Happy birthday Back to the Future; will its Blu-ray transfer ever get corrected?

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by harveytwh, Jul 3, 2013.

  1. harveytwh

    harveytwh Extra

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    Back to the Future is 28 years old. For the 25th anniversary (well, of its October plot date) Universal gave us a fancy Blu-ray trilogy set (and DVDs from the same HD transfer), but the end credits on BTTF (not the sequels) are really messed up and Universal does not seem to want to do a thing about them, going as far as to say this is the original intended look.

    Take a look if you don't believe me. You'll notice that they aren't straight, or centered, and have been reduced to 75% width. It's undeniably a mistake, but unlike the framing corrections of II and III for the original DVDs, Universal seems quite reluctant to make a fix. I haven't gotten my hands on the 100-years-of-Universal box set that includes this film, but I have to assume this version is still being pressed.

    So, what can we do?

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  2. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Listen, I mean no disrespect with this answer.Some aspects of a film mean more than othersto some people....but end credits?! If I were a studio andfaced with having to spend money to remastera Blu-ray or DVD just because the credits aren'tcentered correctly, I don't think I would makethe choice in your favor.Things like these tend to get fixed in futurereleases if the film is even remastered at thatpoint.
     
  3. harveytwh

    harveytwh Extra

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    It's not so much the centering (I was trying to build up to the major problem) as the distortion, which is incredibly distracting (maybe even more so than the misframing of the 2002 DVDs).

    Apart from what's actually wrong with the transfer, the major issue I have is that Universal continues to insist that nothing is wrong; I agree that it seems like the sort of thing that would be reasonable to fix for the next release (or whatever future copies of this one are made), and even if they don't offer an exchange I'll buy another one, but that will never happen if they don't acknowledge the error. Meanwhile time is wasting and they've been cranking out discs for almost 3 years, plus inserting it into their prestigious century-spanning set, when this could have been settled long ago. That's why I've been trying to bring it to people's attention.
     
  4. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Cinematographer

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    You know of all the complaints that transfer has received (excessive EE, sharpening, etc.) the fact that the credits look squished is the last thing anybody cares about.
     
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  5. harveytwh

    harveytwh Extra

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    Anybody? Obviously not, though I know I'm one of the few vocalizing a complaint about it. And last? Why's it got to be last, as opposed to 2nd or 3rd? Even if it's not number one, why must one pick and choose? It seems sensible to point out more problems and collect them - maybe even more likely to get something done. I'd love to see the original Universal end logo show up, for example, but that hardly stands on its own.

    And let's remember too that this isn't a little squished. It is 4:3-vs.-16:9 squished. Don't you hate it when someone sets a TV up incorrectly and stretches and warps everything, by exactly that amount? It's a poor representation of the movie - sloppy, really - and it's offensive to the eye.

    I thought I read on here somewhere that the EE and sharpening concerns were inaccurate. I do disapprove of those things on principle, though, and if they're truly problematic I would of course love to see them addressed - I hesitate to say "with" my credits issue, but you know what I mean, I think, and at least they have more people fighting. Can you point me to a resource that shows the problems on BTTF? (And has anyone looked into the sound? I have definitely noticed differences in timing post-DVD but never hear about that.)
     
  6. Persianimmortal

    Persianimmortal Screenwriter

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    Let's be honest: how many people watch end credits? They could mess up the end credits to the point where they're back to front and upside down, and quite frankly I still wouldn't be concerned (and I doubt I'm the only one), because I eject the disc when I see the end credits start to roll. I applaud all those who have made a movie I enjoyed, but I'm not going to sit and read a scrolling list of names for five to ten minutes.

    It's fine to point out this issue, but given the credits are still legible and likely irrelevant to most viewers, it's not really a major issue.
     
  7. Mark Oates

    Mark Oates Supporting Actor

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    Frenzy?
     
  8. Ethan Riley

    Ethan Riley Producer

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    I'm more upset that they removed the " To Be Continued" card.
     
  9. Worth

    Worth Screenwriter

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    That was never part of the original film - it was only added to subsequent releases once the sequels were in the works.

    Personally, I'm not terribly upset about the credits, but I'd like to see a less processed looking, more film-like transfer.
     
  10. harveytwh

    harveytwh Extra

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    I'm not naive enough not to realize that half the reason (or more) people seem unaware of this and greet it with such apathy is not many give the credits a second thought. But that's still a pretty glib and insulting attitude to take. They're still part of the movie, and deserve the same fidelity as the rest of it. They certainly don't deserve to look like this, on such a high-profile movie, in perpetuity (which is what I foresee/dread happening).

    Consider the "framing fiasco" and how major that was. A lot of what is being said here can apply. The misframed movies were still watchable. Almost no one noticed; I myself didn't realize anything was wrong until I read it online a few months later, and unless one was watching for loads of extra sky or key items just out of frame, it was easy to miss. And a lot of people didn't care when informed, even when there was a free replacement program. Universal should have delayed production, but at least it fixed the problem and offered replacements within a year. This is an error on a similar level. Realistically I know it's not recall-worthy... it may not even be free-replacement worthy. Universal should take enough pride in its product to fix it for future copies or releases, though... and nothing is going to happen while it blindly insists nothing's even wrong!

    By the way, while I don't plan to get into a discussion of the merits of watching through end credits overall, at least not in this thread, I suggest that you try it some time. You may be pleasantly surprised.
     
  11. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

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    Agreed, these just don't look as film-like as they should. The HDTV masters actually looked better in this regard.
     
  12. Ernest

    Ernest Supporting Actor

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    We really should place our efforts on convincing the studios to spend money on releasing many of the old very good catalog titles not on Blu-ray. Many terrific titles have never been released on DVD. There are lots of excellent catalog titles the money would be better spent on rather than correcting the credits on any Blu-ray release. Titles like "Seven Cities of Gold" Anthony Quinn, "Esther and the King" Joan Collins, "At Play in the Fields of the Lord", "War and Peace", "Silver Chalice" "55 Days at Peking" and many many more.
     
  13. Professor Echo

    Professor Echo Screenwriter

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    While I'm all for fans being unequivocally pleased with their favorite movies on Blu, perhaps some compromises should be acceptable in the long run. I'm getting tired of studios releasing the same movies over and over again, whether it's just to commemorate some marketing department dictated occasion or to add a feature or two or to correct something that was not so egregious in the first place. I agree with Ernest, I would much rather see that time, effort and capital go toward the release of something that has not been already released, especially if that prior title was in a version the majority of learned cinephiles were largely satisfied with.
     
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  14. Sumnernor

    Sumnernor Supporting Actor

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    I have recently bought the Region free set from the UK of Back To The Future and have looked at the closing credits and they look fine to me. They are centered in the middle. The left side last character ends centered on the right end- Likewise the items on the right side are centered on the left end. I don't see any problem! I looked at the first post and that is what I have.
     
  15. Persianimmortal

    Persianimmortal Screenwriter

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    Absolutely no comparison. Misspelling credits, particularly ones that appear prominently over the start of a movie, which virtually everyone will see, is an entirely different issue. For one thing, getting a name wrong in a credit is a legal liability, which is why Universal reprinted that disc. For another, it looks incredibly amateurish for a studio to release a movie with simple typos and spelling mistakes in the credits which everyone can see. Lastly, the problems were pointed out just prior to the disc's release, so it was a bit easier for them to reprint the disc without having a massive recall/replacement program.

    The end credits in Back to the Future are (I assume) entirely correct in their content, extremely legible, appear at the end of the movie where most people will not see them, and unless you'd have told me otherwise, I, like most others, would assume that they are correct as they stand. They don't look overly squished, off centre or slanted while viewing the disc.

    In an ideal world they should be corrected. But on a scale of 1 to 10 for problems with movies, this rates a 2 at best. Haranguing a studio to fix this issue will only ensure that they ignore enthusiasts in the future as being prone to raising pedantic problems. There are much bigger fish to fry.
     
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  16. harveytwh

    harveytwh Extra

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    I didn't expect this to go into prioritization talk; to be clear, I am not trying to insinuate a ranking above a more filmic transfer or getting never-released titles out (or looking into audio and other issues). Is there a reason one can't have both? It can't be as much effort or cost to rescan these (etc.) as a whole movie, and if this other HDTV master is part of the equation it probably would make it easier. At this point, compared to 2010, I don't really see it being a fix for this release (in the sense of the V2 version of 2002's DVDs being in the same package and all), maybe not even if the movies are sold separately in a year or so... but let's say there's a 30th anniversary double dip (I am with the poster above on the wastefulness of that, yet still foresee it); wouldn't it be nice to try to have all the issues fixed? A shame, certainly, to merely say nothing.

    I admit I hadn't thought of the element of haranguing and destroying good will. I'm trying not to do that, exactly, though I know I am too good at annoying people. It doesn't help when the official stance is not simply "this doesn't merit the effort" but "this is how it's supposed to look", you know? My primary aim for now, and the reason for posting it here, is to spread awareness, the same way others would point out edge enhancement, and hope that the more people there are who know, the more likely someone who would care and could effect change will hear.

    I was going to say that I was happy that even though step 2, people caring, doesn't seem to be getting as far as I'd wished, people here at least seemed to be on board with step 1, recognizing the error... but as the replies rolled in today I got the sense that wasn't happening either. I know it's subtle, especially without a typographer's eye or a direct comparison image... this sentiment applies to the uncited cinephiles whose approval I doubt comes from a review of a complete visual comparison (or - as we've seen - someone for whom the credits are not an afterthought). It's plain as day to me, though. Sumnernor, you are saying that the region-free version matches what I posted yesterday? Persianimmortal, same for your version? I have some better comparison images that I can post. I will work on that.


    By the way, for those whom it may interest: the "To Be Continued" ending did get preserved in the digital domain, at about 3 minutes in the "BTTF Night" feature (shortly after the "jerks" TV take), and about 7:20 in "Making the Trilogy" part 2. The version of the movie with TBC has the same audio timing, but shifts the video content of the credits back a few seconds (so they end on silence, as opposed to being sped up).
     
  17. Persianimmortal

    Persianimmortal Screenwriter

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    I have the UK version of the Back to the Future Trilogy, and I just checked the end credits on the first disc - they're identical to the images you posted in your first post. Now that you've raised the point, yes I can see that they're not straight, and they appear slightly squashed. But it is otherwise unnoticeable, as they are perfectly legible and the text doesn't appear overly "squished". I imagine it would be a simple fix for Universal, but I doubt we'll see it happen until the next major release of this movie, likely at 4K resolution in the next 5-10 years or so.
     
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  18. AnthonyClarke

    AnthonyClarke Screenwriter

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    Faulty transfers are annoying but I'd place this in the 'mildly annoying' category UNLIKE the abominable transfer of The Big Country which was transferred to Blu ray at the wrong aspect ratio from start to finish, stretching the characters sidewise as if they'd all been dining at MacDonalds for five years before making the movie. This was a simple technical error but it appears the owner has no interest whatsoever in fixing it. I've mentioned this before, and will keep doing so because I believe this was a fine movie and we should be able to see it in its correct ratio.
     
  19. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    Simple, and abominable. In my book, watching a picture that's DISTORTED is unbearable, and being forced to do so is unforgivable.
     
  20. harveytwh

    harveytwh Extra

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    Exactly, it's the distortion that stresses me most (obviously an entire movie's worth of it is worse; that one release of Gulliver's Travels also comes to mind). I'm sure I'm not even close to alone here in having aspect ratios and related topics as a major hot button... misframing (Willy Wonka, anyone?) and distortion being among those related topics. We've seen people with widescreen TVs who stretch 4:3 content to fit, and wonder how they can think that looks natural, and so on. That's what we're looking at here (forget for a moment the worthiness debate, I'm just fleshing out the details). I can imagine someone knocking the scanner out of alignment, then some sort of trigger going off when it finds picture info out of range and "correcting" it by changing the frame from 16:9 to 4:3 or something.

    Here is a pair of comparison images with markup. By the way, for reference, the font is Avant Garde (a lookalike, Century Gothic, is more likely to be on your computer). This is the original (as seen theatrically and in all home video versions through 2009) with added gridlines:
    bttf02dvd.png

    This is from the 2010. While all the problems are marked in it, the primary highlight is the distortion.
    bttf10dvd.png
     

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