The Wire on Bluray... Will it ever appear?

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by John CW, Sep 19, 2010.

  1. John CW

    John CW Supporting Actor

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    Hi all, I was wondering what people think about the possibility of David Simon's The Wire appearing on Bluray. It seems like it might never be appearing at this rate and I was wondering why.
     
    I understand that The Wire was shot 4:3, and while Seasons 1, 2 and 3 were "future proofed" for 16:9 (making sure it could be broadcast that way later), Seasons 4 and 5 were just shot straight 4:3. This shouldn't be a problem for HD viewing, though, as it was shot on 35mm and so could look gorgeous in 4:3 1080p on Bluray, especially since the picture quality on DVD is pretty poor on some episodes (see Season 4 -- yikes, some awful compression artefacts there!).
     
    I've also read that even when broadcast on HBO it was shown as upscaled SD.
     
    Is the issue with HBO or with the creators? According to one of the DPs, it was Simon himself who decided that 4:3 looked more "real", in a meeting they had prior to the start of Season 4. I can't help worry that Simon is being over-protective of his baby and doesn't understand the best way to present it. I really cannot imagine I would be any less immersed in The Wire if I watched it without black bars down either side of my screen. I also think I would only be MORE involved if I was watching it in HD, not least thanks to the reduction of compression artefacts.
     
    So to ask my question once again: What's the deal with The Wire on Bluray? Will it ever appear? If not, why not? It'd be great to finally put this question to bed, once and for all.
     
    Thanks a lot.
     
    PS - Sorry if this has been asked before, but searching for "The Wire" only bring up posts about cabling
     
  2. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Never say never but I doubt you'll see The Wire on Blu-ray. As much as I love the show and would buy it in a heartbeat, it's not that popular of a show. When you look at a popular show like The Sopranos and see that the Blu-rays for that show seem to be dead in the water, I don't see much hope for The Wire. Maybe when downloading becomes more prevelant (though I definitely think that those days are years away), they'll release an HD version but I don't think it'll actually come to a physical disc. All that being said, I hope I look at the TV Shows On DVD site tomorrow and they prove all of the above wrong because The Wire on Blu-ray would be great.
     
    As for the show being shown at 16:9, I hope and pray that that never happens. The show is meant to be seen at 4:3. The extra space on the sides of the 16:9 frame is just extra space on the sides and is not intended to be seen.
     
  3. Bill GrandPre

    Bill GrandPre Cinematographer

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    I don't know what's worse about this statement, the ignorance or the arrogance.
     
    I absolutely love the HD-era hypocrisy. A few years ago if someone had posted a similar preference for a pan-and-scan presentation of a widescreen film they would have been crucified. Back then it was easy to just think Joe Sixpack was the only one who wanted to fill his screen up but good with no regard for artistic intent.
     
    But yeah, when it comes to "The Wire" we have a case in which the primary creative force behind the show (in this case, the executive producer) has made it absolutely crystal clear that he prefers the show to be seen in 4x3 SD. End of discussion.
     
    Craig S likes this.
  4. John CW

    John CW Supporting Actor

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    Got a quote to back up your bold statement? The best I can find is this:

    DP Dave Insley: "The reason the show has stayed 4x3 is because David Simon thinks that 4x3 feels more like real life and real television and not like a movie. The show's never been HD, even 4x3 HD and that (SD) is how it is on the DVDs. There is no 16x9 version anywhere."

    You'll note that it's not David Simon making that statement, and that there's no mention of Simon's preference of 4x3 SD over 4x3 HD as you boldly claim.

    You'll also note that Insley doesn't say "Simon thinks The Wire feels more like real life in 4x3", but rather that 4:3 ITSELF feels more like real life. Just because Simon believes that doesn't make it true. I do NOT feel that 4:3 feel more like "real life", and I've given it serious consideration since I first read that statement a few months back.

    Even if you dispute that, there are still obvious problems with Insley's statement:

    1. There is heavy compression on the DVDs (especially Season 4). HD would eliminate that.
    2. They shot the show on 35mm. Unless the entire team was being deliberately and insanely wasteful, they could have saved a BOATLOAD of cash shooting on 16mm or hell, even DV, if the show was only ever intended to be seen in SD.
    3. David Simon, wonderful guy though he is (and a real gent in real life, too), and incredible writing talent though he is, is a newspaper reporter, who became an author, who became a TV writer. He has no background in photography or even experience in direction. Artistically I feel my point still stands: My experience would not be diminished by watching The Wire without a) compression artefacts and b) with additional detail. And that's got nothing to with it being in 16x9 or 4x3.

    Finally, the creative force isn't always right, and it's not always ignorant or arrogant to disagree with them: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present George Lucas.

    Has anyone got a direct quote from Simon himself on this matter? I believe that would actually answer my original question.
     
  5. John CW

    John CW Supporting Actor

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    I suppose it's also worth pointing out that I never suggested The Wire have its composition retroactively changed from 4:3 to 16:9. I've added a "4:3" to my original post to hopefully make that clearer.
     
  6. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    I'm not trying to start any problems but since David Simon was the boss, the directors and cinematographers would follow his wishes to shoot 4x3.
     
    As for David Insley's statement, I think what he means is that there is no HD version of the show as of now (or whenever that quote is from) and not that the show isn't meant to be or can't be seen in HD. If the show was coming to Blu-ray, they'd create an HD master which would/should still be in the 4x3 aspect ratio as per Simon's wishes. The show being presented at 4x3 doesn't mean that it can't be 1080p on Blu-ray.
     
  7. Trevor824

    Trevor824 Extra

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    As I write this, THE WIRE complete box set is # 333 on the bestseller list at Amazon. That includes movies and TV.
     
    THE SOPRANOS complete set is # 1,058
     
    And, DEADWOOD is # 629.
     
    THE WIRE is actually more popular than either of those HBO series. It ranks # 15 in all HBO titles, behind TRUE BLOOD, ENTOURAGE, SEX AND THE CITY and some of the TV films.
     
    If DEADWOOD is getting a Blu-Ray release in November, I don't think it is out of the possibility to see THE WIRE on Blu-Ray.
     
    My main reason for wanting to see the show released is because the DVD box set has gotten so many negative reviews due to faulty discs in the complete series. I haven't bought it because of this.
     
  8. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    OK but the current sales position at one website is not always going to be indicative of how well a show has done over time. For example, the Star Wars trilogy is currently at #119 and Jillian Michaels: Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism is at #99 but I really doubt that Jillian Michaels has outsold Star Wars over time and the same is true for The Sopranos and The Wire.
     
  9. Corey3rd

    Corey3rd Screenwriter

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    The Wire is like that cult book that keeps gaining a new audience because it wasn't over exposed and the constant water cooler show. People don't feel like they've missed out on a trend when a pal gives them a copy of the first season boxset.
     
  10. Trevor824

    Trevor824 Extra

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    I don't have the numbers, but I would believe that THE WIRE has been a more popular title over time than DEADWOOD and if DEADWOOD is going Blu, that should show there is a market for it.
     
     
  11. John CW

    John CW Supporting Actor

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    Not sure why you think this would start any problems, the discussion is mostly about 4x3 SD versus 4x3 HD...
     
  12. BLangeman

    BLangeman Auditioning

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    There are many other reasons to shoot on 35mm other than the resolution. The larger imaging area gives you a more selective depth of field. Higher dynamic range. Better color reproduction. Better color reproduction also equals footage that can be manipulated more in color grading. Ability to crop, because of higher resolution. 35mm will also look "sharper" than 16mm and especially DV, even when scaled down to SD.
     
  13. John CW

    John CW Supporting Actor

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    I guess that's true, but it seems the creative team felt the same as me: it WAS wasteful.

    Apparently once they made the decision to keep the show in 4x3 (before Season 4 began shooting) they changed how the show was shot: David Insley says, "These later episodes of the show [seasons 4 and 5] are shot Super 35, 3-perf, and that saves a lot of money because that means we're shooting about three quarters of the film we used to. But we're only using the 4x3 part, so we're losing the edges of the 16x9, but it's less than we were using when it was 4-perf, so (the image is) somewhere between a Super 16 image and a standard 35 (mm) image."

    I still think there would be nothing wrong with allowing people to own a 4x3 HD version of the show, regardless.
     
  14. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    The wire box set is now $75 at Amazon. I'm going to give up waiting and order today.

    I expect the Bluray will be announced next week. You all are welcome =)

    Sam

    (BTW Deadwood is $95 on Bluray too. I might have to break down and get both. Never seen a single episode of either.)
     
  15. Krh2o

    Krh2o Auditioning

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    FYI, if you have Directv, their 101 Network is showing the Wire on Sunday nights, in widescreen HD. They are almost done with season 2, and the pic quality is pretty good, about as good as a CSI or NCIS HD rerun on cable. We will see what happens when we get to Season 4.

    Another possibility for why it was shot is 4:3 for seasons 4 and 5, it did not do that good ratings wise after three seasons and almost was canceled. The break between seasons 3 and 4 was almost 2 years, so maybe to save money they shot it that way. I have no idea just speculating.
     
  16. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    ^ I think that since the show was shot in the 2000's, there's most likely 1.78 versions of all the episodes but the show is still intended to be seen at 1.33. If there's a 1.78 version of The Wire, you're seeing too much information on the left and right sides of the frames.
     
  17. John CW

    John CW Supporting Actor

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    No sign of it, Sam, but I hope you're right and that it's coming soon!
     
  18. John CW

    John CW Supporting Actor

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    All these years later and still no sign. At least we're getting Twin Peaks soon :)
     
  19. jimmyjet

    jimmyjet Producer

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    i understand the desire for hd clarity, the removal of artifacts, etc.

    i dont see the big deal about aspect ratio ? stating that one is better than the other seems totally subjective.
     
  20. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Shots in a movie or a TV show are composed with the shape of the screen in mind. They are intended to be seen in a specific way so there's no subjectivity about it.
     

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