Defective or Disappointing UK Anime Discs

NormanicGrav

ヽ(⌐■_■)ノ♪♬
AUKN Staff
Haven't seen it brought up here yet, got an email from AllTheAnime a couple hours ago wrt Violet Evergarden, blu-ray release is delayed because of the video quality, their looking at the masters to see if the can re-author and replace them prior to release, no estimate of new release date.

Personally, while I was still holding just out a little bit of hope that it might ship before xmas, I'd much rather get the best release possible when it comes to the video quality of all things, so I'm totally okay with the delay and really hope they can do something about it.

A couple of things to note from the email;
1) From the sound of it, they are uncertain of were the problem is, if it's a problem with the encoding not present on the masters then looks like they'll try to re-author them, but if it's an issue with the masters themselves we might be in for a disappointing release in spite of the delay.
2) They did refer to "looking forward to receiving shipping notifications imminently", so presumably they were kind of on track to at least ship the early bird pre-orders from alltheanime.com soon, so the delay may only affect that, and not the given retail release date of 11th January, but I'd imagine it'll only make that date now if they can't do anything about the video quality...
Well in these sorts of cases it's usually either one of these:
  • The masters provided by Japan
  • The person or group authoring the discs
Some of us reckon it's probably the latter as authoring individuals can mess up a release (it's happened notably with Viz Media and older Sentai releases). Re:ZERO was caused by a sourcing issue while Your Name was caused by someone over at Madman's authoring team.

The issues affecting VE feels more like a Your Name scenario than RZ (the difference this time being a UK author). As long as the distributor does not go to Com'on screen (French authoring company, very infamous for their Blu-ray authors being a mess also) for their re-author, I think the next one will turn out better hopefully.
 

JTO

Kiznaiver
Allow me to chime in on this one folks (for those who haven't had a mail-out yet as anyone pre-ordering will be getting a message from our shop this morning too)
🙂
!

The video materials we have from source are a lot trickier than normal ones and on evaluation it will be hard to get a better edition from a normal authoring house. As a result of the concerns raised with the current master, we’re pausing the release to work with a specialist authoring house to look at the masters and see if we can improve them. Assuming the answer is yes, we’ll get the disc changed over in the set as soon as we can.

Anime Ltd remains committed to delivering the best possible edition on first release we can, which is why we’re pausing the release full stop and not just shipping then offering a replacement scheme. As soon as we’ve evaluated the video masters vs the Blu-Rays, we’ll update again on timeframes for release based on what can be done.

To be clear and manage expectations, we can only confirm what can be done when the specialist authoring house has had time to evaluate the materials. If we confirm there is a better product to be had with this release then we absolutely will re-author the discs.

Everyone is on their holidays just now for the festive season, so we'll come back to folks at the start of the New Year with a proper update. Appreciate the patience while we do this as it means all shipments including our we ship are now on hold, but we will have the final product in your hands as soon as we can!

Thanks for your understanding folks and on behalf of everyone at Anime Ltd I hope everybody has a good holiday season!

Andrew
Thank you for doing this. I would like Violet Evergarden to get the best Blu-ray release possible, especially visually because I think it's visually stunning. Looking forward to receiving the finished product.
 

Buzzkillington

Za Warudo
Well I'm glad it's being looked at, if I buy it will depend entirely on if it's getting fixed or not as for me those screenshots look completely unacceptable for a BD, something I'd expect to see from a screenshot taken from KissAnime or something. Like as I say I'm not a videophile but even I instantly see what's wrong with those (as did others it seems) so I have no idea how it even passed any sort of QC...

This one really sucks for me as I was super looking forward to VE ;_; hopefully it ends up as good news, I'm willing to wait as long as it takes to get it right.
 

anime_andrew

Anime Limited Representative
Industry Representative
It does make me wonder what is the quality of these subtitles if FUNi didn’t use them..,

I mean, the reason they didn’t use them is they used the same basic master from Madman. If you follow that logic along then their master was finished long before we announced what we were doing. At that point there would have been no point in them checking our version...
AP
 

thedoctor2016

Mushi-shi
But those discs have been complained about since the release Australia is also even re releasing it I just don’t understand why that’s what I meant it was more a joke as yes no one has mentioned the subs yet I do believe they will be better we just don’t know yet.
 

Dai

Hunter
I certainly don't mind waiting if it means a chance that the picture quality can be improved. The Netflix stream of the show looked awful in darker scenes, so the main thing I was looking forward to here was the visual upgrade. The artwork in Violet Evergarden is a lot more detailed than the typical anime TV series, so it was always going to be tricky one to fit onto (presumably) fewer discs than the Japanese release.

While I doubt AL would alter the scope of what's included in the set at this late stage, if it was the only way we could get better picture quality than those worrying screenshots, I wouldn't be bothered if they ditched the compilation movies, and spread the TV episodes across more discs instead.
 

Mangaranga

Za Warudo
Just to chime in some more here considering feedback is more likely to be seen - I have absolutely 100% confidence in saying that the materials received to encode Violet Evergarden from aren't the issue. Why do I think that? Today I received Birthday Wonderland - another set authored by the same individual from what I understand, and it's the exact same story with that disc. I have no idea what's going on with their encoding setup, but their encoder is constantly spitting out frames absolutely full of macroblocking which would also explain why it looks so ugly and noisy in motion too.

What this ultimately results in is a constant flow of decent frame -> crap frames in various different intervals one after another, sometimes with multiples of one before the other. There's seemingly no pattern to it, but it's happening constantly and genuinely looks like something you'd expect from a h264 Youtube stream (Or the Re:Zero/Your Name v1 discs). See these as an example (Or this for a bigger version). In both comparison shots I've started on a good frame and moved forward by one. That's why it looks so bad, though granted from what I've seen Violet seems to have even worse encoding on top of someone taking artistic liberties and messing with the source to try and make it look more "correct".

I should also add that I have no idea if the video levels are correct for Birthday Wonderland, as the International master seems to differ from the Domestic one. The Domestic one has a "nostalgic" yellow tint, whereas the UK/US/FR BDs don't. This comparison gives a good visual example of what that looks like, with the middle image being what the International Master looks like.


EDIT: Just to add, I went back and had a look at Amanchu which I believe was the first disc this individual worked on, just in case I missed something back then, and this issue does not affect that disc (granted it has incorrect gamma instead). Also just to point out seeing as it's never been listed in this thread - Amanchu uses the broadcast masters and not the home video version with redraws and such.
 
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Shadow Cat

Stand User
Question as I'm not one who's into all this video production thing

How come companies don't spot wrong colors or artifacting?

Quick example would be Violet Evergarden. Wouldn't someone look at the video they've just encoded (or whatever it is), compare it against the source and think "Oh, that doesn't look right" long before disks are being printed?

I get some things getting passed QC unnoticed (Sorry, but I can't see the difference in the first link @Mangaranga posted about one good frame, one bad frame. The image with only 1.7mb has a bit more artifacting on the right hand of the image, but thats about all and barely noticable). While VE colors are WAY off
 

SpaceDandy

Dandy Guy, in Space
we’re pausing the release to work with a specialist authoring house to look at the masters and see if we can improve them. Assuming the answer is yes, we’ll get the disc changed over in the set as soon as we can.
Why wasn't a professional called in the first place?
I'm sorry but in this case, clearly the fault is on you guys rather than the authorer. If you employ an individual (which is totally fine) but then don't perform the necessary QC step, there's clearly something lacking in your internal process. I can understand if a publisher does not check how the authoring compare to the raw materials (and sometime they can't do that easily due to the format of the raw material) but at least watch ONCE how the BD looks before duplicating the discs??
How come companies don't spot wrong colors or artifacting?
Numerous reasons, sometime the source material is on HDCAM (or other versatile formats) and you can't watch that again easily to compare so you assume the house which processed the tapes/authored the discs did the job. Typically, a shift in the color or brightness goes unnoticed in those cases as the original tape can hardly be watched unless you have the proper hardware to compare. The distributor may only then notice banding or other artifacts such as macroblocks and aliasing.

It should be noted that for us it's easy to compare as X person on Y forum will provide a BDMV of the japanese version to another which seeks to compare the release in their country. However distributors can't just go and download the latest torrent from some site to get the BDMV. They are under contract and may ONLY use the footage they're provided with so their reference may be on a format they can't easily watch or handle.

In the case of VE, it looks so off in color and picture problems (banding and artifacts) that I have no good explanation except the clear omission of a QC step by the authorer (which is probably just some individual doing it as an extra job in the evening?) and more specifically AL. Beside, if it was handled by a single individual, I don't think they had to deal with any physical tape. Just heavy raw video files ("thick"). So there's quite likely no excuse for either in this very case.
 
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Mangaranga

Za Warudo
Question as I'm not one who's into all this video production thing

How come companies don't spot wrong colors or artifacting?

Quick example would be Violet Evergarden. Wouldn't someone look at the video they've just encoded (or whatever it is), compare it against the source and think "Oh, that doesn't look right" long before disks are being printed?

I get some things getting passed QC unnoticed (Sorry, but I can't see the difference in the first link @Mangaranga posted about one good frame, one bad frame. The image with only 1.7mb has a bit more artifacting on the right hand of the image, but thats about all and barely noticable). While VE colors are WAY off
I probably didn't pick the best examples as I literally picked one spot and got the first two examples to hand. It does get worse that what I posted though. I added a second comparison to my post showcasing another example. Seeing as they're my initial caps posted on Discord they are 1440p though and should be fairly obvious.
 

Shadow Cat

Stand User
Numerous reasons, sometime the source material is on HDCAM (or other versatile formats) and you can't watch that again easily to compare so you assume the house which processed the tapes/authored the discs did the job. Typically, a shift in the color or brightness goes unnoticed in those cases as the original tape can hardly be watched unless you have the proper hardware to compare. The distributor may only then notice banding or other artifacts such as macroblocks and aliasing.
Sorry, I meant the Authoring house. When they're processing the source files, are they not able to compare source to their output files? This is the part I'm confused about, how they don't notice the color difference

Like, when you're working with files for a youtube video can you compare your Raw video file to your encoded video before uploading to youtube
 

Scavenger

Great Teacher
What this ultimately results in is a constant flow of decent frame -> crap frames in various different intervals one after another, sometimes with multiples of one before the other. There's seemingly no pattern to it, but it's happening constantly and genuinely looks like something you'd expect from a h264 Youtube stream (Or the Re:Zero/Your Name v1 discs). See these as an example (Or this for a bigger version). In both comparison shots I've started on a good frame and moved forward by one. That's why it looks so bad, though granted from what I've seen Violet seems to have even worse encoding on top of someone taking artistic liberties and messing with the source to try and make it look more "correct".
That looks like "I-frame pulsing". Issue with how the rate control is set. Bits are not properly allocated over the B- and P-frames, so only I-frames aren't a mess.
 

Mangaranga

Za Warudo
Numerous reasons, sometime the source material is on HDCAM (or other versatile formats) and you can't watch that again easily to compare so you assume the house which processed the tapes/authored the discs did the job. Typically, a shift in the color or brightness goes unnoticed in those cases as the original tape can hardly be watched unless you have the proper hardware to compare. The distributor may only then notice banding or other artifacts such as macroblocks and aliasing.
Just to add to that in response to Shadow Cat's question. Colours being wrong has become more and more common nowadays for some reason. Viz Media encodes everything in the colour space for SD content, everything Funimation encodes has a red tint, and even Crunchyroll gets things wrong sometimes as I recently pointed out that they're encoding most of Osomatsu-san in the wrong colour space. The common thing back in the early to mid 2010s used to be that BD releases were too bright and everything looked washed out as a result.
 

SpaceDandy

Dandy Guy, in Space
Sorry, I meant the Authoring house. When they're processing the source files, are they not able to compare source to their output files? This is the part I'm confused about, how they don't notice the color difference

Like, when you're working with files for a youtube video can you compare your Raw video file to your encoded video before uploading to youtube
What is acceptable for one's eyes may not be for the others. As stupid as it is, one may just seek simplicity and provide something that is cheap in time and effort, as long as they find the result acceptable. The client NEEDS to check if it ticks the requirement upon delivery. That's common sense and is literally what law says for contracts. It's the same as the warranty you have when you buy something from a shop. If it's not as expected, you can return it.
We don't know how much this individual was paid for his work but I bet he was contracted because his service was cheap. And here we are.
 
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Mangaranga

Za Warudo
We don't know how much this individual was paid for his work but I bet he was contracted because his service was cheap. And here we are.
I don't know if this is necessarily a fair comment seeing as, assuming this is the same individual, they've done previous BDs which were actually encoded pretty competently, albeit with increased gamma. I literally only own Amanchu from them though, and I've seen part of an episode of Silver Spoon to check - and their previous work does not look like this. Something has gone horribly wrong with their encoding setup somewhere and even that can happen to the best of people.

Justin, for example is put on a pedestal as the person to go to if you want a quality product, but people also seem to forget that there was a period where even his encoding setup was ballsed up and he put out some badly encoded discs in the wrong colour range. It's because he was receptive to feedback that he took to the BDforums and was helped by a fellow Italian aniBD encoder to fix things (yes that one), and yet his work since has been better than it ever was previously. Hell, even earlier this year he re-authored the City Hunter Shinjuku Private eyes disc and offered a replacement scheme after I pointed out that both Japanese audio tracks were screwed up, so **** still happens sometimes. I think this independent author still deserves a chance if they can prove they can take feedback and fix things, just maybe not with my precious Violet Evergarden...
 
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