DVD Review - What's Hot in Tucson 2009Last Updated: 28th Sep 2009
By Jolyon & Katya Ralph
The third annual "What's Hot in Tucson" DVD is now available, published by Blue Cap Productions (who have the excellent good taste in using a pink tourmaline with a blue termination as their logo). This video is hosted as before by Dave Wilber, who's knowledge of minerals and the collector mineral market is second to none. The DVD follows the successful format that Blue Cap have developed for these post-show DVDs and is the most ambitious title to date, with two discs and over four hours of video to enjoy.
The primary focus of this disc is to give people a look at some of the best specimens available for sale during the show period. For those who have not visited Tucson before, it's not just one show but a period of close to a month where over 50 different shows run, often concurrently but as one show closes another one opens somewhere else. Shows cover everything from serious mineral collecting through gems and lapidary through to beads, jewellery and craftwork. Many of these shows are held in hotels, where hotel rooms have been turned into dealer booths for the run of the show. Out of the 50 shows, there are probably still between 10 and 15 that are genuinely interesting for mineral collectors, and it's always a mad rush trying to visit everything - and it's pretty much impossible to see everything.
This is why the task that Blue Cap set themselves each year is so tough. They have to be everywhere, see everything and report back on the best of the best (and I've personal experience of how difficult this is!). The results are worth the effort, the DVD showcases some absolutely fabulous mineral specimens along with intelligent commentary and discussion from Dave Wilber. Here's an example clip of Dave looking at some new minerals from Crystal Classics at the Westward Look mineral show: (Please note: video clips in this review were converted to web resolution so are lower quality than the actual DVD)
Even if you visited the shows, you won't have seen all the specimens on this video, and even if you did see them you will see them and hear about them in more detail here. One criticism of the video in past years was that it concentrated too much on "high end" minerals (which is natural, for a video you want to show the best), so this year they added a new section just for minerals of $99 or less, to show that you can build a collection with good specimens without needing to be a millionaire. Here's an example clip from this section:
And the final section is Jeff Scovil's Top Ten Tucson Photos of 2009 - he talks over an animated slidehsow of some fantastic minerals. The only disappointment in this section is the audio quality - it was clearly recorded over a telephone call, and it's a shame that it couldn't have been done differently (even recording voice into a computer microphone and emailing an mp3 file would have been better). But if you discount this minor irritation the section works very well, with slow pans and zooms across the photo as Jeff explains why he chose the photo as one of his best. Here's a clip of one of his top ten.
Overall, the DVD is very well done and a great addition to your DVD library. As I mentioned in my previous review of the 2008 edition, it would be nice to see a high-definition version on Blu-Ray at some time in the future - costs are still prohibitive for this (but falling all the time, so I live in hope).
A related issue to this is that the DVD is designed for old-style TV sets (4:3 aspect ratio) so playing it back on modern widescreen TVs (16:9 aspect ratio) that many of us have means either zooming in and cropping part of the picture (with a loss of quality) or ugly thick black bars down each side of the screen. The video clips I've posted in this report show this problem, not deliberately, but because I had accidentally left my video encoding system set into 'widescreen' mode (which I do all my own video recording in), but it illustrates the display of the DVD on a widescreen TV quite accurately. This shouldn't put you off buying the DVD however, even with the black bars or zoomed in it's immensely watchable and the quality is still very good.
What's Hot in Tucson DVD is published by Blue Cap Productions
Retail Price: $29.99 (plus shipping)
Online Ordering - http://www.whatshotintucson.com
European Distribution via Crystal Classics - http://www.crystalclassics.co.uk
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