How the Dragon Ball Z 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition 4:3 Aspect Ratio Was Created

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The most iconic action animated series of all time celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, and last week we announced a brand new collector’s edition for Dragon Ball Z—with the series in 4:3—to celebrate this milestone!

This set has a number of exclusive elements, including a new Goku figure from Banpresto and a coffee table-style hefty artbook, and we’re running a special limited reservation period for fans to stake their claim on a set; you can check out the full page at funimation.com/dbz30th for the full details.

We received questions from fans like you regarding the aspect ratio for the Dragon Ball Z 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition. We’d like to give a more in-depth and transparent explanation regarding how the video was handled for this upcoming release.

One thing we’d like to make clear: our 4:3 remaster is cut down from original materials. 

We have created a comparison video, using actual footage from several different Dragon Ball Z releases, to show the difference.

We have the materials for the entire Dragon Ball Z series from beginning to end, as a transfer from how they existed on film. Our previous Blu-ray releases for Dragon Ball Z were cropped to 16:9 to match modern standard sensibilities that have evolved over the years as widescreen has become more adopted, but for this particular project, we wanted to release the series in 4:3 for the more hardcore subset of DBZ fans who want to experience the series with higher integrity.

The actual aspect ratio of the film is not 4:3, but a slightly different aspect ratio as was not uncommon for certain film material at the time. In addition, and more importantly, in many frames, the picture on the materials we received does not extend all the way to all four sides, and there are scalloped corners or inconsistent edges where the image is missing, again largely due to the age of the materials. For television broadcast, the entirety of the film with these missing edges is never intended to be shown, and only part of the image, as cropped to a perfect 4:3 aspect ratio, is presented.

We believe that showing the entirety of the film including the missing black sections is not true to the intent of the video’s presentation, as these missing sections are not ever shown in TV broadcast or home video and would be seen as a mistake. For TV broadcast, both in Japan and the US, the whole image is always cropped so that the aspect ratio stays the same 4:3 throughout.

You can see below several instances from the raw materials as well as screenshots from the actual 30th anniversary release that show how this cropping occurs to maintain a 4:3 ratio.

These materials are not altered in any way from their sources—the original materials on the left and the 30th anniversary collector’s edition footage on the right.

For this particular project, creating a true 4:3 image for the entire series is a very manual process. Our production team at Funimation has gone in scene-by-scene to make judgements based on the image available in each frame of how much to trim to get to a consistent 4:3 aspect ratio, while still attempting to cut as little out of the picture as possible.

The result of this project is that some parts of the film have indeed been cropped, and in certain shots, more is cropped than other shots depending on the amount of image missing, due to the requirement to keep everything at a consistent 4:3 ratio. The process is intensely manual and very deliberate depending on the circumstances of each shot, so this cropping is not the same from scene to scene—and differs from other releases which also had their own manual process. We did not conduct the cropping while comparing to other past releases.

To repeat, the 4:3 is done from the original film materials, not based on the 16:9, and for the vast majority of shots, the 4:3 version will have much more image visible than the previous 16:9 release.

Regarding the image itself, there is some digital video noise reduction to clean up some of the noise, dust and grain from the original film materials, which we felt was mandatory for this release based on the different levels of fan support from various past DBZ releases with different levels of noise reduction over the years.

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