Vicarious DVD Review

I received my copy of the Vicarious DVD one Tuesday, and after watching all the of the various parts of it, I felt it was about time to share my opinion with you all. If any of you want to share your thoughts on the DVD, feel free to comment below. I may well put a poll up at some point in the next few days too.

The Vicarious DVD comes in a package much the same as the 10,000 Days CD, with the two lenses designed to view the stereoscopic images within. The images supplied are all stills from the Vicarious video, and look quite nice when viewed properly. The lenses attached to my DVD seemed quite blurry though, and I got much better results with the 10,000 Days set, or by just doing the cross-eyes thing.

The first thing I watched off the DVD was the Vicarious video. As previously reported, it’s fully CGI and features significant work from Alex Grey, particular during the Net of Being sequences. I’m not going to really speculate on the themes behind the videos, but the “plot” seems to involve a strange human-like being (referred to as X in the documentary) interacting with an unusual world full of insects, dust and hovering tentacled eye balls, all of which may or may not have some kind of symbiotic link. Eventually, this being somehow looks into itself and sees the Net of Being. All par for the course on a Tool video guess. Personally I’m usually more interested in the effects than the actual story.

The CGI work is generally pretty good, though my inital thoughts were that it was a little inconsistent throughout. Some parts of the video seem quite detailed and smooth, while others seem a little jerky, and just not a well animated as the rest. The jerkiness is explained away in the documentary are part of Adam’s concept, but I can’t help but think that what were looking at is some of the old animation that Adam was rumoured to be unhappy with, with the newer work done by Hydraulx. For example the parts where the glass blocks shatter seem quite low quality. Perhaps it’s meant to be like this. I not sure, but it detracted from the video somewhat for me.

The music itself is extended as advertised, but merely with some ambient noise produced by Lustmord. Don’t expect to hear another Vicarious verse at all!

Next up was the commentry. I loved the commentry on the Schism and Parabola DVD’s. They cracked me up the first time, and I still get a laugh out of them whenever I happen to watch it. David Cross is a comedian I know very little about, and unfortunately this commentry gives me no reason to bother finding out more. I fought the urge to skip both tracks about 2 minutes in, but listened to the whole thing just for the benefit of the review. It didn’t get much better. Someone please direct me to something good by this guy, cause the commentry doesn’t do it for me. I also disliked the fact that the musical track was completely muted. I would have like to have heard the music faintly in the background while David commented.

The Documentary on the video was actually the part of the DVD I looked forward to the most. This 40 minute film features comments from many key members of the Vicarious video team, including Alex Grey, Chet Zar, Kevin Willis and many members of the Hydraulx team. It was quite interesting to hear them talk about what went into the video, and in some cases what has gone into past ones. The documentary features photos from not only the Vicarious development, but also that of previous videos. I quite enjoyed watching it, but felt that it would have benefited from Adam talking about it as well, but I guess that’s not really the way Tool operate.

Also included is a short COSM tour. Only running for about 6 minutes, it shows some of the interior of the complex while Alex Grey talks about what goes on there, as well as some of the impact of the Tool fans that visit.

Finally a set of story boards from both Alex and Adam, outlining some of the inital plans for the video. This is pretty short and sweet and there’s not really much more I can say about that part.

Overall, I was pretty happy with the package. The video itself I’d rate as one of the better Tool videos, but not as good as Parabola or Aenima. For the price of the DVD, I thought it was pretty good value for money, much better than the frustratingly seperate Schism/Parabola DVDs. Here’s hoping a future DVD (The Pot perhaps) has similarly good features, and hopefully some better commentry.

10 thoughts on “Vicarious DVD Review

  1. RohanD

    Auido commentry..
    “He was not expecting that!” WHAM into the head…

    funny.

    Great video… unpacked my own copy at work.. did a backflip.. but realised i had to wait till after my shift was done to watch it.

    Love the whole ‘going into the artwork’ part, freaking awesome.

  2. Shinji

    I thought the commentary would be far better than the previous ones, but it’s as well boring as hell. For the inspired David Cross, just watch a sketch from “Mr. Show”.

    The documentary is for me the greatest bonus from Tool by now. It’s almost worth the buy by itself.

  3. ibex

    Yeah, the commentary didn’t do it for me, and like you said it wouldn’t have been so monotonous to sit through if they had run the music in the background at a low volume. It seemed like it was something that just got tacked on at the end to me.

    I thought the documentary was the best part! I sat through the whole thing in one go and I enjoyed getting to hear a little bit about the history of Tool’s music videos and the processes involved with making them. Would like to have heard a bit from Adam, though.

    - – - – -

    Factoid of the day: The inspiration for Alex Grey’s “Net of Being” came from a trip he had sipping on hallucinogenic tea in Brazil.

  4. St.Sloth

    the Net of Being sequence for me is one the coolest CG sequences ever. period.

    however little things like the dust clouds created by the Carbon Destructor, and impact when it falls, were pretty poor.

    sometimes you can’t beat models. i reckon the Carbon Destructor as a stop motion model, while everything else was CG could’ve been very nice.

  5. ibex

    I thought the only part that looked pretty poor was when the glass sheet cracked and the light was refracting through it, right before it falls to the ground and the bug walks on it. It just didn’t look like natural light at all, though I can only guess how demanding it really is to properly render something like that as naturally as possible.

    I thought for the most part the video looked great. I loved the stop-motion effects employed in the character’s movements, but the bug was probably the best part to me.

  6. hellboy1975hellboy Post author

    [quote comment="33486"]I thought the only part that looked pretty poor was when the glass sheet cracked and the light was refracting through it, right before it falls to the ground and the bug walks on it. It just didn’t look like natural light at all, though I can only guess how demanding it really is to properly render something like that as naturally as possible.

    I thought for the most part the video looked great. I loved the stop-motion effects employed in the character’s movements, but the bug was probably the best part to me.[/quote]
    That somewhat highlights my criticism of the CGI in the video. The poor looking glass shatters, and then you have this fantastically detailed and animated bug crawling over it.
    I suspect that the bug is part of the newer animated parts and the glass shattering part of the old.

  7. iamthewalrus237

    David Cross is usually pretty funny, but I too didn’t really enjoy his commentary.

    The video itself was okay, not worth taking over a year to make. I thought it was probably the least cool (minus Hush, I suppose)

  8. Clathrus ruber

    The video was amazing and I think the quality was great. What kind of screens are you watching it on? I think the technology used requires a higher end screen or monitor. The only reason I say this is because the quality of the YouTube rips compared to the actual DVD are terrible. The YouTube version makes it look like those old CGI video tapes from the early 90s.

    David Cross was great as a commentator and if you are willing to give him another chance you should watch his work on the tv show “Arrested Development”. His stand up is pretty good too.

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