Thursday, August 5, 2010

Remastering SPACE: 1999 (1976) for HD

TVShowsOnDVD has more information on the forthcoming Blu-Ray edition of Space: 1999, including what bonus material will be included. Most intriguing is the rather vague "Behind-the-scenes featurettes." I wonder if this is vintage promotional material, or newly-created for this edition.

They also linked to this fascinating article on the digital restoration process that Space: 1999 has been put through for high definition. One thing I'm surprised at is that they are apparently "re-creating" the main title sequences to remove all the dirt and debris that existed in the originals:
As the main series credits shots are extremely important and the existing quality of the optically combined shots were rather poor Granada International's Controller Operations Fiona Maxwell agreed to electronically re-building the generic parts of the opening titles from the best available materials in HD.

Lots of these textless background shots still exist as small rolls of negative which were supplied as part of the re-mastering. This material was firstly graded, noise reduced and then manually cleaned-up in the same way as a standard episode to produce the master background shots. I took the opportunity to transfer these elements in both 4:3 and 16:9 widescreen ratios as there was the strong possibility that the latter would be required at some stage. Then the digital data was imported into a non-linear HD editing suite where colleague Steve Jamison went about re-building the sequence with guidance from myself as to which shots to use. Basically, the original optical captions were isolated and re-keyed at the appropriate points over the background shots making sure that things like the position and timing were matched.
No mention of whether they'll be removing wires or making any other actual changes/corrections to the source material. More at the link above.


  1. Yeah, if they are going to that much effort they should do digital wire removal. I wish they did that with Forbidden Planet.

  2. The opening credits on Year One are extremely dirty, especially Martin Landau's white-background credit.
    Whenever opticals (laser blasts, etc.) were added, the image would darken a couple of frames before and after the effect. And, truthfully, the squiggly-line stun-gun "impact" effect looked like someone took a magic marker and doodled on the footage!

    "I took the opportunity to transfer these elements in both 4:3 and 16:9 widescreen ratios as there was the strong possibility that the latter would be required at some stage."

    The 16:9 will probably be a cropped version of the 4:3 footage, so top/bottom visual info will be lost!
    What happens if text (especially in the return after the opening credits) are in the area that's cropped?

    In a weird reversal of the whole letterbox vs pan/scan controversy, I'm seeing a lot of older movies (and now, apparently, tv shows) that were filmed 4:3 being released in widescreen, resulting in cut-off foreheads and chins in closeups, and actions in the lower quarter of the screen being lost (Characters reaching discreetly for weapons or hiding something incriminating, for example.)
    The feature film shot after the first season of the Batman tv series is an obvious example.
    The dvd is letterbox, but the print currently running on HBO as well as the previous vhs release are 4:3 showing top/bottom info not on the letterbox version.

  3. I posted this a while back on my Blog, as I was always bugged by the lack of stars in some of the space shots, mainly due to the way the had shot their FX at the time !!

  4. Britt; The article does state that 1999 will be pillarboxed (i.e. with black bands on the side) rather than cropped. I hope so.