Vision Video Ltd.
Vision Video Ltd. was a British home video distributor and former production company. The company was originally founded in 1975 as Virgin Rags Limited, and renamed to Virgin Entertainments (holdings) Limited in 1978 after the company entered the theatrical market as Virgin Films & Video, later split into Virgin Video and Virgin Films.
The company mostly released VHS tapes of concerts and eventually went onto to release cult films. Virgin Films produced films that would on their own behalf become cult classics as well. 20th Century Fox's UK division initially distributed their films theatrically before the company started self-distributing them. By 1983, the company went under the Virgin Vision Limited name, still using Virgin Video and Virgin Films as brands.
By the mid-1980s, the company was known as Virgin Palace Video and later Palace Virgin Gold Distribution Limited after entering into a partnership with Stephen Woolley's Palace Video. In 1987, in order to increase its global presence, the company launched its U.S. subsidiary, first distributing tapes through Continental Video, then with its own American subsidiary Virgin Vision, Inc..
In July 1989, Virgin was acquired by Jonathan D. Krane's Management Company Entertainment Group from the Virgin Group, and was renamed MCEG Virgin Vision Limited. It also combined M.C.E.G.'s existing American video operations, namely MCEG Home Video and Forum Home Video with its existing Virgin American unit into one company under the name of MCEG Virgin Home Entertainment. However, this buyout would soon prove to be a failure, and MCEG soon filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 1990. By this point, 85% of the company was sold to GE Capital with the remaining 15% stake was re-acquired by the Virgin Group. but then it later sold the remaining 15% to GE Capital. The company scaled down its operations to video distribution only in the UK, while shutting down operations in other countries, namely the U.S. and Australia.
In March 1991, GE Capital put Virgin Vision up for sale. Virgin soon sold their stake of the company to GE in July 1991, who rebranded the business as Vision Video Ltd. within the same time, with the MCEG Virgin Vision company itself rebranding under the name by July 1992. In January 1993, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment acquired the company and its operations merged with its home entertainment arm PolyGram Video. Vision Video Ltd. was retained as a label of PolyGram Video that dealt with budget VHS releases, similar to their existing 4 Front Video.
On December 10, 1998, Polygram Filmed Entertainment was sold to Seagram & Sons (the former owner of Universal Pictures which is now part of NBCUniversal). In 1999, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquired the pre-March 31, 1996 PolyGram Filmed Entertainment library, including the Virgin Vision/MCEG/Palace library and placed it under its Orion Pictures subsidiary. As for Vision Video Ltd. itself, the label continued to be used for budget releases after the rebranding of PolyGram Video UK as Universal Pictures UK, and soon expanded to budget DVDs as well until it was fully retired.
Currently, the film assets of the company are owned by MGM, while Universal Pictures UK owns the rest of the business.
1st Logo (1981-1986)
Logo: We see a muscular, shirtless man hitting a vinyl record labeled with the Virgin logo on it, as if it were a gong (like Rank logo). It explodes and as the pieces fly away, sparks appear and white the familiar "Virgin" logo which is stylized for a moment before flashing to its normal corporate font. The text "FILMS and VIDEO", stacked appear on the bottom right of "Virgin", and "presents" fades in underneath. All the text is in white.
Variant: In an extended version we see the man from before about to hit the record again now in gold, but it shakes and he runs away as an airplane comes crashing though it. We pan across the puzzled man as the airplane makes smoke trials that form the normal "Virgin" text which flashes as the stacked text "FILMS PRESENTS" appears below it.
Technique: The man hitting the vinyl record and breaking it into pieces then the sparks appearing from the Virgin logo, the Virgin logo writing itself in and flashing, and the text appearing.
Music/Sounds: Silence, or the opening theme of the movie.
Availability: Depending on the variant:
- Normal: Very rare. Appears on some very early pre-cert concert VHS releases from this time period such as Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - The Best of OMD.
- Extended: Ultra rare. The variant only appears on older international prints of Electric Dreams and is retained on the 1984 UK VHS from the company, although some releases plaster it with the next logo while the US release plasters it with the 1984 MGM/UA Entertainment Co. "Diamond Jubilee" logo.
2nd Logo (1982-1986)
Logo: Against a black background the word "Virgin" (in red and in the thinner variant of its corporate script font) zooms out from the top left of the screen with a residue-trailing effect and stops in the center of the screen and then flashes. Then the following text "VIDEO" which is in a small plain font zooms out from the bottom right corner of the logo with another residue-trailing effect then it also stops and flashes. It later fades out as a glowing text "Presents" fades in.
- On some releases like NOW Music and at the end of some like Rupert and the Frog Song, the text "Presents" isn't shown. In addition, the logo stays on-screen longer because of it.
- On UB40: Labour of Love when the logo fades out "Presents" is nowhere to be seen.
- A variant for theatrical movies where the logo is the same except it reads "FILMS" instead of "VIDEO". The colors are much darker in this version so it makes it look orange than red.
- Another theatrical variant reads entirely in white "Virgin FILMS PRESENT".
Technique: The trailing effects with computer graphics.
Music/Sounds: A very deep, distorted electric guitar tune with heavy bass composed and performed by Mick Karn of the English music group Japan. Sometimes the opening theme of the film will play instead.
Availability: Depending on the variant.
- VIDEO variant: Extremely rare. It appeared on many pre-cert releases from the company such as old concert music videos such as Genesis: The Mama Tour, the Depeche Mode videos (Live in Hamberg and Some Great Videos), UB40: Labour of Love, Public Image Limited: Videos, U2: Under a Blood Red Sky, the Japan videos (Instant Pictures and Oil on Canvas) and cult films such as Electric Dreams.
- FILMS variant: Ultra rare. Because MGM owns the rights to their catalog through the pre-March 31, 1996 PolyGram Filmed Entertainment library, it has fallen to plastering by either the MGM logo, other logos, or being deleted altogether on newer prints. It can only be found on older releases such as 1984 and The Executioner's Song.
Legacy: The music will likely get to people along with its cheap animation and dark coloring. It's a good effort otherwise, however.
3rd Logo (1986-1992)
Logo: On a black background a set of revolving tri-colored light beams (which are Red, Blue, and Green) shoot out towards the screen and bounced back and forth three times in a backward "Z" formation. As it hits the center various circles wipe in to form the Virgin logo, glowing various colors as it rotates upward. Then a light glows under it and fully turns into white circles forming the logo as its signature red color wipes over the circles. The light then engulfs the background becoming blue followed by white and then mostly blue.
- In the United States and Canada, a different end result is used with slightly cheaper animation, a blue background and drop shadow on the Virgin logo and "VISION" sandwiched on two red lines.
- There is another version exists where the logo is already formed then it shines twice.
- A filmed version also exists.
Technique: The light beams and the logo turning upwards, and the coloring which are very nice computer effects from the '80s.
Music/Sounds: A sound of synthesized horn notes accompanied by chimes as the beams bounce around a decent synthesize sound when the logo rises up played over a synth horn and at the end we hear strings when "Virgin" fills red.
Music/Sounds Variant: On some tapes, the jingle ends rather quickly than usual.
Availability: More common than the previous logo.
- Seen on VHS releases of films such as Retribution, Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II, Edge of Sanity, Checking Out, How to Get Ahead in Advertising, Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills, The Banker, Fear (1988), The Rosary Murders and Destroyer among others. Also seen on British tapes of Paris by Night, RoboCop, The Terminator, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie among others.
- In Canada, some tapes from this company show the Cineplex Odeon Home Video before this logo, even some from MCEG Virgin including Slipstream.
- Likewise on some tapes in Argentina the Transmundo Home Video would appear before this logo and MCEG's on PAL tapes.
- In the UK you will also see the MCEG logo before this (International) logo on some tapes from 1989 until its rebranding in 1992.
- It also appeared on the Canadian VHS of Communion, after the Cineplex Odeon Home Video logo and before the MCEG Virgin logo.
M.C.E.G. Virgin Home Entertainment
Logo: On a black background, a CGI triangle flies and zooms in from the top-right corner and lands in the center, then flips to the front. the M.C.E.G. letters from the movie logo, flies in, zooms out and rotates around from the top-left, and places in the top, both are in golden. Then the word "Virgin", in its corporate script font, writes in below the M.C.E.G. letters and "HOME ENTERTAINMENT" and the small TM bug on the top-right of the logo in white fade in below the triangle.
Technique: The CGI triangle and M.C.E.G. letters flying, the writing of "Virgin", the fading of "HOME ENTERTAINMENT".
Music/Sounds: Same as the M.C.E.G. logo.
Availability: Seen on releases of films such as Limit Up, Communion, Burndown, Jakarta, Catch Me If You Can (1989), Queen of Hearts, Ghost Chase, Night of the Wilding, and Slipstream. Also, in Canada, some tapes from this company show the Cineplex Odeon Home Video logo before this one, with some even presenting the Virgin Vision logo before this one or omitting that animation entirely on selected releases.
Vision Video Ltd.
Logo: On a orange background, which the camera quickly pans out to reveal that its part of a large scribble resembling a tornado on a dark blue space, lightning strikes a spot on it as a rough black pillar with a diagonally-cut top, starts to rise from the ground, electricity surrounding the pillar as well. The camera continues to rotate and tilt upwards as the pillar causes bolts of lightning to shoot out from it, summoning 2 more pillars that resemble itself to rise out and conduct more electricity. As the camera settles into place, more bolts from outside of the screen come in before one final bolt shoots across the screen, producing a white flash and transforming the 3 pillars into a 2D drawing, their shadows forming "VVL". Then three more small bolts come down to strike the white text "VISION VIDEO LTD.", which just faded in, to slightly cause them to shine, and the last bits of electricity die down.
Technique: The pillars rising, the electricity, and the background. All CGI effects.
Music/Sounds: A dramatic fanfare plays while the black pillars rise from the orange scribble, ending in a final chord when the lightning strikes. After that, an eerie synth piece is heard in the background.
- Appears on UK VHS releases from the company.
- During the PolyGram/Universal era, this was used on several budget UK VHS releases, and also later appeared on budget UK DVD releases as well.
- This logo also appears on a 1998 UK promotional VHS release of Torvill & Dean: Behind the Ice Adventures as well.
- One of the last releases to feature this logo was the 2003 Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? DVD Game (although it doesn't appear anywhere on the packaging).
Legacy: The dramatic fanfare and hit can get to some people - but otherwise it's harmless.