Nine Inch Nails: And All That Could Have Been

Nine Inch Nails: And All That Could Have Been (2002)
Sony Music
Extras: Multi-angle Viewing, Audio Commentary, Still Gallery

As DVD has continued to grow in popularity, we’ve seen more and more filmmakers embracing the medium. With behind-the-scenes featurettes, audio commentaries, and multi-angle features, it has become clear that production companies are thinking ahead to the DVD release while the movie is still being shot. (In fact, with several recent films, work on the DVD has been announced even before the movie hit the theatres!) Now, the world of popular music has began to sit up and take notice of the DVD phenomenon. While several music video compilations and concert films have hit DVD, there haven’t been many discs which have fully exploited the advantages that DVD has to offer. That is not the case with the new live DVD from Nine Inch Nails, entitled "And All That Could Have Been".

This exciting DVD displays cutting edge digital technology and the story behind how the video was made is almost as interesting as the concert itself. Having been unhappy with a video production company which had attempted to capture the last Nine Inch Nails tour, frontman Trent Reznor decided to take matters into his own hands to photograph the 2000 Fragility v2.0 tour. He bought several Canon XL1 and Sony TRV900 DV digital video cameras. At each concert, eight cameras would record the show, either being operated by a crew member, or from a stationary position. After 20 shows, Reznor was left with 160 different videos to sort through. Under the guidance of Nine Inch Nails webmaster Rob Sheridan, the video was edited on a multi-processor Power Mac using the Final Cut Pro program. Then, the DVD was authored using DVD Studio Pro. So, this very slick looking concert film is essentially a homemade item.

However, trust me when I say that this is the best "homemade" concert video thus far. "And All That Could Have Been" does a fantastic job of capturing the intensity that is a Nine Inch Nails concert. This 85-minute video, 2-disc set features 18 songs spanning the band’s three albums, as well as the "Broken" EP. The music alternates from the frenetic pace of "Gave Up" and "March of the Pigs" to the lullaby qualities of "Hurt". Along with the great music is the energetic stage show given by the band. Although, Reznor can come across as shy and apathetic in interviews, he gives 100% on stage and rarely stands still. Actually, he’s usually too busy destroying a guitar or keyboard to stand still. This video manages to capture all of the energy of the concert and the editing process apparently went very well, as Reznor and Sheridan give equal exposure to Reznor and his four bandmates (Robin Finck, guitar; Danny Lohner, bass; Charlie Clouser, keyboards; and Jerome Dillon, drums), as well as the enthusiastic crowd. Along with the musical performance is an impressive light show, which comes across well here.

Given the attention to detail here, it isn’t surprising that the DVD from Nothing Records delivers in quality. The video image is presented <$PS,full frame>. The picture is very sharp and clear, showing no grain or artifacting, and very little distortion. There is some video noise and lens flare in some of the shots, particularly when a dramatic change in the lighting takes place. The color balancing is good, as the background video screens alternate from deep hues to pastels, and the lighting bathes the band in many spectacular colors. At times, the image is slightly dark, but that is to be expected, given the digital video source. Overall, the image here looks very good and doesn’t look like something made with store-bought cameras.

"And All That Could Have Been" really impresses in the audio department. The <$DD,Dolby Digital> 5.1 audio mix offered here sounds fantastic and makes great use of the surround sound set up. The first thing to note here is that this DVD has been recorded very loudly, so monitor your volume control when first playing the disc. The audio here is very clear and crisp, offering no distortion or hissing. Witness how the sound fluctuates between the rear speakers during "The Great Below" or "Closer". The audio here is very clear and crisp, offering no distortion or hissing. Add to this, a nice bass response from the subwoofer on songs like "La Mer" and "Terrible Lie" and you’ve got an impressive audio package. (Although, for the record, the bass on the corresponding live CD of "And All That Could Have Been" is deeper than that presented on the DVD.)

(While this review is focusing on the Dolby Digital 5.1 version of "And All That Could Have Been", readers should be alert to the fact that a <$DTS,DTS> version of the DVD will be available as well. Be sure and check the sticker on the packaging, as it will inform as to which version you are getting. The audio on the DTS disc is somewhat cleaner sounding that the Dolby version and there is a slightly deeper bass response. Otherwise, it is comparable to the Dolby track.)

This Nine Inch Nails DVD is somewhat disappointing in the special features department. Disc One offers multi-angle viewing for three songs, "La Mer", "The Great Below" and "The Mark Has Been Made". This essentially gives the viewer the option of viewing the regularly edited version, or staying on a stationary shot of the entire stage for the three songs. On Disc Two, there is a still gallery which contains over 300 images! Also, video artist Bill Viola offers an <$commentary,audio commentary> during "La Mer", "The Great Below" and "The Mark Has Been Made", giving information on how the video images were created. His talk is somewhat interesting, but is also very dry. I was hoping for more input directly from Reznor or perhaps the music videos from "The Fragile" album.

Fans of Nine Inch Nails will not be disappointed by "And All That Could Have Been". The DVD delivers superior audio and video for this great concert performance. Having seen the band in concert four times, I can honestly say that this does a fine job capturing the feel of a NIN concert. While I’m not crazy about the "slow" interludes here, this does show Reznor and company doing what they do best. While most fans will probably lament the absence of a particular favorite song (what, no "We’re in this Together Now"?!), the diversity of the songs here goes a long way towards showing the range of Nine Inch Nails. Those unfamiliar with the band can still enjoy the wonderful use of home-based technology, which is employed here. Experience "And All That Could Have Been" to see all that it has to offer.