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jmc2
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Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Tue May 21, 2019 8:36 am

Hope this the right place for this.
I've seen very good quality tape video that is not faded & fuzzy_(much).

So am wondering it is my memory of the old shows that they were much better then what is now on the dvd of those shows.
Difficult to believe that some of what I'm seeing now might have been acceptable back then. (very fuzzy, very faded)

So that leaves it to poor tape storage(?) of the old shows and what we have today is as good as it's going to get.
(as awful as that is for some of them)

So data storage on the tapes or data storage in my head. Something is way off. :)

Thoughts welcome!
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Tue May 21, 2019 8:42 am

The DVD transfers were probably made from broadcast tapes, instead of the filming masters, meaning multiple stages of analog degradation.
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Tue May 21, 2019 9:05 am

Yeah, unless they went to the trouble of doing a full cleanup and restoration, there will inevitably be degradation of the original analog film or tape. And as the Cap'n notes, the transfer may have been done from broadcast tapes; in that case the source material is effectively 480i at 30 Hz, which is pretty lousy by current standards even in pristine condition.

So it comes down to multiple factors: What media was the digital transfer done from? Under what conditions was that media stored? Did they make any effort at cleaning it up post-transfer?
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Tue May 21, 2019 9:34 am

Early DVD transfers were crap, and unless stuff had been re-done recently (like for a Bluray release) the DVDs being sold now are probably from the same digitals from whenever they did it years ago.
 
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Tue May 21, 2019 9:37 am

just brew it! wrote:
Yeah, unless they went to the trouble of doing a full cleanup and restoration, there will inevitably be degradation of the original analog film or tape.


I can say that my "Perry Mason" shows from 1955 to mid 60s on dvd from film are wonderfully perfect!
They knew what they had and took care of it.

The BBC cared nothing for what they created. Create it, broadcast it and erase the tape destroying it was their system.
 
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Tue May 21, 2019 9:41 am

jmc2 wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
Yeah, unless they went to the trouble of doing a full cleanup and restoration, there will inevitably be degradation of the original analog film or tape.

I can say that my "Perry Mason" shows from 1955 to mid 60s on dvd from film are wonderfully perfect!
They knew what they had and took care of it.

Plus the film source for the transfer probably had an order of magnitude better resolution than a multi-generation broadcast tape.
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Tue May 21, 2019 9:45 am

jmc2 wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
Yeah, unless they went to the trouble of doing a full cleanup and restoration, there will inevitably be degradation of the original analog film or tape.


I can say that my "Perry Mason" shows from 1955 to mid 60s on dvd from film are wonderfully perfect!
They knew what they had and took care of it.

The BBC cared nothing for what they created. Create it, broadcast it and erase the tape destroying it was their system.


Like a lot of prestige '50s TV, Perry Mason was shot on 35mm. That makes the prospects of a quality restoration pretty good if the negatives or high quality duplicates have been properly maintained. Unfortunately a lot of shows were shot on the cheap on video or even VHS, or were shot on 35mm but post-production was done on video, like Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the former case, there's nothing to be done but make the highest quality digital transfer from inherently limited source media you can - you can't create more detail than what the source media could replicate, so you're stuck with smeary chroma, cruddy luminance, and 480i. In the latter, it involved going back to the original film, creating a digital interpositive, and recompositing all the special effects at higher resolution. That was expensive and time-consuming, and even something with the nostalgic heft of Star Trek TNG didn't make back enough money for it to be a viable solution for legacy shows at large.
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Tue May 21, 2019 10:22 am

Concupiscence wrote:
jmc2 wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
Yeah, unless they went to the trouble of doing a full cleanup and restoration, there will inevitably be degradation of the original analog film or tape.


I can say that my "Perry Mason" shows from 1955 to mid 60s on dvd from film are wonderfully perfect!
They knew what they had and took care of it.


Like a lot of prestige '50s TV, Perry Mason was shot on 35mm. That makes the prospects of a quality restoration pretty good if the negatives or high quality duplicates have been properly maintained. Unfortunately a lot of shows were shot on the cheap on video or even VHS, or were shot on 35mm but post-production was done on video, like Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the former case, there's nothing to be done but make the highest quality digital transfer from inherently limited source media you can. In the latter, it involved going back to the original film, creating a digital interpositive, and recompositing all the special effects at higher resolution. That was expensive and time-consuming, and even something with the nostalgic heft of Star Trek TNG didn't make back enough money for it to be a viable solution for legacy shows at large.


So it's the sad tragic era of "tape TV production". Guess we have to be thankful for the little bit that survived at a decent quality.
I've got pretty much everything I want from that era even if I am cringing a bit at what I'm watching.

Did read on that... even in recent years a producer captured everything at 4K, took it down to 2K for production and THREW the 4K away!
Imagine they are still kicking themselves over that. :)

Thank you!
 
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Tue May 21, 2019 10:24 am

jmc2 wrote:
Concupiscence wrote:
jmc2 wrote:

I can say that my "Perry Mason" shows from 1955 to mid 60s on dvd from film are wonderfully perfect!
They knew what they had and took care of it.


Like a lot of prestige '50s TV, Perry Mason was shot on 35mm. That makes the prospects of a quality restoration pretty good if the negatives or high quality duplicates have been properly maintained. Unfortunately a lot of shows were shot on the cheap on video or even VHS, or were shot on 35mm but post-production was done on video, like Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the former case, there's nothing to be done but make the highest quality digital transfer from inherently limited source media you can. In the latter, it involved going back to the original film, creating a digital interpositive, and recompositing all the special effects at higher resolution. That was expensive and time-consuming, and even something with the nostalgic heft of Star Trek TNG didn't make back enough money for it to be a viable solution for legacy shows at large.


So it's the sad tragic era of "tape TV production". Guess we have to be thankful for the little bit that survived at a decent quality.
I've got pretty much everything I want from that era even if I am cringing a bit at what I'm watching.

Did read on that... even in recent years a producer captured everything at 4K, took it down to 2K for production and THREW the 4K away!
Imagine they are still kicking themselves over that. :)

Thank you!


Any time! Incidentally I don't blame that producer. A lot of movies are still composited in 2K, even those shown in 4K or getting a nominal Blu-ray 4K release. 2K with HDR, high bitrate encoding, and lossless audio's close enough to perfect that keeping around the 4K source may have been seen as pointless.
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Tue May 21, 2019 10:28 am

jmc2 wrote:
The BBC cared nothing for what they created. Create it, broadcast it and erase the tape destroying it was their system.

Just like those Dr. Who episodes that are completely lost? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_Wh ... g_episodes
 
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Tue May 21, 2019 10:54 am

On a tangential topic, one of the local TV channels has been doing reruns of Miami Vice (which I now see was actually pretty damn good with excellent production values) and Magnum PI (which... wasn't good). Were these shows originally shot/aired in what appears to be a 1:1 ratio, or is it just the version that the TV station has?
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Tue May 21, 2019 11:20 am

morphine wrote:
On a tangential topic, one of the local TV channels has been doing reruns of Miami Vice (which I now see was actually pretty damn good with excellent production values) and Magnum PI (which... wasn't good). Were these shows originally shot/aired in what appears to be a 1:1 ratio, or is it just the version that the TV station has?


If you mean 4:3, that's how they were aired for sure. If it's showing up as 1:1, somebody goofed upstream.
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Tue May 21, 2019 11:32 am

Concupiscence wrote:
you can't create more detail than what the source media could replicate

You're certainly stuck with the absolute dimensions of the frame, but with some of the learning-based AI routines developed in the past few years, you can do exactly that within the frame: interpolate the missing detail based on the scene itself and an acquired database of what all similar scenes look like at higher resolutions. In the case of video, you can use both that ability and the temporal data surrounding an artifact as a basis for accurately scrubbing it.

I don't know if any companies are applying all of the possibilities to video remastering yet, but there are already personal photo-editing tools starting to apply some of these techniques, so it can't be too far away.
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Tue May 21, 2019 11:37 am

ludi wrote:
Concupiscence wrote:
you can't create more detail than what the source media could replicate

You're certainly stuck with the absolute dimensions of the frame, but with some of the learning-based AI routines developed in the past few years, you can do exactly that within the frame: interpolate the missing detail based on the scene itself and an acquired database of what all similar scenes look like at higher resolutions. In the case of video, you can use both that ability and the temporal data surrounding an artifact as a basis for accurately scrubbing it.

I don't know if any companies are applying all of the possibilities to video remastering yet, but there are already personal photo-editing tools starting to apply some of these techniques, so it can't be too far away.


I was thinking about that just the other day. It'll be interesting to see the split between home viewers running the algorithms on DVD releases (or VHS rips...), companies debating whether to bother with their own catalog releases and engaging in variably aggressive squelching of fan work, and purists insisting that the original work should be appreciated as it was intended to be consumed with warts and all.
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Tue May 21, 2019 11:50 am

Maybe something like a 3-pass encode that could help with that. I'd be all over that. I'm actually working on deciding on a "default" file format for my Plex rips to upconvert/upscale everything to to do it up-front with a slow encode versus on-the-fly transcoding. Surely you can get better results that way, and I don't really care how long the processing time is. Even something like 48 hours/movie I could easily live with. I'm leaning towards on 2160 horizontal pixels, variable vertical pixels based on content, h.265 encoding, min(AC3, source) audio encoding.
 
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Tue May 21, 2019 2:57 pm

jmc2 wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
Yeah, unless they went to the trouble of doing a full cleanup and restoration, there will inevitably be degradation of the original analog film or tape.


I can say that my "Perry Mason" shows from 1955 to mid 60s on dvd from film are wonderfully perfect!
They knew what they had and took care of it.

Likewise, I've watched a number of the original Twilight Zone episodes (1959-1964) on Netflix (now on Amazon Prime as well), and the quality is outstanding, even via streaming. They must have used the master tapes.
 
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Tue May 21, 2019 4:03 pm

The Egg wrote:
jmc2 wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
Yeah, unless they went to the trouble of doing a full cleanup and restoration, there will inevitably be degradation of the original analog film or tape.


I can say that my "Perry Mason" shows from 1955 to mid 60s on dvd from film are wonderfully perfect!
They knew what they had and took care of it.

Likewise, I've watched a number of the original Twilight Zone episodes (1959-1964) on Netflix (now on Amazon Prime as well), and the quality is outstanding, even via streaming. They must have used the master tapes.


The original Twilight Zone has received a Blu-ray release, so no doubt what you are viewing on Netflix is sourced from this (just played at a lower bitrate for cost-savings in transport).
 
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Tue May 21, 2019 4:24 pm

techguy wrote:
The Egg wrote:
jmc2 wrote:

I can say that my "Perry Mason" shows from 1955 to mid 60s on dvd from film are wonderfully perfect!
They knew what they had and took care of it.

Likewise, I've watched a number of the original Twilight Zone episodes (1959-1964) on Netflix (now on Amazon Prime as well), and the quality is outstanding, even via streaming. They must have used the master tapes.


The original Twilight Zone has received a Blu-ray release, so no doubt what you are viewing on Netflix is sourced from this (just played at a lower bitrate for cost-savings in transport).

Hmm....I wonder if being B&W results in a better picture due to less of the bitrate being used for color info...
 
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Tue May 21, 2019 8:09 pm

No, it's because Twilight Zone was filmed on 35mm film stock, at least according to IMDB.
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Tue May 21, 2019 10:47 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
No, it's because Twilight Zone was filmed on 35mm film stock, at least according to IMDB.

No reason it can't be both. Higher quality source material and easier to compress due to lack of color. Though I suspect that the source quality is the bigger factor by far.
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Wed May 22, 2019 4:22 am

Concupiscence wrote:
If you mean 4:3, that's how they were aired for sure. If it's showing up as 1:1, somebody goofed upstream.


Interesting enough, some shows were actually deliberately recorded & staged in larger aspect ratios (really just the now-standard 16:9) despite how they were aired in 4:3

Law & Order is an example of this, at some point in the 90s the producers went widescreen. That is to say, all the cinematography was done with a 16:9 frame in mind. even though it was exclusively broadcast like a movie that "has been adjusted to fit your screen" and therefore audiences didn't see the fully intended scene compositions for years and years!

Other shows, like The Wire, were framed in 4:3 well into the 16:9/HD era, which means that when they took the inevitably 16:9 (or larger) masters and decided to make a regular 16:9 blu-ray, uh, like all the shots were composed for a 4:3 frame so at best you have A) a lot of empty space changing the intended "stage presentation" and at worst you have B) production people & equipment crashing the scene on the edges.

Problem (A) can inadvertently turn your claustrophobic intentions into epic high relief -or- towards expressions of expansive emptiness, and Problem (B) makes your show a behind-the-scenes special if you don't post-production it out (time-consuming/expensive).

ugh.

I'd understand the apprehension about the dreaded black bars (previously horizontal, now vertical) a lot better if I didn't *CONSTANTLY* see people filming with their >16:9 phones UPRIGHT....
 
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Wed May 22, 2019 4:54 am

just brew it! wrote:
Captain Ned wrote:
No, it's because Twilight Zone was filmed on 35mm film stock, at least according to IMDB.

No reason it can't be both. Higher quality source material and easier to compress due to lack of color. Though I suspect that the source quality is the bigger factor by far.

error
 
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Re: Why-1980,90s tv shows(dvd) so faded/fuzzy&awful?

Wed May 22, 2019 5:09 am

Glorious wrote:

ugh.

I'd understand the apprehension about the dreaded black bars (previously horizontal, now vertical) a lot better if I didn't *CONSTANTLY* see people filming with their >16:9 phones UPRIGHT....


At least you get to walk around, with a constant smile.

My winge on black bars is the trend towards 16/8.
I understand super-super wide movies,meant to be shown on a huge screen.
BUT, TV shows are going to be watched on 16/9 probably 99% of the time.
Perhaps it's CMOS sensors or lenses,maybe just a nice No-2/1. Just don't understand it.........................................

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