Why Buffy Should Be Released On Blu-ray

If there is one show that I am dying to have released on the blu-ray format, it’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  If you know me, then you know that I’m a huge fan of the show, if you don’t know me, well, now you know.  As a big fan, wouldn’t I already own the series on DVD?  Do I really need to have it on blu-ray?  Yes and Yes.  Here’s why:

For starters, I love image quality.  Blu-ray is the single best format to hit the home video market and is currently unrivaled in bringing the best possible image to home viewers.  I’m fully aware that Buffy the Vampire Slayer, especially its first couple of seasons, aren’t going to knock your socks off in the visual department.  Its low-budget nature doesn’t lend itself to something that one normally thinks would exactly shine in high definition.  However, the nature of DVD means that the image on those sets are compressed and when watching it on a high-def TV, you really start to see the inherent issues with those DVD transfers.  There is a lot of noise, banding, artifacting and ghosting issues that actually take me out of the show a little bit.  In some ways, it makes me think of watching the show on someone else’s TV through a muddy window.  Often times, when I’m watching something on DVD, the upconverted picture from my blu-ray player actually looks pretty decent but in this show’s case, and especially with season one and two, it doesn’t look very good at all.  If it was to be released on blu-ray, there wouldn’t be a need to compress the image and the image could breathe and be represented in it’s natural filmic quality.  I’ve no doubt that a Buffy blu-ray would probably appear more grainy (which I personally have no qualms with) but I think color and detail would get a significant boost.  For someone like myself, the loss of compression and the truer representation of the original source material would be like watching Buffy anew.  Plus, who wouldn’t mind seeing those DVD menus disappear in favor of something a little more polished.

The road to getting Buffy the Vampire Slayer on blu-ray is probably a long and difficult one. It could potentially be remastered from the original 16mm and 35mm prints but that’s going to take a small group of people a lot of effort and man-hours to complete.  There’s also the visual effects to take into account, which were not produced for high-definition.  The effects would have to either be kept at their low-resolution or they’d have to be redone. That could be a big hinderance in 20th Century Fox’s decision to try to bring the show to blu-ray.  The fact that Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation have been given the blu-ray treatment is incredibly encouraging and I hope creates a movement in bringing more beloved shows to the format.

I realize that bringing Buffy the Vampire Slayer to blu-ray is not going to be the simplest of tasks.  I do think, however, that there is a market for the show to be released on high-definition.  Fans of the show are incredibly supportive and I think most would be interested in being able to watch the show in the best possible quality, so I think it already has a good base to work from in selling a new set of seasons on blu-ray.  Whedon’s recent success with The Avengers will also bring new people to his past work and I think there are a lot of new fans that can be made.  If there is one thing that Buffy the Vampire Slayer has proven, it’s that it has legs and continues to be talked about and shared.  I think adding a blu-ray release of the show will not only extend the show’s life but bring in further revenue for 20th Century Fox.  The fans would benefit from the increased quality, the inevitable release of Buffy‘s spin-off Angel on blu-ray, and of course, increased space on their DVD shelves.

What do you think?  Do you want to see Buffy the Vampire Slayer on blu-ray?

by Ben McBride


25 thoughts on “Why Buffy Should Be Released On Blu-ray

  1. Definitely would like it on blu-ray. But where do you stand on the whole widescreen issue? Would it be converted to blu-ray with the full-screen format intact, or widescreen a la netflix?


    1. Good question and I almost addressed that in the post but wasn’t sure anyone wanted to hear me ramble about aspect ratios haha.

      If Buffy gets the blu-ray treatment, it absolutely should be presented as a full-screen image and not widescreen. Netflix’s widescreen presentation is incorrect as to the intended aspect ratio for the show. I’ve never seen it on Netflix personally but I’ve heard that by opening the image up to widescreen, you now see things you weren’t supposed to see before like ladders or lights on the set that were sitting just out of frame, wires or cabling that were used to do special physical effects can now be seen when they were always intended to be hidden by the fact that they shot the show with the intention of cropping it for 4:3 aspect ratio TVs.

      I’m a firm believer in watching something in its originally intended aspect ratio. It’s the reverse of what we had to deal with before when widescreen movies were made Pan & Scan to fill the 4:3 TV’s screens. They were never intended to be seen that way.


      1. The fact that you’ve never seen it in widescreen and are relying solely on hearsay for your assessment blows your credibility – I’ve seen both versions and infinitely prefer the widescreen. The widescreen format actually enhances the overwhelming majority of episodes. I can count on one hand the times where you actually see all that extraneous sidebar action you’ve heard about. For 99% of it, if you blink, you won’t notice it. For episodes like “Restless,” widescreen enhances the overall surreality of it. For “Chosen,” once you see the final battle in widescreen, you won’t be able to watch it again in full frame. There are countless other examples where widescreen enhances what you see. I think Joss Whedon is wrong here. Though I understand your argument, I heartily disagree on the basis that I have seen both formats and will now ONLY watch it in widescreen (from Seasons 4-7, that is). Thanks for reading!


      2. While, yes, I’ve never watched enough episodes on Netflix in widescreen to complain about what may or may not be seen with the opening up of the image to widescreen. I remain firm on my belief that you should watch it the way that the show was intended. If Joss shot the show intending it to be 4:3 ratio, that means the images composed by the directors on the series were done so with the 4:3 ratio in mind. If they had shot the show in widescreen, then the images may have been composed differently. Most movies and TV shows shoot their image with the plan to crop it for the aspect ratio they want and frame the images in the camera so that when they do crop it, the image is as they wanted it while composing the images in the camera. I prefer widescreen over the old 4:3 TV aspect ratio as a personal preference but I wouldn’t want to change anything that the makers of the show intended, which is why opening it up to widescreen is not for me. Plus, some people have reported that the widescreen version of the show is a slightly zoomed in image and is actually cropping out some of the 4:3 image in some cases. Again, I have not seen enough of the show on Netflix to know for myself, but to me, that doesn’t matter because I want to watch the show in its intended format and that is 4:3. We all have our preferences, mine sides with the original artistic vision of the makers of the show.


  2. I’d love for it to be released on blu-ray. One of the only reasons I keep my old fashioned television is for reasons like Buffy. People don’t understand that if you watch a standard definition DVD on a bigger HD TV that it will look pretty crappy, and actually look better on older televisions. If they do come out with a blu-ray edition, I’d like the option for both widescreen and fullscreen. If you watch Buffy on netflix (like I do on occasion), you’ll see the problems with widescreen. In the episode Where the Wild Things Are, you can see Anya and Xander going through the frat house after it has been all plant infested, and you can see someone’s hand come out and move a twig at them. Fullscreen, the hand is no where to be seen. Little things like that ruin any chance for widescreen.


  3. You forgot to mention that with a Buffy: the Vampire Slayer & Angel re-release on Blu-ray, they could fix a major mistake they made on the DVDs, cutting off the recaps at the beginning of the episodes.

    I would totally be sold on buying Blu-ray re-releases if the recaps at the beginning of the episodes are intact.


  4. 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 (edges of the frame missing, crew members, secondary cameras, etc)

    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.


  5. As someone who owns the UK PAL DVDs of BtVS 1–7 (with s4 through 7 in 16:9), I’m going to vote for 16:9 for those seasons. YES, there’s the occasional wire/cabling/whatever, but it really doesn’t bother me–I’m usually focused on the center of the screen. And, believe me–if they’re going to go to the expense of uprezzing the FX, it would be a relatively simple matter to “paint out” the offending wire.

    I realize that Joss has said that they’ve always been intended to be seen in 4:3, but since getting the UK DVDs, I’ve never watched the US versions again. (That’s *another* thing–UK fans would be mightily peeved by not seeing what they’re used to, and the UK Blu-rays would probably be in 16:9, at least for s4–7.)


  6. It’s not that wires or cables are an issue. It’s actual film crew people, cameras, other equipment, actors that are speaking but the voices don’t match because they were supposed to be out of frame, in-camera effects like hiding Angel’s reflection in mirrors, continuity issues with actors out of frame in one shot, only to appear doing something else because they were supposed to be hidden but the wider frame reveals them. Actual edges of the framing where the image looks like it was shot through a periscope or one of the sides is blackened out, scene transitions that are still 4:3, and so on and so on.

    Personally I just find them pretty funny far more than a distraction. They don’t take away from the enjoyment of the show, and sometimes it’s cool when each show happens to look just right in widescreen, sort of a happy accident.

    It’s a very gray area because they’ve been released in widescreen all over the place now, far beyond DVD. So who knows if Fox would even bother consulting with Whedon before this happens – if it ever does. A 4:3 show on Blu-ray is not unheard of, since there’s the original Star Trek and the upcoming Next Generation. Both are in their original 4:3 framing.


  7. It’s just a matter of time and money. As you said, they have to go back to the original 16mm or 35mm elements (depending on the season), scan them in HD, conform the HD masters to the original video masters (all the editing was likely done on video, so there aren’t film copies of each episode that can just be scanned), and re-do all visual effects. So someone needs to be convinced that there is profit to be made after all that expense.


  8. Buffy the Vampire Slayer on blu-ray is a good idea. More new episodes of the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an even better idea.


  9. We own both the complete Buffy and Angel series —- also serious fans here of the series and Joss Whedon. We aren’t sure, unless going Blu-ray would make a significant improvement if we’d plunk down the money for it. I guess the expense of a series vs just a movie (Blade Runner for example). So glad to hear there are still fans out there. We found we couldn’t watch Ringer because we kept thinking of Buffy lol.


  10. 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.


  11. I own the Buffy Chosen Collection box set and Angel Complete Series box set and I would buy the Blu-Rays on Day 1. The biggest issue for me would be different menus and most importantly, a Play All feature, but I’d immediately snatch them up regardless.


  12. I don’t see why it needs to be an either/or thing with regards to the widescreen versus full screen. Blu Rays have tremendous capacity – let’s use it for once! If they are going to take the time to remaster these shows, they should put both versions on the disc and let the user select the mode they prefer.

    As for the low-resolution special effects, I don’t think people would even notice if effects (like lightning) were still in low-def. Also, with today’s technology it’s not very hard to edit out objects in widescreen (like wires). This isn’t rocket science.


  13. FIX IT! thats the answer. I am a long time buffy fan and I want them on bluray now, but not at the expense of quality. Buffy should be on bluray and in its originaly shot widescreen format (for the first time in the us). Its no mistake that netflix plays it in ws and its no mistake that dvds from overseas are ws. Joss needs to fix all those ws mistakes and update the show not just for us who already love buffy but for future generations who have yet to experiance this one of a kind fantastic show.


  14. Honestly, what is the point of inventing Blu-ray tech if not for watching Buffy?

    Redo all the effects, paint out any issues with WS, remix audio to 7.1 THX standards. As silly as Buffy can be, it’s a milestone show for Joss and every fan I know is a solid fan who would back the effort by buying a remastered Blu-ray of the show.

    Not to mention all the others who have yet to experience it.


  15. PIVOT TV has gotten 16:9 “HD” re-masters from Fox and has been airing them since August. Their’s all sorts of issues with them though, DNR, botched re-done visual effects Cropping & re-framing. The first 7 episodes of season one are 98% cropped, but episodes 8-12 are 98% opened up and look fantastic IMO. Some scenes not only have more footage on the sides, but also have more on the top and bottom. Season 2 has been pretty much the same as the season 1 8-12 episodes. If this is released on Blu-ray, I’d love to have it in 16:9 even if it’s not the way it was “meant to be seen”. The goofs in the 16:9 frame can easily be fixed, some more than others. And I’m not too bothered by most of them, it’s not like there’s not any mistakes in the original 4:3 frame. Lighting equipment, boom mics, and boom mic operator’s can be seen in the 4:3 versions. It won’t happen, but a Blu-ray release with both aspect ratio’s would be ideal. That way fans of 4:3 & 16:9 would be happy. Season 3 starts airing soon on PIVOT, you can join this site called filmon and set them to record the SD streams for free. That’s what I’ve been doing to watch them. The episodes air on Tuesday’s, then re-air later the same day, then again on Friday’s.


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