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I ran out of stuff to watch this weekend and looked at some of my HD TiVo suggestions. There was a Buffy episode, about 10 years old on FX. The quality was poor at best. Picture was washed out, lacked detail and was overall pretty bad. FX is a major network outlet - is this the best they could do? Can we expect all the HD stuff we love now to diminish in quality over the years to the point it looks as crappy as the Buffy rerun?


I would think being in the digital domain would keep today's stuff looking like new, is that where the difference is coming in? Was the old Buffy I saw was a 3rd or 4th generation film dup? I don't recall seeing any rebroadcasts of early HD material, has anyone seen any of the stuff from 2002 or earlier? How is the quality?
 

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Film TV shows are usually sourced from IPs or negatives. There can be a large range of quality of those elements such as 16mm or 35mm. Also during that era SD tape finish was common. We may see some upconverted and cropped SD trying to pass as HD. The quality of HD telecine in the early days also varied alot. Digital archiving shouldn't contribute to that level of lower quality.
 

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I believe Buffy was shot on film but posted on tape (in SD of course) to add the effects. If this tape was used, the result would be good for SD. Unfortunately, the feeds for a lot of syndicated shows are nowhere near as good as the initial broadcasts, and those from 20th Century Fox (like Buffy) are frequently crap. Just compare syndicated airings of old seasons of The Simpsons to the DVDs to see just how bad the feeds are.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by coyoteaz /forum/post/14187876


Unfortunately, the feeds for a lot of syndicated shows are nowhere near as good as the initial broadcasts, and those from 20th Century Fox (like Buffy) are frequently crap.

You hit the nail on the head there. All of 20th Century Fox's syndicated programs look amazingly bad. It's not the feeds though -- they are actually producing syndication "masters" that look bad. It's been bad for at least 15 years, and has never shown any sign of improvement. Take a look at the syndicated "Family Guy" episodes on a big screen -- there's so much ringing, it's completely unwatchable. I don't get it.
 

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Are you sure it's the masters? I've seen satellite analog video exciters do that from their brick wall LP filters (4.1 Mhz). I've also seen bad practices such as analog satellite downlinks kept as future masters.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVOD /forum/post/14188033


Are you sure it's the masters?

Pretty darned sure for three reasons: First, I have received copies of some of their shows on tape because of missed feeds, and they're just as bad. Second, in "the old days," they used the same satellite facilities to send clean feeds of then-current 20th Television programs to Canada -- those looked fine. Third, I was in the TOC a couple of years ago when a syndicated show was being sent out -- I looked right at the monitor that was on the output of the VTR, and it was quite ugly.
 

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I was capturing some of the early Buffy's and remember some earlier threads on it. It was never really in HD, just a real time upconvert from 480i to 1080i. And that I think from 16mm film for the first season or two, though I'm not sure of that one.


- Tom
 

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I think it is inevitable that the capability to capture sound and images will improve over time. Consequently, old stuff will always suffer, to some extent, when compared to the best that today's technology can achieve.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bicker1 /forum/post/14188640


I think it is inevitable that the capability to capture sound and images will improve over time. Consequently, old stuff will always suffer, to some extent, when compared to the best that today's technology can achieve.

That is partially true, but not true as well. One of the wonderful things about film is that (if taken care of properly) it can hold up amazingly well. I've seen some stellar scans of movies made in the 40s, 50s and 60s that are just mindblowing, rich and vivid with detail and color, especially some of that old 70mm cinemascope stuff. I was particurally impressed with 2001: A Space Odyssey.


The problem with TV material is generally the practices that were undertaken either during post or on air. Many shows in the 90s (like Star Trek: TNG) were shot on film and then edited and composited in most cases to BetaSP (or eventually D2 or D-Beta). This is especially evident for shows finished on early generation AVIDs. If your show is a Digital Betacam master, the often that's all you've got, unless you go back and completely re-edit the show, and add new visual effects (assuming all the original materials still exist intact.)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by coyoteaz /forum/post/14187876


Unfortunately, the feeds for a lot of syndicated shows are nowhere near as good as the initial broadcasts, and those from 20th Century Fox (like Buffy) are frequently crap. Just compare syndicated airings of old seasons of The Simpsons to the DVDs to see just how bad the feeds are.

Or compare the syndicated airings of old Simpsons to ones you videotaped when they first aired. While they're nowhere as good as the DVD's, my old VHS tapes look better than the syndicated reruns.


The PQ of old shows even on DVD can be shockingly bad. When Barney Miller was released on DVD, someone posted a clip he ripped from one of them with the same clip he had captured from a VHS tape he had recorded when the episode aired on ABC twenty years ago. It made the DVD clip look like VHS recorded in EP mode.
 

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I have a DVD copy of Army of Darkness that looks a LOT worse than my VHS copy. It is an older DVD though, they've done like 6 versions so a newer one might have better PQ.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by scowl /forum/post/14191335


Or compare the syndicated airings of old Simpsons to ones you videotaped when they first aired. While they're nowhere as good as the DVD's, my old VHS tapes look better than the syndicated reruns.

Exactly. I have a bunch of S-VHS tapes that I used to record some of those international feeds, and they look like master tapes compared to what is in syndication! On the flip side, every 20th Century Fox DVD I've seen looks great -- or at least as good as the source material. So the "problem" is definitely in their syndication arm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by scowl /forum/post/14191335


The PQ of old shows even on DVD can be shockingly bad. When Barney Miller was released on DVD, someone posted a clip he ripped from one of them with the same clip he had captured from a VHS tape he had recorded when the episode aired on ABC twenty years ago. It made the DVD clip look like VHS recorded in EP mode.

Amen to that! I've found this to be a problem on shows that were produced on videotape. Other examples such as "All in the Family" and "Sanford & Son" come to mind -- the DVDs look hideous. Someone is making a conscious decision to run there through all kinds of processing in an effort to "clean them up" -- but the end result is unwatchable. I've seen the "Barney Miller" DVDs, and you're absolutely right about that. Awful.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by videojanitor /forum/post/14191482


Amen to that! I've found this to be a problem on shows that were produced on videotape. Other examples such as "All in the Family" and "Sanford & Son" come to mind -- the DVDs look hideous. Someone is making a conscious decision to run there through all kinds of processing in an effort to "clean them up" -- but the end result is unwatchable. I've seen the "Barney Miller" DVDs, and you're absolutely right about that. Awful.

For one of the best examples of "doing it right" in DVD release of classic TV shows - look no further than the Doctor Who Restoration Team.


They ensure that all of the Region 2 (not sure about Region 1) releases of the classic Doctor Who stories are as high quality as they can achieve. This includes re-telecineing film inserts where they remain in the archives, using the highest quality PAL decoder available (the BBC R&D designed Transform device used for BBC archive transfers - which delivers cracking results), drop out repair (manually in many cases), even using BBC R&D techniques to "undo" standards conversion where the only existing copy of a show is a crude 1970s PAL to NTSC conversion, removing the conversion judder. They even have a system that converts film telerecordings (aka kinescopes) to recreate the fluid interlaced video motion of the original studio VT recordings (since wiped), and have done some clever work matching a B&W film telerecording with an off-air NTSC Betamax recording of a show where no surviving colour copy remains. They also work very hard on the audio.


The results mean that the DVD releases often look BETTER than the original transmission masters.


This costs money - and takes time - but it is amazing how good early 70s studio video recordings can look, as well as location 16mm film.
 

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I certainly applaud them for their efforts there. My first rule for any of these projects is always "do no harm" -- but sadly, a lot of these jobs end up in the hands of lower personnel, and they don't think they've done their job unless they've "monkeyed" with the video by running it through some noise reduction, enhancement or who-knows-what. Most of the time, the best results are from just transferring the material as simply as possible, going through zero processing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sneals2000 /forum/post/14191962


... but it is amazing how good early 70s studio video recordings can look ...

I have a number of things that I recorded on quad tape in the 70s -- I subsequently transferred them to 1-inch (video out to video in -- nothing else). More recently, I transferred the 1-inch to Digital Betacam the same way -- composite out of the 1-inch to composite in on the Digital Betacam. You know what? It looks GREAT. Playing back that Digital Betacam tape looks the same as playing the 2-inch master. So I KNOW it can be done. For whatever reason though, it rarely is. Too much monkey business.
 

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Monkey business = Additional equipment and labor charges.


The DigiBeta decoders are good for 2D, but I've seen improvement with a good 3D separator.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt L /forum/post/14187801


I ran out of stuff to watch this weekend and looked at some of my HD TiVo suggestions. There was a Buffy episode, about 10 years old on FX. The quality was poor at best.

First problem: SD is SD. You can't make it HD no matter what you do, at least at this point in time. Second problem: How it's transferred. Can make matters worse, unusual for it to make matters better.


Quote:
I don't recall seeing any rebroadcasts of early HD material, has anyone seen any of the stuff from 2002 or earlier? How is the quality?

I recently went back to view my earliest HD recording, of the 2000 Thanksgiving Day NFL game on CBS. It still looks great, in some respects better than what you'll see on FOX on any given Sunday.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVOD /forum/post/14194263


Monkey business = Additional equipment and labor charges.


The DigiBeta decoders are good for 2D, but I've seen improvement with a good 3D separator.

Agreed on both counts. As odd it may seem, I have a JVC S-VHS VCR from about 7 years ago that has one of the best comb filters I've ever seen. You can run stuff through that in E-E, look it via S-Video, and you will be hard pressed to find any NTSC artifacts, even on diagonals, which is very difficult to achieve.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken H /forum/post/14195134


First problem: SD is SD. You can't make it HD no matter what you do, at least at this point in time. Second problem: How it's transferred. Can make matters worse, unusual for it to make matters better.



I recently went back to view my earliest HD recording, of the 2000 Thanksgiving Day NFL game on CBS. It still looks great, in some respects better than what you'll see on FOX on any given Sunday.

Some of it is out on external hard drives but I think my earliest recordings were things like the high bit rate PBS demo loop, Rudy Maxa's Smart Travels, or that CBS It's All Here promo . Those were all quality things that I don't think have been often surpassed since.


- Tom
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt L /forum/post/14187801


Can we expect all the HD stuff we love now to diminish in quality over the years to the point it looks as crappy as the Buffy rerun?

Digital Video by the nature of the system will play back exactly the same video image in 30 years from now as the day it was recorded. Analog videotape actually loses quality over time. I've looked at 7 year old BetacamSP

camera tapes and noticed the chroma and sharpness was reduced.



TVOD said

"The quality of HD telecine in the early days also varied alot."


I recently watched the DVD for "My So-Called Life" TV series 1994-1995.

It was shot on 16mm film as 4:3 and transferred to SD video. It looks bad. Low chroma, not that sharp, and some grain.

Part of that is the telecine used in 1994 and part of it is possibly telecined to analog videotape or mastered to analog videotape and not D1, D2, or Digital Betacam.


There is a very nice comparison on the "Transformers Season One" DVD set as an extra "to watch an episode on split-screen, showing the new 35mm film transfer of the camera negative to digital betacam on the left and the original one-inch broadcast master on the right. The most shocking difference is in color--the digital transfer is much darker. The depth of cels and backgrounds is much improved, though."


The quality of a digital recording always is determined by the original analog to digital conversion. Once it is converted the quality does not change. Even if copied digitally and recompressed there is minimal difference within a half dozen digital to digital copies. The video format and compression level determines how much of a loss of course.

While you could use a 1st generation 1995 miniDV consumer camera with composite video input to copy something off of BetaSP tape shot yesterday. If you used a Full size DVCAM VTR with component cables the video components and converter chips are going to make a much better conversion.



Something new like "Dale Jr.---Shifting Gears" on ESPN2 that I saw last month had a look as if it were shot with a Panasonic DVCProHD camera (720P) and it will look exactly like that in 10 or 20 years from now.

DVCProHD is compressed 6:1 to achieve 99.038Mb/s on tape. When it is put on ESPN2 sure the cable companies compress it down to close to ATSC 19.39 Mb/s.

When it is archived on DVCProHD tape and sitting on the library archive shelf it will still be mastered at 99Mb/s on tape.

Audio, METADATA, ECC etc is added to bring the total recorded bit rate to about 175Mb/s.

SMPTE recognizes this tape format as 'D-12' and there are specs in writing.



As far as content for TV being shot on film you are getting even Super16 film transferred on a Spirit Datacine at 2K resolution for HD television. That is medium quality feature film telecine for a Digital Internegative (DI).


A TV show shot on 35mm that has enough value financially for the owner to put out a box set of DVDs or HD media they may go back and retelecine the 35mm camera negative such as "The Twilight Zone", or "I Love Lucy" or "Star Trek: The Original Series"

Star Trek : TOS HD DVD Specs, TrueHD!
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=902094


Even a show that was edited and composited on video that has _ENOUGH_ value could warrant retelecine to HD:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/archi.../t-905414.html

Star Trek TNG remastered for HD- tests done

This series started in 1987 and was originally shot on 35mm and mastered to 1" videotape.

The DVDs show a loss of quality from the analog videotape.

When you compare the Star Trek Voyager series which started in 1995 it was mastered to one of the digital videotape formats. The DVDs look a lot better.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVOD /forum/post/14194263


Monkey business = Additional equipment and labor charges.


The DigiBeta decoders are good for 2D, but I've seen improvement with a good 3D separator.

Yep - and with PAL they have to work harder than with NTSC. (PAL's chroma spectrum is even nastier to decode) The early BBC Doctor Who releases were decoded using the DigiBeta internal decoders, then one or two used a better, Snell and Wilcox Golden Gate, decoder.


All the recent releases that have required content to be PAL decoded from D3 composite digital dubs (all the BBC 2" content and much of the 1" has been transferred to D3 digital composite tape) have been through the Transform decoder used for all BBC archive transfers. (All the BBC 1" archive that is being retained is now dubbed to both DigiBeta and uncompressed data tape via a Transform, which is both very high quality AND reversible, so if a better PAL decoder is ever developed you'll be able to reverse the Transform decode and then use the newer decoder!)


Noise reduction IS used, and some stuff is re-graded, but only to improve the picture quality, and only by very experienced professionals who would otherwise be working on high-end productions. (i.e. not someone who doesn't know what they are doing)
 
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