Sensational Seas 2 is subtitled “rare sights from under the sea”. It is the second anthology DVD of the series, and like its predecessor, consists of a series of video contributions from many leading underwater filmmakers and photographers. The “sights” are “rare”” not only in the actual footage, but also in the manner in which they are presented. Narrated by Stan Waterman and Annie Crawley, the DVD attempts to link together disparate footage into a unified whole. The producers describe this thus:
“Anthology comes from Greek words meaning, “to gather flowers.” In this collection of underwater stories, we have harvested from among those who explore the depths of the ocean realm, choosing extraordinarily well crafted professional sequences and placing them alongside more roughly made footage by dedicated amateurs. Our goal has been to assemble an anthology that shows the splendid diversity of life and behavior hidden beneath the waves, but also to create a dive album that showcases the extended family of scuba divers that has grown up since the invention of the aqualung six decades ago.”
In many ways, this describes the DVD’s strengths and weaknesses. The short vignettes give a showcase for the best and most dramatic footage, without the paraphernalia of a full-blown feature production. The emphasis is on the unexpected and beautiful, rather than padding! Much of the film presented would simply have never been seen, if the Sensational Seas format wasn’t available. This gives a remorseless attack of wonderful, eye-popping imagery! At times though, this is inevitably at the cost of less continuity (between chapters). Given the outstanding overall quality, it is a price that I found was easily worth paying.
As a showcase for new talent, Sensational Seas provides a glimpse of some of the underwater filmmakers of the future. Some of the names on this DVD are well-known, some less so, and it is a credit to the editorial power of the production team that these sit so well together. The overall quality of the footage is so high that it alternatively captivated and mesmerized me.
The variety of filmmakers also lends to the overall feeling. Although anchored by the narrators, each chapter has its own story to tell. This gives the DVD an almost breathless pace! Once the viewer is comfortable with one story, we are off on a new one! From Antarctica to Australia, the places, behaviors and views vary as the DVD plays. The stories literally range from phytoplankton through a microscope, to swimming elephants. I’m not sure this makes for an armchair experience!
There are so many great scenes that it is hard to pick personal favorites. The opener, “Wow” entices with choreographed sequences, Leandro Blanco’s “Voices we shall Never Hear” and Howard Hall’s “Australian Giant Cuttlefish” also stood out for me, as did the humorous and retro “Scratchy the Turtle” by J.D.Duff.
In a separate section of the DVD, Eric Cheng, William Tan, Ned DeLoach, Paul Humann and others present slide shows of selections of their still images.
Lastly, it is important to record that this production, and the footage on it, is all in the aid of great causes. The costs of production were met by a grant from the Carrow Foundation, and the footage was provided for free by the filmmakers.
Wow by Anna DeLoach.
Under Antarctica Ice by Mary Lynn Price.
Arctic Plankton – They Emerge by Rick Morris.
Sydney Underwater by Jon Shaw.
Housekeeping in Bonaire by Peter Schalkwijk.
A Crystal Cage more Radiant than a Cathedral by Bruce Carlson.
A Lateral Line by Bill Fisher and Joe Romeiro.
Humpback by Rob Barrel.
Silver Seas by Ernie Brooks II.
The Pacific Northwest by Walking Shark Productions.
Voices We Shall Never Hear by Leandro Blanco.
Australia’s Giant Cuttlefish by Howard Hall.
In the Right Place… by Anna DeLoach.
Christmas In July by Kris Wilk.
Flamboyant Cuttlefish by Mike Elliott.
Groupers Forever by Graham Christmas.
Birth of the Seahorse by Edi Frommenwiler.
The Secret Weapon by Champ Williams.
Rajan Takes the Plunge by Nancy McGee.
Scratchy the Turtle by J.D. Duff.
The Coconut Octopus by Edi Frommenwiler.
Photographic slide shows from:
Eric Cheng (Wetpixel).
Cary Yanny (Eco-Divers).
William Tan (Singapore).
Ellen Muller (Bonaire).