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. Lromero1396

    Lromero1396 Supporting Actor

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    I would agree on a remastered transfer since these discs were done back in the time when Universal smeared and sharpened everything to death, despite what some people say...
     
  2. Tom M

    Tom M Stunt Coordinator

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    The "To Be Continued..." was present on every home video format, not just VHS as Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis would have you believe. It was also included in both the original NBC and USA broadcasts.

    A widescreen version of the "TBC" can be seen on the letterboxed laserdisc.

    For 15 years or so, the "TBC" was attatched to the movie. Far longer than the movie existed without it. The "TBC" is part of the film's history whether Zemeckis and Gale like it or not. A seamless brnaching option would be the ideal solution.

    Hopefully, the next release will restore the "TBC".
     
  3. harveytwh

    harveytwh Extra

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    Bryan, I certainly agree with you. Even if it were just one categorical denial that would be enough for me to lose some faith and trust in them. I also am happy the original opening logos tend to get used (that is another thing many people seem to consider insignificant when other studios replace or update them, but it's part of a film or show's history if not actually part of the film through a visual gag or music continuity).

    I hope it didn't sound like I was rationalizing the missing Goldfinger ending. Whenever I notice something like that, I tend to catalog every version I am aware of to see if I have the correct one in some form. But that bugs me too, and not just in principle; it's really going out on a sour note. I'm talking about Goldfinger there, but on the topic of BTTF, it's funny another poster above mentioned the smash cut (which is to a cast list, not Zemeckis, for what it's worth), because I love that too and now the experience is messed up by taking me out of the moment.
     
  4. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    Harvey, I understand you'd like to see the Blu-ray get a new transfer to correct the spacing issue on the end credits. And I agree that you've caught an error. My issue with the title of the thread is that it implies a more serious issue to be addressed. Given how many bricks have been thrown at Universal for their Blu-rays over the past five years, an uninformed person could get the wrong impression. I'm not saying that you're wrong - just that there are other people who will seize on such a headline to continue the Universal=Bad Blu-rays meme I've been dealing with for some time now. We had a much more egregious situation two years ago, when American Graffiti was released on Blu and someone wrote a spectacular headline about their feelings about both Universal and the transfer. Your situation is much milder and, again, I think you're correct on your facts.

    Bryan, I hear your frustration as both a reviewer and as an AD who works on the production end of the pipeline. But not all the examples you're citing line up the way you're playing them. I didn't see the theatrical release of The Last Starfighter, so I can't speak to that one. I reviewed the Blu-ray but I don't believe I caught the missing cue, for obvious reasons. The Conan Blu-ray issue was addressed in my review of that title, and I think we agreed that this was a situation where they were using a mix from a European DVD release that didn't have the choral parts to some cues. As for The Blues Brothers' visual hiccup, we discussed this in the review and I noted that John Landis had approved the cuts used for both the theatrical and extended versions - which means that Universal will put that responsibility into his camp. Just as Universal can properly put responsibility for the end credits of Back to the Future with Bob Gale, as he supervised what was happening, and with Amblin, as they would have to approve it. As for Legend, that's something that was worked on with the approval of both Ridley Scott and Charles di Lauzirika, so again Universal would refer you to them. As for E.T., as we discussed last year, this is something that Steven Spielberg and his people approved. Those are not matters where some unnamed person in Universal's catalogue department just put something onto a disc with impunity. You're correct about the issues - but the blanket approach to assessing them doesn't hold up when we look at the specifics. And again, this is just looking at a few examples from Universal, when we've all found issues with titles coming from almost every company, whether it be things in the Bond films, issues with Fox releases, issues with Paramount releases, missing bits in Disney movies, etc. To single out Universal as having a record of this feels as a bit of an overreach to me.

    At the same time, I'm greatly appreciative that people are catching these things - it's a huge help as far as keeping the record straight on various movies as to what mistakes and/or changes have happened with those movies in their home video incarnations.

    I wonder if we have a thread that just catalogues this stuff. If we don't, it might not be a bad idea.
     
  5. harveytwh

    harveytwh Extra

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    Oh yeah, I don't want to sound like I'm singling out Universal (I didn't know that was a major theme).

    I don't know, of course, whether Gale and co sat down and reviewed every single frame with a loupe, or took a peek at a handful of scenes to make sure the overall look (graininess, color timing, etc.) was to their liking, or somewhere in between (like maybe making sure the framing was right after the DVD mixup). They might not even have seen the credits, for all I know. And of course no known errors is not the same as 100% inspected.

    Things do change, though, and in kind of minor situations (how minor depends on whom you ask). The BTTF II/III DVDs, of course, Disney's Pinocchio audio fix (and did they fix the Pirates of the Caribbean framing?), Monty Python's Meaning of Life (something with interlacing), etc. CBS-Fox made replacements when 7 seconds of welding was left off the start of one side of The Empire Strikes Back (Definitive Collection LD); they didn't say "George Lucas approved this so obviously it's correct as-is".

    You do a restoration (to whatever degree necessary) and you want to put out a quality product. The "version of record" comment definitely rings true; the closer we get to the fidelity of the original film, especially with these digital versions actually being used for theatrical exhibition, the more we want to know it's correct.

    At this point, I hardly ever watch a non-new movie without looking at imdb's alternate versions page; many of these things are listed there (and I've been adding some that aren't). It's not a great way to find all movies with such issues, but it's something. :)
     
  6. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    As I understand it, Bob Gale watched all 3 BTTF movies with the new transfers and approved them. The movies were also approved by Amblin. Granted, this isn't a perfect process - you've caught an error that proves he wasn't paying attention to the end credits on the first movie. And no, I strongly doubt that Gale was looking at every frame with a magnifying glass. But these guys do sit down to watch their movies to make sure they like the way they're being presented.

    You're absolutely right that we've seen recalls and corrections in the past, and we'll continue to do so. I'd add that problem with the Star Trek TNG S1 blus, which is the most recent situation of that kind I have seen. I didn't know about the Star Wars LD mistake, but I do know that there are plenty of fans who are quite unhappy with many other changes Lucas did make... (That's partly a joke - I know how big that can of worms is...)

    I've also found a few websites that track alternate versions of movies. It's a heck of a rabbit hole once you jump into the various home video and even theatrical versions of movies.

    Just as an example, JAWS:

    1. Theatrical Release version from 1975
    2. Cable TV version from 1980 (?) - Pan & Scan, radio music replaced
    3. VHS version - Pan & Scan, radio music replaced
    4. Discovision Version - Pan & Scan, radio music replaced
    5. Laserdisc Version - Pan & Scan, radio music replaced
    6. Widescreen Laserdisc Version - Letterboxed (non-anamorphic), radio music replaced
    7. Signature Laserdisc Version - Letterboxed (non-anamorphic)
    8. Widescreen VHS Version - Letterboxed (non-anamorphic)
    9. DVD Version - Anamorphic Widescreen, new 5.1 sound mix
    10. Blu-ray Version - HD Widescreen, new HD sound mix (albeit with mono mix included on disc)

    If we did a tracking of this for the Star Wars movies, with all the various different cuts and tweaks and changes, we'd be here all day and all night...
    5.
     
  7. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Cinematographer

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    This all basically boils down to knitpicking in the end. When the problem is hugely dabilitating (Case in point the old Apocalypse Now dvds) that's fine. When its a small problem that only 6 people will actually care about, you're Original-Trilogy.com.
     
  8. Professor Echo

    Professor Echo Screenwriter

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    As I posted earlier, I'm all for fans and buffs getting the version of a favorite movie as close to perfect as possible, but I can't help but wonder what a Universal Blu employee would make of nearly 50 posts on this subject. Quite frankly, I don't think they would take any of it seriously and could wind up dismissing forums such as this outright. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be posted or discussed, but my personal feeling on this is that rather than wake up the studio to transfer issues, it just discourages them from ever releasing titles with proper care and concern. After awhile they might think, why bother, nothing is ever going to be good enough.
     
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  9. Bryan Tuck

    Bryan Tuck Screenwriter

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    Fair enough; things happen sometimes, and it's not always the studio's fault. Still, some of these (such as the BTTF credits) seem like encoding errors that might have happened after Gale, etc., had signed off on them. And Universal seems more reluctant than other major studios to acknowledge and /or fix things. Fox/MGM may have botched their West Side Story fix (and actually kind of made it worse), but at least they made an attempt.
    I suspect the Legend situation was probably a case of using the 70mm mix, and it could be that way for Last Starfighter, also (although I doubt it, as the effects sound mixed as though they are meant to be accompanied by music). But in cases like that, I just wish they would include both 5.1 and 2.0 tracks, since with many 70s and 80s films, the 2.0 mix for 35mm prints would be a little more polished and was often considered more "finished." Since the capability for multiple tracks is there, it's disappointing when it's not used. But that's a different argument.
    Anyway, I understand this is all pretty nit-picky, but it just makes me wonder how many of these small errors go unchecked and then just become part of the movie after a while.
     
  10. Bob_S.

    Bob_S. Supporting Actor

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    Kind of like the big controversy over the wrong color transition on the West Side Story blu-ray? Not saying it isn't a legit concern but I know most people (meaning the general public) including myself would have never noticed it.
     
  11. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Cinematographer

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    Well to be fair they also bungled the sound mix on that one so there was a far more pressing matter.

    Also since E.T. was brought up, I seem to recall about the tons of complaints the dvd's 5.1 got because of a death moan removed in 1985. You just can't win with everybody.
     
  12. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    I believe the studios in general are aware that they're always going to get called out for whatever error the fans catch. Sometimes they take the time to fix them, like Universal with the BTTF DVDs 10 years ago and CBS with the TNG Blus last year. Sometimes they just double down - like with Fox at the outset of Blu-ray and Patton. Although they finally did fix Patton, it took 4 years.

    And I'd forgotten about E.T's moan. That was a whole can of worms on its own.

    And in my listing of 10 different versions of JAWS, I unforgivably left out the network television cut, which removed violence and language, and of course the great ABC 330 Movie cut, which hacked up what was left. That brings us to TWELVE versions of the movie! Not counting any changes made for international release. Yeesh.
     
  13. Bryan Tuck

    Bryan Tuck Screenwriter

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    Another can of worms when we get into TV versions :)
     
  14. kenkraly20212

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    The compiants about the end credits on the BTTF 1 blu-ray I can understand but I don't think it's a major issue at all and I don't think a studio like Universal would not re call a disc because of the end credits not being correct. But then again some people seem at times to complain about issues like this with the Star Wars Blu-Ray's in 2011 it was the scan line problems and over scan. On the Bond blu-ray's it was some of the credits being bigger than normal and on The opening credits of Star Trek III being bigger than normal and on and on. To me these issues are not that big of a problem but to some they are an issue.
     
  15. FoxyMulder

    FoxyMulder 映画ファン

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    I think some of the Bond's and Star Trek III have bigger issues than credits and should be redone for other reasons relating to image quality.
     
  16. harveytwh

    harveytwh Extra

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    Sidestepping any debate about whether or not to have further debate... just a reminder, if anyone happens to go to the special Cinemark screenings tomorrow or Wednesday, I'd certainly appreciate hearing how things look there. Apart from that I suppose I don't have anything else to add for now.
     
  17. zoetmb

    zoetmb Stunt Coordinator

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    Not true. I saw this film in the its original 70mm release in NYC and I believe it did have the "To Be Continued..." card. I remember thinking, "how did they know this was going to be a success?"

    Since that's the only time I saw the film theatrically, I really think I'm remembering this accurately. I don't believe I owned this on VHS and I definitely didn't own this on DVD, so I'm pretty sure I'm not confused. I do own it on BD, but I doubt I watched the end credits.
     
  18. Moe Dickstein

    Moe Dickstein Filmmaker

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    The filmmakers have stated emphatically that the TBC was only added for home video release, but prior to any concrete plans for the sequels
     
  19. Mike_G

    Mike_G Screenwriter

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    Nobody mentioned the audio difference between the film/VHS/LD and post-DVD releases where Doc Brown says "Marty, YOU MADE IT!"

    COMPLETELY different audio take there.
     
  20. harveytwh

    harveytwh Extra

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    Oh thank you! I have very occasionally heard people grumble about audio problems on the DVDs (and beyond, so I figure it's something to do with the 5.1 mix) but no one ever gave me specifics that would illustrate them. And I'm seeing the same on that line (it's at about 19:20, after Doc appears on-screen for the first time), where it's a little more reserved on DVD and up. I've seen the movie on 35mm three times since the DVDs came out, and if I'd known to listen for that line I would have! Is there anywhere these are listed??

    The only thing I had ever noticed before was in sound effects, specifically the timing of the time travel "arrival" triple-bursts. It's very pronounced, for example, in Part II, when Doc and Marty go from 1985-A to 1955, after the line "we must succeed"; the 5.1 has a long pause between the first two, while in the previous versions they're evenly spaced out (matching the video, incidentally, IIRC).

    I've wondered why this is. I know older films had slightly different versions/drafts for different film formats, like how Star Wars had a 6-track for 70mm, and a surround and mono for 35mm. But it doesn't seem like that would apply here, as much as I'd like to believe a long-lost full surround track was resurrected for the 5.1. It's a question I've posed often when I try to inquire about the other issues, and I'd still love to see that mix included, especially if it is the one and only true audio for the movie. For all three, of course.


    So did anyone make it to those retro showings at participating Cinemarks? I wasn't able to.
     

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