To Blu-ray or Not to Blu-ray: Why all the DVD-only releases?

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John Hodson
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To Blu-ray or Not to Blu-ray: Why all the DVD-only releases?

#1 Post by John Hodson » Sun Jun 12, 2011 1:33 pm

peerpee wrote:
feckless boy wrote:
peerpee wrote:There will be a brand new Tag Gallagher video piece on our 2 x DVD edition of THE IRON HORSE (plus a mad thick booklet too).
Are you going to do your own encodes or are these going to be straight-up Fox ports?
We do our own encodes from Fox's masters (both versions). So they're the same source, but they're our DVD encodes. It's clear that the American version of the film is the key version, but unfortunately, it's not in very consistent shape. Parts look astonishing and would pop in 1080p, other parts are very damaged and soft. On the whole, it's the best the film's ever looked, but we all agree it wouldn't be wise to put a Blu-ray out (even though both versions have been scanned in HD).

It's going to be a very nice edition. Glad folk are liking the artwork. The Fox DVD sleeve had been heavily touched up, and it looks great, it's just very different to the original psychedelic 'mountain range on fire' artwork which we have used.
You're going to have to forgive me for being ever so slightly frustrated; could you expand on 'wouldn't be wise to put a Blu-ray out'? From a commercial point of view?

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Re: 112 The Iron Horse

#2 Post by peerpee » Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:20 pm

Simply because "Parts look astonishing and would pop in 1080p, other parts are very damaged and soft." -- 1080p would exacerbate the damaged and soft parts, and counteract the benefits of the other parts that would work in 1080p. Another £20,000 spent on HD restoration might solve things, but Fox haven't done the work, and we can't afford to on a title like this (having ponied up to licence it from Fox, and factored in the sales projections).

Our release will use the same masters that Fox issued in 2007 in the USA, which in itself is a pretty big step up from the old BFI edition, which only contained the inferior European cut.

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Re: 112 The Iron Horse

#3 Post by John Hodson » Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:50 pm

Personally speaking, even with those caveats, a BD release - with a score provided in a HD codec - would have been a day one purchase. But I understand your reservations.

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Re: 113 A Man Vanishes

#4 Post by eerik » Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:59 pm

I don't want to be to repetitive, but, again: why no Blu-ray for A Man Vanishes? Especially when it's described as "impressive new restoration".

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Re: 113 A Man Vanishes

#5 Post by knives » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:47 pm

The thing might have to do with the no Blu. To my understanding unlike BFI MOC wants their Blus and SDs to be identical.

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Re: 113 A Man Vanishes

#6 Post by denti alligator » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:36 pm

I'd also like to know why you were unable to go for a dual-format release with this one, or even a matching Blu release. Has it not been scanned in high definition? or was it a rights issue? or is this considered to be too obscure of a title?

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Re: 113 A Man Vanishes

#7 Post by peerpee » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:50 pm

Same basic underlying reason as ISLAND OF LOST SOULS. We didn't regard the HD masters as being able to make Blu-rays that were leaps and bounds ahead of the DVD. Our test BD encodes looked like very nice DVDs - it just wasn't worth the extreme cost of putting together a separate Blu-ray edition, especially on this Imamura title, based on how little known it is, and the relatively modest sales of our other better known Imamura Blu-rays (which look waaaaay better in 1080p).

We don't want to put anything on Blu-ray unless it knocks us out technically.

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Re: 113 A Man Vanishes

#8 Post by denti alligator » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:57 pm

Nice. Thank you. I think you made a smart move, then. And I'll definitely be buying the disc.

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Re: 113 A Man Vanishes

#9 Post by zeroism » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:13 pm

peerpee wrote:the relatively modest sales of our other better known Imamura Blu-rays (which look waaaaay better in 1080p).
That's really disappointing to hear, personally, as Imamura is among my very favorites and these films are dear to me. I always hope that new DVD/BD releases will entail wider acclaim and acknowledgement of his place amongst the more well-known Japanese masters. I fully understand the decision regarding A Man Vanishes, and sincerely hope it and Ballad of Narayama fare better. Needless to say, I'll be preordering both.

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Re: 113 A Man Vanishes

#10 Post by MichaelB » Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:55 am

peerpee wrote:Same basic underlying reason as ISLAND OF LOST SOULS. We didn't regard the HD masters as being able to make Blu-rays that were leaps and bounds ahead of the DVD. Our test BD encodes looked like very nice DVDs - it just wasn't worth the extreme cost of putting together a separate Blu-ray edition, especially on this Imamura title, based on how little known it is, and the relatively modest sales of our other better known Imamura Blu-rays (which look waaaaay better in 1080p).

We don't want to put anything on Blu-ray unless it knocks us out technically.
I have to say that I wasn't especially blown away by Stolen Desire in 1080p - a lot of the time I couldn't see much difference between it and what I'd expect from an upscaled DVD, aside from the much sharper and clearer subtitles. Not that that should put anyone off, as the Pigs and Battleships transfer absolutely does justify the HD upgrade.

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Re: 113 A Man Vanishes

#11 Post by peerpee » Thu Jul 21, 2011 7:08 am

Totally agree, and that was due to a last minute unfortunate miscommunication at our end. STOLEN DESIRE wasn't the main feature though -- so we pushed on, instead of cancelling the whole edition.

We're trying our best to instill some strict rules on what we release on Blu-ray.

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Re: 113 A Man Vanishes

#12 Post by Calvin » Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:49 am

Would it be possible to include features like this as bonus features (in whatever resolution) like you did on Pigs & Battleships and the BFI has done with some of the Ozu titles (I believe)?

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Re: 113 A Man Vanishes

#13 Post by Peacock » Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:16 am

The problem with that then is that this film deserves plenty of contextual information, which doesn't happen often when the film is a bonus feature. A Man Vanishes is often considered Imamura's best film, so I don't think it's a problem having it standalone. Sad that it's not Blu, as even if it doesn't wow you in HD, you know it's always 'future proof' and you won't need to upgrade again to own the best possible version should someone else release it in Blu someday. But of course, if it's not going to sell many units as a Blu, no point in throwing money away just to please a small number of customers.

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Re: 113 A Man Vanishes

#14 Post by daniel p » Mon Jul 25, 2011 1:49 am

Even if it might sound silly; as I haven't bought a DVD in 2 years I still wish this was getting a Blu release, regardless of quality of upgrade over SD. I wish it was economical enough to release dual format versions :(

I don't have the film on DVD, so I wouldn't notice any differences in PQ between SD and HD. I'm not the type who purchases everything that interests me any more, but I can't bring myself to buy DVDs these days.

But I do realise it is an expense not worth it in some cases, where the difference is minimal.

In saying all that, if any this film could be one that pursuades me to cave, as I have wanted to see it for a while... but something inside just tells me it will be on Blu one day...

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Re: 113 A Man Vanishes

#15 Post by matrixschmatrix » Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:15 am

What? Why would you want a Blu over a DVD if it made no difference in quality?

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Re: 113 A Man Vanishes

#16 Post by swo17 » Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:31 am

I'm sure the Blu would look better, just not necessarily appreciably better, at least not enough for MoC to financially justify a dual release. I get that and respect the decision to go SD-only, though if they were releasing it separately on Blu, that's the version I would pick up too.

However, I don't get this notion that it will come on Blu eventually, or that someone would buy it on Blu but not in SD. If you like the film enough to own it, then buy it in the best version available. This was A Man Vanishes' big chance to get a lavish Blu release from MoC. They looked into it and decided it wasn't worth it. How is this decision going to change any time in the foreseeable future?

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Re: 113 A Man Vanishes

#17 Post by daniel p » Mon Jul 25, 2011 7:27 pm

Yes, on my setup and to my eyes, even the poorest Blu releases improve on their DVD counterparts - but I don't have a good upscaling player or TV.

Oh I don't know, I'm sure this will be the only release anytime soon, but nobody can say whether or not it will get another release somewhere else down the line. I don't buy as many films as I used to, so there's just something inside me that sees buying DVDs these days is holding onto old technology - as I said I haven't bought a DVD in 2-3 years. But if any, this could be one to tempt me... after I buy all the other MoC and Criterion Blu releases on my radar that is...

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Re: 113 A Man Vanishes

#18 Post by evillights » Tue Jul 26, 2011 12:51 am

daniel p wrote:Yes, on my setup and to my eyes, even the poorest Blu releases improve on their DVD counterparts - but I don't have a good upscaling player or TV.

Oh I don't know, I'm sure this will be the only release anytime soon, but nobody can say whether or not it will get another release somewhere else down the line. I don't buy as many films as I used to, so there's just something inside me that sees buying DVDs these days is holding onto old technology - as I said I haven't bought a DVD in 2-3 years. But if any, this could be one to tempt me... after I buy all the other MoC and Criterion Blu releases on my radar that is...
Daniel, why haven't you bought a DVD in 2 to 3 years? Despite the beauty (and unquestionable superiority) of the Blu-ray format, there are masterpieces upon masterpieces that are only available on DVD, and in lovely editions at that (not available on Blu-ray often because no HD master has been made yet, and/or because the film in question may not have great 'commercial potential,' which is rarely a gauge for a film's greatness), which may NEVER come to Blu-ray. You're only depriving yourself of amazing cinema. How else can someone see Fuller's PARK ROW or WHITE DOG at present? Lang's MOONFLEET or RANCHO NOTORIOUS? Rivette's DUELLE or NOROÎT? These films are greater than many of the highest-profile HD releases by studios and boutique-labels. We should love cinema first and foremost because of the films themselves.

Just for the record, and as I think Nick has already intimated: the reason A MAN VANISHES is not being released on Blu-ray at present is because the originary materials (restored, yes: and looking very nice indeed) would not consistently ping on the Blu-ray format; that is: were one to sit through most of a screening of the work (in its lovely present resto, and as I have), one would not know whether he/she were viewing a finely authored DVD, or a Blu-ray, of same. That's just WHAT the film (and its original state) IS: whether the assessment be based on its original celluloid elements, or on its post-(lovely)-digital restoration. That is simply the nature of the 'ontological material' of this particular film.

So please do not freak. It looks awesome, and you're going to be getting the *full deal* of this film. These decisions are not made arbitrarily! Trust us.

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Re: 113 A Man Vanishes

#19 Post by daniel p » Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:48 am

I just don't collect as many films as I used to - I have 1600+ DVDs sitting there, including about 300 from Criterion and about 60 from MoC, and now about 250 Blu's. But recently my interest in film has waned a bit - other priorities have taken over, so my desire to see every film I could get a hold of has also died down a bit. Yet there are still plenty of films I had read about (this being one of many) that I plan to see regardless. But as my desire has eased, I guess I feel satisfied enough allowing Criterion/MoC/BFI/Warner etc. dictate the order in which I see all these films on my to see list.

But obviously this is one DVD that has obviously entered my sights, I will see how desperate I get!

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Re: 113 A Man Vanishes

#20 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jul 26, 2011 3:58 am

evillights wrote:Daniel, why haven't you bought a DVD in 2 to 3 years? Despite the beauty (and unquestionable superiority) of the Blu-ray format, there are masterpieces upon masterpieces that are only available on DVD, and in lovely editions at that (not available on Blu-ray often because no HD master has been made yet, and/or because the film in question may not have great 'commercial potential,' which is rarely a gauge for a film's greatness), which may NEVER come to Blu-ray. You're only depriving yourself of amazing cinema. How else can someone see Fuller's PARK ROW or WHITE DOG at present? Lang's MOONFLEET or RANCHO NOTORIOUS? Rivette's DUELLE or NOROÎT? These films are greater than many of the highest-profile HD releases by studios and boutique-labels. We should love cinema first and foremost because of the films themselves.
Indeed. And while it's been some time since I watched something on VHS, I still maintain a working player, and have plenty of things on tape that have never been released on DVD.

And I'm not under any illusions that more than a pretty small fraction of what's currently out on DVD will ever make it across to Blu-ray. If the materials aren't in good enough condition and there's no economic justification for a restoration, there's no point.

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Re: 109-110 Hawks and Sparrows & Pigsty

#21 Post by RossyG » Tue Jun 05, 2012 10:05 am

Just to clarify: are Hawks and Sparrows and Pigsty DVD-only because the HD masters weren't deemed of a high enough quality for a Blu-ray to be worthwhile?

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Re: 109-110 Hawks and Sparrows & Pigsty

#22 Post by swo17 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 11:07 am

I don't believe anyone has ever said anything specific to these releases, but I think that at this point, anything that comes out DVD-only from MoC can be more or less explained by this post from Nick:
peerpee wrote:
Gregory wrote:I'm curious as to why no Blu -- a rights issue?
We didn't regard the HD masters as being able to make Blu-rays that were leaps and bounds ahead of the DVD. Our test BD encodes looked like very nice DVDs - it just wasn't worth the extreme cost of putting together a separate Blu-ray edition, especially on this Imamura title, based on how little known it is, and the relatively modest sales of our other better known Imamura Blu-rays (which look waaaaay better in 1080p).

We don't want to put anything on Blu-ray unless it knocks us out technically.

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Re: 109-110 Hawks and Sparrows & Pigsty

#23 Post by Cronenfly » Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:21 pm

Given the discouraging fact that MoC is starting to put out DVD-only releases of titles already being given the Dual Format treatment (a far cry from their strong initial attempts to push Blu as much as possible, a tact which didn't seem to find sufficient market support), it is hardly surprising that these two will be DVD only. Whether due to the state of materials or their relative obscurity or both, the lack of Blu treatment is unfortunate, but at least they will be back in print in improved NTSC transfers with fresh subtitles.

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Re: 109-110 Hawks and Sparrows & Pigsty

#24 Post by swo17 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:59 pm

I think it's still safe to say that if an MoC release only comes out on DVD these days, it's because materials are not up to scratch for a Blu-ray to look amazing. (They've specifically said as much for the Fuller and Lubitsch, for instance.) I mean, a Blu-ray will always look better than a DVD, but if materials are in such a state that a Blu-ray would only marginally improve on the DVD, it's an understandable business decision not to undergo the added cost of putting the film out in both formats. And they've been pretty generous, I think, with their assessment of what is or isn't Blu-ray worthy. Seeing how parts of Lifeboat look, I wouldn't have been surprised if they'd gone DVD-only with that one.

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Re: 109-110 Hawks and Sparrows & Pigsty

#25 Post by MichaelB » Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:27 pm

Cronenfly wrote:Given the discouraging fact that MoC is starting to put out DVD-only releases of titles already being given the Dual Format treatment (a far cry from their strong initial attempts to push Blu as much as possible, a tact which didn't seem to find sufficient market support), it is hardly surprising that these two will be DVD only. Whether due to the state of materials or their relative obscurity or both, the lack of Blu treatment is unfortunate, but at least they will be back in print in improved NTSC transfers with fresh subtitles.
To be honest, given current UK market realities I think it's pretty amazing what titles they are putting out on Blu-ray - RoGoPaG, for instance.

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