Midnight Oil

20,000 Watt R.S.L. - The Midnight Oil Collection

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Details At A Glance

Category Music Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1997 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 185:54 minutes Other Extras Discography
Menu Animation and Audio
Production Notes
RSDL/Flipper Dual Sided
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director Stephanie Lewis
Sony Music
Sony Music
Starring Midnight Oil
Case Brackley
RRP $34.95 Music Midnight Oil

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio No Dolby Digital None
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (MPEG 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio Full Frame
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    This is indeed something of a rarity - a genuine Australian Region 4 DVD: Australian talent, Australian production, Australian mastering and Australian distribution. Nothing wrong with supporting Australia!! Especially when the talent is, at least in my opinion, one of the best Australian bands of all time. Midnight Oil is one of those rare Australian bands that managed to avoid the usual route of Australian bands seeking fame (if not necessarily fortune) overseas, and succeeded overseas whilst still being themselves. It did not necessarily hurt that they are also one of the most politically active of Australian bands, meaning that they garnered something of a reputation for doing things just a little differently. But personally I find that all completely irrelevant, other than the fact that their music is damn good. What is really important? The fact that Peter Garrett provides inspiration and hope to all of us who are appallingly rhythmically challenged (or in less politically correct terms, those of us who cannot dance to save our lives).

    And this collection certainly demonstrates the essence of the music of Midnight Oil, as they gradually evolved from just another hotel band to a band rooted enormously in their Australian-ness, and a band happy to celebrate Australia whilst also delivering very strong messages about the environment, race relations and other topics of concern to modern Australia. The tracks on offer on what is technically a double sided DVD (some will consider it a flipper, but it is not in my view as there are two distinct programs on each side, one side with video clips and the other with live performances), are as follows:

    The Clips: US Forces, Power & The Passion, Read About It, Best Of Both Worlds, Pictures, The Dead Heart, Beds Are Burning, Dreamworld, Put Down That Weapon, Blue Sky Mine, Forgotten Years, King Of The Mountain, Bedlam Bridge, One Country, My Country, Outbreak Of Love, In The Valley, Underwater and White Skin Black Heart.

    The Live Performances: Armistice Day, No Time For Games, Lucky Country, Short Memory, Read About It, Harrisburg, Stand In Line, Sleep, Hercules, River Runs Red, Sometimes, Surf's Up Tonight, Sins Of Omission, Used And Abused, Cold Cold Change, Blackfella/Whitefella/The Dead Heart and Beds Are Burning.

    There is certainly not an awful lot wrong as far as the music is concerned, but as for the rest of it.....

Transfer Quality


    Okay, the video clips date as far back as the early 1980's, and the concert performances range from 1982 to 1996, so we are in general not talking fresh stuff here. Even bearing that in mind however, this is an exceptionally problematic presentation. Now I am going to be charitable and suggest that the bulk of the problems are the result of the artistic choices made in terms of how the video clips are presented in particular, and are not the result of poor mastering. To be honest, I think that this is being too charitable, but the benefit of the doubt is given. To be honest though, if the presentation is an artistic choice, it is a very poor one and I had great difficulty watching the program as a result.

    The transfer is presented in a full frame format, reflecting its origins, and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    To be blunt, in general, the transfer is far too diffuse and lacking in clarity. This is highlighted by the odd occasion when one of the clips in particular is sharp and vibrant, such as One Country. I will admit that the older clips are not likely to be from great masters, but even taking this into account I was reasonably disappointed. Overall, detail is only fair and shadow detail is generally quite average too. The problem is that if I were being less charitable, I would have to say that the transfers are riddled with low level noise problems. There is a lot of superfluous movement going on in the picture, especially in the clips and this also does not aid the clarity of the clips at all. This is where I believe that the artistic choice has been made presentation-wise, but whatever the reason, it does indeed make this very difficult to watch and enjoy.

    Suffice it to say that this is in general anything but a vibrant transfer, and there is a general problem with undersaturation of the colours throughout, although the odd clip is far better than that and Outbreak Of Love is a good example as it brings back the heady days of psychedelia! As is typical for concert performances, there are the usual problems with washed-out visuals due to the stage lighting. There is also one especially noticeable instance of oversaturation of colour during In The Valley. Whilst in general this is a reasonably consistent transfer, the odd washout due to the stage lighting as usual disappoints. The lack of a depth to the darker colours does not aid the overall situation either.

   Given the presentation of the transfer, it is difficult to suggest that there are no apparent MPEG artefacts in the transfer, as the transfer simply lacked at times sufficient clarity to really see any such faults. It is reasonable to presume however that there were none. The transfer was plagued by film-to-video artefacts in the form of (usually) minor aliasing: nothing that was too distracting however except for the Dead Heart discography entry which shimmers so badly that I found it unwatchable. There were significant film artefacts in some portions of the transfer, but nothing that I found too bothersome.

   It should be noted that every clip and live performance is given a title caption across the bottom left side of the screen, which is a nice touch, as is the inclusion of the location and year for the live performances too.


   Accompanying the worrisome video transfer is a disappointing audio transfer - by omission. Rather unusually, we only have on offer a single audio track, this being an English MPEG 2.0 sound track. How this music cries out for a nice Dolby Digital effort!

   The vocals are generally clear and easy to understand throughout.

   There did not appear to be any audio sync problems with the transfer.

   Other than not being what I would want in a Dolby Digital soundtrack, overall the sound is quite acceptable. It simply lacks any sort of punch to it, and the bass channel in particular is sorely missed. Sorry, but this does not exactly raise any enthusiasm in me and it really is acceptable and nothing more. As indicated, forget the subwoofer here, and your surround speakers too. All you need here is a couple of fronts to handle the blatantly stereo sound.


    Well, an effort is made at least in this area and an appropriate package is the result on what is a well-filled disc.


    All have audio and animation enhancements and are pretty good efforts, although perhaps a stronger shade of red could have been used as the highlight for menu selections.


    Repeated on both sides of the disc, that on Side A is an abridged version whilst that on Side B is a full version - at least as far as albums and EPs are concerned. All are accompanied by musical excerpts from a song off the album and are quite nicely done, aside from the previously mentioned effort for Dead Heart. It really does shimmer terribly badly. Still, overall a very nice presentation and something that should be on a lot more music DVDs.


    These are shortish segments of interview material from various band members relating to topics associated with albums, songs or things the band did. An interesting enough presentation but probably could have been done a little better if more space was available on the DVD. Well worth a listen to, though, at least once.

Production Notes

    These provide basic details of the origin of the video clips and live performances and who was responsible for them, which is again a nice touch.

R4 vs R1

    It would appear that this has not been released in Region 1.


    Well, as far as the music and the package is concerned, nothing but top marks here. A pity therefore that the transfers are far from satisfactory and I would have to rate this as a misguided artistic failure.

    A very average video transfer.

    An acceptable audio transfer.

    A reasonable package of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
26th March 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL