Cunning Stunts (Metallica DVD)
DVDs appear to be here to stay. However, while the advertised attractions of the new digital medium include all sorts of bells and whistles, due to current restrictions in technologynot to mention a pronounced shortage of creativitythe most apparent virtues of most DVDs are the generally mundane advances of better sound and better picture quality. Until major studios begin incorporating more interactive features, the much-touted multiple-angle feature, which allows the viewer to change the camera vantage, is one exciting DVD attribute that will go to waste for all but die-hard porn collectors. Though multiple-angle Hollywood movies are probably only a little while off, two recent designed-for-DVD concert videos utilize the feature to great effect. Metallica's not very cleverly titled Cunning Stunts documents the band's impressive Load tour, which featured a custom stage that took up an entire arena floor, thus allowing each band member to roam the venue at will. Thanks to the smoke trapped in Fort Worth's arena, the picture quality is a bit hazy, though the sound is crystal clearat least as far as Metallica goes. But the best bit is the way the viewer can train the camera on his or her favorite player: Drummers can watch the "Lars Cam," while guitarists can follow Kirk Hammett as he makes his rounds around the round stage. Even more impressive is the fact that on the three songs during which the multi-angle feature is available, the chosen shots are as intricately edited as much of the primary footage, so each angle features its own fancy editing, close-ups, and crane shots. King Crimson's new double-sided DVD, Deja Vrooom, is even more ambitious than the Metallica double-disc, though the quality of the video footage itself is surprisingly sub-par. Recorded during the band's "double-trio" Thrak tour, Deja Vrooom allows the viewer to stare down one of the band's six remarkable players, isolating each from the almost overwhelming whole. You can even decide which player goes where in a surround-sound mix. A different feature, though, involves the ability to recombine any of the rhythm sections, soloists, and singers from four different King Crimson eras for a unique rendition of the band's classic "21st Century Schizoid Man." These "new" line-ups, while little more than a novelty, do point to a new direction for music DVDs. The Metallica DVD can't rid the band of the alt-goth makeovers, and the King Crimson disc doesn't allow for more stylish stage clothes, but both collect a large amount of behind-the-scenes footage and archival material. Because Metallica and King Crimson could be described as niche bands, the appeal of these DVDs surely increases the greater the band geek you are. But both releases indicate where DVD technology is heading, and how the new format can make even the lowliest concert video exciting.