Back to the (shitty) Future

So just before Christmas it was revealed that Universal had screwed up the transfer for the DVDs of Back to the Future II & III. Not only that, but they had screwed them up for the Region 2 release, and knew that the transfer was screwed up when preparing the North American release, but elected to release the DVDs with the error and “fix it later”. Well, they have finally started shipping the replacement discs, so I dropped my DVDs in the mail tonight to get replacements. For images comparing how the transfer SHOULD look and how Universal screwed it up, look here.

I wasn’t sure how long it would take for them to send me the replacements, so I decided to back up the DVDs before I mailed them off. In the past if I wanted to make a backup of movie that was double layer I was kinda screwed, but fortunately technology wins out again. Enter DVD2one, which does some magical decompression magic to squeeze a double-layer disc to fit onto one disc. In addition to it’s straightforward sounding usage, you can use “Movie Only” mode, where you can recompress the feature less by throwing out all the menus and special features. In “Movie Only” mode you can also select which audio, subtitle, and angles you wish to backup. For instance, the Back to the Future DVDs were about 8GB each. The feature with all the Audio Tracks and Subtitles was about 5.5GB. The feature had a 5.1 french track and two other audio tracks (at least one was a commentary) that I could throw out, saving only the 5.1 english track. I’m not sure exactly how much recompression was necessary after throwing all that audio data out, but it couldn’t have been much. Anyway, DVD2one is wicked cool, and I highly recommend it to anyone with a DVD writer. They are very close to releasing an OSX version, according to threads and screenshots in the forums. Apparently they already have their recompression engine running under OSX, which sounds to me like the hard part.

One other thing about DVD2one: They released a new version today that lets you selectively drop audio tracks in “full disc” mode too, so you can preserve all the menus and stuff but still lower your recompression needs… I haven’t tried it yet but it sounds pretty sweet!

7 thoughts on “Back to the (shitty) Future

    1. I think that’s because they were from laserdisc so it was harder to capture the image.

      Regardless, they redid the transfer for the replacement discs, so if the original laserdisc transfer (the ones you are saying are blurry and red) was actually fucked, they shouldn’t be for the replacements.

      1. There are a few variables making the image fuzzier;

        1) Digital Vs Analog capture – the DVD was more than likely screengrabbed digitally on a PC of some kind. LaserDiscs have analog video on them (seriously.) which has to be captured via a capture card of some kind.

        2) Component Vs Composite – DVDs are stored with their image components seperated. (YIQ? YCrCB? I don’t remember… it doesn’t matter anyway ;] ) while the video on a LaserDisc is stored as a composite image. If you want to see the difference in action, view your playstation/ps2/DVD player via the composite input on your tv, compared to the s-video input.

        3) Anamorphic Vs Hard Matte – The DVD is more than likely an anamorphic transfer, unless they are on some serious crack over there at universal… I imagine it’s anamorphic anyway… while all LD’s are hard-matted. The DVD will have more horizontal lines of resolution than the LD for ‘letterboxed’ films.

        okay. enough for the evening. time to turn my brain off.

        cookies. yum.

  1. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but is there an official website about this or phone number or something? This is the first I heard of the whole mis-framing thing, but I did think a few of the scenes looked a little weird.

    Just looking for some kind of confirmation, so that I know that I’m not sending my DVDs into oblivion or something.

    1. Well, besides the fact that The Digital Bits is one of the most respected DVD news sites, and that the story was reported on many other news sites (search google), and the fact that many people have reported actually receiving their replacements, you could also call the 866 number in the story. Granted, it is for canada, but I’m sure they could answer your questions.

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