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Published by VegettoEX
03 August 2011, 2:01 PM EDT

We are back from Otakon 2011 with a couple new tidbits about FUNimation’s upcoming re-(re-re?)-release of the Dragon Ball Z TV series, this time on Blu-ray.

Prior to the convention this past weekend and a new trailer teased for their panel’s audience, all signs (thanks to somewhat-vague wording in the initial press release) had led us to believe the Blu-ray release would simply be the same HD masters created in 2007 as a part of the “season set” line. The trailer revealed, however, that it was indeed an entirely new remastering process, displaying footage from the series in its proper 4:3 aspect ratio, as opposed to the cropped 16:9 presentation on the prior orange bricks.

Our buddy Drabaz captured the trailer on camera this weekend at the convention, but hopefully FUNimation will be able to toss this online at some point in the near future themselves:

Adding even more concrete information to the pile is a press release sent out by Image Systems, providers of the Phoenix line of products that FUNimation are apparently using for their own in-house restoration process.

FUNimation Enhances “Dragon Ball Z” Blu-ray With Phoenix
Restoration of Popular Animated Series Heads to Blu-ray

Image Systems, formerly Digital Vision, has announced that Texas-based FUNimation has purchased multiple Phoenix Finish licenses in use on a number of FUNimation projects, including the highly anticipated restoration of the “Dragon Ball Z” anime series, slated for Blu-ray release November 8, 2011. “Dragon Ball Z” is a popular Japanese manga series, consisting of 42 volumes and selling over 152 million copies in Japan and over 200 million copies worldwide. The art, characterization and humor of the story has immensely influenced the international anime and cartooning industries, and created a cultural phenomenon.

“This is a show that has a huge and loyal global audience,” says Matthew O’Hara, lead DVD author for FUNimation. “When it came time to restore the series for Blu-ray, we simply had to make it the very best it could be. After looking through our options we believe that the Phoenix was a clear, best choice.”

“Dragon Ball Z” originates on 16mm film, and over time had begun to show signs of aging – dust, scratches, some shaking and focus. “We are doing a frame-by-frame, shot-by-shot restoration in HD,” explains O’Hara. “In this process, the Phoenix has greatly enhanced our ability to recover the quality of the original material in a realistic time frame without the artifacts some algorithms leave behind. The dust, scratch and grain reduction tools in the DVO Restore part of our Phoenix purchase, has allowed us to just repair and renovate the animated series ready for repurposing.”

“We are all fans of the way that film looks, but know that grain can be challenging. The Clarity enables us to clean and restore, without removing what we consider the right amount of grain to give the images depth,” he adds.

Martin Bennett, Managing Director of the Media Business Unit for Image Systems, notes, “‘Dragon Ball Z’ is one of the most recognized anime titles in the world, with a massive following. To see how the talented team at FUNimation has used our restoration tools and especially DVO Clarity, our foremost digital and film noise reducer, to create these new versions of the show is gratifying.”

O’Hara concludes, “We have a well-loved series with an audience of millions of people who follow its distribution avidly. The new Blu-ray set was eminently awaited. We had a high bar to reach, and working with the team at Image Systems has been a great support to our plans. The ‘Dragon Ball Z’ workflow is film based, but we are successfully working on other projects that are HDCAM 4:4:4 or file based and we are seeing the same successes. Phoenix supports the entire workflow at FUNimation, seamlessly and with great support.”

All of this information gives us a great deal more hope for the release than we had even just a week ago — it seems clear that as well as the orange bricks did in the larger market, the pitfalls from that process resulted in quite a few change-ups for this future release. Why Steve Franko’s ANDTRANSFER was even mentioned in the initial press release baffles us (was there an uncropped raw digital transfer, prior to any tampering, that was created in 2007 that the company is now using internally for this Blu-ray restoration?), so hopefully we can get some additional clarification, particularly regarding which Japanese audio masters are available and being used, and continue riding some moderate excitement waves!