In the good old days, if you remember that far back, there was the sudden decline of VHS with the introduction of a new format… DVD. Films were suddenly broadened and expanded with the additional data footprint afforded by the new medium. No longer was it just a film, it was a film, Behind the Scenes, Deleted Scenes, Interviews, Gag Reels, Featurettes, Music Videos and OH SO MUCH MORE! And thanks to DVD there were suddenly new definitions such as –
Vanilla [vuh-nil-uh or, often, -nel-uh]
Adjective: Informal. plain-vanilla.
DVD definition: Feature film and possibly a motion menu, but no other features of any kind.
Double Dipping [duhb-uh l-dip-ing]
Noun: the act or practice of receiving more than one income or collecting double benefits from the same employer or organization.
DVD definition: Any Special, Collector’s, Definitive etc… Edition of a film released as the ultimate version, only to be re-released with even MORE content as another edition. Or the initial release of a film as a Vanilla disc, only to be re-released/replaced shortly after as one of the aforementioned editions.
With the arrival of Blu-Ray these terms should have been rendered as obsolete as VHS, but sadly studios still do it. In fact more and more often studios will release three different versions on the initial release day (EG: 3D, Blu-Ray, Collectors/Limited/etc…). Some studios go as far as to give you a triple pack of Blu-Ray, DVD, and Ultraviolet or Digital copy, although some of these are sorely lacking in additional content. But this is all par for the course. What I’m actually trying to get to, yeah there is a point, is the poor quality and sub-par releases to Blu Ray which are steadily being released on a more regular basis.
I’m going to use the initial 2009 Blu-Ray release of Ghostbusters as my case in point.
Prior to release the transfer was said to be completely re-digitised from the original negative (or at least that is what I read).
The case lists the feature picture quality as:
High Definition 1080p Widescreen (2.40:1)
But sadly I believe this to be a HUGE lie and if anything it’s an up-scale from a VHS print.
The quality is so poor or noisy (EG: “Snow” or Static like graininess) in some scenes it is hugely distracting to the point of annoying.
Take the following screen shot I took from the Blu Ray myself:
I want to stress of the image above:
- It has not been altered or edited.
- It is a screenshot taken with my Smartphone using my Smart Television’s remote app Screenshot function.
- The Blu Ray player in this case is a Playstation 3 with Sony branded Gold plug HDMI connection…
The number of substandard releases to Blu-Ray is surprisingly quite high. BUT where are companies (and or were) that lovingly restore films from original prints and re-release them. A perfect example of this would be the people at Hong Kong Legends, who, where once a film had received it’s box office limit, and (the films) were forgotten, especially after a home video release (as the Hong Kong film industry was mostly a money laundering scheme for the Triads – There are some wonderful articles about this online), so many of these classics by directors such as John Woo, Ringo Lam andTsui Hark were forgotten, until Hong Kong Legends restored the negatives frame by frame, created new content and features, refined and repaired audio, re-recorded English dubs and re-wrote subtitles (to less unintended comedic effect).
But sadly, in 2007, Hong Kong Legends was discontinued and the Cine Asia label was formed, and restoration is seemingly been halted.
Often friends assume I’m trying to replace my DVD collection with Blu-Rays, and in some cases it might be true, but realistically I’m not. I’ll purchase older films when re-released on Blu-ray (that I already have on DVD) if they have new content, or just one of those films you can watch over and over again. Ghostbusters was the latter. But to replace the older films I have on DVD, many of which have not been released on Blu-Ray yet, would be a fools errand and a costly exercise. I do buy a lot of films, and sometimes I buy newer films I’ve never seen because it’s now cheaper to purchase them on Blu-Ray as an ex-rental, than to hire or purchase new on DVD/Blu-ray. I am a collector, so streaming doesn’t do it for me. I own a lot of “crap” films, but each film I consider an element of education and reference for what to, and not to do when making a film.