Woodstock '99

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Details At A Glance

Category Concert Video Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating m.gif (1166 bytes) Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1999 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 149:03 Minutes Other Extras Menu Audio/Animation
Photo Gallery
Cast Interviews
Featurette - The Woodstock Vibe
Featurette - Spit Fire
Featurette - The Action Lounge
Featurette - The Vendors
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (82:42)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Carol Dodds
Joe Friday
Stanley Flood
Milton Lage
Epic Music Video
Sony Music Entertainment
Starring Various Artists 
Case Opaque Brackley
RRP $34.95 Music Various Artists

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Linear PCM 2.0, 1536Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio None
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement Apart from the bands, no
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    When I was about six years old, I learned a lesson that proved quite invaluable in years to come: if you try to recreate a string of rather spontaneous events that took place on a day you remember fondly, regardless of what that day consisted of, you are going to fail miserably. Obviously, the organizers of Woodstock '99 weren't paying attention when the first chance for them to learn this came around. So what happens when you try to take an event that mostly happened by equal parts accident and mismanagement, then try to recreate it to turn a profit some thirty years later? You've got it in one - an embarrassment of the highest magnitude. Times may change, but they do not change so radically in the space of three decades that phonies can't be spotted. In case you're interested, here is a rundown of the track listing on this DVD:     Words fail me when trying to describe how second-rate this line-up is. You have your tryhard Pungent Stench imitators (Korn, Limp Bizkit), your tryhard Janis Joplins (Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow), and of course your tryhard KISS (Metallica), and a tryhard Public Enemy (Rage Against The Machine). The only acts worthy of a listen I noticed in this line-up were the indomitable James Brown, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who add a slightly spooky feel to the proceedings by closing with a very lively version of Jimi Hendrix's immortal classic, Fire. A live album of Woodstock '99 was released a while ago, and one reviewer cited the most telling moment of the show being when some dork announcer gets behind a microphone and says "Drink a lot of water, put a lot of lotion on, and if you're getting high, please don't overdo it". He then goes on to say "Are we having fun?". Ummmm... no, m'kay?

Transfer Quality


    Well, obviously the stage lighting and the general logistics involved in staging a three-ringed circus like this don't translate into the best of video transfers. Keep that in mind, and you shouldn't be too disappointed. The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (Full Frame), without 16x9 enhancement. It is in the NTSC format. The sharpness is somewhat variable depending on the subject of the shot, but generally there is enough detail in the transfer to keep the viewer happy. There appears to have been some slight edge-enhancement around the heads of such performers as Dave Mustaine, but these instances were the exception rather than the rule. Shadow detail was non-existent, with the stage lighting broadly focused over crowd and performers alike. There was no detail discernible in the darker areas of the transfer, but these were few and far between. Low-level noise appeared to be in some shots, particularly of the bands on stage, but this was a relatively mild problem.

    The colours were all over the place, with some skin tones undersaturated, and others rather noticeably oversaturated. This is mainly the fault of the photographic techniques used rather than the transfer, but this is still quite concerning. No MPEG artefacts were noticed at any point in the transfer, although some parts must have played hell upon the compression. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some minor aliasing on some computer graphics that were inserted into the video at a later time, and on the hard edges of some objects. Film artefacts were mild, but noticeable in some frames, with quite a number of white flecks appearing in the picture around the time of the layer change.

    Speaking of which, this disc is presented in the RSDL format, with the layer change coming in at the end of Chapter 23, between Limp Bizkit's and Rage Against The Machine's performance, at 82:42. This is a noticeable layer change, but not a very disruptive one, and it sure beats the hell out of placing the layer change in the middle of a performance. One last note: the Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist, Flea, decided to play in the nude for their set, so if naked males put you off, then you have been warned.


    There are two audio tracks on this disc: an English Linear PCM 2.0 track, and a Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Naturally, I took a listen to the both of them, taking in the whole show in Linear PCM (the things I do for you people), and sampling some of the better performances in Dolby Digital 5.1 for good measure. The Linear PCM 2.0 soundtrack is the default. The main difference between the two tracks is that the Dolby Digital track sounds quite muffled and dull by comparison, with some variance in the overall level of the soundtrack. The vocals are often a little recessed in the mix, suggesting that the sound recordings were made with a less than ideal number of microphones. In sharp contrast, Elvis Costello's vocals came through as clear and sharp as a bell. Audio sync didn't seem to be a problem, but the cameras seemed to be making an effort to avoid shooting people's faces for one reason or another.

    The music was culled from every MTV-sanctioned performer in the USA whom the organizers could secure incriminating photos of. Obviously, this effort came together with varying degrees of success. Not to put too fine a point on it, the less commercial, clandestinely or otherwise, the performers were, the better they sounded. Of course, the exceptions to this rule were the elder statesmen of festivals, such as Megadeth, Metallica, James Brown, Elvis Costello, and of course the Red Hot Chili Peppers. All in all, you're much better off getting CDs of these artists and giving them a whirl rather than picking up this DVD if it's the music you're after.

    The surround presence in the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix was passable, with all sorts of sounds coming out of each channel at all times. Now, you would think this would translate into a good, immersive mix, but as I hinted before, the Dolby Digital soundtrack is very muffled and low, with the overall sound level occasionally heightening slightly for reasons unknown. By comparison, the combination of the highly active subwoofer and front speakers in the Linear PCM mix was far more immersive. This is another example of exactly how a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix should not be done. The subwoofer got quite a workout in the Linear PCM mix, adding some oomph to the bass and drum sounds, but it was difficult to notice during the Dolby Digital mix.


    Ho hum.


    The main and scene selection menus contain some animation and audio, but is otherwise unremarkable.

Photo Gallery

    A collection of stills from the show, with some annotation to state who the subject of a given shot is. Nothing terribly exciting.

Featurette - Cast Interviews (11:06)

    This contains short snippets of interviews with each of the performers. It is nothing to get excited about, and that's the most comment-worthy featurette of the lot.

Featurette - The Woodstock Vibe (2:26)

Featurette - Spit Fire (2:17)

Featurette - The Action Lounge (1:11)

Featurette - The Vendors (0:47)

R4 vs R1

    From what I have been able to discern, this title is not yet available in Region 1, which makes me wonder why we have been cursed with the NTSC format.


    Woodstock '99 fails as either a recreation of the original Woodstock feel, or as an enjoyable music festival. It is presented on a good DVD.

    The video quality is as good as the original photographic conditions allow.

    The audio quality is good, until you listen to the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix.

    The extras are pretty ordinary.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
May 25, 2000. 
Review Equipment
DVD Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output; Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm), 4:3 mode, using composite input; Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835
Speakers Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer