PopCultureShock > PCS Movies & TV > PCS Is Dead

Posted by: Keith Chow on April 29, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Originally, this post was going to be a rundown of how Smallville has depicted some of Superman’s rogues gallery since tonight’s episode “Dominion” features the return of General Zod. But then on Tuesday, TV Guide broke the news that Warner Home Video would be releasing a massive 62-disc “Complete Series” boxset on DVD this fall. Needless to say, I was pretty excited because I recently sold off my Seasons 1-9 DVD sets in anticipation for an eventual complete series set on blu-ray. But as I read through the TV Guide article and watched the promotional video edited by WB, I started getting worried. There was no mention of a blu-ray release. Everything kept referring to DVD only. Could it be? The big blue boy scout wouldn’t be getting a blu release?

My fears were confirmed later in the day when TVShowsOnDVD.com followed up with an interview with WHV regarding the lack of blu-ray mentions in the press release. TVShowsOnDVD.com’s David Lamberet even quoted a WHV exec:

“The special effects were created and output for standard definition broadcast using the tools and formats of that time. Elevating the special effects to an acceptable level for HD may require going back to original film elements and re-creating new special effects from scratch to marry with the film elements, which is extremely costly.”

Come again?

In other words, Warner Bros. is to cheap to author new blu-ray discs for seasons 1-5 (you’d think Season 5 on blu would be a no-brainer at least since it was already made for the failed HD-DVD format). Also, the bit about the special effects being “created and output for standard definition broadcast” rings hollow because early seasons of Smallville have been airing on HDNet and available as HD downloads on iTunes for several years now.

Not to mention this article from 2003 that talks about how the Smallville post-production SFX team simultaneously worked in both HD and SD in order to “future-proof” the show for future broadcasts in HD (and presumably High Definition media). In fact, according to the article, the studio had been working in HD from the very beginning.

The financial impact of protecting and posting for two aspect ratios is significant for anyone planning workflow. Tim Scanlan, coproducer on Smallville for Warner Bros. Television, says WB asked for delivery of that show on both HD and SD masters from a Super-35 shoot. “Fortunately,” he says, “WB agreed to subsidize part of the cost increase — estimated to run about 25 percent more.” Even though the primary viewership remains entrenched in SD, the extra cost is justified to guarantee the show’s future syndication viability.

I’m sure the bean counters at Warner Home Video thought twice about recouping the costs of what would likely be a hard sell. I admit 10 seasons worth of blu-rays would likely be a bane on anyone’s wallet. But I am more than ready to blow a wad of cash on a complete series blu-ray set. I can’t be the only one, can I?


Keith is the Editor-at-Large of the groundbreaking graphic novel anthology SECRET IDENTITIES and Outreach Director for SIUniverse Media. Visit the official Secret Identities blog to keep up with Keith and the rest of the SI team

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Waiting For Superman: No Big Blu Boxset?