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An Interview With Robert Woodhead About AnimEigo’s Macross DVD Set

Although The Super Dimension Fortress Macross® is widely regarded as an exceptional anime series, it was never subtitled in English duing the 1980’s and 1990’s.  Sure, Streamline Pictures attempted to subtitle the series in Robotech® Perfect Collection: Macross, but they went out of business by episode 16.  Even flipping through old VHS fansub catalogues yields no evidence of any fansubs during that period.  In 2001, the prayers of Macross fans were finally answered when AnimEigo® released the entire series subtitled.  Since 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of Macross, I thought it would be a good time to catch up with AnimEigo’s CEO, Robert Woodhead, for a retrospective interview about their acclaimed Macross DVD set.

Question: What was it about Macross that piqued AnimEigo’s interest?

Answer: It’s one of the absolute classics, so it was a no-brainer that we’d want to do it if we could make it work.

Question: If I remember correctly, AnimEigo first released Macross as a complete box set to customers who pre-ordered, and then later released it as 3 separate volumes to the general public.  Why did AnimEigo choose such an unconventional release?

Answer: We did an early version of crowdfunding before it was cool, and only committed to the project when we had enough people signed up to ensure it would be profitable, and also ensure that we’d be able to spend the $$$ to do the restoration properly.

Question: When subtitling Macross, did AnimEigo work off the original script or the actual spoken dialogue?

Answer: Both, IIRC.

Question: Fans seem to believe that subtitling a show is a fast and inexpensive process.  Could you give some ballpark numbers as to how much time and money is typically spent per episode?

Answer: It can vary, but it’s probably about $1000-$2000 per 25-minute episodes. We would often commission two translations, merge and cross-check them, do a timing pass, an initial layout pass, a dialogue editing pass, a final layout pass, and a final translation check pass. Not to mention doing the liner notes and the actual DVD authoring.

Question: Did AnimEigo ever consider dubbing Macross into English?

Answer: No. IIRC, we did not have those rights, and in any case, the fans would have preferred that we spend the $$$ on the restoration.

Question: After comparing screenshots of AnimEigo’s set with the those of Bandai Visual’s® recent Blu-ray set, AnimEigo’s  actually shows more of the screen than Bandai’s (see this link from screenshotcomparison.com).  Do you know how AnimEigo managed to do that?

Answer: They probably did a new transfer with a slightly more aggressive crop to minimize the splice marks.

Question: Did the DVD sales meet AnimEigo’s expectations?

Answer: Yes.

Question: I noticed that AnimEigo’s DVD covers resemble the covers found in the old laserdisc Macross Memorial Box set (see the image below).  Was this an homage?

Answer: Not intentionally AFAIK. We just made the best possible use of the materials we had, which included a fair amount of settei.

Question: 2012 sadly marked the passing of Macross’ credited director, Noboru Ishiguro, making his commentary track especially poignant.  How did AnimEigo go about getting Mr. Ishiguro to provide that commentary track? 

Answer: We asked him very nicely.

Question: Did the licensor (Harmony Gold USA Inc.™ / Tatsunoko Production) make any special requests, such as having names spelled in a certain way?

Answer: Not that I recall.

Question: Did AnimEigo interact with Big West or Bandai Visual during this project?

Answer: Not that I recall.

Question: I remember that ADV Films released Robotech: The Macross Saga on DVD a few months before AnimEigo’s Macross DVD’s.  Did this lead to any fan confusion or problems?

Answer: No.

Question: In 2006, ADV also released Macross on DVD.  Though I noticed that they used the remastered footage that AnimEigo created.  How did that happen?

Answer: Our rights to Macross expired and we could not agree with HG on terms for a renewal. The materials reverted to HG, and then they licensed them to ADV.

Question: How difficult would it be to convert the remastered footage that AnimEigo created to 720p or 1080p?

Answer: It would just be an upconversion. I would not do it that way, I would do a new transfer direct to HD and then clean it up.

Question: Did AnimEigo ever consider licensing the Macross movie, Macross: Do You Remember Love?

Answer: The rights to that title have never been available, but if they were and we could get them at a price that made sense, we’d do it in a minute.

Question: If you could go back and change one thing about this DVD set, what would it be?

Answer: I’d have priced it higher! :)

 

“MACROSS” and “ROBOTECH” are registered trademarks of Harmony Gold USA, Inc.

“ANIMEIGO” is a registered trademark of AnimEigo, Inc.

“BANDAI VISUAL” is a registered trademark of Kabushiki Kaisha Bandai Corporation Japan.