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Enhancing SD content for Ultra HD (4K)


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#1 Jordan Newell White

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 05:04 PM

Shows like The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, classic episodes of Sesame Street, Sanford and Son, Family Matters, and other shows have long been 480p type content. Now Samsung, LG, and Sony all have TVs they're labeling as Ultra HD, or 4K TV, and it may make the current 1080p go straight into the dust. Where does that leave 480p content? Dead, not coming back, lost to a new generation? Shouldn't we do something to preserve classic TV for today's Ultra HD screens. I mean, shooting in 4K won't be enough. I have two suggested methods to help preserve TV not on DVD, or on DVD but haven't come to Blu-Ray. The first is to take the highest quality copies of shows like The Muppet Show or Fraggle Rock, transfer them to the best quality ratio, put it through a special software like Davinci Resolve or something of the sort, and then using special filters and tricks, enhance them to look HD or Ultra HD, since Ultra HD may destroy HD. The second method would be to record the transfered footage of The Muppet Show or Fraggle Rock onto film with something like an Arrilaser, Celco, or Cinevator, and then put the film into a scanning machine scanning all the frames, and then put the DPX files in a program like Adobe Premiere Pro or Avid DS and play them back at the proper frame rate, which is 29.97 fps, or 30 fps, and then output it to the scanned resolution, such as 1080p or 4K as a master. Which method do you suggest to preserve television history like this, and tell me if there is any reason to do this since the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has Ultra HD (4K) TVs out ready to release, even if they do cost a little less than $10,000 or $20,000?
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 06:06 PM

For the price of those 4K displays, I don't think you'll be seeing much going to them anytime soon. Hell, 3D hasn't even taken off yet, as most people only just recently updated to 1080p. Few folks wanna shell out a few grand for a new TV every year.

Also there is a limit to how much you can resize. This year, it's 1080/4K, next it'll be 4k/8k. Eventually, I think people will just have to get used to pillarboxing like mad.
Though honestly, from your standard distance, I doubt you'd notice that much of a difference, or rather better put, that you'd mind. My upsampled DVDs look almost as good as my blu-rays from where I sit looking @ my 52".
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#3 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 12:31 AM

Even if broadcasters agree to broadcast "4K" content the bitrate will be so low and the compression cranked so high that the actual measurable resolution still will not be more than 720p just like it is now IMO.

OTA HD looks best but Cable/Sat "HD" is miserable looking, worse than streaming in many cases.

Older well mastered NTSC and PAL can be sent through a Teranex or Snell and make decent 1080p/i and then with a little NR and care can be broadcast decently.

I saw D'Jango on a 2K DCI spec projector last week and while I feel a 35mm print would have looked better the 2.40:1 2K projection was not bad on a 80+ foot screen 4K would have been better but in a home environment I don't see where a 4K 55" set will be better than a 1080P one and even replacing my 120" 1080P DLP Projector with "4K" does not seem to be something I would care about.

Will the broadcast world really want to spring for newer hardware and compression systems to say they broadcast in '4k" ? Maybe but if the quality of 1080P is any measure the 4K will be more marketing than actual quality.

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#4 Freya Black

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 06:49 AM

Shows like The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, classic episodes of Sesame Street, Sanford and Son, Family Matters, and other shows have long been 480p type content.


The Muppet show was actually British and made at Elstree for ITC. As such it may well have been shot on film for the international market which was very common on ITC productions. Whether the original film is still around is another question tho, as is the issue of whether Disney can get access to it, or whether it is rotting away in a dark room somewhere in Leeds.

In theory tho, if it was shot on film it could be rescanned and restored.

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#5 Freya Black

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 06:57 AM

Even if broadcasters agree to broadcast "4K" content the bitrate will be so low and the compression cranked so high that the actual measurable resolution still will not be more than 720p just like it is now IMO.


To be fair it's supposedly going to use the new h265 codec which will be a lot more efficient than MPEG2 or whatever they are using now.

Will the broadcast world really want to spring for newer hardware and compression systems to say they broadcast in '4k" ? Maybe but if the quality of 1080P is any measure the 4K will be more marketing than actual quality.

-Rob-


It's a quite common misconception that the broadcast world is 1080p but AFAIK it's preety much all 720p or 1080i. The latter being heavily processed to work with modern progressive screens, so there doesn't tend to be anything like 1080p in broadcast.

This IMHO is the big argument for 4k etc, because it's the only way to get up to something like 1080p quality at this point.

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Edited by Freya Black, 10 January 2013 - 06:58 AM.

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#6 Geoff Howell

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 08:18 AM

The Muppet show was actually British and made at Elstree for ITC.


Ha! you're right!
I remember when I was a kid in the mid 80's they used to have a big workshop on the South Bank next door to the Royal Festival Hall!

as for the show it's self I'm pretty sure it was all shot on video as was the case with most UK studio based productions at the time
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#7 Phil Connolly

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 10:06 AM

I used to work with one of the VT editors of Fraggle Rock, I believe he told me it was shot and edited on 1'C format.

It looks pretty soft compared to SD digi-beta let alone HD or 4K. I doubt there would be much point remastering in higher res formats.

Different countries had different VT inserts for the sections featuring humans. These may have been shot on different formats in different countries and there may be some film material. Since is was more practical to shoot EXT's on film then video in the 80's.
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#8 Will Montgomery

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 03:17 PM

There's a big business right now taking that original film content and restoring. Usually looks amazing. For instance that show Space: 1999 looks out of this world on Blu-Ray. Except for the costumes, it looks like it was shot yesterday.

Even the World at War series that was plenty of 16mm (for the interviews) looks amazing. They went back and found the original 35mm and 16mm war footage and rescanned and restored that. I highly recommend that Blu-Ray set for the behind the scenes of the restoration.

If a TV show was shot on 35mm there's a chance it would look good in a 4K restoration although they probably didn't hold the production and lenses to the same standards as a big feature so whatever little is gained going from 2k to 4k may not be worth the expense.
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#9 Freya Black

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:09 PM

as for the show it's self I'm pretty sure it was all shot on video as was the case with most UK studio based productions at the time


You could be right as it's entirely studio based but then so was Thunderbirds etc and they were shot on 35mm. ITC tended to target the U.S. audience a lot at the time and their shows were often criticized for being a bit "mid atlantic". They shot on film a lot because it was easier to do the standards conversions without hammering the quality.

As an aside, Space 1999 and UFO were also both ITC.

Having said all that, so was Sapphire and Steel and sadly it's all videotape. :(

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Edited by Freya Black, 10 January 2013 - 11:10 PM.

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#10 Geoff Howell

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 03:22 PM

You could be right as it's entirely studio based but then so was Thunderbirds etc and they were shot on 35mm. ITC tended to target the U.S. audience a lot at the time and their shows were often criticized for being a bit "mid atlantic". They shot on film a lot because it was easier to do the standards conversions without hammering the quality.


I guess another factor in using film on something like Thunderbirds would be the need for over-cranking for all the pyrotechnics/explosions/fireworks etc!
Was it possible to shoot higher frame rates on mid 60s video cameras?
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