Brian McKnight (Music in High Places) (2001)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Featurette-The Thrill Of Brazil
Interviews-Cast-Interview With Brian
TV Spots-Promo Spot
|Year Of Production||2001|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Alan Carter|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The idea behind Music In High Places (a travel adventure cable TV series not yet shown in Australia to my knowledge) sounds interesting - take a musician/recording artist to an exotic/remote location, get them to talk to the locals and visit famous landmarks a la Michael Palin's travel adventures and get them to perform some of their best-known songs "on location". Package it all up as a travelogue or travel documentary cum music video/live performance. Microsoft has also got into the act by making certain segments from the series available as streaming Windows Media files on MSN (http://www.musicinhighplaces.msn.com).
This "instalment" or "episode" features pop/R&B singer Brian McKnight at various locations around the small community of São Luís, Brazil.
Born on 5 June 1969 in Buffalo, New York, Brian's early musical influences include gospel (at the Emanuel Temple where his grandfather was the minister of music) and also jazz. He signed his first record deal (with Mercury) at age 19 and released his first album (self-titled) in 1992 which went platinum. His follow-up albums were also quite successful: I Remember You (1995), Anytime (1997), Back At One (1999) and the latest Superhero. Often writing, arranging and even playing the musical instruments on his albums, he has also contributed material to the likes of Take 6, Boyz II Men and Vanessa Williams. He is probably most well-known for his smooth ballads sung in a high, falsetto voice.
The music performances in the feature are edited like music videos (footage shot on location is spliced together as a montage of images together with cuts to Brian and his small group of musicians playing against a backdrop of ruins or natural landscapes). The performances are unabashedly "raw" and "unplugged", and represents Brian performing, as he points out, "without a net". To me, they sound great, coming across almost as polished as studio performances but with a freshness and vitality that's quite infectious.
Brian travels to various places in and around São Luís, including the island of Alcântara, Sitio do Físico, the local market (Praia Grande), Lençois, a voodoo ceremony, and an old church. I found the sand dunes surrounding the water of Lençois to be absolutely fascinating, but the various on-location spots seem quite enchanting and worth visiting. I have not heard of Brian's music prior to watching this disc (well, actually, I have, but I didn't realise it was him). After this experience, I might try and keep an eye out for his music.
|1. When the Chariot Comes|
2. Can You Read My Mind
3. One Last Cry
4. You Should Be Mine
5. 6, 8, 12
6. Quiet Place
8. You Could Be the One
11. Back at One
Apart from the opening title sequence, which is presented in full frame, the feature is presented in an aspect ratio of roughly 1.85:1 but without 16x9 enhancement.
The transfer is rather soft, and features various video artefacts such as aliasing, shimmering and chroma separation. The colours look somewhat over-exposed and slightly washed out, and black levels and shadow detail range from mediocre to poor.
At first I thought that the feature may have been shot on a handheld video camera (some models I know will shoot in widescreen), and I kind of tolerated the artefacts as being consistent with the technology used. However, I then found out watching the "behind the scenes" featurette that the filmmakers have been using fairly sophisticated video and audio equipment. I think given the equipment that they have, they could have managed a better looking end result.
I suspect that some of the problems in the transfer may be due to NTSC to PAL conversion. It will be interesting to be able to compare the transfer on this disc against the Region 1 version.
There are three subtitle tracks on the disc, but the first one appears to be a silent subtitle track. The other two are French and German subtitle tracks. I turned them on briefly just to check that they do exist.
This is a single sided dual layered disc. I did not notice the layer change, and I suspect it occurs in between titles.
There are two audio tracks present: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kb/s) and English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 Kb/s) . I listened to mainly the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track appears to be sourced from a stereo mix and then electronically enhanced for surround. The rear channels are used to convey ambience and the centre channel is silent. Given that the subwoofer turned itself off towards the end of the programme, I also suspect that the subwoofer track is silent. The centre channel is completely silent in the audio track.
I was very pleasantly surprised by the audio quality of the music performances. They have a freshness and dynamicism about them that rivals the very best studio recordings. However, directional microphones have been used to try and capture the sound which result in a harshness in the sound, particularly in voices which can appear over-sibilant.
I was particularly impressed by the low level detail captured in the audio track, including the wind in track 10 (6, 8, 12) and the hall reverb in track 12 (Quiet Place).
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track in comparison lacks punchiness and dynamics and has been encoded at a very low volume level.
Brian's scream as he downs a tumbler of the local "juice" sounds distorted around 17:34-17:36. Apart from that, there are no issues with the dialogue or audio synchronisation.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are a fair number of extras accompanying this disc, none of them 16x9 enhanced. The only extra not included that I can think of would be an audio commentary track, but that would be pretty superfluous since the main feature itself is a commentary of sorts on the location and the music.
The menus are full frame and static.
This is a short making-of featurette presented in 1.66:1 letterboxed. It features interviews with:
As I mentioned before, I initially thought the feature was shot entirely on consumer handheld video cameras, so I was disappointed (especially given the resultant transfer quality) that they actually used very professional looking equipment. A big deal is made about how difficult it was to get to Lençois across plane, 4WD and ferry.
This seems to be a shorter and slightly different version of the Behind The Scenes featurette as it features more of the same footage and commentary. It is presented in approximately 1.70:1 letterboxed.
This contains the extended version of the interview segments with Brian McKnight, excerpts from which made it into the main feature, presented in approximately 1.70:1 letterboxed. Brian verbalizes all the things he's seen and done during the course of the trip, as well as describing some of the songs he sings. His Christian upbringing is quite obvious in some of the comments he makes. Perhaps less palatable are his somewhat patronizing (to me at least) comments about the natives and their lifestyle/religion.
This is the promotional video clip that you can also download from the MSN web site, where Brian welcomes you to the web site, presented in an aspect ratio of around 1.70:1 and Dolby Digital 2.0.
This is an extended version of the commentary on the various buildings around Alcântara and around the market, presented in an aspect ratio of around 1.70:1 and Dolby Digital 2.0.
At first I thought this was a scene selection menu that takes you to the chapters containing the music performances, but it appears that these are separate music videos (presented at an aspect ratio of around 1.70:1) of the following songs:
The reason why I think these are separate music videos instead of excerpts from the main feature is that
Curiously, this set of stills provide a somewhat dated biography of Brian McKnight, and it seems to be written in order to promote his Back At One album (circa 1999). It omits any mention of his latest album Superhero.
I suspect both the Region 1 and Region 4/2 discs feature identical content, although Amazon seems to think there is a "selected discography" on the Region 1 release that I can't seem to find on the Region 4 version.
Brian McKnight - Music In High Places features Brian McKnight touring various locations around the small community of São Luís, Brazil and performing a selection of his music. Mediocre video, reasonable audio plus a bunch of extras.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-626D, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||Front and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500|