Mill Reef Entertainment has presented us with a truly breathtaking presentation of footage shot from the
orbiting space shuttle. Presented in 28 different segments, each "Earthview" is focused on a different
portion of our planet. Each segment is accompanied by a full 5.1 channel score from composer Ryan Shore.
The disc can be played in its original sequence, configured for continuous playback, or grouped based
upon the score in "albums". The visuals are stunningly sharp. Taken from the live NASA down-link off
the Space Shuttle cameras, the imagery is pure and unaffected by all the personalities that can clog a
Hollywood production. We are witness to an experience only a select few are privilege to see. Of
special note is the footage of a space shuttle lift-off. Not present on the original Earthlight
disc, this features a powerful 5.1 audio track. The audio is cleverly mixed with radio transmission
from mission control in one speaker and responses from the shuttle Atlantis in another.
The menu system of Earthlight is not as convenient as others I've seen. For example, to access the
subtitles, you must use the menu function and enable the "Show Location" option. Turning them on or off
through the "subtitle" button on the remote didn't seem to work. This presented a problem when I tried the
disc in my PC using the Pioneer DVD-U02 SCSI DVD-Rom drive with Sigma Design's Real Magic Hollywood Plus
Decoder. The "Show Location" button skipped the "selection" menu which offers the various language options.
Interestingly, the "subtitle" button on the control interface did allow the subtitles to be seen. If you
select a diffent subtitle through this interface however, the change will only take affect if the subtitles
change from the current display. This may take over a minute. Since the designers of DVD never envisioned
Klingon would be used as a subtitle, there is no menu heading for Klingon. When these subtitles are
displayed, the selection will show up as "12" - indicating the 12th set of subtitles for the program. Yes,
they really are Klingon.
The disc is mastered in such a way as to prevent scanning forward or backward within the current program. I
rather dislike this approach. It really isn't so bad as each of the different views are in a separate title
and most are only 2 to 4 minutes in length. The Lift-off sequence must be selected from the "Play Selections"
Menu option. If the disc is left to play on its own, the lift-off sequence is not part of the program.
Also included are some wonderful high resolution images which can be viewed on DVD-Rom equipped computers.
You can also unlock additional Earthviews, already included on the disc, from the World Wide Web.
If you are a space fan, it is hard to pass up on Earthlight: Special Edition. Its imagery is
astonishingly beautiful and is tastefully mixed with music for relaxed viewing. When viewing the earth from
orbit, somehow you feel that maybe the things which seem so important and all-encompassing down here on
the ground, are simply not that significant in the grander scheme.