Doctor Who - Documentary s07e07 Episode Script

Colour Silurian Overlay

NARRATOR: 'The Silurians' was the first colour Doctor Who story to be recorded on videotape, a production method which continued for the whole of the classic series.
However, within a few years, the master recordings had been wiped, considered to be of no further use.
Fortunately, BBC Enterprises had made 16mm black-and-white film recordings at the time of transmission for sale to the majority of foreign countries, which did not have colour television.
Colour tape copies of the story had also been sold to North American stations.
And although these tapes were wiped soon after transmission in 1976, an early home-video recording made by a viewer in Chicago has survived.
Give them time to get clear, and then set off those explosive charges.
This means that 'The Silurians' currently exists in the BBC archives as a soft and fuzzy, but colour, video recording and a relatively high-quality film in black and white.
Even a good-quality TVpicture is made up of a detailed black-and-white image with a less-detailed colour version superimposed.
Perhaps if a way could be found to blend the two versions of 'The Silurians' together, we could end up with the best of both worlds, a detailed image, but in full colour.
This was successfully achieved in the early 1990s using then state-of-the-art digital vision mixers, giving a version which was released on home video, and later transmitted on BBC Two.
But technology marches on apace.
So, for this DVD release, it was decided to start the restoration process from scratch, using the latest techniques to produce a copy which mimics even more closely the look of the original videotape.
The film-recording process introduces two main problems that need to be dealt with.
Firstly, film readily attracts dust and can be scratched during use, appearing onscreen as black-and-white specks and lines.
However, by loading the pictures into a computer, it is possible to paint these artefacts out by substituting similar parts of the image from adjacent film frames.
The result of this is a version of the film which looks a lot cleaner.
(POLICE SIREN WAILING) The film-recording process also destroys the characteristic look of videotape, because the 50 discreet images per second stored on the videotape are combined to form 25 blended images on the film recording.
applying the VidFire process, which regenerates an approximation of the missing images and gives back the characteristic look of video.
With the film recording tackled, we have to turn our attention to restoring the colour signal.
The main practical problem to be solved with a home video is actually a fault on the film recording.
Because the screen of the film recorder is not perfectly flat, the film image is actually warped slightly compared to the original image.
This means that if the images are combined, we see significant fringing around the edges of objects.
It's therefore necessary to distort the colour picture to match the warped geometry of the film recording.
After this is done, the colour fringing is no longer visible around the edges of objects, or, at least, is minimised.
Despite the almost miraculous existence of the colour home recording, sadly, some sections of the tape are affected by severe interference or damaged sections, and these have been patched using computer colourisation, effectively painting the colour back on frame by frame.
What's going on here? With both black-and-white and colour elements prepared, it is time to combine the two together using sophisticated computer software.
The result is a high-quality colour picture which, after a final grading to tweak the brightness, contrast and colour settings, is a fairly good approximation of the programme that viewers would've seen in the cold British winter of 1970, and a marked improvement on the 1993 restoration.