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Beast Machines: Transformers - Rhino Responds To Questions About Beast Machines Aspect Ratio

Posted by David Lambert
The other day we reported that the February 28th release of Beast Machines: Transformers - The Complete Series is still on track, and that various members of the cast and crew were confirmed to have participated with extras. We knew about interviews and/or commentary tracks with David Kaye (voice of "Megatron" and other characters) and Susan Blu (voice casting and voice direction), among others. Names we missed mentioning last time as extras participants are writer Steven Melching and story editor Bob Skir.

Now we've been told directly by Rhino that fan favorite Marv Wolfman, who also wrote and edited stories on Beast Machines, is among those participating in the extras on this set as well. Comic book fans will remember Wolfman from his universe-shattering writing on the classic 1985 Crisis On Infinite Earths maxi-series, which served as the basis of rewrites to the histories and mythos of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Justice League, and most of the rest of DC Comics' lineup. Wolfman has written for the original Transformers series, too. All these names of extras participants were mentioned as "possibly" way back last September, but now with our new word from Rhino about Wolfman, every one of them are confirmed.

Fans like TVShowsOnDVD's reader Josh Miller have been wondering what the aspect ratio would be on this release. Josh, like many others, had heard that Beast Machines had been originally composed for widescreen, and Josh pointed us toward online fan speculation that the release's delay from November to February was tied to the fan demand for widescreen. We asked Rhino directly about this, and what follows is the statement they provided in response to our inquiry:
    We wanted to release widescreen masters as much as the fans (and creators) wanted us to, and even held back our release date while we explored the feasibility of doing that.

    There are widescreen masters for every episode, but they are very much unfinished. We don't know why "Beast Machines" was ultimately presented full frame; that's more of a question for Mainframe and Hasbro. In any case, there were revisions made to the finished, full frame masters that would need to be found and applied to the widescreen masters, and that involves a lot of manpower to research those revisions and find and edit the elements. It was easily a two month operation--and very expensive.

    In the end, we opted to go with the full frame masters. Except for some fans who saw a widescreen version of an episode at a TF convention several years ago, most fans of the series have only ever seen it full frame. To be honest, it's the way fans remember that show, and that's a legitimate enough reason for Rhino to release it that way.

    All that said, we think the quality of this box set is "maximized." The package looks great, the transfers are terrific and the extras are fun and informative.

Our thanks to Rhino for being so forthcoming in their response! Editorializing a bit here: we agree 100% with their decision. Since the general release of this show has always been in 1.33:1 full frame, then that is the "original" aspect ratio of record and should be the way the show is presented on DVD. If a widescreen version was planned but never completed, then we can't see that Rhino should be required to complete the alternate wide versions of every episode only for a DVD release. At some point, when HDTV is more the norm, it is probable that someone (Mainframe, probably) will want to go back and complete the widescreen versions for broadcast in syndication, and then the widescreen versions should be made available on whatever the prevailing home video format is at the time. For now, fans will certainly be happy with getting the DVDs with the original aspect ratio that they've always enjoyed the show in...especially if the remastering job is as good as Rhino hints at!

With Marv Wolfman, Susan Blu, David Kaye, Bob Skir and Steven Melching all participating in the extras, and with box art like we see below, we have no doubt that fans will be all over this 4-DVD ($59.95 SRP) set. We can't wait!

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