Fantastic article about lackluster DVD efforts and growing production oversights...

Discussion in 'DVD' started by MarcoBiscotti, Nov 18, 2005.

  1. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Leonard Maltin is such a wonderful person, I have an endless ammount of respect for everything he says and does in his reviews and criticisms related to all-things film and home video, and moreover the many projects he involves himself with!

    He is truly a respected and knowledged person in this arena and his latest journal posted at his "Movie Crazy" website is a terrific one, and an article I'm sure everyone here would appreciate reading.

    It talks about the studio's effort (or lack-there-of) when it comes to transfering and remastering new DVD projects and the specifically growing concern of the TV shows on DVD trend, which is being grossly mishandled in almost every regard.

    I think it's a very important read and should be a focus of concern for all of us film buffs, theater enthusiasts and the like as we find our way towards a newxt generation format in the year to come. Anyways, I think this is very poignant and worth a read:

    http://www.leonardmaltin.com/
     
  2. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I have to agree with Maltin's article. A lot of the studios end up being so schizophrenic with releases. Recently, the new Oklahoma! DVD is incredible... if you read the specs list. Wow, both the CinemaScope and Todd-AO versions in 16x9 and with 5.0 sound! Then, we get the CS version with edge enhancement and DVNR, and the Todd-AO version with DVNR cranked up all the way.

    On the other end of the spectrum, there's the W.C. Fields Collection that Universal released last year... all five films beautifully remastered from excellent film elements. Yet the only extras are two trailers and a lousy Biography episode. Each film could have had a commentary, the Walter Lantz cartoons could be added in front of the films (like Warner's "Night at the Movies" discs), and even radio shows could have been added. On the other hand, Universal's Monster Legacy sets are great in almost ever way, save for the lousy transfer of the '31 Dracula . I will say this, Universal's strength is in their excellent remastering. With the new Blues Brothers disc, the theatrical version is nearly flawless. Even the extended version was improved from the old DVD.

    There's the no-shows... UCLA restored the whole Betty Boop series for Republic. I'm hoping Paramount (who recently re-gained the DVD rights to Republic) will give the cartoons the same treatment Warner Bros. is giving the Looney Tunes. Abel Gance's Napoleon is unavailable on DVD mainly due to rights and demands clashing. Paramount hasn't released a single silent film that they own.

    Transit Film and Kino put out a mediocre DVD of Metropolis. PAL-sourced and with not many interesting extras... a pretentious commentary, a weak documentary, though it has an excellent image gallery. Metropolis deserves something like a Criterion... a 2-disc edition with a high bitrate remaster from the 2K source with better supplements. Kino is great at putting out silent cinema, but they simply lack from quality control. Compare their work to Laughsmith and Milestone.
     
  3. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    You know, I'd be happy to be able to buy a disc and not have to worry about it not playing. I've bought hundreds of CD's, hundreds of VHS's, all have played flawlessly. I can't count how many of the 800 DVD's have been glitchy, wither on the main feature or the suppliments, from break ups, pixalation, etc, and on multiple players, or on one player and not another. Shouldn't their be a standard by now? Really, make it so that each DVD comes off the line in working condition, than worry about special features, etc.

    And I do love my special features, don't get me wrong, I'm just getting tired of discs that crap out on my Panasonic player, and play fine on my X Box (?!), and vice versa.
     
  4. Danny Burk

    Danny Burk Second Unit

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    I was anxious to get the new DeMille silents from Image, produced by David Shepard and being released as one double feature DVD per month from October through December. Well, I watched DON'T CHANGE YOUR HUSBAND and THE GOLDEN CHANCE, the first pair released, a few nights ago. While the films were nicely scored and tinted, someone in DVD production did an atrocious job with the transfer work. EE was, by far, the worst I've ever seen. Very distracting in EVERY scene; the cause is readily apparent when you see closeups of handwritten notes (i.e. black text on white, unlike intertitle cards) and the handwriting is surrounded by a huge white halo of oversharpening.

    It's a shame that these films are released in such a state. I'm pleased that someone cares enough to release them, and has otherwise put obvious care into the job, but there's really no excuse for such poor transfer work.
     
  5. Peter Raber

    Peter Raber Stunt Coordinator

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    And I was all set to buy the Alfred Hitchcock Presents series. Looks like I will pass. It's a shame too as that was a great show, but if Universal is not going to put the time in to give me the best product possible, then I am not giving them my hard earned money.

    I'm still mildly disappointed with the Star Trek Original series releases from Paramount. While overall the eps are great, there seem to be one or two moments in each episode where a bad piece of dirt or emulsion or line comes up and I cringe. That's to say nothing about the special effects which are all grainy. I just wish they spent some more time cleaning up those things which I am almost positive they could have done. It's not like they are not going to make the money from them. Obviously though most of these companies care only about the bottom line.
     
  6. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Marco: Thanks for bringing that article to our attention. [​IMG]

    It was, indeed, nicely done.
     
  7. Pete York

    Pete York Supporting Actor

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    Kudos to Leonard Maltin. One of the "blind" items in this article reminded me that Ray Bradbury talked more about MOBY DICK on the EC Comics documentary DVD than he did on the MOBY DICK DVD (which was zero, because there were no supplements). I'm not expecting this to change for the better any time soon. The music industry still hasn't figured out how to serve its customers.
     
  8. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    That's because we are all criminals, and we don't deserve quality or respect.

    Dan
     
  9. Mark Lucas

    Mark Lucas Second Unit

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    Doesn't Leonard Maltin have other people write his reviews for him in his books?
     
  10. Bob Graham

    Bob Graham Supporting Actor

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    Yes, Maltin does have collaborators on his TV Movie Books and he lists and credits them in the book's introduction every year.
     
  11. RaymondSteiner

    RaymondSteiner Stunt Coordinator

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    Nice Article, i feel the same way with lost in space.

    But even newer shows sometimes misses something, for example Smallville has been aired in 5.1 for some time now (even the pilot has a 5.1 track in Canada) but so far only dolby surround in the discs
     
  12. Shane_M

    Shane_M Stunt Coordinator

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    So true is his article. It used to take months to see a DVD hit shelves, and while it may take less time to produce them now then it did 5 years ago a lot of studios are dropping the ball.

    They need to take their time with each DVD and release it right once. This is why we so much double dipping coming from studio such as Fox with it's single disc editions and then later on it's 2-disc all access editions.

    Slow down. We'll wait for a proper release rather than one that's been slapped together for the almighty dollar.
     
  13. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

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    That's not a Quality Control issue, that's absolute pure naked GREED! [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  14. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    We're at the point when the studios are gearing up for Blu-Ray, HD or whatever the next craze will be, so I believe in a lot of cases they're not putting as much effort into the standard DVDs.
     
  15. John H Ross

    John H Ross Screenwriter

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    I doubt they'll stop putting A+ effort into their HD product too as soon as they've stopped trying to impress.

    JR
     
  16. CraigF

    CraigF Cinematographer

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    ^ It will be at least a few years until some HD DVD format (at a higher price) racks up sales comparable to standard DVD's...so I hope that's not the reason they're slacking. But that's another thread...

    I figure they're rushing things just to show some black ink, DVD sales is propping up the studios. Making better movies and paying less for overblown actors would help too...
     
  17. Roger Rollins

    Roger Rollins Supporting Actor

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    There are a lot of factors in this issue.

    My opinion is that even if there wasn't a format war, mass adoption of a Hi Def DVD format is not going to happen anywhere resembling the speed of standard DVD.

    Traditional DVD is going to be the prime source of revenue for all studios for many years to come. The concept of HiDef taking over Standard Def is probably at least 6-8 years away from its launch, even if there is no format war.

    There are still 30% of American households that don't have DVD players......

    I think you will continue to see great new releases from Warner and Criterion this year, as well as reissues from Paramount of a select group of titles from the Spelling/Republic/NTA library that will be reverting from Lion's Gate f/k/a Artisan. It's overall a pretty lousy library, but there are a few John Wayne jewels like QUIET MAN, the ubiquitous IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, the great JOHNNY GUITAR and INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, and the amazing Paramount pre-`1949 cartoon library (sans Popeye) that they may put a fresh coat of paint to as they have pretty much scraped the bottom of the barrel from their own library. They have released more than a hundred really obscure post-'50 Paramount features that have sold VERY poorly (per Neilsen Videoscan). So this will be helpful to this.

    Sony and its distributed label MGM, are pretty much lost causes at this point. Their records speak for themselves.


    Warner is the only studio with literally hundreds of important films that have yet to see DVD release, and yet we know that 99 44/100% of the time, what they do is worth the wait.

    Fox and Universal each have several dozen excellent films that have yet to see DVD release that could be profitable for them, but both companies actions reflect that they have no one internally who really understands their respective libraries. If they did, Fox would have released THE DOLLY SISTERS or MOTHER WORE TIGHTS or even MOON OVER MIAMI as their first Betty Grable DVD musical. Instead, they chose a title that anyone who isn't familiar with her films would seem obvious...PIN-UP GIRL. A mediocre film, but one that reflects knowledge of her in the historical/sociological realm, in terms of her WWII pin-up status, as opposed to someone who actually WATCHED the films, and looked up their past box-office. This problem of ignorance, or lack of knowledge runs through every studio with the exception of Paramount and Warner.

    Paramount has fallen short in the "extras" department time and time again, with the exception of the BATJAC titles they paid a fortune for this year, and where they had to deal with the approvals of Michael Wayne's widow (John Wayne's daughter in law), who, from, all accounts I've heard, is a sharp lady who actually directed Paramount as to what extras each title should have. I can't say this as fact, but I've heard it from too many disparate people, so it's likely true.

    The other huge problem is the influx of bad, unpopular TV shows that no one wants, clogging up shelves and retailer's "open=to=buy" dollars.

    I mean really, is the world waiting for THE JOEY BISHOP SHOW on DVD? or THAT'S MY MAMA, or the unknown one season flop GOOD MORNING, WORLD?

    Yet, they are out or coming out or are already out, from both big studios and little labels , taking away the potential (and shelf-space) for success of good product that HAS an audience and WILL sell well.

    If I could ask anything of the video industry it would be to stop re-issuing titles that didn't need to be re-released (Paramount's DON'T CALL ME SHIRLEY edition of AIRPLANE, Columbia multiple reissues of ANNIE and OLIVER, or Universal's 3rd or 4th well-dip on BREAKFAST CLUB or ANIMAL HOUSE, as well as the industry's responsibly looking at TV on DVD releases, and only releasing shows that have a full potential if marketed correctly. If a show was a flop the first time around (ground-breakers like FAMILY GUY or ACTION not-withsdtanding) it will be a flop on video.

    Lastly, we as consumers need to step up and support good releases, if it is within your financial means. I've bought many titles that still remained sealed on my shelf, as I had no urgent need to watch them, but I wanted to support their release, so that more bona fide classics would arrive.

    Granted, it's like voting. My one purchase doesn't make a difference, but when you've got Warner releases like the phenomenal CONTROVERSIAL CLASSICS box or Paramount's ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, it is a good idea to let your friends know what great purchases these are. Ditto an upgrade on a previously released title. There have been horrific disappointments in this arena (can one say OKLAHOMA!), but releases like the new OZ and last year's GONE WITH THE WIND show that such initiatives can be exceptional.

    In summation, there is and will continue to be, a great money to be made in this business of standard DVD for years to come, as long as the people making the decisions know the product they are selling, and didn't get to their respective studios after selling hair dye or toothpaste in their previous jobs!
     
  18. CraigF

    CraigF Cinematographer

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    Me too. I don't buy classics I don't want to watch, I just buy them ASAP to support more. There's (obviously) a lot of them, and keeping up with the new stuff too...

    What I don't do is buy n-th version releases that are a minimal repackage with some minor change.

    For all we know, some "stars"/directors/etc. might have it in their contracts that the studios *have* to do things like this. Some of the actions seem so dumb that you have to figure it may not always be a business-person behind the decision, and it may not just be the studios' "greed".
     
  19. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

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    You mean like Titanic where they live a digital artifact intact and don’t care to explain where in the pipeline it happened? [​IMG]
     
  20. GeorgePaul

    GeorgePaul Second Unit

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    ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT notwithstanding either.

    But for the most part, you're right: DVD boxed sets of crappy TV shows take up way too much space on store shelves to get the good stuff released fast enough. Especially if there are NO extras and the release is of a series still in production, not threatened with cancellation anytime soon. *cough* LAW AND ORDER *cough*

    (Yes, I'm aware that some seasons had extras--some did not. My point still stands.)

    Personally, I think buying a title just to "have it" in spite of botched PQ or VQ started this whole rotten trend of DVD re-releases just exposed this year. At most I think I have one or two titles in my collection I bought in spite of little/no extras, poor PQ or VQ or a combination of the three.

    And that's still one or two too many. Stop the double-dipping madness!
     

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