Generation 1  Generation 1 / Video

Q&A w/ Brian Ward of Shout! Factory Reveals G1 25th Anniversary DVD Info

Brian Ward, a Producer and Manager of DVD Home Video at Shout! Factory, the company responsible for releasing the Transformers Generation 1 - The Complete First Season - 25th Anniversary Edition DVD, has started a question and answer thread on the company's website forums.

A little background on Mr. Ward: "I am currently working on 40-ish DVDs worth of material for Shout! Factory. Sixteen of those discs are Transformers, the original animated series from Sunbow," he tells us. "This is an absolute dream come true for me. I'm 31 years old and grew up watching the series, as well as collecting the toys and comics. So I know my stuff."

He also says that he also purchased the original series from Rhino, so "I know what was good about them and I know what was bad about them, not because I did extensive research (which I still did), but because I was also a fan praising what deserved praise and criticizing what deserved criticism.

The highlights are below. Head over to the community to read the full response from Mr. Ward himself. A bit of a warning, though: it's rather lengthy; there are no pages as the communities seems to be based on a blog-type comment structure.

Some line breaks are mine for easier Web reading.

The S1 Packaging
    I agree that what you see online [of the Season 1 packaging] doesn't adequately reflect the special treatment Shout! Factory is giving the series. However, I will argue that you haven't seen the art in person.

    What can't be displayed in a .JPG online is the type of treatment the slipcase is getting. The title treatment and characters will be fully embossed and the background will be BEAUTIFULLY printed on a shiny foil board that really makes those background colors POP. Unfortunately, you can't see the effect in a photo.
The Masters
    Hasbro provided us with the same masters Rhino used for their releases. HOWEVER... There have been changes made. I, personally, went to New York, where the original broadcast one-inch masters are housed, and found each of the problem areas, in regards to animation.

    The one-inch masters have not physically held up well over the years. In some cases, they're nearly unwatchable. Therefore, instead of simply transferring and using masters of the one-inches, we found every instance of faulty animation demonstrated on a YouTube video or mentioned in a rundown we could find online (and even found some of our own) and corrected them, replacing the faulty digibeta master material with the best-quality one-inch source material.

    Finally, we color corrected everything to match--as best we could--the shots before and after. Surprisingly, unless you know specifically what you're looking for, you won't even notice many of the instances of slightly softer picture. It looks REALLY good.
The Audio
    We chucked the Rhino audio. You will no longer hear additional sound effects or music, not previously heard in the broadcasts. We went back to the original source mono and created a nice stereo track to even out the audio. It sounds really nice.
The Bonus Features
    There are very few bonus materials from the original releases that are specifically related to G1 and what interviews are there tend to be long, relatively drawn out and have no cutaways.

    For the most part...they are one person shot either in front of a black (or uninteresting) background or on the floor of a convention talking for long periods of time without cutaway. And neither the lighting, camera work nor audio recordings are particularly high-end.

    I've spent the last month or so traveling to Rhode Island, New York and back interviewing as many people as possible that had something to do with this incarnation of the series. I talk to original Hasbro toy designers...original comic writers and editors...[and] to the gang behind the series, itself. And, yes, that includes the voice talent.

    I will also have commercials from the appropriate seasons. In other words, you won't see a commercial for the Sharkticons on the season one release. Something you should know about the commercials is this: the quality of what you're accustomed to seeing on YouTube and other DVDs is pretty much [not] what you're going to get here. And it's for one simple reason. No one ever anticipated the future lives of commercials, when they were first being broadcast. So Hasbro never kept high-quality masters. They kept VHS screeners of their commercials, strictly for reference later. So when you say, "why couldn't they get the original copies from Hasbro?", we actually did. Still, there are some pretty cool commercials here and I'm looking forward to having them included.
On a Complete Series Set
    They are in the pipeline. I can't really say anything more than what's in the article, only because we're waiting on the official press release to be approved by the kind folks at Hasbro. Once that's approved and sent out, we can say more. But, yes, they are in the works. And they are AWESOME.

    There will be some pretty substantial bonus features included in the complete series that won't be on the individual volumes. Not so much in terms of amount, but in heft.

    We have packaging for the complete series and, from one fan to another, Seriously, this is the set for the people that GET IT. When Hasbro saw the concept, they loved it.
    The commercial bumpers are in the episodes. I'll explain why. As you'll notice, there are a number of episodes in which the original audio bleeds off into the bumpers, so performing a clean surgical edit was impossible and I didn't really want to cut the show's audio off suddenly where the bumper would appear.

    Also, I could have included the bumpers as bonus material, but are they really bonus features?

    So taking those two things into account, along with the fact that they're only a couple seconds each, I decided to leave the bumpers in.
Correcting Errors
    [Replying to a poster's inquiry about error correction] We actually used your list, along with a couple others, while making our corrections.
On Possibilities of Releasing on Blu-Ray DVD
    There are no current plans for Blu-ray, though, it's something I would love to own myself one day. The problem is this, no one has successfully found the original BROADCAST film elements (Rhino used PRE-broadcast film for their releases, hence all the problems), which means there's nothing to restore and make high-def quality.

    I will say that the new interviews, however, are being shot and edited in high-def, just in case we can ever find those original film elements. Who knows? Maybe one day.
On the Voice Actors Providing Audio Commentary
    As much fun as it would be to listen to folks talk about the episodes, one thing I've learned over the years--and definitely over the last couple months--is that the voice actors know the least about the series.

    It's not a slight on them. It's simply a fact that most of these guys (and girls) were voicing multiple characters on multiple shows at the same time and were so busy that they never even really got a chance to sit down and watch the shows themselves until much later.

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