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Columbia TriStar: What happened?


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#1 of 40 MatthewA

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Posted October 28 2003 - 06:10 AM

This studio used to lead the way in great DVDs, but now they drop so many balls I have to take an umbrella into Best Buy. A list of recent transgressions against the DVD format:

—Irregular TV show release patterns
—P&S releases of movies, including one filmed in Panavision (Casey's Shadow), and one with a letterbox master airing on TCM (The Trouble With Angels)
—Poor transfers on some older films
—Allowing cut episodes of TV shows to surface (2 Sanford & Son, 2 Soap, 1 Forever Knight) (Don't tell me they don't exist, as some of the uncut ones have surfaced on Columbia House tapes)
—Overcrowding TV show episodes onto as few discs as possible (if I liked Dawson's Creek at all I would be mortified)
—Not even addressing these issues

What is happening here?

Enough is enough, Disney. No more evasions or excuses. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray along with the uncut version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray. I will not support anything your company produces until then.


#2 of 40 Jesse Skeen

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Posted October 28 2003 - 06:25 AM

You must be reading my mind- I was going to post the exact same thing! Though this has been going on more than a year now. Considering the amount of "press releases" they send, I think someone should explain what the heck's going on with them. This should go in Feedback though, maybe someone'll see it there.
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#3 of 40 Mark Zimmer

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Posted October 28 2003 - 09:10 AM

Let's add:
Use Sony compression equipment, which seems to add excessive edge enhancement to all transfers that use it, even when EE is turned off (see Lawrence of Arabia Superbit).
I have trouble coming up with any CTHV releases that don't have EE plaguing them.

#4 of 40 Mark Walker

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Posted October 28 2003 - 09:30 AM

I know what you all mean. I used to like Columbia-TriStar, now I fear that every back catalog and/or any foriegn film is going to have a Madacy-quality transer, and probably not be anamorphic.

Now I am very worred about the future DVD release of Powell and Pressburger's Stairway to Heaven.
(No, it has not been announced, but a restored print exists, which, based on Colubia's recent track record, doesn't seem to imply it will be utilized for the DVD.)

Mark

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#5 of 40 Tom Tsai

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Posted October 28 2003 - 09:58 AM

Yeah, I used to like Columbia Tristar, but ever since Superbit came along, all their major blockbusters doesn't seem to have the same good transfer...it seems like they're just waiting to re-release them in Superbit.

#6 of 40 Jesse Skeen

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Posted October 28 2003 - 10:20 AM

But the titles that aren't worthy of being released in Superbit just get a "full screen" pan and scan transfer now.
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#7 of 40 Dick

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Posted October 28 2003 - 10:59 AM

Columbia is only about one notch above Universal now in my book, and Universal is the dregs. Columbia releases good (even great) movies but doesn't pay them their due on DVD. They must have imbeciles running their home video division, as things have definitely plummeted downhill during the past two years, and there ain't much further to go before they hit bottom. Shame.

#8 of 40 Adam_ME

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Posted October 28 2003 - 11:10 AM

Does anyone know how Sony's shoddy handling of its DVD releases has affected its sales and market share? I'd like to think that consumers aren't rewarding their half-assed efforts and shameful marketing gimmicks like the Superbit line by purchasing more of their DVDs. I know I'm not.

At this point, only Fox, New Line, WB, and Dreamworks have gained my complete trust to the point where I don't fear preordering one of their titles before reading any reviews.
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#9 of 40 Andy_MT

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Posted October 28 2003 - 11:17 AM

and not forgetting the faulty audio on many of their new releases (crackling on center channel). absolutely pitiful. cost cutting i can understand (given sonys predicament), but to release faulty products (and to either not know they are faulty, or to not do anything about it) is about the lowest this studio has gone.

#10 of 40 Justin Bauer

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Posted October 28 2003 - 11:48 AM

Does anyone have any contact info for CT? I want to email them regarding their botching of the MArried...With Children set.
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#11 of 40 Rob Tomlin

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Posted October 28 2003 - 12:06 PM

Quote:
Use Sony compression equipment, which seems to add excessive edge enhancement to all transfers that use it, even when EE is turned off (see Lawrence of Arabia Superbit).


The equipment they use always adds edge enhancement (even the holy grail DVD's like the Superbit version of The Fifth Element has some) but it is not always excessive.

I think when used conservatively, the EE that the Sony equipment adds had at least some positive impact on what many people thought were good, sharp, transfers if they were viewing on a smaller or average size rear projection TV (say 50 inches or smaller).

On bigger, front projection screens, the EE has always been noticeable and distracting to varying degrees (see posts by Bjorn Roy).

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#12 of 40 Bill Burns

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Posted October 28 2003 - 12:13 PM

Man, you guys are harsh. Posted Image Can I serve as the lone voice of dissent here, and say that Universal and Columbia are my second and third favorite of the major studios right now for DVD support, with Warner Bros. first? I find their recent work excellent.

The primary trouble with C/T is edge enhancement, but this seems only to plague their 'Scope and large format transfers (of which Lawrence of Arabia is of course one). I've only noted it as a problem on 'Scope/large format material, and others have said this is the case, but I haven't re-examined their matted and full screen material to check. I can, however, say that their classic transfers have been lovely for quite some time, and those I've recently examined show few if any signs of visible edge enhancement; while I haven't seen the infamously contentious transfers of The Awful Truth and You Can't Take It With You (both may be element related, rather than transfer related), I find a number of Columbia's classic titles set an absolute reference standard for the format: you simply will not find better B&W transfers than Only Angels Have Wings and His Girl Friday, and many others (both B&W and color), including Pennies From Heaven (Bing Crosby), Lost Horizon, It Happened One Night, Pal Joey, and ... so many titles are just terrific, a joy to watch. Many of these were issued early in the format, but a number of recent classic titles from the studio have received very positive reviews (I haven't yet seen them myself), including Cover Girl, You'll Never Get Rich, and others. The studio has at least two more classics due by year's end: Platinum Blonde (Capra, Harlow) and Ship of Fools, and both boast transfers downconverted from high definition masters (a policy which Columbia/TriStar put into place way back in 1997, and one which made their early product rise so readily above the competition). There remains some confusion concerning SoF's AR, but we'll know more when box cover scans are up, and of course when reviews are in. Other recent classics include The Marrying Kind, The Jolson Story, Jolson Sings Again ... the titles stretch on and on.

I think the studio's very much on the right track. If they could eliminate visible EE from their 'Scope and large format transfers, and perhaps maintain a steady flow of classics (one or two titles a month, well done), there'd be little room for criticism. I'm very pleased with their current classic support, and DVD packages such as Starship Troopers: SE 2-disc (I haven't seen the Superbit) are really quite superb.

As to Universal, they remain the only major studio to widely support double feature releases at a competitive, single-feature price point. Their many Bob Hope Tribute Series releases (the Road pictures are one to a disc, but most of the others are double features, I believe), their trio of Bing Crosby releases (including a DVD-14 for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court / Emperor's Waltz), and their exceptionally-priced triple feature George Burns Collection, are outstanding examples of classic films done right on DVD. Of the Bing Crosby releases, the B&W transfer of Rhythm on the River (of Rhythm on the Range / Rhythm of the River) is particularly good.

The studio has also notably licensed several of their Paramount titles to Kino for release, among them three William Wyler films and two upcoming Rouben Mamoulian films. They've also licensed product to Criterion (Lubitsch's Trouble in Paradise, and I believe Sturges' The Lady Eve -- mediocre elements -- and Sullivan's Travels -- much better; it seems they also licensed The Scarlet Empress to Criterion, but I'm only going by memory here, and there are at least one or two more Kino titles as well ...). The elements/transfers have ranged from excellent (The Love Trap, minus a brief digital glitch) to rather poor (Counsellor At Law -- this may be the best condition in which it survives, for all I know), and I do wish Universal would release these themselves (to their recent standards of excellence in both quality and pricing), but at least they're putting the material out there, even if through license, and Kino and Criterion are fine independents to whom to license.

Recently, Universal's website posted news of February releases to include an eight film set (reportedly two DVD-18s, though I don't know if the site itself has confirmed this) of Abbott and Costello releases, a set of all four Airport films (DVDFile says each will offer 16x9 formatting), and a new double feature of both the original Imitation of Life (1934) and its Douglas Sirk remake (which is already available as a single disc).

It sounds as if 2004 has a great deal in store from both studios, and I'm pleased as punch with their output right now, and the quality they maintain (EE for C/T my one serious point of contention).

The EE problems for Columbia are ultimately better, for their seeming exclusivity to wide releases, to the excessive and distracting EE found on some of the early Fox Studio Classic releases, for instance (I've heard positive word on recent offerings, and hope this problem has been fixed, but it was glaringly troublesome on Gentleman's Agreement, to name one title). While all studios (even Warner Bros., with their very distressing lack of 1.66:1 16x9 formatting support and lack of 3-D support) have points for improvement, I find the output of Universal and Columbia to be a standard among classic libraries, a standard that continues to rise. The foremost standard rests with Warner Bros., due in part to their work both with LDI and in-house on image and sound quality, and further due to WB's wonderful work in the arena of supplemental content management/creation (which is on full display in their 2-disc SEs), but in areas of both quantity and quality, I believe Columbia and Universal serious contenders for the crown. And while they've had their spotty "new" releases* (Back to the Future misframing, 'Scope and large format-sourced Superbits with excessive EE, etc.), I have nothing but praise and encouragement for the release models both studios seem to be embracing ever more steadily. Posted Image

I don't expect all to share my contentment, but I do believe it justified, and I hope both studios know how much I appreciate their work.

* Certain other new releases, however, absolutely shine; some here have been very miffed by the forced trailers (I get those every week in the multiplex; they're not a big deal for me), but the OAR 16x9 re-release of Babe, with DD and DTS, commentary, intro, and brief segment on the FX, all for about $15 retail, is an outstanding bargain -- a while in coming, but very welcome and very praiseworthy. I hope Universal similarly revisits the hilarious Fierce Creatures (not so much a family film, that one, but a classic all the same Posted Image).

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#13 of 40 BruceKimmel

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Posted October 28 2003 - 12:57 PM

I'm with you - and I just don't get the belly-aching about a studio like Columbia, which regularly puts out incredible transfers of even lesser catalogue titles. I mean, honestly, are you people just blind? Their full frame or pan and scan releases of widescreen or scope films are REALLY the exception not the rule - I can only think of a handful of them. I mean, we've got The Swimmer for God's sake - one of my favorite guilty pleasures - in a gorgeous anamorphic transfer, same with two recent Judy Holliday black and white films from the fifties, The Marrying Kind and The Solid Gold Cadillac. Tha Man from Laramie, incredible. Bye Bye Birdie, incredible. Even Stop, Look and Laugh, which could have been full frame and actually looked all right was done anamorphic since that's the way it was projected in the theaters.

Yes, I wish they'd done Anatomy in its proper ratio, yes I wish they'd done Cowboy in its proper ratio - and there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason why they didn't, since they did do 3:10 to Yuma properly. But the titles they've screwed up are few and far between and so I'm at a loss as to the anti-Columbia feelings here. It's ridiculous, really.

#14 of 40 Mark Walker

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Posted October 28 2003 - 02:04 PM

BruceKimmel-


The Apu Trilogy: Despite restored prints available, early reports indicate that CT is using old transfers.

The Awful Truth: One of the best Cary Grant comedies; one of the worst video pictures this side of a Madacy (public domain) release.

Of the "handful" of Columbia Tri-Star back catalog films that I have wanted in the last year, 100% of them have far from stellar, many so crappy people refuse to buy them: (Do a HTF search for "The Awful Truth" if you don't believe me.) and when a company doesn't even bother to use the best prints available, the "belly-aching" is more than justifiable.

Mark

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#15 of 40 Colin Jacobson

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Posted October 28 2003 - 02:42 PM

Quote:
Month Python's The Meaning of Life: Problems for nearly all with high end progressive DVD players.


Meaning of Life is a Universal DVD...
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#16 of 40 Rob Tomlin

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Posted October 28 2003 - 02:48 PM

Quote:
I'm at a loss as to the anti-Columbia feelings here. It's ridiculous, really.


While Columbia has released some really good titles and transfers, there is always room for improvement. I now put Columbia somewhere in the middle of my list of top studios for quality DVD's.

Wanting a studio to improve on their DVD releases doesn't necessarily equate to "anti-Columbia feelings", does it?

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#17 of 40 MatthewA

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Posted October 28 2003 - 02:51 PM

Bye Bye Birdie was released in 1999. In fact, it was one of the earliest DVDs I bought.

Enough is enough, Disney. No more evasions or excuses. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray along with the uncut version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray. I will not support anything your company produces until then.


#18 of 40 Bob Cashill

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Posted October 28 2003 - 04:02 PM

QUEEN MARGOT is a Buena Vista release.

#19 of 40 Bill Burns

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Posted October 28 2003 - 04:04 PM



Rob wrote:
Quote:
I think when used conservatively, the EE that the Sony equipment adds had at least some positive impact on what many people thought were good, sharp, transfers if they were viewing on a smaller or average size rear projection TV (say 50 inches or smaller).

Perish the thought. I honestly couldn't disagree more -- I watch at 32" (16x9 capable) from about seven feet away, no SVM, Avia calibrated, and easily see edge enhancement on titles such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Superbit), Fox's Gentleman's Agreement (Studio Classics), and so forth. It's very distracting.

This site (and specifically this page of the site) explains why EE is a bad thing in a postage-sized screen cap, much less on a television screen:

http://www.videophil..._EE/Page_01.htm

And the most egregious DVD example of the disease (as I'm intent on calling it henceforth) noted on that site can be found here:

http://www.videophil.../TPM/TPM_01.htm

Most EE is of a far lesser intensity, and it still bothers me to no end. It's not there in the theatre (barring heavily processed shots in films like Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, where it's quite intentional), so I shouldn't see it on a 32" Wega.

Quote:
Wanting a studio to improve on their DVD releases doesn't necessarily equate to "anti-Columbia feelings", does it?

Have you read Dick and Adam's posts (# 7 and #8)? If anyone said such things about me, I wouldn't hesitate to label them anti-Bill. Posted Image

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#20 of 40 BruceKimmel

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Posted October 28 2003 - 06:44 PM

Mark Walker:

You have listed three Columbia titles. If that's the best you can do I'm afraid you lose the argument. I have many many Columbia titles in my collection and most of them are splendid, and that includes the Superbit Lawrence of Arabia. My point was, they do it right more often than they do it wrong, just like many other companies. If you can only complain about three titles (do you own more - are you just not mentioning the good transfers?) Have you actually SEEN Apu or are you just taking Gary Tooze's word -although I've heard it's not so hot, but that might not be their fault, they might have used the best they had to use. I have the region 2 Apu Trilogy and it's not so hot, either.

I'll say it again - I just don't get it. Companies can't win - we don't live in that kind of world today, sadly.


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