It's like we all left our baggage at home and only brought our instruments...
Aesthetically Speaking: While it has the "eco-case" that I absolutely hate, my list of cons on this release ends there. There is artwork (in the form of a map of the US showing each train stop on the tour) on the inside behind that afore-mentioned "eco-case," there is a bonus DVD (featuring not just the film but all bonus features as well), and a group of postcards - one from each train stop. Even better? Ketch Secor adds a little bit of verbiage to each postcard, and it can be hilarious, anyone who saw a RRT show with his constant banter about his love of their train knows what I'm talking about. The menus are nothing dazzling, but they are nice, custom motion menus that give you a hint of the film you're in store for.
Aesthetics & Package: 4.5/5
Visually Speaking: Shot on a mixture of DSLR, Panasonic HVX200 (a camera most familiar to this writer), 16mm and even 8mm film in a mixture of color and black and white, this is a documentary that, much like Emmett Malloy's previous doc outing White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights, has a unique look just by the fact that it incorporates so MANY unique looks, often within the same scene. The 16mm film shots are grainy, and the nighttime ones even more-so (the few select 8mm shots scene are far more grainy), the DSLR shots have that slightly muted, slightly to the red/gold tinted images that can suffer from a far too shallow depth of field. In a documentary you get used to those "find focus" moments as things are progressing live as the DP's film, however DSLR's have a far bigger sensor/frame size than 16mm film, so the depth of field is that much more shallow, and the find focus moments are that more apparent and often. It's a bit noticeable, not The Office noticeable, but it's there. The film is beautiful though, and encoded onto MPEG-4 AVC with a high bitrate, the beauty is as clean as you expect it could be. Where-as a music film like The Last Waltz gets much of it's beauty from being shot by high-end DP's on high-end 35mm film stock with numerous professional lighting cues, this is the type of film that gathers much of it's beauty from the exact opposite: those "just happened to happened" light changes - in sunlight, in stage light or other - that can give a beautiful shot or unique points of light look that wasn't necessarily planned.
Visually Overall: 4/5
The Sound: Even more than video, in a music film of any type it's the audio that is most important, it is the heart of the film after all. Here, with a DTS-HD master 5.1 track at 1.5MBps, you get exactly that. The concert footage is well mixed, a fantastic mixture of soundboard recordings that give live concerts their depth and the open air mic that give them their life. The train songs are well recorded despite the fact their being recorded live on a moving train, and well mixed considering I doubt more than two microphones were used to record most of them. Any dialogue or interview footage is well mic'd and no problems there. As a music film, it can rock, it can get loud, but it never gets distorted or at least obviously so. The music is where the documentary itself shines, and the sound is where this blu-ray does.
Audio Overall: 5/5
A/V Bitrates: As mentioned, the video is a AVC-HD variable bitrate that mostly finds itself in the lower 30's. The film is presented in the 1.78:1 "open matte" widescreen aspect ratio. The Audio is a DTS-HD 1.5MBps 5.1 stereo track.
Deleted Scenes: A mixture of live concert and train songs/moments that were cut from the film. My favorites are the San Pedro performance of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros where they bring on a twelve or so year old girl on-stage to sing "Janglin'" with them. I was there live for that moment and it was rather awesome. The other favorite deleted scene for me was a little jam session where Marcus Mumford takes lead vocals on Old Crow's "Take them Away."
Interview with Emmett Malloy: The director is interviewed here, moments before the documentaries festival premiere after some performances by the bands. It's a nice interview, it's not deeply informative into his process or making the film, but a nice interview where he gets across how long it took to put it together, most notably in the editing session.
Emmett Malloy's Photo Gallery: Lots of photos from the tour.
Trailer: If you don't know what that is, why are you here?
Bonus Overall: 3.5/5
More Blu-Ray Screen Grabs:
Taken from Sony BD Player into Avid Media Composer at 1080P
Blogger Re-Sizes images to well below 1920x1080
All images under fair use for Discussion, Critique and Review