Steve Vai - Live At The Astoria

Discussion in 'Music' started by Felix Martinez, Dec 16, 2003.

  1. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Screenwriter

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    Folks -

    Just received this 2-disc set and its fantastic! A 2 1/2 hour concert! Some quick observations; please forgive the rough prose...

    Video quality is surprisingly good if a little low-key at times. Black level is deep, and there is little to no video noise, even when viewed on larger screens (I screened on a 92 inch Stewart Greyhawk). It's 4X3, but still looks pretty darn good. While Final Cut Pro's filters are put to serious use now and again, I remember thinking, "whoever edited this thing is very musical." The editing can get a bit "expressionistic," but still works IMHO. In the audio commentary track with Vai and the band (commentary runs for the *entire* 2 1/2 hour concert, and its hilarious and informative), it's revealed that Vai edited most of the footage himself on FCP.

    Audio is good, but level is pretty low, which initially made me think this was going to be a lackluster audio experience. However, after cranking the volume, I was treated to a very smooth mid-range, considering the guitar-heavy soundscape. Low end seems subdued at times, but at reference level, it is never boomy, and the balance of instruments is very effective. My only reservation is the drum sound, which is a bit dodgy at times, sounding a bit flat and undynamic, but the overall mix is still very good.

    There is a 5.1 Dolby Digital track and PCM stereo, both mixes done by Vai himself. I listened to the 5.1 mix for the entire concert and it was a great experience. During "Bad Horsie," there's some serious 360 panning of Vai's feedback solo that's very effective and surreal. I then went back and compared the uncompressed PCM stereo option. Usually, there is a noticeably increase in resolution, imaging, etc., but in this case the compressed 5.1 mix is the way to go, despite the higher mastering level of the stereo track. The stereo track is nice, but the immersive quality of the 5.1 is preferred.

    For Vai fans and guitar afficionados, this is a title worth picking up!

    Cheers,
     
  2. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

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    Where did you get this? My son is a huge Steve Vai fan. He was real disappointed when he wasn't able to go to the Steve Vai concert in Chicago this fall. Maybe I can make it up to him a bit by getting this for him.

    Is this a CD, DVD, or DVD-Audio?
     
  3. Todd Beachler

    Todd Beachler Stunt Coordinator

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    Marty, it is a DVD set that hit the stores last tuesday.

    I think the audio is great. I had been messing around with my new 563 last weekend and need to tweak it a bit more, but does it seem like the rear channel is a tad too loud. Not much, just a little. If not, then I need to recalibrate.

    The video, on the other hand is pathetic. Quick MTV style naseous editing that was filmed by an incompetent video crew that captured an otherwise good performance.

    Audio 4/5
    Video 2/5
     
  4. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

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    Thanks for the review Todd. I am sure my son won't care about the poor video quality, if he even notices. He is so into Steve Vai I am hoping he will be just happy to have the DVD. Of course, he is 16 so it is near impossible for a parent to please a teenager. [​IMG]
     
  5. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Screenwriter

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    Actually, the video quality is very good, but I understand what you mean about the editing, which BTW was mostly done by Steve himself.

    Many of the editing choices were determined by the lack of angles provided by the crew. There was not enough time for the camera crew to have a pre-production meeting with Steve to map out specific shots beforehand. Sometimes you're seeing video from one show in one shot and another show in the following shot. IMHO it's done amazingly well, but some sections are a bit over the top!

    Evenso, I think this is an *excellent* disc.

    Cheers,
     
  6. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Screenwriter

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    Hey Folks -

    Spoke with Steve himself today, and what initially was going to be a quick 15 minute interview went nearly 45 min. What a nice guy!

    The video was initially shot in PAL format, and IMHO the transfer to NTSC for the DVD was done very well. Steve personally supervised the DVD authoring also, which explains the high level of attention to the quality image. He said it went back and forth several times to the compressionist to get it right. The live audio was recorded to ProTools 24/96.

    More details in my upcoming column in DVD ETC.!

    Cheers,
     

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