A Few Words About A few words about...™ Universal Studios Home Entertainment & re-purposed HD masters-- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, May 15, 2010.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    9,353
    Likes Received:
    5,295
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    I've been reading responses on line regarding some of Universal's recent catalog releases inclusive of Spartacus, on Blu-ray, and wanted to add a few thoughts to possibly clear up some misconceptions.


    First, and possibly most important, problems with Spartacus and other titles should not dissuade potential new adopters from making the move to Blu-ray. This is a limited problem, and certainly not a Blu-ray problem. All that one need do is read reviews and commentaries from those that you trust before pre-ordering, and make your decisions based upon that information.


    Second, the Spartacus problem is not something that affects USHE across the board. What seems to be occurring is that certain older masters, which are far below current spec, are being re-processed and re-purposed for Blu-ray. Many of these were acceptable for standard definition use, but should not be re-used for BD.


    Third, any new releases coming from Universal, that have not been improperly processed should have no problems whatsoever. Inclusive would be anything derived from digital intermediates, such as The Wolfman, as well as any other more recent productions that have gone through an image harvest over the past few years.


    Keep in mind that Spartacus is based upon a decade old HD master, that was never terribly good to begin with, especially when viewed in an HD environment.


    The bottom line is that while I cannot support Universal's current ideology in re-using old HD masters for Blu-ray, it should not affect anyone's buying habits toward any other Universal releases. Anything based upon a digital intermediate should not only be a very safe pre-order, but a stellar Blu-ray presentation.


    For catalog titles, do your research and safely purchase those which receive a clean bill of health from trusted reviewers.


    What has occurred is an unfortunate situation, based upon what I perceive to be flawed decision making, but fortunately is very limited.


    It would be unfair to Universal to have the public thinking that this was a larger, all-emcompassing problem.


    I wanted to be very clear on this.


    RAH
     
  2. Guest

    Thanks, Robert. I always base my buying decisions on a case by case basis. No studio is perfect.
     
  3. Chris S

    Chris S Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2000
    Messages:
    2,537
    Likes Received:
    7
    Real Name:
    Chris S
    Thanks Robert!


    I'm sure the mantra of "hard economic times" will be used by the studio to justify the use of these old HD masters but with classic and beloved titles such as Spartacus being thrown into the mix those excuses are going to fall on deaf ears.
     
  4. sark28

    sark28 Auditioning

    Joined:
    May 9, 2010
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for making that clear, Robert. Not all of Universal's catalog blu-rays are bad. Although a port of the HD-DVD, the recent release of DUNE looks great in 1080p. And lest we forget the stellar transfer of THE THING.
     
  5. Worth

    Worth Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2009
    Messages:
    1,759
    Likes Received:
    666
    Real Name:
    Nick Dobbs
    Dune looks good, but The Thing BD is worse than the HD-DVD version - like U-571 and the Mummy films, the blu was inexplicably DNR'd.
     
  6. Lance Rumbolt

    Lance Rumbolt Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2000
    Messages:
    151
    Likes Received:
    0
    You should check out the UK version it certainly isn't worse than the HDDVD version but it is better than the US release.
     
  7. Bradley-E

    Bradley-E Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2003
    Messages:
    1,019
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree; ALL the studios are guilty.

    Examples:


    Warner should have not released Clash of the Titans in its current state, but they had to tie it in with the remake. Ditto with Full Metal Jacket, which they later remastered. Not to mention the recent Double Feature discs.


    Fox's The French Connection is absolutely dreadful.

    Sony and Paramount's early titles like xXx, House of Flying Daggers, Fifth Element (since fixed), Tomb Raider and The Italian Job are terrible. They were supposed to be examples of this awesome new format?


    Universal should not be the only one made example of; for the most part I have liked most of my Uni catalog titles, Seabiscuit is absolutely stunning on Blu ray, and if they ever get to it Out of Sight will look great (the HD DVD did).
     
  8. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    9,353
    Likes Received:
    5,295
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris

    Clash of the Titans looks like Clash of the Titans. French Connection was released as it was per the filmmaker's instructions. Sony used a few older masters during the very earliest days of Blu-ray and quickly solved the problem. Paramount has not yet overcome the extent of DNR used on their HD titles, many of which are unwatchable, but their newer titles are coming along nicely.


    Universal is the poster child for horrific catalog Blu-rays when from older masters, as all of the errors noted above go back at least two years, and French Connection was not an error. Unless Paramount falls back on itself, Universal is the only studio out there currently placing Blu-rays of Spartacus' quality into the marketplace.


    All of this is solved very simply. Stop releasing Blu-rays based upon older masters. Period.


    Fact.


    RAH
     
  9. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2001
    Messages:
    5,980
    Likes Received:
    33
    Location:
    The BK
    Real Name:
    ManW

    Anyone here checked out the more recent UK release of TR w/ much higher bitrates in AVC encode on BD50 (though unfortunately still using lossy audio)? It's region-free, and I'm considering importing that (along w/ a bunch of other titles). But haven't been able to find out much on it.


    I'm also wondering if Paramount won't soon release a new US version w/ lossless audio using that new encode.


    _Man_
     
  10. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    9,353
    Likes Received:
    5,295
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    I have not yet had a chance to take a look at Carlito, but it appears to be a quality BD. Xylon has posted frame grabs over at AVS for Dune, and those also seem to be of high quality.


    If what we are seeing means that releases are based upon the quality of older masters, then what's occurring may be hit or miss, with hopefully more hits than misses to come.


    Recalls and re-masters for Spartacus, Africa and other affected titles would go a long way toward making Universal look like a professional organization. For the present, the best case scenario seems to be to avoid pre-orders.


    RAH
     
  11. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Messages:
    26,636
    Likes Received:
    3,804
    Location:
    The basement of the FBI building


    By no means am I an expert but I thought Dune looked great. The production design, costumes and photography are the only good things about the movie in my opinion and the disc makes them shine.
     
  12. Bradley-E

    Bradley-E Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2003
    Messages:
    1,019
    Likes Received:
    0
    I do think it is a good idea to read reviews before buying any catalog titles. Except for perhaps Sony. They seem to be doing decent transfers on catalogs.
     

Share This Page