Seriously, can someone explain what the heck is going on at Universal?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Gary->dee, Feb 14, 2003.

  1. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    Hi folks,

    I'm new here, this is my first post. But I'm certainly not new to the world of message boards!

    Ok enough about me. I have a question: WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON AT UNIVERSAL?

    I ask because of two reasons:

    1) The Back to the Future DVD's and the framing mistake with discs/movies 2&3.

    I realize there's a thread on this already but this thread isn't concetrating on the BTTF set.

    2) ABBA Definitive Collection DVD

    THIS, my friends, is the thorn in my side. The sum of the two above situations makes me wonder if Universal has been taken over by interns.

    Ok first of all, yes I am an ABBA fan. It goes back to my youth spent in Syndey, Australia. Now let me get to the meat of the problem.

    When Universal transfered some of the music video clips for the DVD, some of which were actually first shot on video, they decided to add a little something in the transfer process to DVD that resulted in a grainy look to otherwise prestine and clear clips such as Eagle, Chiquitita, and a few more. So what you get are videos that should look razor sharp, but because of the botched transfer they look like they've been dragged through a mud puddle. Thankfully it's only a few clips, as most were shot on film and those transfers look fine. But still, we're talking about 5 clips that have the technical problem and they're great songs. If you want to read more about this click below:
    http://www.abbamail.com/defcoll_dvdfixed.htm

    Alright so not only did Universal botch the BTTF boxed set they also botched the ABBA DVD.

    But wait, there's more!

    Universal has fixed the technical problem with the ABBA disc and they (supposedly) have put out fixed copies of the disc. Unfortunately(or if you want you can substitute "unfortunately" with "Universal") there is no way of telling what version is what from the packaging. You have to actually load the disc and look at the menu screen. If one particular song is spelled "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie" with that additional 'i' before the 'e' you have a defective copy and the majority of the discs out there are from the initial defective run of the disc. That's besides obviously looking at certain clips and seeing the poor quality of the transfer.

    So in order to remedy the situation I returned my DVD to a store in hopes of exchaning it for a fixed copy. No luck. I ended up with another dud copy. Aha! I'll let Universal know about my situation! I emailed them and they eventually replied giving me a contact name at Universal and her address so I can mail the DVD back to get a fixed copy.

    Alrighty, so I get a package in the mail from Universal and it's the DVD. Woohoo! I put it in the player, load it up and the first thing I do is look to the menu to see if the song is spelled correctly, as the fixed copy should have.
    NOOOOOO! It's spelled Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie! I play the particular clips that had the problem and dammit they still have the ugly tranfer problem! THEY SENT ME ANOTHER DEFECTIVE DVD!

    Yeah so now I'm wondering what the @#*&! is going on over at Universal? They issue defective discs and when you proceed with the normal protocal of sending the dud copy back they send out yet another dud copy!

    I emailed my contact at Universal this morning. I was nice but direct. I told her that I don't feel that I should incur any further costs in trying to attain a fixed ABBA DVD and dammit I shouldn't!(right?) And God help me when I try and return my BTTF discs. I hope they send me the right ones in return and not the same defective discs. But that's an issue I'll have tackle after I get this ABBA debacle resolved.

    C'mon, Universal! Act like the gigantic corporate entity that you are instead of a garage-based home video start-up made up of a kid and a burner!

    So if anyone knows what the deal is with Universal and their poor quality control issue, chime in. Does it concern Vivendi?
     
  2. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

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    I feel your pain. Don't forget the whole E.T. fiasco too. And their awful forced promos when you hit "play" from the menu screen.

    A few years ago Universal was pretty good with DVD on the whole. Certainly they were better than Fox and Paramount in the early days. But then those other studios got their acts together and improved greatly, while Universal has regressed.

    Now, I would rate their DVD performance well behind Warner, New Line, Fox, Paramount, and Disney. Throw in Anchor Bay while you're at it. They're still better than Artisan, but with the trend they're on I'm not sure that will last.

    It's a shame considering the catalog they have.
     
  3. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Yes, Universal has gone to the dogs for some mistakes. Geez, all these STOOOPID studios that don't know what to do. Universal and their non-stop pan & scan and misframing. [​IMG]

    First, BTTF is being corrected for framing problems. I can't answer your ABBA question.

    You're over-reacting, too. Universal made an error, is correcting that error, and didn't have to.

    This is just your typical "shallow" reaction. Whenever a studio makes a flub, they're automatically the worst DVD studio (*cough* Wonka and WB *cough*), from past results.

    All studios have their great DVDs and faulty DVDs. Name one studio that HASN'T had a problem like this. Even Criterion has had disc faults from time to time.

    Just a few thoughts...
     
  4. Randy A Salas

    Randy A Salas Screenwriter

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  5. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    While I do agree that I am overreacting to a certain degree, I think Universal has had a poor track record recently of releasing popular titles. I'm trying to figure out if there's a pattern. Regardless of what division of Universal the particular title is sold under, when I see the CG planet earth and the Universal name stamped over it I consider it to be a Universal title. I don't try to analyze whether Universal Music Group screwed up or Universal Home Video made the error. In the end it's all Universal and as we've seen Universal has a tendency to screw up.

    My 'overreaction' stems from unknowingly buying a defective product that was replaced by yet another defective product in the process of trying to correct the situation. Should I be happy about this? I've never had a problem with Paramount's DVDs, nor Warner Bros, nor 20th Century Fox and the list goes on and on. If the large percentage of DVD's I own are error-free except for two or three Universal titles then for me it still reflects poorly on Universal. And their botched attempt to fix the problem was for naught and it almost borders on offensive. I give everything a certain number of chances and in my estimate Universal has one left before I lose complete faith in them as a provider of quality home entertainment.


    Don't get me wrong, I'm not an entirely bitter man over this. [​IMG] I don't lose any sleep at night. But this is the home theater forum and I thought someone could shed some light on the recent plague of errors with Universal titles.

    And I hope it's not a growing trend!
     
  6. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    ABBA had the first ever home video music title on laserdisc, released by MCA in 1980 on the Discovision label. They should make a DVD-sized replica of that. (Picture quality is decent; I assume the shot-on-video segments were somehow messed up on the recent DVD).
     
  7. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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  8. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    Patrick, a woman is a woman despite her name, a car is a car despite the make and model and Universal is Universal despite the subdivision. We could argue about exactly who gets the blame in the extensions of a large corporate entity until pigs fly and it still wouldn't change the fact that in this case one company owns all the various divisions and puts their name on most if not all of the respective products: Universal.

     
  9. Dick

    Dick Producer
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    Thizs might finally be the year Universal comes into its own regarding catalog DVD releases. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
     
  10. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I'm reserving any critical judgement about Universal until I watch the many catelogue titles they're releasing to dvd over the next few months. The quality of those releases will determine how critical I may be with them over their recent dvd releases.




    Crawdaddy
     
  11. James Reader

    James Reader Screenwriter

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    Anyone who thinks Universal deserves some sympathy needs to research into the shambles that us Universal Pictures Home Video UK. [​IMG]

    Trust me, Universal US looks like a saint compared to the UK branch.
     
  12. Dwayne

    Dwayne Supporting Actor

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    I'm thankful that Universal has been willing to fix the errors that they have been making.

    But, one has to wonder why they've been making mistakes on some of their biggest catalog releases. Off hand...E.T., Jurassic Park (DTS), and BTTF come to mind.
     
  13. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    Three words...

    Poor Quality Control.

    Dan
     
  14. Tony-B

    Tony-B Producer

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    Might I add forced trailers on The Bourne Identity.
     
  15. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    Tony what do you mean by forced trailers? Do you mean that you have to watch trailers before the movie?

    1) Something I don't appreciate about all this is that Universal made the errors with the BTTF and ABBA DVDs, but they don't issue any public statements through their PR departments. At least I'm not aware of any, correct me if I'm wrong. The impression I get is that hey, you find a problem let us know because otherwise we're not going to fully admit that we screwed up in making these discs unless you bring it to our attention. It is the burden of the consumer to take the necessary steps to correct Universal's mistakes, which in this case involves first trying to get in touch with Universal, then proceeding with the due course of action to get the fixed discs. And in my case it didn't exactly work, as I still ended up being sent a defective disc.

    2) Also because of the above point(1), they're not making it clearly apparent through the packaging exactly what version are in stores. That goes for the ABBA DVD but I'm not certain about the fixed copies of the BTTF set that will eventually appear in stores. My guess it will be the same situation in that there won't be a way to tell if the BTTF set in stores is the defective or fixed version. Which leads to...

    3) As a result of point(2) Universal waits until the stock in stores is exhausted before they re-supply with the fixed copies. In other words you can't tell from the packaging so if you buy the BTTF or ABBA discs you're taking a chance of getting stuck with bad copies and yes, you will be helping in re-supplying the store with the eventual fixed copy because

    a)if you notice the defects and take action you'll get a fixed copy(hopefully)

    b)if you don't notice the defects or just don't care you'll be relieving the store of the defective copy regardless to make way for the fixed copies

    The key here: no recall strategy as, for example, a car manufacturer or another other manufacturer of a defective product might implement in a similar situation. Universal has opted to go the route of the consumer having to solve their problems for them at mostly their expense, although I am aware of a mailer program with the BTTF discs. But regardless, all this stuff with Universal leaves a bad taste in my mouth. To their credit Universal is correcting the problems and I do appreciate it, so I do understand that it could be worse. But the method in which they're doing so leaves a lot to be desired and other studios should take note of how it shouldn't be done. I simply don't think Universal has made the best decisions, from the initial production of the discs in question to their method of solving the problems, which in my opinion, borders on devious business practices.
    --

    I had a similar situation before with a Disney disc. The initial run of the Tron 20th anniversay edition wasn't made to be played in a Playstation 2, which is the DVD player I use. There was a problem that occured about 30 minutes into the movie where the entire screen became a green matrix-like pattern for the rest of the movie. But in their case Disney had a 1-800 feedback number right on the disc. I called them, told them of the situation and within a month or so they sent me a new Tron disc that is playable in my PS2. And I didn't have to mail them anything.
     
  16. Tony-B

    Tony-B Producer

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  17. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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  18. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

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    Three words that do not apply to Universal:

    "Attention to detail."

    Sorry if some apologists think this is overreacting, but if consumers don't voice complaints about problems and the overall poor performance when they perceive it then nothing is likely to change. Not that it will anyway.
     
  19. David Rogers

    David Rogers Supporting Actor

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    Universal's backslid the last six months. Real shame, hope they figure it out and become a respectable studio citizen again. We only need one Disney screwing things up.
     
  20. JimmyK

    JimmyK Second Unit

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