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Discussion in 'Now Playing - TV Show Talk' started by Johncv, Sep 16, 2011.
The correct name for what you are calling a scanner is "telecine".
"Telecine" is a device that converts film to video.
The component that went directly from film negatives to (positive) video was referred to by several tecs who worked with it as a "negative scanner" according to articles I've read, to differentiate it from traditional "telecine".
The equipment to go directly from negative to video was quite new and relatively novel in 1987. According to several articles (contemporary to the first season of ST:TNG) it was the first TV series to use this technique (negatives, direct to video, and then edit in the video domain) in production. As opposed to going all the way to a finished product on film, and then converting that finished film to video via telecine, which is common right up to today.
(ST:TNG's "negatives to video" technique never really caught on.)
Again, the whole point is, had they gone all the way to finished product on film, then used traditional telecine (as, indeed ST:TOS did, and Hogans Heros, and Sienfield, etc. etc.) we wouldn't even be having this discussion.
A traditional telecine will scan negative film just as well as positive prints. Never seen one that won't. It is a very simple electronic process to convert from negative to positive within the telecine. Telecines were around and well implemented in the television production environment way before ST:TNG ever started production. In fact, Rank Cintel was on about their 4th generation of flying spot scanner telecines by then, so your statement, "The equipment to go directly from negative to video was quite new and relatively novel in 1987" is completely inaccurate.
I think part of this confusion is the digital revolution has taken over what was once the telecine business, and the modern digital scanners are much faster at scanning film, either positive or negative, because you only have to scan the film through once, store it digitally, and do all your post processing with computers and with the film back in the storage vault. This is different from the previous traditional methods of transfer, where the adjustments and color correction, etc. require multiple passes of the film through the transport., constantly starting and stopping to do scene by scene adjustments.
I suspect the articles you were citing were written by industry professionals used to the new digital scanners, who applied the current generic name to the older process of traditional telecine film transfer to video. It would be interesting to find someone who was involved with the transfers back then and see what machine the film was actually transferred on. I'm willing to bet it was a Rank-Cintel telecine, as they were the dominant force in the industry back then.
Yeah, I think they're trying to distinguish the old analog telecine process from the new digital scanning process. The end result may be the same (film -> video) but the process is totally different.
How will it look? I dunno. Some of the effects in the first couple seasons were not very good, though the ILM-produced effects for the pilot (and reused as stock footage) were pretty good.
Mmmmm, Babylon 5 with new CGI
That was the big miscalculation JMS made (the little one was assuming his directors would understand the concept of framing open-matte film for both 4:3 and 16:9): He assumed that by the time 16:9 was commonplace enough for the 16:9 version of B5 to be needed, the price of FX would have dropped enough to be able to cheaply fill out the 16:9 frame, so to save money they only did the FX on the 4:3 portion of the image. Oops.
Well he might have been right, but IIRC their FX studio went under and the various digial models and files were lost. Recreating the models would have been prohibitively expensive. Rerender the CGI if they still had all the files might have been affordable.
I read that with "Seinfeld" they had to back to the film masters and re-edit as the editing had been done on video. I don't have a source as I can't remember where I saw it.
I thought I heard they used viewer created models for the last movie.
My understanding is that if Warners had to choose between spending $20 on redoing all the B5 FX and $20 having lunch at Wendys, they would have gone to lunch.
Which is to say, they weren't going to spend ANYTHING on those DVD releases.
Well, you can tell that they spared no expense with the B5 DVD sets.
It seemed to me like they didn't even do basic cleanup on the transfer.
Or scan and pan it.
Or both FTW.
EW has a video showing old and new side by side. One thing to note is that the aspect ratios aren't different between the two in this video, the new version is still 4:3. No idea if it will look that way in the final product or not.
Pretty impressive. I might have to eat my words about this not being possible. I do wish they had more shots of the Enterprise, though.
Regarding the aspect ratio, though--it is a 4x3 show. The HD release is going to be 4x3.
I hope the blue ray sticks with 4x3, or at least has a menu option for that.
When the show was in production, all the cinematographers and directors were working with the knowledge that the final product would be 4x3 so they composed their shots for that. Cropping them would not show the director's intended composition and would remove part of the frame that they composed.
That being said, if this remastering effort leads to HD releases of the series for broadcast (on SyFy channel, etc.) I assume they'll release a "cropped to 16x9" version for broadcast, just as has been done with Seinfeld, Hogan's Heros, etc. etc.
Edited to add: I was really impressed with that sample clip! If they maintain that sort of quality for the entire series... Wow! I'm going to be blowing some money on some BlueRay sets...
Wow. That is truly impressive. It would be hard to believe from the "new" version that you were watching a 25+ year old episode.
I wish they would have left it an "old" side and a "new" side. I wanted to see the whole thing, side-by-side. I was going a bit mad trying to follow it as the line kept scanning side-to-side.
I had the exact same reaction. Then I got to thinking and became less and less surprised (albeit, still impressed!)
Originally, the camera negatives were telecine'd directly to Type C videotape.
Type C is slightly more lossy than the earlier Quadraplex that it replaced, and while Quadraplex could actually be edited by cutting the tape (the tracks were perfectly perpendicular to the tape edges, allowing cutting between them) Type C is editable only by dubbing.
So, the edited episode is at least a second generation dub from the tape containing the telecine'd camera masters. They'd then dub several "duplication masters" from that edited master (third generation), from which they'd dub many "distribution copies" (fourth generation) that would be distributed to the TV stations (remember, this show was syndicated).
Alternatively, one of the "duplication masters" was probably transmitted by satellite for the TV stations to make their own Type C dub (or possibly BetaCam dub). Fourth generation again, and this time with an analog satellite transmission adding further murk to the image.
I may well even be missing a dubbing generation. There is quite possibly another dub involved in adding the finished soundtrack (with music, effects, etc.), for instance.
We didn't notice in 1987 watching on our 1987 or earlier vintage TV sets connected to a snowy, poorly maintained cable TV system.
I assume they used a forth (or worse) generation tape, like the above, as the source for the "old" in the demo.
What various cable networks are currently showing might be digitized off of the third generation "duplication masters", or maybe, but probably not, off the second generation "edited master".
Still, the HD directly from the camera negative is going to look great no matter how you slice it.
Yeah, I too was thinking much of the quality loss is from multiple videotape dubs, and not just that the original was in SD.
Throughout our TNG Rewatch, I've often noticed how *bad* the quality is... I figured it was just a really bad dub to from videotape to DVD, which Netflix then compresses down further for streaming, but I hadn't really thought about it possibly being the result of multiple generation loss.
We've heard/read this argument ad infinitum....
No one edited Quad by splicing after about the early to mid 1970's, after Hi-band color recording became commonplace. After that, Quad was edited electronically just like every other format. Physical splicing was too crude for color video stability at the edit points, as well as physically damaging to the thinner heads used for Hi-band color recording.
Also the video tracks on Quad are not perfectly parallel to the tape edge. The 15 ips tape speed past the head on Hi-band results in the video tracks being recorded at an angle to the tape edge of around 12 degrees if I remember correctly. The older black and white Lo-band quad format, which was commonly physically spliced, ran at 7.5 ips and therefore had a much lower angle to the edge of the tape.
Quad was long obsolete in the production industry years before TNG.