Remastering for quality

At the beginning of 1994, the team came to the conclusion that the BBC viewing prints of episodes returned from collectors, were not the best versions to use for restoring on videotape. Restoration work would work best by using the original collectors films. The problem was, the collectors still had them.

Using our network of contacts, the following episodes original films were tracked down to the original collectors and borrowed:

Once the films were located, a telecine channel was booked at Television Centre for March 27th 1994, paid for by the remaining budget from the colour restorations. All the episodes were transferred in this session with the exception of those loaned to us by Ian Levine. These films, ‘The Abominable Snowmen’, ‘The Moonbase’ and ‘The Time Meddler’ episodes had some light scratching and dirt. We elected to have them specially cleaned at Soho Images Film Clinic and wetgate telecined to remove as much evidence of scratching as possible.

During the same session at Television Centre, we also looked at some library footage from 'Invasion of the Dinosaurs' episode one, the master copy of which only exists as a monochrome 16mm film recording. The BBC Film and Videotape Library still retained some cutting copies (used by the film editor during editing) and, according to the library computer, one of these cutting copies was on Eastmancolor stock. Unfortunately, the film that arrived was only a very poor quality monochrome print. However, closer inspection revealed an entirely new scene in the initial 'deserted London' sequence! This scene is of a scavenger looting from an overturned milk float - the milkman is dead and the scavenger is removing the money from his purse. Suddenly he hears a noise, looks up and screams in terror.... We can only assume that this sequence was cut at the time because it spoilt the sense of the city being totally deserted.

As we had access to the surviving 16mm insert film for episode two of 'The Abominable Snowmen', we also had these transferred and inserted into a D3 tape copy of the episode. These sequences look stunning - a reminder of just how good the show must have looked when it was transmitted.

[Film-recording versus film sequence]

When a comparison is made between the image from the film-recording and that directly from the film, the difference is obvious, even on these simple JPEG illustrations. Note also how much more zoomed in the image on the film-recording is.

Paul Vanezis also spent some time relaying the soundtrack from one of Graham Strong's off-air recordings over the very poor optical soundtrack on episode two of 'The Tenth Planet'. Although quite a tedious process, the results of a side-by-side comparison of the two soundtracks are impressive.

Paul Vanezis / Steve Roberts, 1997