Saturday, December 15, 2012

DVD Review: A Journey Through the Plains.

A Journey Through the Plains is the second DVD release from which covers the 2012 chase season. I have not seen the first DVD so I can't compare the two for the sake of evolution.

The DVD's first chapters cover some less significant local events in Ohio. Nothing terribly dramatic but it shows a couple good spring time thunderstorms with a few wind gusts and some hail. A little too much "driving in the rain" footage makes me wonder where the good parts of the storm are, but they do happen. Educational pieces cut in to explain what is actually going on and what they are getting excited about. This is found throughout the DVD and is great for education purposes. A very nice "bonus" that is not advertised.

Things begin to pick up pace once the groups actual journey to the plains begins. The first of these 3 chapters covers a severe hail event in Texas where the group encounters severe hail accumulating on the ground like snow, they then stop to help a motorist who slid into a ditch and observe some structure on the backside. Some scenes are a little drawn out, but overall highlight the event in a nice way.

The next chapter is probably the highlight of the DVD as the group has a very close encounter with a large tornado near Cooperton, Oklahoma. Many different shots of the event are provided, though the dark nature of the encounter makes it hard to see allot of the details. An out-house type structure is blown away and destroyed nearby, showing just how close of an encounter it was. The film quality takes away from the experience a bit, and I for one am not a fan of lots of screaming and yelling. If you are a fan of dramatic chapters with the close encounter, this is the one for you.

Moving on to the next chapter, which covers April 14th. This was the single day that made the season for many chasers as multiple tornadoes struck Oklahoma and Kansas during the years biggest outbreak. The group managed to get on some of the early storms that dropped a number of rope and trunk tornadoes. My favorite shot shows a vorticy in a field moving directly over a house, but doing no damage. If you are a fan of clear, classic looking tornado footage this is the chapter that best accomplishes that. While none of the footage is in your face jaw dropping, they are still good shots of classic plains tornadoes, and overall represent the goal of every storm chaser when they set out to chase. Music and narration overlays a good deal of footage which is both good and bad in its own ways. I prefer a natural sound, but I know from my own filming that sometimes wind noise and obnoxious dialogue is too unbearable at times, and music is a good way to solve that issue. This is probably my favorite chapter despite my own bitter feelings towards this day.

The final chapter covers a historic derecho that affected the Ohio valley on June 29th. I always enjoy footage of local damaging events as they put into perspective of the damage that a non tornadic thunderstorm can do.  Highlighted moments include multiple trees crashing down as the worst wind hits and then the damage afterwards.

Overall Thoughts:

The editing was a strong point in this DVD which showed good pre planning and thought as opposed to just chopping footage together and slapping it on a DVD. I was definitely impressed with it. The educational graphics and radar images are a great bonus that will help the viewer better understand what is going on. Some of the chapters run a bit longer than they need to be, especially early on during events that weren't too significant or dramatic. In a year like 2012 though it is hard to fill disc space, so its allowed. Having tornadoes in the DVD is always a plus, though none of that footage is knock-your-socks-off dramatic (not always a bad thing, but a weak point when considering the fact that much of today's audiences seem harder to please.)

I would certainly recommend this as a trade, as well as a good buy especially since the 2012 DVD market will have slim pickings due to many chasers simply not getting much. If you enjoy new DVDs, having a large collection, seeing everything that happened in every year then definitely scoop this up. If you are the type who only prefers dramatic, clear, stabilized tornado shots from beginning to end, this is probably not the DVD for you.

Check it out and order it here:

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