‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ is out now on Amazon Prime Video, but available HD remastering is a disaster.
A few weeks ago the fandom seriéfilo went crazy with joy with the announcement that Amazon Prime Video would add to its already interesting catalog one of the great hinge series between the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; the magnificent and timeless ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ created by Joss Whedon and released in 1997. But, where some only saw a golden opportunity to review this cult work, many others raised an eyebrow as a sign of distrust.
The reason for being suspicious of the launch was the more than likely option that the version of ‘Buffy’ that the streaming platform would offer to its subscribers was not the original broadcast on television, but the abominable HD remaster courtesy of Fox perpetrated in 2014. Today, unfortunately, we have been able to verify that the suspicions were true.
Horror is viewed in high definition
The differences between the ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ that we all knew and the one we can enjoy – or suffer from, depending on how you look at it – on Amazon are numerous and substantial, but the most obvious of all is el related to aspect ratio. Joss Whedon’s series is a daughter of its time, and is planned and shot in a cathodic 4: 3 — 1.33: 1— that the remastering has barely converted the 16: 9 of today’s wide-screen televisions.
This change, implemented through reframing and digital zooms, drastically affects the reading times of the shots and the frames, both in terms of purely aesthetic issues – there are airs, foreshortenings and positions of really aberrant characters and even moments in which spotlights and part of the film crew are seen at the ends – and narrative, transforming, for example, open shots into close-ups with a completely different sense of drama.
As if this were not enough, the original image, in regards to texture and color, was also altered. Besides having modified the original grade, completely destroying the color palette, its contrast and its saturation, have been applied noise reducing filters to try to eliminate the grain from the sensitive material with which the series was shot – its first two seasons were shot in 16mm, with the consequent increase in a beautiful analog grain.
The result of this is a shallow but perceptible tangle of digital noise, and the total destruction of the texture in determining elements such as the faces of the characters, lacking in detail and with an artificial appearance in most of the shots. It seems that the series was shot digitally with a log profile and they forgot to apply a color correction. Terrible.
A couple of months ago, colleague Mikel told us about the importance that the physical format still holds in the middle of the streaming era, and the case of ‘Buffy, the vampire slayer’ – unlike other much more careful remastering such as those of ‘The X Files’ or ‘Charmed’ – does nothing more than support their vision. If you want to enjoy this jewel again in good conditions, you can go to your trusted provider to get a DVD copy.