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Old 11-11-2013, 15:42
Anthony_Sword
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Hi gang, there seems to be a lot of very knowledgeable technical folks around here and was hoping you could enlighten me on some questions I've had about recording sources for the classic series.

First, anyone know what season 26 was recorded on? Some form of beta? I had always appreciated that decision from Doctor Who to finally step away from the BBC video interiors/film exteriors standard.

The restoration of Web of Fear and Enemy of the world look fantastic. Having re-watched An Unearthly Child this past week, and seeing how muddy the overall quality of the video was, I was wondering if anyone knew if the BBC had updated their studio cameras between late 1963 and 1965? Is it possible that the rumored An Unearthly Child might be restored to the quality of Web and Enemy?

Finally, the source material recovered by Morris for Web and Enemy were 16mm prints, right? Why do the trailer for each state that there were newly discovered tapes?
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Old 11-11-2013, 19:00
Kieran Seymour
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First, anyone know what season 26 was recorded on? Some form of beta? I had always appreciated that decision from Doctor Who to finally step away from the BBC video interiors/film exteriors standard.
One-inch videotape, which they used from Warriors of the Deep onwards in 1984.

Info at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_C_videotape

The restoration of Web of Fear and Enemy of the world look fantastic. Having re-watched An Unearthly Child this past week, and seeing how muddy the overall quality of the video was, I was wondering if anyone knew if the BBC had updated their studio cameras between late 1963 and 1965? Is it possible that the rumored An Unearthly Child might be restored to the quality of Web and Enemy?
Enemy of the World was the first story made using the new 625-line equipment, so even from a print there should be a noticeable step up in quality from earlier episodes.

Everything prior to that was 405-lines so it will inevitably look slightly inferior. There's also an issue with the telerecordings for some episodes being suppressed field copies. From memory, I think are couple of episodes of The Daleks fall into that category.

Let's have another link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telerecording

An Unearthly Child was restored from the original negatives for the DVD release, so there's probably very little extra improvement to be made.

Finally, the source material recovered by Morris for Web and Enemy were 16mm prints, right? Why do the trailer for each state that there were newly discovered tapes?
Because someone obviously didn't know there was a difference. Happens all the time
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Old 12-11-2013, 03:12
Anthony_Sword
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Thank you so much.

I'm even more curious about season 26 now and what made the difference that improved the image quality. Can I assume that in 1988/89 newer cameras became available that were more portable and captured more information, thus utilizing the space on the 1" tape more efficiently? To me, it looked one step removed from Digi-beta.

I, myself, was shooting 3/4" tape when I worked in the field covering news in 1992. I know 3/4" doesn't hold as much information as 1", but bigger news stations than mine had all switched over to Digi-beta which looked much better, which is why I make the comparison. (BTW, our equipment was so old, we were still lugging around the over-the-shoulder recording deck for the camera in the field. Embarrassing.)
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Old 12-11-2013, 04:55
Lii
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The format for the outside broadcast stuff on Survival and those other stories would probably have been Betacam SP, which was the upgraded analog version of Betacam introduced in the late 80's. The SP VTRs and cameras were pretty close to the quality of the studio cameras, and you would have found it pretty much the same as digi-beta in a side by side comparison.
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Old 12-11-2013, 12:01
Dave-H
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It should be noted that Doctor Who is one of the very few TV shows to have been produced on every format, from 405 line 4:3 black and white with mono sound, right through to 3D widescreen HD with 5.1 surround sound!
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Old 12-11-2013, 12:08
adams66
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It should be noted that Doctor Who is one of the very few TV shows to have been produced on every format, from 405 line 4:3 black and white with mono sound, right through to 3D widescreen HD with 5.1 surround sound!
Geek that I am, I find that pretty cool.
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Old 12-11-2013, 14:10
AidanLunn
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Hi gang, there seems to be a lot of very knowledgeable technical folks around here and was hoping you could enlighten me on some questions I've had about recording sources for the classic series.

First, anyone know what season 26 was recorded on? Some form of beta? I had always appreciated that decision from Doctor Who to finally step away from the BBC video interiors/film exteriors standard.
Studios shoots were on 1" tape, external shots on Betacam, I think?

The final transmitted programme was on 1" VT, in NICAM stereo sound.

The restoration of Web of Fear and Enemy of the world look fantastic. Having re-watched An Unearthly Child this past week, and seeing how muddy the overall quality of the video was, I was wondering if anyone knew if the BBC had updated their studio cameras between late 1963 and 1965? Is it possible that the rumored An Unearthly Child might be restored to the quality of Web and Enemy?.
The BBC did have several models of B&W cameras in different studios, and I think the ones in LG D in late 1963 (CPS Emitrons) were nearing the end of their serviceable life (they dated from about 1948) as they weren't switchable between 405 and 625 lines. With the impending launch of BBC2, the BBC were in the process of disposing of, or re-assigning any equipment not capable of handling the new 625 timebase. Cameras made more recently (late 50s/early 60s), such as their Pye MkVs or EMI 203s were designed to be sold worldwide, so could handle 405, 525 and 625 at the flick of several switches.

Also take into consideration the lighting, vision mixing desk and the quality of the CRT in the telecine machine when comparing picture quality as well, in addition to how each individual camera was adjusted.

Finally, the source material recovered by Morris for Web and Enemy were 16mm prints, right? Why do the trailer for each state that there were newly discovered tapes?
It's just a case of someone non-technical relating "film" with "tape", such as people always link "vacuum cleaner" and "Hoover" or "sticky tape" with "Sellotape".
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Old 12-11-2013, 14:15
AidanLunn
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The format for the outside broadcast stuff on Survival and those other stories would probably have been Betacam SP, which was the upgraded analog version of Betacam introduced in the late 80's. The SP VTRs and cameras were pretty close to the quality of the studio cameras, and you would have found it pretty much the same as digi-beta in a side by side comparison.
Only for the edits. The final transmitted programme came from 1". The BBC had a technical rule that every videotaped programme, except when necessary, had to be on 1" tape. IIRC, the only Betacam machines linked to the BBC1 & 2 transmission suites were those in News & Current Affairs, so these were not normally useable. The BBC VT transmission department was all 1".
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Old 12-11-2013, 15:09
Dave-H
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That's right, the only time we had dual format transmission suites was in the changeover period between 2" tape and 1" tape in the very late 70s/early 80s.
For a few years the suites could handle both formats, but were quite quickly made 1" only.
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Old 13-11-2013, 00:56
Anthony_Sword
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Thanks everyone for the input. Like adams66, I get geeked out over this stuff. Glad I found a place with like-minded enthusiasts.
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Old 13-11-2013, 01:06
performingmonk
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I just find it a shame that more of the show couldn't have been shot on film.
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Old 13-11-2013, 01:46
TEDR
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I just find it a shame that more of the show couldn't have been shot on film.
I agree entirely. I don't think there were any all-film UK programmes (?) but if you look over the Atlantic then compare the picture quality of e.g. Cheers versus Roseanne.

(EDIT: one of the Cheers writers clearly agrees)

Of course, they can shoot straight to video and have it capture much the same gamut as film now, in 24fps progressive so that your brain recognises all the normal cues.
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Old 13-11-2013, 12:55
Dave-H
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I agree entirely. I don't think there were any all-film UK programmes (?) but if you look over the Atlantic then compare the picture quality of e.g. Cheers versus Roseanne.
(EDIT: one of the Cheers writers clearly agrees)
Of course, they can shoot straight to video and have it capture much the same gamut as film now, in 24fps progressive so that your brain recognises all the normal cues.
Actually there were a great many all-film British TV programmes, certainly up until about ten years ago when video became a viable alternative for programmes all shot on location.
It only completely stopped when HD came along and 16mm film was decreed not to be of adequate resolution.
35mm is just too expensive to justify on a British TV budget, especially as electronic acquisition is now just as good.
Many major dramas were all film, but sadly not Doctor Who, with the single exception of Spearhead from Space of course from the original run.
That was only shot all on film because of an industrial dispute closing the TV studios.
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