Warner Bros. // 1999 // 135 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Rogers (Retired) // March 14th, 2000
"The first music magazine on DVD."
A few months ago we got a look at Circuit 3, which is an innovative use of the DVD format. Presenting underground, cult, new and/or alternative musicians, Circuit is both easy and hard to describe. It's easy in that it's like Entertainment Tonight, People Magazine or any of numerous other examples of entertainment and music reporting television shows, web sites or magazines. Hard, in that it doesn't follow those extremely polished, fluffy (in the 'filler and less filling' sense of fluff, not as in 'light and comfortable to lie on') examples.
The format is identical to that presented in Disc Three of the DVD-zine; a collection of interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, artist biographies, videos, and live footage. 135 minutes of footage are packed into the various sections for you to explore, a veritable plethora of musical magic just waiting to be found.
The four major sections of the DVD-zine are Bandwidth, Front Row, In Tune, and Undercurrent. Bandwidth is segments on Gomez, The Jayhawks, Scritti Politti, and Deathray; and consists of interviews and 'following around' segments with the musicians. Front Row has sections on Breakbeat Era, Death in Vegas, Royal Trux, and Supreme Beings of Leisure; each live footage of the musicians on stage in California. In Tune has a video by The Wiseguys. Undercurrent is a section on The Residents, and has a collection of material from the group; four one minute movies, three videos, and three live segments. Each of the artists presented in each major section usually has an artist biography, interview and/or discography text screens attached to it.
The quality of the footage presented varies widely, mostly because of the source material. Some of it is close to 'professional broadcast' quality in terms of video quality, presentation, and so forth. Other sections are barely at, or sometimes even below, that of a home video camera being operated by someone with a muscular tick in their neck. This isn't to mock the efforts, but rather to accurately describe what is available on the disc. Viewers interested in the content should be prepared to make allowances for the varying degrees of quality contained within.
The disc is, however, mastered for both Dolby 2.0 and Dolby 5.1 audio, and makes pretty good use of both formats. Some of the interview segments use the surrounds in interesting ways, and it makes me wish some 'professional broadcast' shows would look into doing the same; can you imagine how much more entertaining the news, say, would be if the 'special correspondent' began speaking from stage left and moved into the center as the camera panned to focus on him?
One of my major complaints with the Circuit 3 disc has seemingly been addressed; the slow loading menus. They load somewhat quicker now, but still have a nagging second or two delay for most of them. Additionally, the quirky little off-beat clips that play when you jump from one section of the menu to another (selecting Bandwidth from the main menu, for example) can be skipped with either the chapter skip or fast forward buttons on your remote. This helps, especially if you're just after the content.
Again, Circuit is not for everyone. It shameless and obviously focuses on a single niche; music mainstream has never even heard of. Either you'll look at the artists listed and be interested, or you won't. Also, you're either someone who likes to explore new artists, or you aren't. It really can't be stated any plainer than that.
Circuit continues to be an interesting and innovative use of the DVD format. Fans for which it's targeted at are receiving a good disc to play with. Everyone else will scratch their heads and keep looking.
Review content copyright © 2000 David Rogers; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 135 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Not Rated