Kudos to Rush and their supporting cast for explaining to fans the reason the Rush In Rio DVD was produced in a letterboxed, as opposed to anamorphic widescreen, format. From a Rush.com mailing I received today:
STATEMENT REGARDING ANAMORPHIC FORMATTING ON DVD
The decision to forego an anamorphic version was due to limitations with some of the cameras used to film the concert. The majority of the concert was filmed in a 16:9 Digibeta format but due to the sensitivity of having cameramen distracting Neil during the show, mini remote cameras were used around him that could only be recorded in a 4:3 format. The issue of anamorphic was first raised in June and we investigated the option and what it would take to convert these tapes, which once the show was fully edited comprised about 25 – 30% of the footage used, to anamorphic. Since we were already dealing with a softer image, the process necessary to achieve anamorphic for these particular tapes would have degraded the footage further and many shots of Neil would have become blurred and all these shots would have really stood out from the rest of the program. With this footage comprising so much of the show it would have been become a distraction and as such lessen the experience for the viewer. The decision was made to maintain the strongest possible quality product and deliver a great performance, in what is still the most common format, while holding onto our intended letterbox look. The decision was purely one of giving the highest quality experience to all the viewers possible.
~ Allan Weinrib, Executive Producer, “Rush In Rio”
I suspected a technical issue like this was behind the authoring decision. After watching the entire concert, the footage shot by stationary cameras is apparent, but it’s not too distracting. I’m just glad they’re explaining the reason for the decision.
If there could have been a similar explanation given for the production problems with Vapor Trails, I’d be an even happier guy.