careers of the brave men and women who faced injury, disease and even death in pursuit of the fantastic footage that has become the hallmark of National Geographic shows. There are interviews, amazing images and much more. All in all this these extras are interesting and enjoyable making for a great package for National Geographic fans. The disc's DVD ROM section offers a number of interactive versions of National Geographic's high quality maps but since I don't currently have access to a DVD ROM drive I was unable to evaluate their usefulness and entertainment value (a situation that I'll remedy in the near future.)

Conclusion:
If you're like me you grew up enjoying National Geographic programs and publications. This disc is a great walk down memory lane with super extras that make it even more attractive. I, for one, am looking forward to the next thirty years of National Geographic programs!
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