Apparently Universal has decided to institute a replacement program for those who purchased earlier Blu-ray releases.
Here's the info:
To receive a replacement, please send the Blu-ray disc only, without packaging to:
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Attn: Consumer Relations
c/o Deluxe Media Management
P. O. Box 801464
Valencia, CA 91380 - 1464
Please send the Blu-ray disc only, via traceable method, and allow 3 - 4 weeks to receive the replacement .
A nice move. Hat's off to Universal for this decision!
Sydney Pollack's 1985 Out of Africa was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, and won 7, including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Cinematography, Art Direction, Sound, and Score.
In my opinion, it deserved them.
Out of Africa is a magnificent production, that finally gets a proper Blu-ray release by Universal as part of their 100th Anniversary program.
Where the earlier Blu-ray (a 25th Anniversary Edition), which was released not quite two years ago, was an image disaster, I'm pleased to report that the technical team at Universal has returned to the drawing boards for this one.
And the result is everything that one might hope for. A magnificent Blu-ray.
While an internegative (a 3rd generation element) was used for the previous transfer, this new image harvest was taken directly from the original camera negative. And it shows.
The film was scanned at 6k, using Digital Ice, a software program, which if I recall correctly, was originally created by Kodak, was used to conceal surface dirt.
All processing was done at the 4k level. Image stabilization, de-flickering, dirt and scratch removal were all performed, along with "grain management." I'm hoping that this was used toward cleaning up green screen shots, and not for production photography, but everything looks superb. Green screen registration was digitally fixed, along with camera bumps, and a long-standing camera problem, that was always visible during a tracking shot. Digital wire removal also came into play for certain shots.
Color is perfect, with beautiful depth and shadow detail. Grain looks beautiful and light, but occasionally too light. Viewing the opening I did find a shot that concerned me. As the train is moving off, what appears to be grass behind Mr. Redford, seems like a solid sea of green with no detail. My fear was that we might be having a meeting with General Patton. While this may have been "as photographed," it did get me wondering. Audio is Uncompressed in DTS-HD Master Audio.
I have noted in the past, that the level of Universal Blu-ray product has been at the bottom of the studio pecking order for the past several years, but I could not be more pleased to report that if they continue to perform as they are, they'll be up at the top with Columbia and Fox.
Out of Africa is a gorgeous Blu-ray presentation of a very important production.
A couple of suggestions.
First, one has to make their way through too many screens and messages to reach the feature film. Second, and while some may enjoy this, a promo for NBC's Smash, also ahead of the feature, seem very out of place, especially if the intention is toward a quality, high end -- special -- Blu-ray presentation of an Academy Award winning film. While they may be joined at the corporate hip, NBC promos seem out of place here. If Universal had been purchased by Tampax, Inc., would we be sitting through a promo on the new Tampax Pearl Plastic?
And lastly, for all of those fans of the film, who innocently purchased the 2010 or 2011 Blu-ray, presuming that it would be proper Blu-ray quality, the studio should institute some sort of trade-in program toward receiving the new special edition. Send in the bar code from a previous release, and receive the new Special Edition for $20 as opposed to $35.
An addition to this post. And I'm going to add this below also. I may be a fault here, for treating the newest Universal releases akin to someone's golf handicap, and I'm wrong. Their earlier releases were so poor that I'm overjoyed to see something like this new OoA, and am tending to be overly kind.
It is apparent to the high level viewer, that the grain reduction knob may have been turned just a bit too high in certain sequences. Fortunately, this does not affect the entire film. If one goes up the viewing surface and takes a good look, you'll find occasional (rare) mosquito noise, as well as a bit of sharpening.
But overall, from a normal viewing distance, the disc is fine, and as I noted, I'm thrilled with it.
Again, and let me be clear, if this were a Sony or Fox disc, I'd be bringing the problems more to the fore, but my (probably incorrect) take on this is to give Universal a bit of breathing room as they get things in line for proper transferring, and allow them to experiment and grow a bit.
I believe that release after release, things are going to be looking better. OoA is one of the first out of the box.
Image - 4
Audio - 5