Streisand, Barbra-Timeless (2000)
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
|Year Of Production||2000|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (58:25)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame||
English Linear PCM 48/24 2.0 (2304Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Unknown||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Friday 10 March 2000, Sydney Football Stadium, evening. The weather is awful, with the rain alternating between a light drizzle and a heavy downpour with no signs of the skies clearing up anytime soon. The seats of the open air stadium were soaking wet. There's a group of us wearing a selection of semi-effective raingear, holding our commemorative battery powered flashlight wands (I still have mine, and it still works). We are sitting down on the seat, feeling wet and miserable but determined to sit through the event. And so are thousands of Sydneysiders around us, not to mention people who have come from other parts of Australia and neighbouring countries.
The event was the second night of Barbra Streisand's Timeless concert. Despite the weather, I think each and every one of us were glad we came, for we witnessed a rather special version of the concert. Some fans who have followed the concert tour across several Australian and US cities consider this particular evening Barbra's best of the Timeless shows, due to her enthusiasm, good humour and spontaneity under difficult conditions, and a voice that was substantially better than the night before (when she had a minor sore throat). She did many ad-libs and even wore an Akubra hat and Driz-a-bone rain jacket in the second half, thus endearing herself to her audience.
This particular DVD contains a recording of the first concert in the Timeless tour, a special millennium edition held at the MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas on 31 December 1999 and finishing about half an hour into the new year. Tickets were sold out within hours of going on sale and expectations were running sky high.
The concert is structured to resemble a Broadway-style musical, featuring 35 songs, 60 musicians (including long-time collaborator, conductor and arranger Marvin Hamlisch) and a theme involving the passage of time and a retrospective look into Barbra's long career in the music and movies.
Probably the highest selling female recording artist ever, with 43 gold records and second in the all-time charts (ahead of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones), as well as a successful Broadway and film career, Barbra Streisand probably needs no introduction or biographical sketch. Born in 1942, she signed a Columbia Records contract in 1962 as well as made her award-winning Broadway stage debut performance as Miss Marmelstein in I Can Get It For You Wholesale. Since then, she has made several successful films and numerous albums and is politically active, like her character in The Way We Were. She married actor-director James Brolin in 1998.
The concert is broken into two "Acts", encoded as separate DVD titles on the disc. Between the two acts is an Entr'acte featuring on-the-spot interviews with various members of the audience recorded during intermission.
Nola Recording Studio
Basin Street East
The concert opens with "Brother Time" (Savion Glover) tap-dancing in front of a screen showing the image of a clock. Suddenly we are back in time, in a dramatic re-enactment of the beginning of Barbra's career at the Nola recording studio, featuring a young version of Barbra (Lauren Frost), a caricature of her mother (Randee Heller), and a cynical pianist (Alec Ledd). As the "Mini-Me" version of Barbra sings Something's Coming, Barbra makes her dramatic entrance and joins Lauren in a duet. The rest of the concert traces Barbra's career in a broad sweep covering her time in the Bon Soir nightclub, Basin Street East, her Broadway shows, her movies, duets with other singers and culminating in a glorious New Year's celebration.
Along the way, we get various interludes and vignettes including Barbra interacting with a pre-recorded video segment featuring Shirley MacLaine, Barbra being sentimental about her father (including reading segments from a letter written by her father), a video montage of Barbra's career set to the song Putting It Together, excerpts from various music videos featuring Barbra performing duets, a home video featuring Jason Gould (Barbra's son), Barbra singing alongside a pre-recorded Frank Sinatra, and a funny dialogue involving remote controls (which Barbra calls "clickers").
I found the second half of the concert to be less enjoyable than the first, but the first act ends with a spectacular trio of Barbra singing A Piece of Sky live with Lauren Frost as well as the on-film version of her from Yentl. All three of them are shown side by side on a large widescreen LED display which amazingly breaks up into three pieces at the end of the song.
All-in-all, if you are a Barbra fan, run - do not walk - to the nearest DVD store to get yourself a copy of this DVD.
|1. Program Start; Brother Time|
2. You'll Never Know
3. Something's Coming
4. The Way We Were
5. Shirley MacLaine Y1K
6. Cry Me A River
7. Lover, Come Back To Me
8. Sleepin' Bee; Miss Marmelstein
9. I'm The Greatest Star Medley
10. Something Wonderful Medley
11. As Time Goes By/Speak Low
12. Alfie; Evergreen; Dialogue
13. Papa Can You Hear Me?
14. A Piece Of Sky; Entr'acte
15. Putting It Together
|16. On A Clear Day|
17. Send In The Clowns
18. Happy Days Are Here Again Duet
19. Sing/I've Got A Crush Duet
20. Technology/The Clicker Blues
21. The Main Event/Fight
22. Time After Time; Dialogue
23. I've Dreamed Of You
24. At The Same Time
25. Auld Lang Syne
26. Dialogue; People
27. New Year's Eve/Auld Lang Syne
28. Everytime You Hear Auld Lang..
29. Happy Days Are Here Again
30. Don't Like Goodbyes; I Believe
Supposedly filmed in high definition video, this is a disappointing transfer presented Full Frame (1.33:1).
The transfer seems to suffer from numerous artefacts which look suspiciously as if they are the result of a botched up NTSC to PAL upconversion.
The transfer seems to be soft and lacking in detail with washed up colours. In addition, there are numerous instances of a "shimmering" or "combing" effect present throughout the entire concert (but particularly noticeable during The Way We Were). This effect is commonly seen on large screen TVs that have badly designed or defective comb filters, or on faulty DVD progressive players combining the wrong half frames. I suspect that somewhere along the line, some video processor (possibly the NTSC to PAL upconverter) has been set to the wrong settings, causing (possibly) inverse 3:2 pulldown or deinterlacing on what must be a non-film source. Because of this, I am going to award rather poor scores for the video transfer quality.
Another thing that bugged me is the unusual authoring of the single sided dual layered disc. Each act of the concert has been encoded into a separate DVD title (with the layer change occurring between titles). This creates problems with the chapter selection and skip controls on my DVD player, which does not allow me to skip across titles. Act 1 is 58:25 minutes long, whereas Act 2 is 68:42 minutes long, giving a combined length of 127:07 minutes.
There are two audio tracks on this disc: Stereo PCM recorded at a 'higher-than-CD quality' transfer rate of 48 kHz 24 bits, and Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kb/s). I would like to express my gratitude to Sony Music Video for not compromising the transfer rate of the audio tracks. I listened to both audio tracks.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track features the music nicely mixed into all speakers, with the audience spread across all speakers creating a nice enveloping effect between songs. The rear surround speakers are mainly used for music ambience in addition to audience noises. The subwoofer is lightly used apart from during the fireworks at the end which have a real low-end "punch" or "kick."
I was intrigued by being able to experience a 24-bit recording and was looking forward to the experience of hearing a digital recording that was "better than CD quality." I was also wondering whether the difference was significant. Well to be honest, I did hear a lot more detail in the PCM audio track (which, by the way, is also the "default" audio track) compared to the Dolby Digital 5.1 track, and the PCM audio track seemed more "solid" and stable with tighter and more well-defined low end. However, the increase in detail also comes at a cost - I can hear a lot more audio faults in the recording than in the Dolby Digital 5.1 track, such as minor glitches here and there and stage noises. Also, Barbra's voice seemed somewhat nasal and laced with intermodulation distortion (likely to be from the wireless microphone which probably transmits via Frequency Modulation). Even so, the increase in quality is definitely perceptible.
There is a technical problem with the recording throughout Act Two which sounds like Barbra's microphone was playing up, resulting in a shimmering effect in her vocals and a low level buzzing noise in the background. This is very noticeable in Send In The Clowns which sounds like I was hearing the song over an FM radio that has bad reception or was slightly out of tune. On the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, the effect is far less noticeable although still present.
Also, there appears to be a slight audio mis-synchronization during Putting It Together between the video of Barbra singing and the music.
All in all I would consider this a set of flawed audio tracks and I'm marking down the audio transfer quality scores appropriately.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are not many extras on this disc, but then again given the high transfer rates used for the audio tracks there is not much room left on a DVD-9 disc.
The menus are in Full Frame and feature animation as well as background audio.
This contains 19 stills featuring the covers and titles of a staggering 56 albums featuring Barbra Streisand (3 albums per still).
Both Region 1 and Region 4 appears to have the same content and extra features. Given the problem with the video transfer, I would be inclined to go for the Region 1 version (on the assumption that it does not have the same problem).
Barbra Streisand - Timeless, Live in Concert contains a must-have and unforgettable recording of Barbra Streisand performing at the MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas, on the eve of the dawn of the false millennium. Unfortunately, it is presented on a DVD with a problematic video transfer and an audio transfer that is not technically perfect (although of high quality). The extras are limited to a discography.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-626D, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500|