Tuesday, January 8, 2013

DVD Review: Storm Snob

Storm chaser and good friend Ben Holcomb has released his 3rd DVD this year, titled Storm Snob

Ben is one of only a couple chasers to release DVDs this season. The title derives from the notion that storm chasers who live in tornado alley refuse to chase anything outside of those boundaries while scoffing at others who choose to do so. Given the fact that every second of video on this DVD comes from Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, the title is very fitting.

2012 was a tough year for chasers, but Ben was one of the few who had a good success ratio, so the expectations when viewing were higher than others. This year Ben seemed to have a special knack for finding that needle in a haystack storm that would produce on a day where 20 other storms wouldn't. Despite his success compared to other individual chasers in 2012, there probably still wouldn't be enough content from 2012 alone, so it begins with events from fall of 2011 (which followed his already completed second DVD release.)

The DVD opens with September 17th and covers a marginal, but rewarding setup in Oklahoma. Video shows 2 different tornadoes on the ground at the same time, and some neat funnel rotation directly overhead. The video is good and stable despite parts of the tornado managing to sneak out of frame for a bit. A very nice, solid opening to the DVD.

Things ramp up big time in the next chapter which covers November 7th 2011. This was a big day for many (including myself as you will see since I am riding along with him.) Footage shows many tornadoes of all shapes and sizes from all different ranges. Beginning with the dramatic Tipton EF-4 (which is the cover image of the DVD) and ending with an impressive 3 tornadoes on the ground at the same time 4 hours later. In between there are numerous other tornadoes including one that travels right through a wind farm. This is the longest chapter of the DVD and is jam packed with tornado action. This day could be a DVD all on its own and is well worth the price of purchase.

We finally move into 2012 with the plains' first good tornadoes on March 18th. Another solid chapter showing 2 tornadoes with little "fluff." Its intro, then tornado time.

April 13th follows and shows Ben and his chase partner attempting to view a tornado that went through their hometown of Norman, Oklahoma. Footage is mostly them driving shouting the tornado is there, but it is almost impossible to make out given the position. Some damage footage follows proving a tornado was there though. Later in the day they witness an odd looking cone tornado near Saddle Mountain, OK as they intercept a beastly HP storm. Nothing knock-your-socks-off dramatic as the view was far, but any tornado shot in 2012 is a bonus.

April 14th, the big day of the year follows. Unfortunately there are no dramatic shots of the amazing Langley tornado like many would expect, but there are still several tornadoes to be had, including a non-condensed one in a nearby field. A pair of cone tornadoes near dusk and after dark follows. As a bonus you get to see a turkey get blasted to smitherines, though if you are an animal lover, this might make you queezy. Its only low quality dash cam footage so no need to throw any graphic content warnings.

A chapter covering April 30th follows and shows Ben's big unique prize catch of the year. A beautiful, strong tornado near Medford, OK. As far as I know, the only existing footage of this tornado comes from Ben and you will have to get this DVD in order to see it. Unfortunately, it is after dark so all you are allowed by nature are glimpses in between lightning flashes, but at least the frames are frozen so you can see it longer than a tenth of a second. Still, for night time video it is awesome, and Ben throws in some great still photos as well of this awesome tornado.

May 25th was a decent day for many chasers, including Ben. Another chapter with multiple tornadoes, but again unfortunately they are after dark so all you are allowed are brief glimpses from far away and some still shots.

We fast forward to fall and find ourselves in October chasing a supercell north of Lubbock, TX. The chapter starts out with some large hail footage, which adds a nice variety to a DVD where every other chapter follows a -daily intro-tornado time- format. I for one appreciate variety in a DVD and like to see something other than tornadoes once in awhile. A weak tornado spins up later, and the group was in position to get good video of it. Lightning photos follow to conclude a solid chase day turned solid DVD chapter.

The DVD wraps up with a photo montage chapter showing various structure, lightning, tornado and even random humorous shots throughout the year.

Overall thoughts:

This is about as good as it gets for a single chaser highlight DVD covering 2012. Every chapter features tornadoes, and there is almost no filler or fluff. Little bonuses like radar images are a nice addition to the shot to show how the storms evolve during the chase. Most of the video is tripoded and very stable even though a few moments are plagued by auto focus. This is a definite buy for every level of DVD enthusiast. A great addition to your collection, even if you are the hard to please, must be loaded with tornado video DVD type of person. I highly recommend it.

Check it out and order it here: http://www.benholcomb.com/store/dvds/stormsnob

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