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What do you think about the term 'digitally remastered'?

 
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howard
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2015 4:56 am    Post subject: What do you think about the term 'digitally remastered'? Reply with quote

Okay, before I start I need to make a copule of things clear. Firstly, I appreciate the Avengers releases probably came from some pretty rough original material, we are talking fifty years or more. Second, after buying the complete set, I am only on series two at the moment. But I have been a bit disappointed with some of them. One of the early series two episodes was being watched, and I noticed a constant squiggly line bottom right of the screen. No word of a lie, I attempted to clean it!! I actually thought my eight year old son had been having fun with a felt tip pen! He is autistic and has been known to do such things. Then I realised it was on the DVD itself throughout the whole of an act. I thought, surely this could have been 'cloned out'. I did not expect this from something digitally remastered. Nor did I expect some of the picture breakups like on grotty old videotapes. Maybe some of you will think I am being unfair, and say things like 'what did you really expect?' But I am comparing it to digitally remastered Doctor Who DVDs, also from the sixties in black and white, and they do seem far superior. Compared to the previous ones I had on video, they are truly amazing! And some of these are taken from recovered copies from abroad from stories that we thought were missing. And the sound has been cleaned up a lot better than some of these series two episodes where lines are barely audible in places. If you think I am being unfair, of course you may say so, but I am starting to think that digitally remastered is quite a loose term than can mean anything. A bit like 'professional quality' or 'luxury' or 'fresh from the farm'. When I saw the Avengers Emma Peel onwards on BBC4 about ten years ago (yes, BBC4 but with Granada logo at the end!) I was amazed at the quality. Therefore I hope I will not be disappointed with series 4 onwards. Not trying to pick fights here, just genuinely interested to hear other thoughts. Especially from those familiar with the Doctor Who range that I am comparing it to. Or is it not a fair comparison? Thanks
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Darren
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2015 6:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The telerecorded seasons 1-3 episodes only got a film clean up - they got none of the treatment to fix the telerecording issues. It's a shame but they probably never will. Doctor Who is a rarity for that kind of restoration as the team are fan professionals giving the episodes extra love.

I believe only Girl on a Trapeze had any decent work carried out on it from when it was originally found.
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2015 8:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Doctor Who releases have a dedicated restoration team and much greater budgetary resources (as well as the team doing a lot of work off their own bat, as they are fans).

Canal don't have anywhere near the same resources, time or money. And in many cases the negatives were in far worse shape - not that the telerecordings were that great to begin with even in the 60s. The original videotapes were long since recycled.

Just wait until you get to the giant insect crawl9ing round the telerecording screen!

Series 4 onwards was made on film - none of the same issues apply. They look great.

Even with the VT episodes, and as Darren points out, it's still the best they can look without being uneconomical.

"Remastered" means something else than "restored" too - this started off with music on CDs. New masters - remasters - had to be made from analogue to digital anyway as disks are digital media. Restoration is a much bigger job, and no other BBC programmes - or ITV ones for that matter - are lavished with the attention Dr Who is. We've been spoilt!
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mousemeat
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frankymole wrote:
The Doctor Who releases have a dedicated restoration team and much greater budgetary resources (as well as the team doing a lot of work off their own bat, as they are fans).

Canal don't have anywhere near the same resources, time or money. And in many cases the negatives were in far worse shape - not that the telerecordings were that great to begin with even in the 60s. The original videotapes were long since recycled.

Just wait until you get to the giant insect crawl9ing round the telerecording screen!

Series 4 onwards was made on film - none of the same issues apply. They look great.

Even with the VT episodes, and as Darren points out, it's still the best they can look without being uneconomical.

"Remastered" means something else than "restored" too - this started off with music on CDs. New masters - remasters - had to be made from analogue to digital anyway as disks are digital media. Restoration is a much bigger job, and no other BBC programmes - or ITV ones for that matter - are lavished with the attention Dr Who is. We've been spoilt!


good points....the crux is usually the sad state of the original analog sources...never being properly stored and cared for in the first place,
of course, no one reallly thoight that 40,50,even close to 60 yrs after the original productions and air dates, the material would be seen, let alone re produced on vhs, dvd, blu-ray, etc.....and sadly, it comes down to money. and the avengers, aren't the huge cash cow that many classic series are such as dr.who etc...still badly mastered, is better than nothing at all..
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JohnSteedFr
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2015 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just one question about the episodes from the tape era, when were the episodes found? The US and France had to wait until the 90s to see them. Why couldn't the episodes be shown during the 80s or 70s out there, because I recall people talking about repeats of the Gale series during the 70s in the UK?

Can someone enlighten me, please? Many thanks!
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MikeR
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JohnSteedFr wrote:
Just one question about the episodes from the tape era, when were the episodes found? The US and France had to wait until the 90s to see them. Why couldn't the episodes be shown during the 80s or 70s out there, because I recall people talking about repeats of the Gale series during the 70s in the UK?

Can someone enlighten me, please? Many thanks!


John

Long time no see.

Something like this was asked on another thread back in the beginning of March and I quoted from my book Bowler Hats and Kinky Boots and I will again.

The following explains why the videotaped episodes were not screened in the United States during the sixties.

ĎUnlike season one, this batch of episodes would not be junked by ABC; copies would be retained for overseas sales Ė they were transmitted in Australia and then in Canada the following year Ė and ultimately for future generations to enjoy. However, because at the time there was no satisfactory method of transferring British 405-line videotapes to American 525-line videotapes, the series was missing out on being screened in the most important television market in the world: the United States. This situation had not escaped attention at ABC. Howard Thomas, Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman all thought The Avengers would work better if made on film rather than videotape, not least because it would make American broadcasters more inclined and able to transmit it. However, as season two concluded and pre-production began on season three, The Avengers would once again be recorded on videotape.í

The Honor Blackman episodes were given their original transmission on UK television during the sixties. A short season of repeats went out in 1964 of 7 episodes to plug something of the gap until the first filmed episodes were ready for transmission. There were no Blackman episodes repeated on UK television during the seventies or eighties.

The first Blackman repeat did not arrive until 15th February 1992 when Channel 4 screened The Gilded Cage as part of their TV Heaven season of archive TV. A further 12 episodes were shown later beginning on 7th January 1993.

The first screenings of the Blackman episodes in the USA were on the A & E cable channel and these began in January 1991.

At some point prior to 1991, The Avengers copyright holder (I think Weintraub Entertainment, but I have no actual proof of this) invested and had the videotaped episodes remastered onto 16mm film, which meant that American channels would have no problem transmitting them in the 525 line format.

Unfortunately, I donít know why French TV failed to screen the Blackman episodes, but I would say that it probably had something to do with the incompatibility of the UK PAL television system and the French SECAM system. The episodes from seasons 2 and 3 have never been lost or recorded over as was the practice at the time, thus, hardly anything from season 1 exists because ABC Television failed to sell the series overseas and these tapes were recorded over with other programs.
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JohnSteedFr
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Mike for your response! Indeed, I've been away from the forum for far too long! Feels good to be home!
Everything is quite clear, very precise!

I haven't bought your book yet about the show (hence that question I asked) but I did add it to my Avengers Must-Buy List! Wink

Very Happy

PS: I was watching DEAD ON COURSE last night and the last 'major scene' with the nun killed or something seems to be cut. Was the print in bad shape that it was impossible to use that bit of the footage? I'm talking about the scene where Dr King kinda throws something at the nun and she drops the machine gun (which would symbolize metaphorically her death) and then another cut it seems where Steed is having a word with a policeman before joining Dr King.
Do you know something about this episode by any chance?

Now, concerning the Series 1 episodes, we still might keep optimism...those copies made for the UK regions in 1962, where some episodes hadn't been broadcast. I wish they were somewhere!
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MikeR
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PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2015 5:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JohnSteedFr wrote:
Thank you Mike for your response! Indeed, I've been away from the forum for far too long! Feels good to be home!
Everything is quite clear, very precise!

I haven't bought your book yet about the show (hence that question I asked) but I did add it to my Avengers Must-Buy List! Wink

Very Happy

PS: I was watching DEAD ON COURSE last night and the last 'major scene' with the nun killed or something seems to be cut. Was the print in bad shape that it was impossible to use that bit of the footage? I'm talking about the scene where Dr King kinda throws something at the nun and she drops the machine gun (which would symbolize metaphorically her death) and then another cut it seems where Steed is having a word with a policeman before joining Dr King.
Do you know something about this episode by any chance?

Now, concerning the Series 1 episodes, we still might keep optimism...those copies made for the UK regions in 1962, where some episodes hadn't been broadcast. I wish they were somewhere!


John

This is an interesting one, which due to things going wrong during the as live recording makes it almost impossible to work out what has occurred at the end.

Iíve watched the episode and consulted the Camera Script and this is what appears to have happened.

Itís established that the gang have been using soda/soft drinks bottles filled with petrol to attack and destroy the interiors of the downed planes. After the nun had released King from his bonds with his pocket knife, his dialogue, ďPass me one of the siphons,Ē is missing. I donít see any cuts and so I assume Jon Rolloson playing Dr Martin King, simply forgot his line.

After the other nun is kicked backwards down the ladder, the Mother Superior opened fire with her machine gun, this prompting King to edge forward to the ladder and toss a drinks bottle full of petrol down towards her. The Camera Script lacks a full description of this, but describes Mother Superior being enveloped in smoke, but no mention of her falling dead on the floor.

It appears that the special effects smoke also went wrong and failed to occur. Thus, these two mistakes make the ending of the episode very difficult to follow. Obviously because of the expensive cost of videotape at the time, there was no retake, although on this occasion I would think that it would have been a wise idea as a retake would have tidied up the climax of the episode and made it much clearer as to what had actually happened.

There is no cut between the next scene, which was Dr King arriving and meeting Steed, shortly before the conclusion of the episode.

I hope this is of interest.
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JohnSteedFr
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PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2015 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mother Superior's finished career in criminality is now clear! Laughing Wink

Many thanks!
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Alan
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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2015 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MikeR wrote:
At some point prior to 1991, The Avengers copyright holder (I think Weintraub Entertainment, but I have no actual proof of this) invested and had the videotaped episodes remastered onto 16mm film, which meant that American channels would have no problem transmitting them in the 525 line format.

Unfortunately, I donít know why French TV failed to screen the Blackman episodes, but I would say that it probably had something to do with the incompatibility of the UK PAL television system and the French SECAM system. The episodes from seasons 2 and 3 have never been lost or recorded over as was the practice at the time, thus, hardly anything from season 1 exists because ABC Television failed to sell the series overseas and these tapes were recorded over with other programs.


Mike, the 16mm telerecordings were made in the 1960s, and the VT copies junked around the same time as far as I can tell. The programmes would have been distributed internationally on 16mm film, not on videotape, so I don't think what you say explains the lack of take-up in the USA or France.

From what I understand, the American networks were dead against showing telerecordings as they were not of a high enough standard technically, and consequently The Avengers was considered an inferior product to their own such productions many of which were routinely made on 35mm film.
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JohnSteedFr
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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was watching a video on Youtube last night about that process known as 'VidFire'. The sample they'd used was a Dr Who episode and it seems all the shaky images can disappear with this process once applied. Could it work on the 'Video Avengers' as well?

There's also an old topic on this forum mentioning it more or less, I saw it thanks to Google. From what I understand and remember: cost is what makes the project unlikely to happen.

(BTW, I posted some notes about episode 'Dead on Course' a few days ago on the forum and I've just noticed a cut from the French copy released by StudioCanal back in 2002 (ie: final scene with the nun). There's just the machine gun dropped on the floor and then in the next shot, we've got King and Steed (not any trace left of the few seconds with Steed and the policeman). The very same technique was used for episode 'Dea'th a la carte' which I do remember. In the uncut print, after Cathy brings a toast to the Emir there's some music before moving on to the next scene in the hotel-kitchen. Now, in the French StudioCanal print (released in March 2003), the toast sequence is shorter, only a few seconds, without any music.
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Alan
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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JohnSteedFr wrote:
I was watching a video on Youtube last night about that process known as 'VidFire'. The sample they'd used was a Dr Who episode and it seems all the shaky images can disappear with this process once applied. Could it work on the 'Video Avengers' as well?


Yes, it could be used on The Avengers (videotaped episodes) just as easily as on 1960s Doctor Who. As you suggest, cost went against the idea when mooted in 2009.

The problem is that in addition to the cost of VidFire processing, the restoration of the film elements would have had to be performed to a much higher standard, to remove film artifacts - as it would be very distracting to see filmic problems (i.e. vertical tramlines, scratching, water damage, etc) on what appears to be an interlaced video picture.
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MikeR
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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2015 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alan wrote:
MikeR wrote:
At some point prior to 1991, The Avengers copyright holder (I think Weintraub Entertainment, but I have no actual proof of this) invested and had the videotaped episodes remastered onto 16mm film, which meant that American channels would have no problem transmitting them in the 525 line format.

Unfortunately, I donít know why French TV failed to screen the Blackman episodes, but I would say that it probably had something to do with the incompatibility of the UK PAL television system and the French SECAM system. The episodes from seasons 2 and 3 have never been lost or recorded over as was the practice at the time, thus, hardly anything from season 1 exists because ABC Television failed to sell the series overseas and these tapes were recorded over with other programs.


Mike, the 16mm telerecordings were made in the 1960s, and the VT copies junked around the same time as far as I can tell. The programmes would have been distributed internationally on 16mm film, not on videotape, so I don't think what you say explains the lack of take-up in the USA or France.

From what I understand, the American networks were dead against showing telerecordings as they were not of a high enough standard technically, and consequently The Avengers was considered an inferior product to their own such productions many of which were routinely made on 35mm film.



Alan

Thinking on this some more, 16mm film copies of seasons 2 and 3 must have been created in the sixties for the sales to Canada, Australia, various commonwealth countries and Italy.

During researching The Avengers Iíve never actually come across anything that has given me a date when these episodes were remastered to 16mm film, though the fact that they were transmitted for the first time in the States and fully networked in the UK during the early nineties, seemed to indicate that there was a possibility that it was shortly before this time. However, you might well be correct because as Iím sure everyone knows, videotape deteriorates and the best course of action to preserve the taped episodes was to remaster them to film as soon as possible.

I agree with your statements regarding the American networks using mainly film, as even small sitcoms like The Munsters and Mr Ed were made on film at the time. All the information I have been able to locate points to the fact that PAL 405 line videotape could not be transmitted by the US networks, who at the time mainly used NTSC 525 line film. In fact Iím sure this Ďthe format was the problemí goes all the way back to former Avengers author Dave Rogers.

This is the first time that Iíve heard of the American networks having a problem with the quality of telerecordings, although the earliest taped British show I can remember being shown on US television was some Pertwee Doctor Who episodes being screened by local stations in the early seventies.
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Alan
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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2015 12:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MikeR wrote:
Thinking on this some more, 16mm film copies of seasons 2 and 3 must have been created in the sixties for the sales to Canada, Australia, various commonwealth countries and Italy.


International sales of ABC programmes were routinely on 16mm film as telerecordings, and distributed via Television International Enterprises (TIE) who handled BBC material.

Quote:
During researching The Avengers Iíve never actually come across anything that has given me a date when these episodes were remastered to 16mm film, though the fact that they were transmitted for the first time in the States and fully networked in the UK during the early nineties, seemed to indicate that there was a possibility that it was shortly before this time. However, you might well be correct because as Iím sure everyone knows, videotape deteriorates and the best course of action to preserve the taped episodes was to remaster them to film as soon as possible.


As you know, I have the greatest respect and admiration for you and your superb book, but on this point I am very surprised at what you say. Videotape deteriorates, absolutely. The standard industry procedure, certainly by the 1980s and 1990s, was to preserve videotape by transferring to new VT media. For instance, the BBC transferred its 2" and 1" archive to digital tape formats. I have never heard of any company transferring VT to film for preservation reasons - always for foreign sales, to overcome broadcast line standard issues.

Quote:
I agree with your statements regarding the American networks using mainly film, as even small sitcoms like The Munsters and Mr Ed were made on film at the time. All the information I have been able to locate points to the fact that PAL 405 line videotape could not be transmitted by the US networks, who at the time mainly used NTSC 525 line film. In fact Iím sure this Ďthe format was the problemí goes all the way back to former Avengers author Dave Rogers.


To be pedantic, 405 line was never "PAL". PAL is a colour system. As for the incompatibility of 405 line material (or 625 line material) with 525 line NTSC, that is inarguable, and that's why distribution in the 1960s was exclusively on film, as all countries could broadcast from film, regardless of their broadcast standard.

Additionally, by the 1980s, it would have been incredibly difficult for EMI or Weintraub to lay their hands on 2" VT machines that could replay 405 line recordings and even more difficult for them to find working tele-recording equipment.
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