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Music DVD Creators Discuss State of the Art

5 Apr, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf

What makes a music DVD great? Panelists who work on the DVD creation side at last week's Music DVD Conference had different ideas.

Paul Brownstein, who produced DVDs like Best of Bandstand and We Are the World: 20th Anniversary DVD, said music content has to offer more than a linear VHS production would. Sometimes the biggest challenges come in finding enough good features and footage to create that offering.

Jeff Stabenau, president and CEO of DVD production company Blink Digital, said he likes to see music DVD elements that offer a different perspective of a band or its music, whether it's backstage footage, an alternate performance of a song or an illuminating interview.

“It needs to have something that's sort of a counterpoint, something extra that creates a view to another side,” he said.

When it comes to documentary footage, said Nahum (that's his name), who's directed and edited music DVDs for artists like Beyonc? and Bruce Hornsby, it has to be “highly produced and well done, not just MTV-style footage.”

Tommy Ramone, original drummer for the legendary rock group The Ramones, said the DVD was in mind from the beginning during the shooting of the rock-doc End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones, which streeted March 15 from WEA Corp.

“I think there's even some cut footage from an interview, with the guy saying, ‘Oh well, at least it will be on the DVD,’ the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer quipped.

In another panel discussion, Zane Vella, president and co-founder of MX Entertainment, a live-concert production company (with music DVD titles like Incubus: Alive at Red Rocks, Eric Clapton: Crossroads Guitar Festival and the Rolling Stones: Four Flicks boxed set) said one good bonus feature for music DVD is an alternate viewing version of a concert that features just the wide shot of the show.

“Some people have these great huge plasma screens,” he said. Suppliers could use the wide-angle viewing option as a marketing tool for the disc, he said, promoting the idea of popping the DVD in and having it play as “sort of a video wallpaper.”

DVD producers also love dealing with high-definition content whenever they can, panelists said.

“HD makes a big difference even for a standard-version DVD,” Stabenau said. “The down conversion looks so great.”

And, yes, there are plenty of snafus and creative issues that come into play when working with musical acts and artists to put together a DVD, panelists said.

“There've been concerts when we've thrown out a whole camera angle of footage just because someone didn't like the way they looked,” Nahum said.

Overall, the music DVD can serve as a record, an archive of a certain performance or moment in an artist's life, panelists said.

“John Mayer did a show in New York where he performed all blues covers, and he wanted it archived,” Nahum said. “It definitely helps put an artist's work on a pedestal to add a really well-made music DVD to their discography.”

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