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Answerman - How Have Anime DVDs and Blu-rays Changed Over The Years?


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Kimiko_0



Joined: 31 Aug 2008
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Location: Leiden, NL, EU
PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 2:11 pm Reply with quote
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Producers also learned that discs should follow the players' preferred language settings, and have anamorphic widescreen and progressive video whenever possible.

But, isn't DVD video always anamorphic? Confused
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Brand



Joined: 30 Jan 2006
Posts: 946
PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 2:21 pm Reply with quote
Kimiko_0 wrote:
But, isn't DVD video always anamorphic? Confused


I'm not sure but a quick Google search came up with this. So apparently not, at least back in the day.

Also, now that I think of it my Baki the Grappler DVDs are like this. Show is widescreen but shows up small on my 16:9 t.v.
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Touma



Joined: 29 Aug 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 2:45 pm Reply with quote
I know from experience that early DVDs were not anamorphic.
The "widescreen" releases were just letterboxed 4:3 images with black bars at the top and bottom, as part of the image on the DVD, to make them look like widescreen images. They might have been made from the same masters that were used for widescreen VHS tapes.

If you had a 4:3 screen, which most people still did at that time, you could not see any difference between letterboxed and anamorphic.
But with a 16:9 screen the difference was painfully obvious.
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Kimiko_0



Joined: 31 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 2:52 pm Reply with quote
Brand wrote:
I'm not sure but a quick Google search came up with this. So apparently not, at least back in the day.

Oh, is that what Justin meant. Yeah, it's obviously a bad idea to add black bars in the video itself. Player hard- or software should add those as needed, not the encoding.

What I was thinking of was that AFAIK (CMIIW), both 4:3 and 16:9 video are encoded as 720×480 on DVD (i.e. 3:2), which must always be either squashed or stretched for display.
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peno



Joined: 06 Jul 2016
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 3:06 pm Reply with quote
Yeah. I have a lot of such DVDs, unfortunately. Some even more recent, like my country's release of Ringu 2 from mid 2000s (which, funnily enough, has two sets of subtitles, one in the black bars and another above them, so you can at least stretch the picture to 16:9 screen and still be able to read the subs, but the result was not satisfactory, as you can imagine).
Not to mention a lot of movies were still released in 4:3. Though in lot of such cases, there were both 16:9 and 4:3 versions, but that was not always the case. Pokémon movies in the 4Kids era are infamous for that as they were always released 4:3 in North America, while rest of the world only got movie 1 in 4:3, the rest were 16:9 on DVDs (though for VHS and sometimes even TV airings, they were still 4:3, at least here in Europe). It wasn't until movie 9, when 4Kids eventually lost their rights to Pokémon, when North America got widescreen Pokémon movie. Yet, some of these older 4Kids dubbed movies are still legally unavailable in widescreen in North America.

Quote:
Early DVDs also spent a ridiculous amount of effort on menus -- not just on design, but on painfully long transition sequences, looping motion animation, and ambitious graphical treatments.

I dunno about anime DVDs, since I don't have any anime DVD from this early era, but my experiences with Disney DVDs say opposite. Disney used to have menus, that just popped up and if there were any transition sequences, they were short and often skipable. Yet, as time progressed, Disney started to love to make their menus visual orgy, with painfully long transition sequences (though fortunately, often still skipable, unlike, let's say, Sony, which still seems to love unskipable menu transitions). Great example is the first DVD release of Toy Story (1), which only had pop-up menus with little to none animations, while the re-release, which came with Blu-Ray release of Toy Story, had long animation transitions and a lot of animations in menus themselves.
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varmintx



Joined: 31 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 3:31 pm Reply with quote
Not quite on topic, but there's a special place in hell for people who author a disc with unskippable trailers, a practice that seems to have actually gotten worse. I find it unacceptable on rental discs (when I actually used to rent discs), but on a retail one...that's just ridiculous.
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Zin5ki
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Joined: 06 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 3:44 pm Reply with quote
Justin wrote:
Producers also learned that discs should follow the players' preferred language settings

Ho ho! What tooth-grinding fun it was to try and get that feature to work with older DVD releases. Setting one's audio track preferences to Japanese in a software player may as well be replaced with a random selection function. Such a great number of discs seemingly lack the capacity to acknowledge the user's audio preference without them manually changing it prior to playing the feature.

In retrospect this was a minor grievance, but nonetheless, it was one over which a small amount of sleep was lost several years ago.
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Top Gun



Joined: 28 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 3:51 pm Reply with quote
I kind of miss some of the fancier menu layouts on older anime DVDs, even if they did occasionally involve little unskippable transition sequences. I happened to take a look at one of my old Bandai Big O disks the other day, and the menus in that were all arranged and stylized to look like they were being displayed on the titular robot's cockpit screens, which was a cool little touch. Nowadays, especially with FUNi's second-round releases and pretty much any Sentai release I can think of, you're just getting a bare-bones list of all the episodes on the disk. Functional, yes, but certainly lacking in charm.
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CountZeroOR



Joined: 01 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 4:18 pm Reply with quote
Touma wrote:
I know from experience that early DVDs were not anamorphic.
The "widescreen" releases were just letterboxed 4:3 images with black bars at the top and bottom, as part of the image on the DVD, to make them look like widescreen images. They might have been made from the same masters that were used for widescreen VHS tapes.

If you had a 4:3 screen, which most people still did at that time, you could not see any difference between letterboxed and anamorphic.
But with a 16:9 screen the difference was painfully obvious.


I had a copy of 2010: The Year We Make Contact that was released that way (with a full-screen pan-and-scan version of the movie on the other side of the disk).
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varmintx



Joined: 31 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 4:46 pm Reply with quote
CountZeroOR wrote:

I had a copy of 2010: The Year We Make Contact that was released that way (with a full-screen pan-and-scan version of the movie on the other side of the disk).


I still have that disc in a binder somewhere. The most "painful" one is The Abyss. Not only is it window-boxed 4:3, but also relevant to another recent Answerman, it has the UNseamless branching of a DVD where it pauses momentarily every time the laser changes position. It's only taken a damn decade to finally get a release date for the BD.
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John Thacker



Joined: 28 Oct 2013
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 5:00 pm Reply with quote
And yet there are still discs with a choice between two audio or subtitle choices where it is difficult to impossible to tell for sure which option is currently selected for playback and which option currently has cursor focus. "Hmm, when I press down repeatedly one language changes from red to black whereas another changes from black to red."
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jenny10-11



Joined: 25 Jun 2015
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 5:37 pm Reply with quote
I recently bought the Blood: The Last Vampire movie, and what told me it was an old disc was the relative creativeness that went into the menu (the words only show up when you flick onto the correct blood splatter) and special features, compared to modern DVD's that just having all the options listed.

It's interesting to hear how and why the fashions have changed with DVD production.
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Surrender Artist



Joined: 01 May 2011
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 5:55 pm Reply with quote
I enjoy when this column deals with technical subjects. It's something that I didn't think about for years, but appreciate the challenges and relevance of now.

Justin Sevakis wrote:
Early DVDs also spent a ridiculous amount of effort on menus -- not just on design, but on painfully long transition sequences, looping motion animation, and ambitious graphical treatments.


I remember the menus for at least one of ADV's Excel Saga discs being difficult to use because although relatively impressive, it wasn't very intuitive. It was nice that they tried, but it doesn't do a release credit if I can't tell what I've selected or what will happen when I press the selection buttons. I do sometimes miss the elaborate discs of 'yore' and I was actually disconcerted by the minimalism of the menus on the first Blu-ray discs that I used, but I'm at a loss to give any good reason for reviving that style.

Justin Sevakis wrote:
There was a bizarre obsession with locking out user controls on various parts of the disc, making viewers sit through things as pointless as the Dolby Digital logo animation. (Nearly every DVD is encoded with Dolby Digital sound. It was not special, and nobody was making them include that logo animation.)


Really? All these years I sat through that stupid logo for no good reason? I had always assumed that there was some contractual requirement that imposed that nuisance. To learn that it was just studios being inexplicably dumb is a dash infuriating. Even that time FUNImation representatives brushed complaints about the trailers that played before their DVDs as just doing what Hollywood did wasn't as lame.
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EricJ2



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
Posts: 2991
PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 6:31 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
Early DVDs also spent a ridiculous amount of effort on menus -- not just on design, but on painfully long transition sequences, looping motion animation, and ambitious graphical treatments.


Ohh, don't remind me of Hand Maid May. Confused

Also, since it was 3-4 ep. individual volumes that eventually popped the 00's Bubble, the industry moving to boxsets meant that anime series now had to be on big disks, but putting 4-5 eps on a DVD or nine eps on a Blu-ray simply didn't leave room for much else.
It was all about trying to get 13 or 26 episodes on as low a disk count as possible, and still keep the quality.
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WingKing



Joined: 27 Apr 2015
Posts: 440
PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2016 12:28 am Reply with quote
varmintx wrote:
Not quite on topic, but there's a special place in hell for people who author a disc with unskippable trailers, a practice that seems to have actually gotten worse. I find it unacceptable on rental discs (when I actually used to rent discs), but on a retail one...that's just ridiculous.


I think it's a toss-up which one I've been forced to sit through more often over the years: the trailer for "The Girl With the Blue Eye," or the (in)famous Anime Network commercial ("Are anime fans born, or are they made?").
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