Vieuphoria appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Given the many different sources of the material, it didn’t come as a surprise that the clips demonstrated erratic picture quality. However, I felt that the program generally looked surprisingly good when I considered its origins.
For the most part, sharpness appeared positive. Some of the clips seemed a little fuzzy and gauzy; “Cherub Rock” offered the biggest concern in that regard. However, the softness didn’t present any substantial concerns, as the image mostly looked reasonably crisp and detailed. Jagged edges and moiré effects seemed unproblematic, and I also noticed no signs of edge enhancement. A little light artifacting occurred, but overall, the source material appeared clean and displayed no problems.
Colors varied dependent on the original material. Some stylization occurred, especially during “Quiet”, which offered the most extreme example of weird hues. Usually the tones came across as fairly tight and vivid. The colors occasionally appeared somewhat heavy, mostly due to the lighting at live performances, but the hues remained reasonably concise and accurate. Black levels seemed dark and dense, while shadow detail was appropriately thick but not too opaque.
Note that when I formulated my picture grade, I only considered the 10 musical performances. I ignored the interludes between songs, since they seemed extraneous. Many of them looked pretty terrible, but most were shot on cheap equipment and not meant for posterity, so I didn’t mind this. Overall, I thought Vieuphoria presented a reasonably distinct and attractive visual image.
While not a great representation of the music, the Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack of Vieuphoria worked fine as a whole. Of course, the quality varied from song to song, but the mix mostly manifested decent audio. The forward channels heavily dominated the mix, as the surrounds played little role. Stereo imaging seemed good but unexceptional, and it didn’t seem consistent for all the tunes. “Slunk” and “Geek USA” sounded monaural, whereas the other tracks showed fair delineation of instrumentation but didn’t stand out as particularly distinct or well defined.
As for the audio quality, the mix seemed to represent the original music fairly well. Guitars mostly showed good buzz and crunch that matched the typical Pumpkins sound, and vocals came across as reasonably distinct and clear. Drums lacked much punch or snap, however, and bass response could be somewhat muddy. However, even the Pumpkins’ studio recordings display lots of inconsistencies and suffer from many of these issues. They often came across as somewhat murky and flat, and those properties occasionally affected Vieuphoria. “Quiet” and “I Am One” seemed particularly dense. Overall, however, I felt the audio of Vieuphoria worked acceptably well, especially given the mélange of sources for the material.
While not as packed as the Pumpkins’ excellent greatest Hits Video Collection, Vieuphoria nonetheless tosses in a couple of extras. First up, The Unbearable Likeness of Manny lasts 11 minutes and 12 seconds and purports to show Virgin Records A&R man Manny Chevrolet as he visits the Pumpkins in the studio during the recording of Siamese Dream. Seemingly based on Artie Fufkin from This Is Spinal Tap, this January 1993 session shows some elements of the recording process and also includes interviews between Chevrolet, the band, and producer Butch Vig. The latter elements seem fairly useless – they’re way too jokey – but the shots of the band at work offer some intriguing elements.
Even better, however, is the Lost ’94 Tapes. This 54-minute and 25-second piece includes nine songs from a 1994 concert. It starts with a very lame introduction from a “scientist” who warns us of the source material’s poor quality. Once we get into the show itself, we find out that the quality’s really not that bad. The video shows some stuttering and general muddiness, and the mono sound seems erratic, but given the source material, I think it comes across as perfectly watchable. “Snail” sounds worst, mostly due to noise from the original footage.
For the most part, “Lost” displays the original concert fairly well. At times, it suffers from some “trippy” superimposed imagery; this just distracts from the show and seems pointless. Still, the concert works well overall. It includes these songs: “Quiet”, “Snail”, “Siva”, “I Am One”, “Geek USA”, “Soma”, “Hummer”, “Porcelina” and “Silverfuck”. While not a terrific depiction of a vintage Pumpkins show, “Lost” nonetheless gives us a very cool extra.
I didn’t expect much from Vieuphoria, but ultimately I really liked the program. It included some excellent performance material as well as inconsequential but watchable behind the scenes bits. The DVD provided surprisingly good picture along with decent sound and a nice roster of extras highlight by almost an hour of concert footage. Folks new to Smashing Pumpkins will probably want to start with the career overview of their Greatest Hits Video Collection, but already established fans should really like this set.