Debue: Initial Public Suffering

I'm sorry, did I say that? I hope Vin does not get offended; its merely a joke. I wanted to take a moment to weigh in on the Debue DVD that Joshua created.

The Packaging

To be honest, the packaging leaves a lot to be desired. A burned DVD in an empty CD case with no printed material whatsoever. I know that beggars can't be choosers but a little insert couldn't have been too much trouble.

Joshua, never one to rest on his laurels, decided to correct this for future burnings of the DVD. There will be a front cover with a dark image of Vin with Debue's cool custom lighting in the background. I eagerly await the arrival of these new discs so that I can begin the distribution process.

The Film

The film is solid. Debue puts on a great performance. "Gord," as Vin lovingly calls him, said that the band was definitely on that fateful night when the cameras were rolling. He was pleased.

I can not stress enough how much of a difference it makes to have two cameras operating for a video of this kind. We had done a video with one camera before; this film out-classes it by a long shot. It really comes down to the Bore Factor. How boring is it to watch one point of view without any cutting for close to two hours? I'll let you experiment and come up with your own opinion.

I recall that Hitchcock attempted to make a movie in one cut. Besides the obvious technical challenges that this poses, there's another reason why you never see this method employed. Its mind-numbingly boring, plain and simple.

Joshua made effective use of the two cameras, employing a good pace, sometimes syncing it to a drum beat, managing the audio track effectively. Kudos to him.

Some things to watch out for:

  • Vin constantly changing his shirt. Is this a Madonna concert? Do we really need costume changes?
  • Vin wearing the cowboy hat and yelling "Yeeeee-haaaaa" at the beginning of Angel Eyes. This has to be the highlight on the DVD. I could replay that one scene seventy-four times without getting bored.
  • Some great artistic shots. You'll notice that my camera work gets a little lazy towards the end of the DVD. Keep in mind that I had already done a video for them before and we were talking about close to two hours straight. I was tired. And yet I still managed to make some magic. Some of my favorites are pulsating zoom ... I think that's on Angel Eyes. The shot from the floor, looking up at Vin with the lights in the background, which is the same shot that's on the cover of the DVD. The shots in the dark of Vin bowing his guitar with a glow stick attached. But my favorite has to be the song that starts with the camera focused within the rafters of the ceiling and then slowly pans down to reveal the band from a bird's eye view. Magical.

The Quality

The picture quality varies. When Debue turns out the lights you might as well go and get a snack because you won't be seeing much anyway. The camera cannot find what it needs to focus on so it becomes a game of how blurry can we get. When the lights come back on, however, the MiniDV shines. What a bright, brilliantly clear picture for a home video camera. Well done, Gus; good purchase.

When the shots switch to the VHS-C there is a noticeable drop-off in quality and color tone.

The audio is fairly good throughout. There were a spot or two, however, where it seems to cut out in volume. Without being there during the editing process I can't say for sure what caused this. My assumption is that the audio on the MiniDV was bad so Joshua cut over to the VHS-C audio, which was just poor to begin with.

The Special Features

Excellent special features on this disc, but they could have offered us so much more.

There's a nice band history, but as it progresses it makes a wrong turn into the fantastical. Comments about Madison Square Garden abound.

Three extra songs are included. The Substance of Nothing, a cover of a Moon Is No More song, while flattering just doesn't do this song justice. Keep in mind that it was performed with absolutely no advance preparation and I had not sung in about a year in a half (or something like that). Praise Jah, a fantastic spiritual melody that I can still recall from early childhood, is performed by Vin with his children by his side. Do not be fooled. While the kids' faces are down turned with serious/sad looks, they are just trying to read the lyric sheet. An excellent performance of the spectacular When Children Will Laugh In Sing rounds out this special feature.

Two short, humorous clips, The Bunny and The Director, round out the special features.

You may be saying to yourself, "Those are great, but where's Debue Jeopardy?" That's a good question. Unfortunately Joshua did not feel the urgency of this feature. Much time was spent preparing Jeopardy style questions by Gord, Molly, and myself. Joshua did not even know about Ken Jennings. You can send your rage his way. To supplement, I will provide one question here:

A: At the dawn of their existence, Debue went by this name.

Q: What is Morning Glory?

It would also have been exciting to hear both a band commentary and a filmmaker commentary. I know that I could have offered some insight into some of the shots that were used. And watching the film with Gord he provided a running commentary on the performance. Perhaps one day we will see a Director's Cut with these features added in.

Until further notice ...


Gabe said...

I'd like to check this out.
Rope. One of my favorite Hitchcock movies. But as far as live performances go, several points-of-view are much more entertaining than one.

Joshua Provost said...

Ouch, the Suffering title makes it hard not to take offense.

Regardless, you hit on some of our technical challenges. First and foremost, the different looks of the miniDV and VHS-C cameras. We did our best with that. Second was avoiding the post. There were two rafter supports in the way, and they really took you out of the element when you see them. You realize they're just in somebody's basement. So editing around those was of prime concern.

Personally, I think the lights out songs were the best. I thought you could see a lot, and the light show and fog was awesome. Great visuals.

I like your signature shots. The rafters pan was classic, and the pan from the Angel Eyes lyric sheet was good as well. Most of the time, you followed the action well, getting shots of people that were actually soloing, etc.

You forgot to mention the cool pre-roll and great title design, with background music!