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Archive for April, 2012

I did a bit of ‘remastering’ this week, so to speak, so I thought I’d talk about it. Sorry if it’s boring or technical.

In film and television, remastering is the process of creating a new master copy, from which all other copies are derived. This can be anything from a spliced reel of film, to a tape or, more modernly, a digital video file. Remastering involves taking the elements that built the master and putting them together again in an improved manner (usually this would be done to update a film or TV show into high definition – the original celuloid will contain more detail than the master tapes it was copied onto).

When we made Premium Bond: The Spy Who Taxed Me, I had, frankly, no idea what I was doing. I chose to edit the project at 24 frames per second (the framerate of movies) and at a weird square-pixel widescreen resolution of 480 lines (by 853). I’m not sure that’s actually supported by anything, and since it was ultimately ending up on DVD, it led to problems with the conversion (DVDs author at 576 lines, at 25 frames per second, and widescreen is always anamorphic [ie. the pixels are rectangular]). This is just one of those things that you learn through doing. The original run of DVDs had a formatting error, and the film came out cropped to the wrong ratio. When we included the trailer as a bonus feature of our Fallen Star DVD, I converted it again so it displayed correctly, however because the framerate and resolution had to be adjusted in the conversion, it was still somewhat blurry and the frames blended together weirdly.

So, four years later, I decided to fix it!

All of our footage was shot in standard definition on digital videotape, at 25 frames per second, which is exactly what the new master needed to be. I had shrunk this down originally to the bizarre size that I chose back then, so all I had to do was not shrink it down this time. The project files were still sitting on my hard drive and everything was intact, so I opened it up, resized the project and corrected the framerate. All the video clips were correctly edited, so it was simply a matter of resizing them to fit the larger project area. Some of the animation keyframe markers didn’t line up anymore due to the change in framerate, but this didn’t seem to affect anything.

As the video was cropped or framed a particular way in certain places, the remaster actually has some minor framing differences, a little bit of extra image around the edges, and so on. The few FX shots, eg. the gun barrel, had to be repositioned piece by piece as it wouldn’t scale uniformly. The credits at the end were kept the same absolute size to allow for an overscan area that I never bothered with the first time around.

Ultimately, the differences are minor. The point of doing it was to create a new master copy that looked better on DVD (smoother motion and less blurry). We don’t have any plans to make a new batch of DVDs, but if we include the film in any future projects (wink, wink!), this will be one we’ll use.

Premium Bond Remaster comparison 1

Because of the mismatch in speed, frames were blended into each other in the original conversion. The remastered circles slide across the screen smoothly. They’ve been upsized a tad, but that’s purely by accident.

Premium Bond Remaster comparison 2

Where the frame size has been increased on all sides, some of the shots have been expanded. This isn’t really detrimental to the composition, and it does mean the image is a tad sharper, but it wasn’t done on purpose – I just didn’t bother to check they matched.

Premium Bond Remaster comparison 3

Again, the mismatched framerate of the original caused effects like this when it was converted to DVD (the online hosted video seems fine, incidentally), but the remaster eliminates the problem entirely. You can also see the reframing again here, making the plane look a little sharper.

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