DVD review: Joe Satriani Live in SF - techical DVD review
I know there are a few topics on this, but i wanted to put this long-winded review in a new thread. That will work better in case it will be linked to jemsite later on. Comments welcome.
Joe Satriani: Live in San Francisco
I'll start the review by saying buy this DVD now. The performance is superb and it's a cool audio-visual memory of a fine tour. By buying this DVD, you also show the record labels that FANS support musicians like Joe and Steve. That alone is a reason to buy the DVD.
Stop reading here if you are unfamiliar with DVD and don't care much about audio-video perfection. Ignorance is bliss and I wish i would ignore my own feelings posted below.
This DVD is a subpar effort, typical of the sludge that SONY is churning out with no regard to consumers. This is evident as you open the packaging and there is not even a liner card. Can you be any cheaper Sony??? you are an embarrasment to the videophile. You know you're dealing with a company that doesn't care then you see "Chapter Selection" as a disc Feature. Gee hasn't this been available for 20 years now since CD was released!
Upon watching the DVD, you can see this was shot with SUBSTANDARD made-for-TV equipment. Shoddy cameras with no ability to take good video in low-light theatres. I have clearer Hi-8 video from vacations and my honeymoon for christ sakes :angry:
Satriani, Sony and Co. must not be aware of the ANATOMICAL FACT that our eyes do not see in a 1.33:1 *aspect ratio (width:height) TV shaped field of vision. Our sight is more akin to 1.85:1 which is just about what MOVIES are released at, and WIDESCREEN tv/projectors are also. So as you watch this DVD, you can't help but realize you're LOSING 1/3 of the information that the concert view would see. Worst this is avoidable by just "filming" with proper video equipment and not 'taping' it like a home video :angry:
In watching the first "multi-angle" track I am sickened to see some IDIOT running CAMERA-3. This amateur should be FIRED IMMEDIATELY for shooting video like that. I am not photographic expert, but i take pride in EVERY photo or video i shoot... and i have never (even as a child) taken such terrible video. HIRE PEOPLE who know who to film, not film the FLOOR and have a general clue. Sad to think that these 3 mult-angle songs were the BEST they had in the can. It would be scary to see the stuff on the cutting room floor. Very disappointing.
Framing and filming issues aside, the video itself is very poor for DVD. It is grain, fuzzy and lacks any sense of sharpness. THe video only becomes acceptable upon closee-ups of Joe, a sign of low-resolution 'made for TV' equipment was uses. Wide angle shots show a total lack of resolution that looks more like a web-cam than a DVD.
It is very obvious that this DVD was budgeted with "looking good" on a 27-32" TV... and nothing more. Sony is the worst studio IMHO and their cheapness is very evident since they refuse to accomidate anyone above their "target demographic". With one breath, they love to sell you large projection TVs, and pricy Sony garbage, but their software division caters to "joe six-pack" and champions mediocrity.
To be fair, my 48"x96" widescreen system will magnify weaknenss... but it will also highlight superb quality. A capable DVD (or even laserdisc) will drop your jaw. Not this one. *It is sad that I can pop-in a DVDs of a movie shot in the 1950s that looks 10x better than this disc. No excuses except a lack of effort by the studios.
On the audio side, the 5.1 mix is excellent. It's main usefulness IMHO is that it allows you to listen in 5.1 w/o having to recalibrate or change your AV setup. In past Dolby Surround and even 5.1 mixes were all wrong, having the guitar in the center channel and this 5.1 mix sounds very much like STEREO, with a little extra ambiance. I didn't bother checking the PCM track, as i already have the same track on CD.
Thankfully all of the above can be overlooked by watching Joe and co. After the initial (though not surprising) sub-quality of the video, you tend to look past that and let the music and vibe sink in. Mixed feelings set in, because it's nice to have this SF archive on DVD, yet one can't help to think it could have been even BETTER with just a little tender, love and care... glen