Universal Pictures' home entertainment unit descended from MCA's "DiscoVision" system, which was created to develop the laserdisc system and entered the market in 1978 after development that started in the late 1960's, and the first demonstration of the system in 1972. DiscoVision was riddled with issues, and numerous films were released from Universal, with Disney, Warner Bros., and Paramount also licensing titles to the label. With DiscoVision failing, MCA entered the home videocassette market in late 1980, creating "MCA Videocassette" to market releases to VHS & Betamax. DiscoVision was finally folded as a software label by MCA in 1981 reorganizing the division as "MCA Videodisc", and also expanded their videodisc operations to cover RCA's "SelectaVision" videodisc format. However, the "MCA Home Video" moniker was applied to both VHS & disc releases and became simply known as "MCA Home Video", alternating with the "MCA Videocassette" name until 1984. In 1990, MCA Home Video renamed itself as "MCA/Universal Home Video" to capitalize the Universal Studios name and to coincidence with Universal's 75th Anniversary, alternating with the "MCA Home Video" name in 1992 or 1995. In December 1996, it renamed itself as "Universal Studios Home Video" when MCA was reincorporated as Universal Studios and years later what is known today as "Universal Pictures Home Entertainment", alternating with the "MCA/Universal Home Video" name until 1998.
1st Logo (1977)
Nickname: "Glowing V-LaserDisc"
Logo: We start out with glowing blue light in the center. The glowing light shrinks until it is the size of a small yellow circle embedded in an orange upside down triangle split vertically in the center. The white "MCA DISCO-VISION" appear on top of the triangle, and while the circle turns as orange as the triangle, the "©" symbol appears on the bottom right area.
FX/SFX: The shrinking of the light.
Music/Sounds: A drum beat followed by a violin stinger. Before the violin stinger is an 8-note guitar tune played twice (during the drumbeats).
Availability: Only used in a 1977 test pressing that was used as a public display by MCA.
Scare Factor: Low to medium. The somewhat creepy music and the glowing may scare some.
2nd Logo (1978-1981)
Nickname: "Big V"
Logo: The words "DISCOVISION" crawl across the entire screen in a rainbow of colors like a kaleidoscope, and rows of vertical orange lines appear on the screen. The center lines open up in a rainbow of colors to reveal a white "V", with "DISCO" and "ISION" appearing on the left and right sides of the "V", respectively, appearing on a blackish background with a large Bondi blue streak in the middle. The DiscoVision logo sparkles for a second and then an abrupt cut to black.
- On 1979-1981 releases, a copyright stamp appeared underneath "DISCOVISION".
- Black and white DiscoVision movies featured it in B&W.
- Most current Laserdisc players will skip over most of the animation on most DiscoVision titles due to DiscoVision's decision to encode the start frame halfway through the bumper on most titles. Some titles will play the full opening, such as the 1978 SP version of The Sting.
Music/Sounds: A flute tune accompanied by a lavishly orchestrated theme. On some releases, such as Bustin' Loose (1981), it's silent.
Availability: Seen on every DiscoVision release from 1978 to 1981.
Scare Factor: Low. It's a good logo to be exact.
Nickname: "Flashing MCA Rainbow (of Doom)"
Logo: On a black screen, the words "A PRESENTATION OF" zoom-out in the 1980 MCA font in yellow before dissolving in the center. Following that are streaks of rainbow color that zoom out to the middle of the screen and flash to form...
...all in the MCA logo font. More rainbow streaks of light shoot out of the words and then settle back in.
FX/SFX/Cheesy Factor: 1980s computer effects.
Music/Sounds: A synth drone that culminates in a dreamy siren-like sound, ending with some synth bass notes to fade.
Availability: Extremely rare. It's seen on all MCA Videodisc releases, on both laserdisc and CED, from 1981 to 1983. Some MCA Home Video releases from early 1983 on both formats, such as Psycho II, may have this instead of the MCA Home Video logo at the start.
Scare Factor: Low to high. It's a decent logo to be exact, but it has a very dark atmosphere, as the light effects, faint drone at the start, and the bass notes at the end of the music definitely are NOT friendly. The rest of the music is actually kind of soothing, but it doesn't help matters that much.
MCA Videocassette Inc.
(May 1980-October 1983)
Nickname: "The Arc"
Logo: On a black background, the MCA logo appears in the center of the screen colored in blue. The white "VIDEOCASSETTE INC.", in a white segmented font appear in an arc formation, surrounding the MCA logo through "iris in" effect.
- Black & white movies featured it in monochrome.
- Surprisingly, a still version was seen on the DVD release of Duck Soup at the end of the film's theatrical trailer.
FX/SFX: "VIDEOCASSETTE INC." irising in.
Cheesy Factor: It looks cheap, because MCA was heavily invested in Laserdisc at the time.
Availability: Extremely rare. Seen on every release from 1980 to 1983. A few of their first releases were Jaws, Psycho, and 1941. A few early MCA Home Video titles like Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, Eddie Macon's Run, and Psycho II feature the latter logo on the packaging, but retain this logo (on both the labels and tape content itself).
Scare Factor: None to minimal. The appearance of "VIDEOCASSETTE INC." might feel a bit sudden to first time viewers, but it's harmless overall.
MCA Home Video
1st Logo (November 1983-April 1990)
Nickname: "The Zooming Earth Yellow-Gold MCA VHS Assembly in Space"
Logo: On a CGI starry background, we see the MCA Home Video logo (in Earth yellow-gold color). This logo has the usual MCA logo and the words "HOME VIDEO" (in a sleek, smaller font that has the same width as "MCA") in a box that resembles a videotape (but "MCA" overlaps this box on the top, making it "cut open"). The logo zooms in slowly, like the Universal globe at the time. The logo fades out to the starry background for a second, which then fades to black.
- Some later releases featured an announcement asking the viewer to stay tuned for previews of future releases that faded out shortly before the logo's appearance.
- MCA releases co-released by GoodTimes Home Video have "UNDER LICENSE TO" at the bottom of the screen. The GoodTimes logo of the period would follow. A black & white version of this can be found on The Creature from the Black Lagoon.
- On some French-Canadian tapes such as A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child, a French warning will appear before the logo.
- On the 1985 laserdisc of Spartacus, it fades out earlier.
- On some early 1980's VHS tapes featuring this logo, the logo fades in at the bottom, along with "Other Titles Available From" or "More Programming Available for You From" at the top, then the screen fades out afterwards.
- Black and white movies would have this logo in B&W, such as The Wolf Man and Destry Rides Again.
- Some releases, such as the 1983 VHS of Jaws 3 and the 1980s VHS of Rear Window, often had this logo segueing into the 1963 Universal logo.
- Side opening bumpers on some MCA Home Video Laserdiscs between 1984 and 1986 used the stars by themselves, with "Side 2", "Side 3", etc., appearing by itself in the center of the screen, and then a fade out back to the stars. The 1984 Laserdisc release of Rear Window features this bumper.
FX/SFX: Early 80's CGI.
Availability: Partly common. Check your thrift stores for tapes featuring this logo on the cover. It was seen on tapes such as the 1988 video release of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and the 1989 release of The Land Before Time. Others include the mid-late 80's releases of Back to the Future, An American Tail, *batteries not included, and Dragnet. The last releases to use this were Parenthood, Shocker, and Dad. It can also be found on Canadian Alliance Releasing Home Video VHS releases of Nightbreaker, Deadly Innocents, State of Mind (AKA: Private War), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), Iron Eagle II, Cameron's Closet, Nukie, A Whisper to a Scream, Final Cut (1989), Bedroom Eyes II, and Hot Times at Montclair High, among possible others. Some tapes up until 1991 with the MCA/Universal Home Video print logo on the cover may still have this due to being reprints of earlier MCA titles, such as Arabesque. It was also recently spotted on the Canadian Cineplex Odeon Video VHS release of The Grifters.
Scare Factor: Low. It's a good logo to be exact.
2nd Logo (1986-1990)
Logo: The MCA Home Video logo appears in chrome (usually zooming in or sliding into the view). There are different variants:
- On the VHS trailer for An American Tail, the logo is gold on a black background. This variant is nicknamed "The Gold MCA II", and is also compared to the main logo.
- On the VHS trailer for Talk Radio, the logo is silver/chrome on a oatmeal gray background. It flashes red (to accompany the sound of the drumbeats used in the background music). This variant is nicknamed "The Silver MCA".
- On the VHS trailer for The Land Before Time, the logo is bright red on a black background. This variant is nicknamed "The Red MCA".
- On the VHS trailers for Phantasm II and Uncle Buck, the logo is sky blue and slides in from the left on a black background. This variant is nicknamed "The Blue MCA".
- On the VHS trailer for Shakedown, the logo is silver on a blue-black gradient background.
- On the VHS trailer for Hellgate, seen at the end of a Canadian VHS of Reason to Die, we start with a shady gray background of diagonal bars with several "MCA HOME VIDEO" logos appearing inside the bars (like a wallpaper pattern). A sky blue logo fades in the center and slowly zooms in while rotating/straitening itself into view. This variant is nicknamed "The MCA Wallpaper". This also plasters the New World Pictures logo originally seen in this film's trailer.
FX/SFX/Cheesy Factor: Typical late-80's computer effects/animation.
Music/Sounds: The music or theme from whatever movie is being advertised.
Availability: Extremely rare. Seen primarily on trailers for MCA Home Video releases at the time. Most MCA Home Video releases of this era went straight from their logo to the movie.
Scare Factor: Low. The zooming and sliding effects can be jarring (depending on the variant), but it's harmless overall.
MCA/Universal Home Video
(May 1990-1998, 2002)
Nickname: "The 90's Clean, Shiny MCA Globe"
Logo: On a black background, we see the following text all centered:
H O M E V I D E O
with "MCA" in its similar corporate font from before and has a white gradient texture on it and "UNIVERSAL" in its similar font as the movie logo from 1990-1997, but has a gradient texture on it. The text shines and soon afterwards, a globe (showing only the Americas) fades in the center. Then a starfield background fades in behind everything else, then the text shines again.
- On some GoodTimes Home Video releases (i.e. Car Wash), the logo plays normally. The background, however, has moving stars from the 1983 MCA Home Video logo in the background (as opposed to the regular version where the background stays static). At the end, the words "UNDER LICENSE TO" pops up, peeking above the globe as the logo fades out. The GoodTimes Home Video logo would follow.
- Some MCA/Universal releases have a GoodTimes byline at the bottom.
- On The Making of E.T., it is sped-up.
- Also, on some VHS releases of old black and white movies, the logo is in B&W.
- A longer version appears on the original 1990 VHS of Back to the Future Part II.
FX/SFX: The slow appearances of the globe and the starfield background and the sparkling of the logo.
Music/Sounds: None. However on The Making of E.T., the opening theme plays over the logo, and on DVS VHS's containing this logo, a narrator is heard describing it.
DVS VHS Variants: A DVS narrator describes one of the following before reading out the company name:
- On the DVS VHS of Field of Dreams, Rena Baskin describes "A logo appears over a flat, unmoving globe".
- On the DVS VHS of Beethoven, Rena Baskin describes "Now, a title appears over a blue planet Earth in a star-filled sky".
- On the DVS VHS of Parenthood, a male narrator describes "Now, a bright blue globe appears against a dark star speckled sky. A logo reads MCA Universal Home Video."
- On the DVS VHS of Do the Right Thing, a female narrator describes "A gleaming logo appears of the planet Earth in outer space."
- On the DVS VHS of The Land Before Time, Chloe Leaman describes "Now, behind the words MCA Universal Home Video, the Earth appears in space."
- On the DVS VHS of Apollo 13, strangely, Rena Baskin doesn't describe the logo, instead reading out the format screen over it, likely because the opening of the regular release was sped up for the DVS version.
Availability: Common, this can be seen on almost all of the releases made by MCA/Universal like An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, Jurassic Park, the Back to the Future sequels, The Land Before Time sequels, and We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story. The last releases to use this were Liar Liar, The Land Before Time V: The Mysterious Island, Hercules & Xena: The Animated Movie, The Chipmunk Adventure, The Spookatacular New Adventures of Casper: Spooky and Poil Meet the Monsters/Dead of the Class and A Christmas Peril/Three Ghosts and a Baby, and Leave It to Beaver (1997). This also makes a surprise appearance on the Canadian Cineplex Odeon VHS of Beyond the Law (1993), the Jurassic Park making-of documentary on the 2000 DVD (probably due to usage of an old video master, complete with FBI warning), and the Canadian Alliance Releasing Home Video VHS releases of Lauderdale (1989), Playroom (1989), Quest for Love, and The Emissary, among others.
Scare Factor: None.
Nicknames: "From Classic to MCA Globe"
Logo: On a space background, we see the rotating globe in the 1930's style rotating. Coming from behind is an airplane passing over the globe, as usual, which flies through the screen, as the propeller becomes rainbow. Suddenly, rainbow filmstrips are seen falling over the logo before the nebula sky forming from filmstrips. Over the globe, while it changes into its 1990s style and in color, we see these words coming from the left and right sides of the screen (respectively) in their same corporate fonts:
A few seconds later, as "MCA" and "UNIVERSAL" go into their positions in front of the globe, a red orange/yellow gradient fire flies through the screen, forming the words "HOME VIDEO" underneath, with a line above it and the globe stops rotating afterwards. When the logo forms, either the "®" symbol or the "™" symbol fades in on the bottom right of the screen.
Variants: There are two variations of this logo:
- There is a short version in which the airplane and filmstrips parts of the logo are cut out and begins with the words zooming and rotating in.
- There is a still version of the logo without music.
FX/SFX: Early 90's CGI.
Music/Sounds: Usually the theme from whatever movie is being advertised, but the sound effects of the airplane are heard. Sometimes, it used a shortened version of the Universal theme (from that era). The trailer for the Back to the Future trilogy has the titular film's theme. On promotional VHS releases, a voiceover advertising upcoming releases is heard.
Availability: Uncommon. It was seen primarily on home video trailers and promotional VHS tapes at the time. The still version appeared on the first three The Adventures of Timmy the Tooth videos. Also seen on the trailer for The Shadow.
Scare Factor: None.
Universal Studios Home Video
1st logo (1997-1998)
Nickname: "Still CGI Globe", "Boring CGI Globe", "Universal Pulling A Columbia TriStar"
Logo: Just a still picture of the 1997 Universal Pictures logo without the copyright info.
Trivia: This was used on the start up page of the Universal Studios website in 1997 which can be viewed here.
Variant: A darker zoomed in version can be found on a home video tralier for the Hercules & Xena Video Collection on the 1998 VHS of Hercules & Xena: The Animated Movie.
Cheesy Factor: Like the 1st, 2nd and 6th Columbia TriStar Home Video logos, no effort was put into it. This feels more like a screensaver or a desktop background on a computer than an actual logo. However, this was a placeholder logo for the next logo.
Availability: Rare. This can be found on early DVDs released between 1997 and 1998 such as Kindergarten Cop, Beethoven, Backdraft, Waterworld, Happy Gilmore, The Shadow, Twins, Parenthood, Timecop and The Nutty Professor. This can be also be found on the original DVD releases of Liar Liar and National Lampoon's Animal House. The latter two were later rereleased the same year on DVD as part of Universal's Collector's Edition series and would use the next logo.
Scare Factor: None.
2nd Logo (1998-2012)
Nickname: "CGI Globe"
Logo: Only the 1997 Universal Pictures logo with no video indicator whatsoever. What's different about this version from the theatrical version is that this logo zooms back a little.
Variant: On UK VHS Releases and some UK DVD releases, the URL fades in underneath the globe - but moved further away, and the copyright stamp fades in next to the URL afterwards.
FX/SFX: The same as the Universal logo from 1997.
Music/Sounds: The same as the Universal logo from 1997.
Music/Sounds Variant: Sometimes it has the opening theme.
Availability: Common. This was used as the de-facto home video logo. Appears on Focus Features releases (Including in front of its variant on Land of the Lost), DVD versions of older, pre-1997 Universal movies, and DtV movies such as Balto III: Wings of Changes, Pokémon: Giratina and the Sky Warrior, Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein, Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman, The Land Before Time sequels from V: The Mysterious Island to XIII: The Wisdom of Friends, An American Tail sequels from The Treasure of Manhattan Island to The Mystery of the Night Monster, LEGO: The Adventures of Clutch Powers, the 1971-1982 Dr. Seuss/DFE animated specials, and the Barbie films from Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses to Barbie in A Mermaid Tale 2 (Although it made appearences plastering the Artisan/FHE/Lionsgate logos on the reissues of the pre-late 2006 features; Although it made a surprise appearence on Barbie: The Princess and the Popstar hidden on title #1, where it is last seen), among others. It was also seen on the US DVD release of Back to School with Franklin, released in conjunction with Kaboom! Entertainment, but also on VHS.
Scare Factor: The same as the Universal logo from 1997.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Nicknames: "CGI Globe II", "Comcast Globe"
Logo: Same as the 2012 Universal Pictures logo, with no video indicator whatsoever.
- As with the theatrical counterpart, the words "100TH ANNIVERSARY" are shown below the "UNIVERSAL" text during this logo's first year of use (2012) to commemorate the studio's centennial.
FX/SFX: Same as the 2012 Universal Pictures logo.
Music/Sounds: Same as the 2012 Universal Pictures logo.
Availability: Common. First appeared on Universal and Focus Features releases such as Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, Safe House, American Reunion, ParaNorman, and the 2014 Blu-Ray release of Mallrats, among others.
Scare Factor: Same as the 2012 Universal Pictures logo.
Universal Studios DVD
Nicknames: "CGI DVD Globe", "DVD Globe"
Logo: A series of clips from various Universal Studios-owned films plays, between clips the animation of the 1997 Universal Studios logo is seen. The logo then finishes as normal, only the globe rises up and the DVD logo fades in underneath.
Trivia: This logo was used as an advertisement for Universal Studios Home Entertainment DVD releases in the early 2000s. However, in this version the titles of various films are shown to promote their releases.
FX/SFX: The flashes between the film clips and the Universal Studios logo and the fading in of the DVD logo.
Cheesy Factor: The globe moving up when the DVD logo appears seems to be roughly animated.
Music/Sounds: A slow-tempo fanfare that has a single, louder beat each time a new clip from a film is shown.
Availability: Can be seen on DVD releases by Universal Studios Home Video from 1999 to 2001. Some examples include the 1999 release of Winning and the 2000 release of Jurassic Park (although on some prints of the latter, it cuts straight to the DVD menu).
Scare Factor: None.
Universal Studios Home Video Special Editions
Nicknames: "Special Edition Globe"
Logo: A scene from an upcoming release of a film is shown and zooms out onto CGI-animation of a filmstrip. Another film strip appears and the text "SPECIAL" (on the left) and "EDITIONS" (on the right) appear with silver bars appear on the top and bottom of the filmstrip and the letters are spaced out. The 1997 Universal Studios logo appears in the center. A copyright for Universal Studios Home Video, Inc. appears underneath.
FX/SFX: The CGI-animation of the filmstrip and the appearing of the text and globe.
Music/Sounds: A male announcer says "Universal special editions, add them all to your video collection."
Availability: Can be seen on special edition releases from Universal Studios Home Video, such as the 1998 Widescreen VHS release of The Sting.
Scare Factor: None.
Universal Studios Home Video Widescreen Edition
Nicknames: "Widescreen Globe"
Logo: The 1997 Universal Studios logo appears and zooms out slightly onto a yellow background that has a flowing effect on it. The words "WIDESCREEN EDITION" are underneath the Universal Studios logo and is in white.
FX/SFX: The zooming out of the Universal Studios logo and the flowing background.
Music/Sounds: A male announcer says "The Universal Studios Home Video Widescreen Collection."
Availability: Can be seen on widescreen releases from Universal Studios Home Video, such as the 1998 Widescreen VHS release of The Sting.
Scare Factor: None.
Universal HD-DVD/Blu-ray Disc
Logo: Here are the variants used on HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc:
- HD-DVD: An updated edition of the 1997 logo. The logo plays normally but with updated animation and several dots coming out of the globe instead of streaks. At the end, the logo zooms back to reveal it is being reflected in a giant "HD-DVD" logo in the same space background. The logo shines.
- Blu-ray Disc: Same as above, except the "HD-DVD" logo is omitted.
Trivia: This logo was used on Universal HD-DVD releases from 2006-2008 and Universal Blu-ray Disc releases since July 22, 2008 until early to mid-2012.
FX/SFX: Same as the 1997 logo, except the end on the HD-DVD version.
Music/Sounds: The 1997 Universal fanfare.
Availability: On every Universal HD-DVD & Blu-ray Disc release from the era.
Scare Factor: None.