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Case Number 00222

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Circuit 3

Warner Bros. // 1999 // 130 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Rogers (Retired) // December 17th, 1999

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All Rise...

The Charge

"Interactive entertainment."

Opening Statement

Circuit 3 is an innovative concept being presented on DVD; an interactive music magazine. Not like television, where the viewer is forced to follow a linear content stream; or like a website, where one can jump links at will. A mix of the two. The DVD is not a single feed; it's a collection of content tied together by the common thread of music. Will this new format succeed? Time will tell.

The Evidence

The concept of Circuit is rather innovative, bordering on simple brilliance. Not everyone has high bandwidth connections for their Internet feed; and most websites can't assemble exclusive interviews and material from artists to present to readers. Circuit is just like a standard paper-and-ink magazine in this regard; it collects material from musicians in the form of interviews, biographies and music clips. This material is then presented in the Circuit format.

As with any 'standard' magazine, if the content holds no interest for you, neither will the magazine. Circuit 3 clearly focuses on the 'niche' music scene, with nary a mainstream major act or artist in sight. Thus, it won't be for everyone. But for those who enjoy the artists featured in the Circuit realm, it's sure to be a pleaser.

All of the sections in the DVD are subdivided by artist; the menus are clear as to what you're about to activate and play. Bandwidth is interview and bio pieces with Moby, 311, Kool Keith and Paul Westerberg. There is also a rather novel concept piece presented by The Flaming Lips; the band put a four CD box set in '97 that was designed to be played simultaneously (cued and played) on four CD players. One selection from the box set (matching track from each of the four CDs) is presented, and the viewer can play any or all of the tracks properly cued up. Interesting, to say the least.

Soundtrack contains an excerpt from a documentary movie done on Radiohead, and also includes an interview and biography on the director, Grant Gee. In Tune contains videos and bios from Underworld and Styles of Beyond. Front Row contains live clips, interviews and biographies from Mercury Rev and Cibo Matto.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

No fault can be found in the content; either you're a target audience for it or you're not. Fans of the artists and bands featured will enjoy the presentation. The biggest problems with Circuit are the menuing system and the quality of the transfer. The menus are too interactive; everytime you trigger a menu selection a long (five-seven second) animated sequence plays before the DVD starts loading the actual content (the clip, the interview, whatever) for playing. This gets very old very quickly.

The video quality is of slightly below average DVD quality. Edges aren't as clear as they could otherwise be, colors aren't sharp and bright. The sound is pretty good, but not great. Additionally, trailers for new films in theaters and on DVD are buried within the content and play before your selected clip does; this is cute but also a little irritating (and confusing).

Closing Statement

Will this concept take off? Too early to tell at this point. It has promise as a way to provide extra musical content, collecting material from a number of artists and forming it together to fill a DVD up and provide a product worth paying US$10-US$15 for. For example, you might not buy a DVD that contained a ten minute interview and a new video from Madonna, but you might if it also had clips and interviews with as many as seven or eight other artists as well. As always, again, the key is in the content. Metal fans won't buy R & B, hip-hop fans won't buy folk, and so forth. If the format is keyed to popular styles of content, it could be extremely successful.

What about Circuit 3 in particular? If you like the majority of the artists that appear in this edition of it, pick the disc up and use it as a conversation starter when you have friends who share your tastes over.

The Verdict

The concept is praised for innovative and unique use of the DVD format.

The studio and content producers are reprimanded for delivering substandard DVD quality transfers to the disc.

The jury is released but instructed to not discuss the case with anyone, as it remains open until such time as further evidence is collected.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 65
Audio: 70
Extras: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• Various:1 Non-Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 130 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Performance

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• None

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