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Serenity Travel Series Volume One
Your window to 16 Scenic Destinations.
For more about Serenity Travel Series Volume One and the Serenity Travel Series Volume One Blu-ray release, see Serenity Travel Series Volume One Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on July 21, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 1.5 out of 5.
Serenity Travel Series Volume One Blu-ray Review
The cheap price made this an attractive release, but don't be fooled...
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, July 21, 2009
As the popularity of Blu-ray continues to grow and the cost of disc replication diminishes, we'll begin to see more and more low-budget releases become available. Along with the positive aspects of that impending shift (no doubt resulting in the release of more obscure independent films and documentaries) is the negative side, in the form of pointless discs meant to cash in on those who simply don't know better. Unfortunately, it appears we're beginning to see this effect creeping into the bargain bins of our local retailers and that's precisely what I'm sitting down to review this evening.
There's no menu on the disc, so after the initial load time you'll be tossed directly into the first location on the release. The majority of the production consists of footage taken from a static position in various "travel" destinations throughout the world. The only two destinations that don't contain static footage are the gondola ride through Venice (the camera actually sits inside the boat as you travel down the winding canals) and the underwater scuba dive at the Caceres Reef (containing handheld footage of the marine wildlife as the cameraman swims around). Each segment lasts around four minutes in length, giving the viewer sufficient time for boredom to set in before the screen switches to the next location. Of note, there's absolutely zero transition between the sequences, which only adds to the low budget feel of the entire experience. In case you're still reading the review at this point, the list of destinations includes:
Annapolis Harbor Sunrise, Annapolis, Maryland, 6:22AM
Beach Massage Cabanas, Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, 8:20AM
Gondola Ride, Venice, Italy, 2:00PM
Webster Falls, Spencer Gorge, Ontario, 11:00AM
Underwater Flying, Caceres Reef, Cebu Island, Phillipines, 2:00PM
DeSoto Falls, Fort Payne, Alabama, 10:15AM
Yangtze River Cruise, Three Gorges, China, 10:20AM
Michigan Avenue Bridge, Chicago River, Chicago, Illinois, 8:15PM
The Crown Fountain, Millenium Park, Chicago, Illinois, 7:45PM
Punta Mita Golf Course, Bahia de Banderas, Mexico, 10:00AM
Floating Clouds, Jonestown, Texas, 2:30PM
Fisherman, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, 7:00AM
Colorado River, McKinney Roughs Preserve, Texas, 3:15PM
Wildflowers, Hill Country, Texas, 11:00AM
Leinstar Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, 11:45AM
Sunset, Sea of Cortez, Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, 7:45PM
I'm desperately trying to find something to be positive about in this review, so I'll mention there were at least 3 destinations I found somewhat interesting. First, the gondola ride through Venice wasn't what I'd consider a romantic experience, but it was interesting to watch the gondolier navigate through the narrow canals and dodge incoming boats or gondolas. Second, the underwater sequence at the Philippine reef contained some beautiful footage of brilliantly colored fish swimming around, and offered a welcomed break from the singular camera position used in the rest of the production. Rounding out the trio of entertaining shots, is the sequence at Crown Fountain in Chicago. If you enjoy people-watching, there's plenty of tourists milling about and children running through the fountain to keep you intrigued for the entire four minutes the camera is rolling. It took me forever to figure out what was up with the creepy tower of a woman's face, but I finally realized it's a fountain that depicts the woman spitting on the children below (some forms of art are admittedly lost on me). Sadly, the other 13 sequences are each interesting in their own individual way, but not something you'll want to stare at for more than ten seconds or so.
Serenity Travel Series Volume One Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p utilizing the AVC codec (at an average bitrate of 25Mbps), Serenity Travel Series sports an impressive transfer for such a low-budget production. During the sequences where the camera is placed in a static location, detail pops off the screen with clarity that never wavers. Moving footage is almost as proficient, but there are a couple instances where minimal blurring occurs due to a lack of focus. The coloring throughout the feature is equally positive, with spectrums that vary from virtually colorless during the sequence at the winter waterfall near Fort Payne, or come alive with every shade under the sun during the scuba diving sequence in the Phillipines. Continuing with the strengths, black levels had rich depth and contrast elevated the three-dimensional nature of the high-definition photography. In fact, the only two flaws I noticed during the 65 minute runtime were the presence of some mild edge-enhancement along the wood rails at the front of the gondola and a small dark blip on the left side of the screen at the 43:58 mark.
Serenity Travel Series Volume One Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Here's where things get a little dicey. Although this is a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, there's nothing special whatsoever about the audio experience. It appears the production crew simply set up a microphone next to the camera, and hit record. During several sequences you'll hear nothing more than the sound of water, or the engine of a boat in the background. Even the footage of the Michigan Avenue Bridge only contains the muffled sound of traffic passing by. If the producers of the travel series wanted to give the audience an entertaining experience worth revisiting, they should have added something on the audio front to complete the package. Even the inclusion of a musical track would have been a welcomed addition over the dismal "noise" presented here.
Serenity Travel Series Volume One Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
There are no extras included on the disc.
Serenity Travel Series Volume One Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
As I stated in the introduction, releases of this sort are something you'll want to avoid at all costs, since their meant simply as a method of cashing in on the blue case and name recognition as a high-definition product. The complete lack of effort in any aspect of the production is a disservice to potential customers looking for a travel-themed Blu-ray disc and I hope we don't see a volume 2 of this series in the future. If you're looking for a coaster and a replacement Blu-ray case, this might fit the bill, but that's about all you're going to get from this release.
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