Originally Posted by RSF_LA
A lab I was associated with in the early '90s tried to promote film finish with electronic titles to eliminate the cost and time of opticals. This created something ready for future HD syndication with only the need to add HD titles.
That wouldn't work, because the aspect ratio was wrong. One studio that was very forward thinking about HD was Warner Bros., which decreed that all their TV projects shooting film had to shoot on 3-perf 35mm, which was inherently a 16x9 format. Starting in the summer of 1994, all the WB film shows were 3-perf, and this has allowed them to retransfer all the films to HD without compromise.
Other studios -- even Sony Pictures and Paramount -- were slow to agree, but by about 1997-1998, just about every significant show was either shooting in Super 16mm or Super 35mm 3-perf, both of which were 16x9. In some cases, as with That '70s Show
, they did go back and redo them all for HD, and they look better now than they used to.
At that point HD didn't seem certain and at best many years, perhaps decades, in the future. Those early Laser Pacific masters were analog which came from old MkIII Digi 2s which even by Cintel standards at the time were rather jittery. Even worse was when the the desire came to re-transfer the OCN for HD versions, much of their proprietary EDLs were lost. Even then, I don't think there were references to edge numbers. Too late I guess to say we told you so.
Those old Ranks were total dogs. Everything changed when the Philips Spirits came out around 1998-1999, and those were actually capable of reasonable HD transfers.
OCN scans for TV shows were complicated by the need for KeyKode
, which was a barcode numbering system invented by Kodak, used to keep track of all the different pieces and rolls of film. As long as the Laser-Edit/Laser-Pacific EDLs referenced the KeyKode, it would be possible to redo the show in HD later on.
The problem is with shows that were done before KeyKode came out. In the case of, say, Star Trek: The Next Generation
, the people on that project had no choice except to just rescan everything, then eye-match
the material to the finished show, one shot at a time. It can be done, but it requires, patience, time, and a whole lotta dough.
I do think it's important that classic film TV shows survive and get remastered in HD. What's sad is that shows that were shot in standard-def video are doomed to be 4x3, soft, and ugly forever and ever. There's not much you can do to improve those -- though you can do a little touch-up here and there.