Thursday, July 10, 2008

Review: Rockets Magazine/Liberty Launch Systems – Red Glare IV DVD

This DVD set documents the Maryland Delaware Rocketry Association’s (MDRA) Red Glare IV launch that was held April 18-20, 2008 at the Higgs Farm in Price, MD. The set includes two DVDs. One holds 1.8 hours of video and the other has a slide show of 600 photos. The DVDs are organized by launch day and have chapter marks to enhance navigation. Both have an audio track in Dolby 5.1.

Here’s a teaser video, the Rockets’ video page and MDRA’s Red Glare IV gallery.

The Friday and Saturday launch days each begin with a flyover of the launch site by a video RC plane. They then jump right into the smoke, fire and noise! The videography is excellent. Bob does a great job of tracking the rockets from boost through landing. The videos include insets of on-board video where available. Source’s include both fliers and Rockets’ own ‘duct tape cam’. This little device is pretty cool. It’s pretty small and records video and audio onto digital media.

Some of my favorite flights include:
  • Dan Michael’s ¾ scale Patriot on an N2000 and four M1315’s – just a few N-s shy of ‘P’ impulse! This bad boy flew and recovered nicely.
  • The drag race between Neil’s Cat’s in the Cradle pyramid (N4000) and Debra Kolom’s upscaled DC-Y Space Clipper (N3500). The DC-Y’s pucker factor was 100% as it came in hot.
  • Kevin Mitchell’s Superstars space plane on an N3800 sparky.
  • Stephen Bayek’s 2-finned spin-stabilized rocket on an M1297. This was 6” diameter and flew a second time in a drag race with his 4” and 3” versions. I’m still dizzy!
  • And last but not least, my buddy Don Brown's upscale LOC Starfighter on a K695R. Don flew it a second time with airstarts, but this flight didn’t make the editor’s cut.
Point 39 Productions used to be the gold standard of rocket videos (I don’t know if Earl is still in business). Rockets’ DVDs lack some of their features such as multiple angles and pad cams. However, let me tell you how much better DVD media is when compared to VHS tape. (Naw, I don’t have to tell you.) The DVD allows a lot more material so the flights don’t need to be edited down and the navigation capabilities are really nice.

The slide show is a nice addition and compliment to the video. Rockets has a really good camera that captures clear stills throughout a flight. On the down side, they are in a video slide show and the better resolution photos are not available directly. I think it would be nice to have at least reduced resolution stills in .jpg format also (reduced, so people who want large copies will still order them).

Finally, the turnaround between launch and video product is much better with Rockets. It seems like I waited a year for some of Point 39’s work.

Overall, I am very pleased with the video and think it is a good value. I give it a 4 out of 5 on the Earl Cagle scale. If Red Glare doesn’t excite you, I highly recommend you pick up a DVD of a more local launch, LDRS, or BALLS.