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May 22 2012

Why Buffy should be released on Blu-ray. Monster Popcorn sets forth its case.

Btw Angel Season 5 HD is available for download at iTunes and Amazon.com and the Buffy Season 8 Motion Comics can be bought on Blu-ray.

Would love this, but especially don't see it happening for the first two seasons. The Shield's Shawn Ryan recently announced that he'd been told they couldn't release that show because it was shot on 16mm... even though there's more than enough info on 16mm for a Blu Ray image.

I hope I'm wrong. I would love to see Buffy in HD glory.
I dunno, early doors, Buffy was visually not so much.
At the very least it would be nice to get new disc menus. I still get angry any time I have to navigate the Buffy Season 2 menus.
@Giles_314 - gawd, I remember those. I think the Buffy menus are one of the main reasons I now rip every DVD I buy before watching it.
This would cost a lot of money. As the article mentions, it would require re-scanning of all the original film prints, and they'd have to re-scan all of the practical effects shots and maybe re-render all of the visual effects shots, which is all if these elements actually still exist.

If the Firefly set is anything to go by, it may simply be that these elements no longer exist or they're just too costly to re-render/re-composite, because let's face it, Firefly's made some money on home video and there are only a cable TV season-worth of episodes. Any shots without effects looked lovely on the Blu-ray, but it was jarring when there was an effects shot.

What's happening with the Star Trek: The Next Generation release is absolutely amazing, and I'd love to see it happen for Buffy, but CBS is taking a chance. On a proven money-maker, sure, but still. Maybe if it's a success, the value will be seen in remastering shows like Buffy. That'd be seriously exciting.

I've been wondering about season five of Angel. It was aired in HD -- possibly 1080i, but I can deal -- so we really could have a Blu-ray set of that please, 20th Century Fox Television. :)
Agreed about the disc menus - and the blurbs on the back of the cases often feel like they're describing a completely different show. In fact, if it wasn't for the quality of the episodes themselves, my Buffy and Angel sets would be some of the poorest-produced television DVDs on my shelves, which is a real shame.

I don't suppose it's ever likely to happen, but what I would really love to see is a whole new bunch of special features, especially more commentaries.
I would LOVE to have Angel on Bluray. Seasons 3-5 were shot in Hi Def anyway so no issues there. And they could finally release Season 1 in widescreen!
ANGEL season 1 is available in widescreen through Netflix and the iTunes Store. When it finally shows up on the Playstation store (here in Canada there are seasons 3, 4 and 5 and all of Buffy) it'll likely be widescreen as well.

Same issues exist with the 'not shot for / not meant to be seen in' issues that plagued the widescreen Buffy sets.

Both the iTunes store and Playstation store offer season 5 of the show in HD - iTunes is 720p, Playstation store is 1080p.

However, I bought an episode off of both stores and the 720p iTunes encode was better than the 1080p Playstation store encode, because the Playstation store's encode was full of compression artifacts because it suffered from a low bitrate.

Also, it was EXACTLY like the Firefly Blu-ray, in that all the visual effects shots were rendered in standard definition. Therefore when you see an effects shot (like a vampire facial transition) in the middle of a scene, it goes back and forth between HD and SD sometimes within the same scene. It's not too distracting (and I have a 50" plasma so I'm seeing all details to notice) but more that the image becomes softer as the result of the lower resolution.

There are instances where they seem to have left entire scenes in SD all because of one small effects shot, though.

The L.A. night cityscape shots are alive with film grain and noise, though.

Buffy would benefit from a 1080p Blu-ray encode because it would better preserve that initial 2-season 16mm image better than DVD could.

Grainy, of course. Less detail, of course. Worth it? Of course. ANGEL would obviously benefit more, since it's a more cinematic looking show that in later seasons actually took advantage of the wider 16:9 framing, but hell, any television series would benefit from an HD upgrade for home release.

Season 1 of "The OC" can occasionally be seen in reruns in HD, and it too was shot in 16mm for that first season. Grainy as all hell, but better than standard definition anyway. It's just a good way of preserving the source.
Season 1 of Angel wasn't filmed in widescreen as far as I remember. A remastering of the series from season 2 up to the point where they started shooting in HD would be cool, though.

As for Buffy and season 1 of Angel, if they could remaster it as nicely as the HD releases of the original series of Star Trek was handled, I'd definitely consider buying them on blu-ray.
@archon:

Seasons 1 and 2 of ANGEL are exactly the same as seasons 4 through 7 of Buffy, in that they are all shot for 4:3, but the framing was 'opened up' to a wider 16:9 image. Season 2 just doesn't have as many issues, though there are ruined in-camera effects of Angel reflecting in mirrors, pillarboxed scene transitions, crew members, etc. Just not to the extent of season 1.

I guess in the years since the DVDs came out, they must've gone back and made widescreen masters for season 1, since Hulu and Netflix, iTunes, etc, etc have played them that way. I recall when the UK sets came out Fox said the widescreen season 1 masters weren't available but made them for season 2, and of course Whedon had more control over the American counterparts and approved it for season 2 here in Region 1 land.

Secondary cameras (I'm assuming for close-ups) can be seen in 'Lonely Heart', where Angel is thrown into a corner and you can see the cameraman's hands as they close in with a close-up of Angel recovering from that throw. Also in 'The Bachelor Party' with the establishing shot of the Straley family's dining table where they're eating and discussing party plans. A camera is on the right side of the frame.

Light stands, frame edges, a reflection of the camera crew in the windows Angel kicked Russell Winters out of in the pilot 'City Of', are something of a norm for that season in widescreen. As for Buffy...well the entire opening of 'Bargaining' in the cemetery is pretty funny especially with that cool camera move up to Willow standing on top of the mausoleum. Equipment everywhere around the edges but Buffy's widescreen gaffes are more well-known after all these years of being on the UK DVDs.

Also, no 'Previously On...' no deal.

Dammit.
NL197, that's interesting to learn re: Netflix and iTunes. Maybe they're going through that process with the entirety of Angel and will release it on the Blu-rays with upscaled effects shots. I hope they go back to the 4:3 framing for seasons one and two, though. I'm a stickler.
What about the "up-converting" effect of watching SD on HDTV with an HDMI connection? I don't have HDTV (yet), but I was given to understand that there was at least a measurable improvement in quality when just viewing SD through an HDMI setup.
Light stands in the edges of the frame are easily painted out now; it is anticipated, and addressed without much fuss.
If they released Buffy and/or Angel on BR, I would be very disappointed if the seasons intended to be 4:3 were released 16:9. HD does not mean widescreen, in any way, shape, or form.
Never heard of the effects remastering but that is something that might make me get it. The Mayor head split and snake transformation would probably be way cooler with modern effects.
NL197-I always wanted Previously ons when introducing newbies via DVDs, but found it absolutely disappointing for "the Gift."
OlderWiserNot, yes, upconversion through a HDMI cable will give you a better result than watching the DVD at standard resolution through, say, a component cable, but there would still be a vast difference between this and having a full HD remastered image. Like, huge vast.

Actually, there's something pretty important worth mentioning while we're at it: historical preservation. Would be a pretty darn good idea to get the prints (and effects elements) scanned at 4K sooner rather than later to make sure they're around not just for the rest of our lives but for future generations, eh.

CaptainB, the re-rendered original visual effects shots would probably look pretty lame, actually, but they wouldn't be soft, lacking in detail and kinda jarring when intercut with re-scanned film elements. Haha.

[ edited by The First Weevil on 2012-05-23 03:49 ]
The option to turn on black sidebars, for Joss-O-Vision, would be nice. Satisfy everyone that way. Maybe even make the playback default to the 4:3 version, and only show in widescreen if you intentionally select wide in the menu.

About having to upscale the effects: In a single effects shot it may be possible to have most of the image in HD but to have the portion of the frame that contains effects to be upscaled. It isn't straightforward - it would take a lot of work to match up the two different elements. This "hybrid" method hasn't been tried yet as far as I know, but I heard about it years ago as something to be considered for programs with limited effects.
Heh, how funny. I feel this odd sense of deja vu, you guys! :)

http://whedonesque.com/comments/24071
First Weevil, forgive my naiveté because I thought we were all talking about completely re-doing effects, not just making existing ones look better. I thought it sounded ludicrously expensive, but what the heck? Back to indifference.
I for one would spend obscene amounts of money for Buffy on bluray with revamped menues. Not to mention a new box. Packaging is everything to me, which is why I'm still not super on board with digital-only media.

Personal anecdote: I used to fall asleep to Buffy season 4 on DVD (my favorite season when it comes to individual episodes if not overall story arc, yes I'm odd), which is why a small snippet of the Hush theme is permanently seared into my brain forever.
There are just too many why it can't happen, many of which are mentioned here:
http://www.quadruplez.com/2010/06/essay-why-buffy-may-never-be-blu/
However I would LOVE to get a 'Once More with Feeling' Bluray, I feel that's a little more of a realistic ambition, although still unlikely.
ChuckBuried said:
I used to fall asleep to Buffy season 4 on DVD (my favorite season when it comes to individual episodes if not overall story arc, yes I'm odd), which is why a small snippet of the Hush theme is permanently seared into my brain forever.


Hey there S4 buddy! I feel the same way (I also started the series on reruns at the beginning of S4 so it has a special place in my heart for that).

Gosh I hope they do release Buffy -and Angel- on Blu-ray. I will spend ALL the money. I am just finding out in this article that you can see Buffy in THE WIDE on netflics (with some issues) so I will have to check that out!
They didn't re-render any visual effects shots for "Firefly", so the chances of them doing that for Buffy or Angel is even more remote.

Plus, this isn't like Star Trek or early seasons of The Next Generation. All of these effects on Buffy were done on computer, not film and composited. The two Star Trek shows had model ships and planets shot on film. Those are what make up elements needed to re-composite effects in HD. Buffy, Angel and Firefly all had CGI and video transitions done entirely with software. That's why Firefly and Angel season 5 were a mixture of HD and SD for their releases.

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