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With BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER Coming to HD, Can a Blu-ray Be Far Behind?

For years, fans of classic fantasy and sci-fi television shows have been clamoring to get their favorite older series released on Blu-ray in glorious high definition. After all, many of these same series eventually made it onto DVD, so why not Blu-ray? The answer is fairly depressing: most television series, especially from the eighties to the late nineties, regardless of whether or not they were shot on film, were edited and broadcast on video tape. And tape is standard definition. To release a classic show in high-def would require going back to the original camera negative, re-cutting them and re-scanning them, a very timely and very costly procedure. The only vintage shows from this particular era that have bothered to do this have been Star Trek: The Next Generation and the upcoming Pee-Wee’s Playhouse set.

Fans of Joss Whedon in particular have hoped that Twentieth Century Fox would give the Star Trek treatment to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and now it looks like they have done just that. The Pivot network is going to start showing Buffy from the beginning, starting Tuesday August 26, and is advertising it as “for the first time ever in HD.” The network has since confirmed that it is a real remastering, and not just an upscale of standard definition. The first two seasons of Buffy were filmed on 16 mm film, and then transferred to tape, so the DVD and broadcast versions look fairly muddy and terrible. Judging from the trailer that Pivot released, one can see a huge difference in quality already.

Now that the HD masters of Buffy actually exist, how long before we get a Blu-ray release? The Pivot network might have a window of exclusivity for television broadcast, but one can imagine that Fox has home video rights. Buffy fandom as never really gone away, and the impact of the show on popular culture has been huge and lasting. Last year, when we asked Joss Whedon if he had any news of an impending Blu-ray release for the show, he didn’t seem to have any new info. He reiterated that if it did happen, he hoped the original aspect ratio would be maintained. Buffy fans should email Fox and let them know this is something they really want. Hopefully we can have all seven season on Blu-ray by the time the show hits its 20th Anniversary in 2017!

Check out the trailer for Buffy the Vampire Slayer in High Definition for the Pivot Network, and let us know what you think of Buffy coming to high-def in the comments below.

 

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20 comments

    • expanding the aspect ration means looking at lighting equipment. it was always meant to be 4:3, regardless of what passed through the gate. don’t believe me, check out the random episodes on Netflix that show it 16:9

      • There’s a very small percentage of lighting equipment/crew members being visible. And all of them can be fixed. Also, even with that stuff being worse in the 16:9 versions, the 4:3 versions aren’t free of visible lighting equipment/crew members & other things that weren’t meant to be seen. In the episode “Showtime” they forgot to remove the wire that pulls the door off after the Uber-vamp breaks in. There’s one in the OAR that I don’t think can be fixed unless there’s a super skilled VFX artist, in the episode “This Year’s Girl” there’s a boom mic operator seen walking through the woods where the gang find the demon. 

    • In season 1, they re-done a lot of them. The first few episodes of season 2 have some re-done & some upscaled. I believe the rest of the episodes VFX are upscaled. It’s hard to tell with all of them right now because I only have streaming SD quality to compare with the DVDs for season 2. I hope I can find 1080i versions soon.

  • Well this HD remaster is a big mess : ridiculous Digital Noise Reduction, cropping, over-boosted contrast, wrong colors… Pivot told me that Fox Studios was currently remastering the entire show. Please e-mail them and ask for a proper transfer, no DNR, cropping or changing colors. 
    You can e-mail them through this page : http://www.foxstudios.com/request.html
     Here are a few screenshots comparisons : i39.servimg.com/u/f39/18/41/38/12/buff_h16.jpg
    i39.servimg.com/u/f39/18/41/38/12/buff_h11.jpg
    oi57.tinypic.com/2cne3j6.jpg

    • Nico D I disagree with you, while there can be some small fixes I think they did a very very good job with this, Colors are not wrong, the first season there were a lot of glossy bubble gum pinks in colors that gets washed out on the original airings and even look more washed out on the DVD’s, also there was bad lighting which made a lot of the scenes very dark and hard to see, there was a lot of greenish yellow like tints that were there because of the colors washing out, The colors you see now are the correct colors because everything now has been cleaned up and color/light corrected and enhanced for HD so now you see everything they way it actually looked back then when it was filmed.  As for the Noise and grain I thought that was well done, Buffy on the SD DVD’s had way too much of it and in darker scenes it was quite annoying and took away a lot from the scenes. The reduction that was used was done correctly that’s how HD is suppose to be.  I am a Professional Film and digital editor and have done work in the Industry for over 17 years and everything done for this SD show was done correctly it may not be 100% perfect but then again nothing ever is, there is only so much that can be done to SD film. So I think before anyone complains be grateful that we are getting this show as clean and crisp as it is everything is see- able and the lighting is so much better very clean good constrast the sow looks like it was film today.

      • I completely agree with you about the colours and the noise/grain… BUT, I do think the huge mistake is the obsession in the industry all over the world for cropping! It’s a 4/3 format and not a 16/9!! Into many sequences, a very significant part of the images are lost and thus the framing becomes totally wrong and ugly!!

  • The most recent episode still have DNR & color timing issues, but there’s little to no cropping!
    http://imgbox.com/g/fbqLgPPkn9
    I’d love for a Blu-ray release to have both 4:3 & 16:9 versions available, that way fans who want one or the other would be happy. I know Buffy is “Meant to be seen in 4:3″, but I love the uncropped 16:9 versions a lot more than the OAR.

  • What I love about Pivot is they show the Australian versions which are letterbox and have all the demon open captions/translations from the original airings. FX still deletes all of them, so you don’t get the full flavor that the writers planned for. And while a small bit has been cut for commercials, someone at Pivot must be a true Buffy fan as important snips that FX deleted are still there. Such as Doppelganger, after Vampire Willow is knocked out, FX cuts out Angel starting to object to Buffy’s comment about who you become as a vampire – this is an important revelation in Season 6

  • Compared to my DVD set, these episodes look fantastic. Are theyou perfect remaster from the studio? No, but I was pleasantly suprised at the quality. Those of you complaining, ever heard of, “looking a gift horse in the mouth?”
    Here endeth the lesson…

  • I don’t care what Whedon wants, I’m the customer and would like the best quality of the show.  Not transfer videotape material for NTSC.  As for the cropped sequences, I’s rather that with good quality than replicating the crappy lighting done for the series.  Truth is the show was  a poor man’s X-Files and was done with a low budget.