Startup.com (2001)

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Released 16-Aug-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Crew
Trailer-The Bank; Grass; Tackle Happy
DVD Credits
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 103:01
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Chris Hegedus
Jehane Noujaim
Studio
Distributor
D A Pennebaker
Madman Entertainment
Starring Kaleil Isaza Tuzman
Tom Herman
Case DV-4
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Startup.com  is a documentary about the rise and fall of a small American Internet start-up company, govWorks.com. This is the story of childhood friends Tom Herman and Kaleil Isaza Tuzman who decide to create a website that allows the public at large to deal with various government bodies online in order to carry out activities like paying parking fines and taxes as well finding government jobs.

    The story as told in this documentary starts at the very beginning, in early 1999, as the friends try to come up with a name, and then proceeds through the capital raising phase, the launch of the website, the ultimate falling out of Tom and Kaleil and finally the demise of the company in December 2000. We also get to hear about the break-in at the company office that is suspected of being corporate espionage, the stock market crash and the personal lives of the founders.

    Unfortunately, as documentaries go this one really didn't hold my attention. While the idea of seeing behind-the-scenes of such an enterprise was, for me at least, something that could have been fascinating, the disjointed manner in which the story is told and the superficial approach taken by the filmmakers when it came to explaining what was really happening made this fairly hard going. The most interesting parts of the story, sadly given what this documentary is about, is not how the friends started and ran their enterprise, but rather the segments that dealt with the relationships between the various characters.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The commentary track describes how this documentary was shot using small handheld video cameras rather than much larger professional equipment in order to reduce the intrusion caused by the filmmakers on the subjects. This decision also enabled them an opportunity to film activities where larger equipment might be considered so intrusive that they would not be permitted to film at all. As a result of this decision, this DVD doesn't come anywhere near the standard that the medium is capable of.

    This transfer is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness varies from acceptable to poor although sometimes this is due to out-of-focus camera work. There is an occasional trace of edge enhancement but this is fairly unobtrusive. Shadow detail is acceptable. No low level noise was seen.

    The colour is never quite natural, having a tendency to be noticeably on the warm side.

    As you might guess, given that this was shot on videotape, this transfer contains a variety of artefacts. Some minor aliasing is occasionally seen such as on the bookstand at 83:31, however this artefact is quite rare. There is also occasional evidence of colour bleeding such as at 83:31 where it can be seen on Tom's wristband. Cross colouration is evident at 1:12 and 1:19. On the positive side, I didn't see any film artefacts - this may be because the source material used for the transfer to DVD was not film, although this documentary was shown theatrically and so has been transferred to film.

    No subtitles are provided on this disc.

    Given that this DVD is a single layered disc, there is no layer change to disturb the flow of the content.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    As this is a documentary you shouldn't expect too much from the audio on this DVD other than the ability to hear the dialogue clearly. If you can live with this expectation then you shouldn't be disappointed.

    There are two audio tracks on this DVD: an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 commentary track. I listened to both.

    There were no particular problems with the dialogue except for the odd mumbled word or phrase. There is a fair amount of hiss evident, although the level does tend to vary significantly from scene to scene. Given the live nature of the audio, there is also the occasional click or pop and some crackling noise is noticeable at 83:10. I wasn't aware of any problems with the audio sync.

    The music content is very limited and consists of only a couple of numbers, the most notable being "Money (That's What I Want)".

    The surrounds, as you might guess given the subject matter, were not used except for the musical score.

    You can give your subwoofer the night off as it isn't needed for this DVD.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The only extra of any value is the audio commentary track.

Menu

    The menu features both animation and audio. The aspect ratio is 1.33:1 and it is not 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (1:23)

    A typical trailer shown in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 without 16x9 enhancement. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0.

Filmmaker's Commentary - Chris Hegedus & Jehane Noujaim

    Basically lots of information on how the documentary came about and various anecdotes about its making. If you're interested in making documentaries you could do worse than listening to this. In some ways, this was more interesting than the main audio track.

Biographies - Crew

    Biographies and filmographies for Frazer Pennebaker (Executive Producer), D. A. Pennebaker (Producer), Jehane Noujaim (Producer, Director, Editor, Cinematographer), and Chris Hegedus (Editor).

Trailers - The Bank (1:57), Grass (1:38), Tackle Happy (2:45)

    The Bank is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, without 16x9 enhancement, and Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio. The trailer for Grass is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded audio. The trailer for Tackle Happy is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    Normally the inclusion of a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track would make us favour the R1 version. However, given the subject matter, I'm really not convinced that purchasing the R1 for this reason alone would enhance the listening experience.

Summary

    Startup.com is a documentary that failed to hold my attention. Coupled with the limited audio and video quality, it really made the experience hard going.

    The video can best be described as adequate for the task but a long way short of what we expect from our little silver discs.

    The audio quality is suitable for getting the story across.

    With the exception of the audio commentary, the extras have little appeal.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Peter Cole (Surely you've got something better to do than read my bio)
Sunday, May 12, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-995
SpeakersFront L&R - B&W DM603, Centre - B&W LCR6, Rear L&R - B&W DM602, Sub - Yamaha YST-SW300

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