This hugely popular eight-part Cyberman story from Patrick Troughton's final season is another first for the Doctor Who DVD range, as it features full-length, full-motion animation of the two episodes which are missing from the BBC archives. This unique and fascinating approach to the packaging of an incomplete Doctor Who story was the result of a collaboration between 2|entertain and the BBC's Interactive Drama & Entertainment department…
The idea to animate the two missing episodes of 'The Invasion' came out of a discussion between ID&E producer James Goss and his colleague Andy Harris. Harris mentioned that he would love to see ‘The Invasion’ released on DVD, with the missing episodes animated by Manchester-based animation house, Cosgrove Hall. Goss had already worked with Cosgrove Hall on the animated Doctor Who story ‘Scream of the Shalka’, commissioned specially for the official website, and the idea of animating in black and white appealed to the team. At that time, ID&E were being asked to come up with interesting and innovative ideas for development funding and this appeared to fit the bill - especially when ID&E's business manager, Andy Conroy, suggested that it might make in interesting item for the future launch of iMP, the BBC’s Interactive Media Player project, designed to open up BBC programme availability across the internet (now re-branded as iPlayer).
With funding allocated, Cosgrove Hall were working hard to realise the episodes anew, delivering completed versions in the Autumn of 2005. Working in black and white Flash animation, a team of animators lead by Steve Maher built new visuals onto the original television soundtrack, which had itself been painstakingly reconstructed for the BBC Audiobooks release by Mark Ayres from off-air audio recordings.
For DVD release, some slight changes had to be made to the version that Cosgrove Hall had originally delivered to Goss. Although the episodes had been animated with careful reference to the camera scripts, surrounding episodes and the original soundtrack, the animators had allowed themselves a certain amount of freedom to do things which would not necessarily have been possible with real cameras or set design in the sixties. A good example of this was seen in episode four, where Vaughn’s face was seen ‘Big Brother’ style, projected on huge circular screens around the factory complex. Although touches like this were visually impressive and gave the production a sense of scale that the original could only dream of, 2|entertain felt that the DVD should represent as closely as possible the intent of the original production. Cosgrove Hall were re-commissioned in mid-2006 to revisit the project and make a small number of changes to accommodate 2|entertain’s request.
This also provided the opportunity to commission the Doctor Who Confidential team to make a featurette about the animation, and for ID&E to produce another, about the history of fans making off-air audio recordings and how this had allowed the animation project to happen in the first place.
As all of this was going on, the Restoration Team started on the process of restoring the six existing episodes back to something approaching their former glory. Victims of the archival purges of the late sixties and early seventies, none of the episodes existed as original film recording negatives. The masters that did exist were all 16mm prints, ranging in quality from average for episodes two and three up to excellent for episode eight. Jonathan Wood was responsible for transferring and grading the prints on the Spirit telecine, with basic automated cleanup to reduce the grain and dirt problems before the masters were shipped to SVS in Manchester for the time-consuming process of manual cleanup, CGI fixing of faults and application of the VidFIRE process.
The title sequences and end credits were replaced on all six episode. The latter proved challenging as the following episodes clearly were played in from videotape, cutting away just before the credits started to come into view (we can tell because the geometry is identical between episodes with no loss of quality, in contrast with the zoomed-in and lower quality of film recorded reprises). This meant that the indistinct film recorded credits had to be rotoscoped out before being replaced. The only straightforward episode was the last one, where the TARDIS materialisation was simply reversed (and, indeed, this is almost certainly what they did at the time, albeit in the lab) to provide a clean plate. The movement, often in three dimensions was further complicated by camera tracking, on other episodes needed painstaking attention, not helped by the length of some fades to black – the end of episode six where the Cybermen march past has ten seconds of credits on a fading background before the picture reaches black level.
As usual, all the dirty cuts or single frame mixes across cuts were repaired or edited out. The story has above average levels of film and VT damage for the time, and a minimum of four clean-up passes were performed on the episodes, with further attention for particularly damaged or dirty sections. Following the clean up, the episodes VidFIREd using latest algorithm, including motion extrapolation at shot changes to eliminate previous impression of “freezing” caused by reversion to frame-based motion.
Episode two was the episode in the worst condition, with very large amounts of dirt, sparkle and scuffing, especially on the film inserts. All the film in the story, with the exception of about ten seconds in episode three, is out of phase, causing double-imaging - something for which we still have no solution. The film recording is very unstable, especially in the first ten minutes, and the worst affected shots (such as Benton and Tracy approaching the Doctor and Jamie) were stabilised with Furnace. Several sections of the original videotape were badly affected by scratching which was transferred, along with some offlocking, to the film recording. These sections were repaired in the usual way with a combination of scratchbox and interpolation
Episode six's film inserts were very dirty and scratched. Tramline scratches were isolated and tracked using Furnace’s scratch removal tool, with careful keyframing of position and width in order to minimise the visibility of the repair.
Large amounts of fine dirt on the print for episode seven, particularly on the edges, were painted out manually. We had already run a second DVNR pass at the telecine stage, isolating the right-hand edge of the frame and targeting much higher levels of automated dirt removal into this region, but there was still a lot of manual work required. The stock film inserts were of exceptionally poor quality – these were blasted with high levels of noise reduction and dirt concealment on the basis that they will never look great, but at least would compress better on the DVD.
Meanwhile, Mark Ayres was busy working away on the soundtracks to all eight episodes...
"For most of the existing film episodes we had the choice of using the optical sound from the archive prints that we transferred for use as the picture-masters, or sep-mag films made at some point in the past from these same prints. All prints are a lot higher in quality than the viewing copies used for the previous VHS release, and from which I remastered the audiobook, so I decided to start again from scratch. With the mag tracks being over-bright to my ears, I decided to use the optical tracks in all cases - except for episode seven, where degradation to the optical track meant that the mag was preferable. The damage was evident both on this fine grain print, and on the print previously used for the VHS release (which I had to laboriously repair for the audiobook), so presumably occured sometime after the mag was taken, and before the viewing copy was made.
One scene in episode three (as Jamie and the Doctor investigate the crates in the warehouse) was massively out of sync (there is an odd double cut on the audio as the warehouseman lowers the crate which suggests that they tried an audio drop-in which did not quite work). This has been corrected by eye - it might not be spot-on, but it is certainly a lot closer than it was!
Episode six has a lot of clicks and pops evident on both mag and optical, this had to be removed using high levels of de-click and de- crackle processes, with threshholds automated to avoid removing anything that should remain. A lot of manual waveform redrawing was also necessary.
Opening and closing music was replaced as a matter of course, with many edits being tidied and some levels corrected.
The soundtracks for the two animated episodes presented a rather different challenge. Nearly two years ago, I remastered these two soundtracks for audiobook use. We have two main sources (these are illustrated in the 'Love Off-Air' featurette): David Holman's microphone recording of both episodes is very "roomy" and lacking in high frequencies, while a cassette copy of an original reel-to-reel recording made in Australia is much "closer" and brighter, but smothered in crackles and whine from (presumably) a badly-tuned television set or weak transmission. I would normally go for the Holman recording, but that was itself not perfect. Hence when I created the audiobook masters I decided to use the Australian cassette, as the results were much better than I would have been able to get from the Holman recording. A great deal of automated filtering and manual de-clicking was required, but the results are superior to those which could be achieved using the Holman recordings. Nevertheless I had to revert to the Holman in two places. Firstly, the section in part one where the lorry driver is caught and shot by Vaughn's men was afflicted by a deep wowing on the Australian recording. Secondly, a tiny section of part four, as the Doctor and the Brigadier discuss the map of the area around Vaughn's London warehouse, was missing entirely due to a massive dropout. The completed Audiobooks version was the one I supplied to James Goss in mid-2005 to use as the soundtrack to the animated episodes.
When the animation was completed, I noticed that they had made a number of edits to the soundtrack for editorial and technical reasons, some of which were rather obvious to my ears. They had also added a couple of non-authentic additional sound effects to help the animation along, so I decided to reconform the soundtrack properly, and replace the effects with authentic originals. It was my intention also to rerun the master files using updated noise- reduction plugins, so I reloaded the original restoration projects from archive. Unfortunately, I then started noticing all the things I had run out of time to fix when I made the audiobook. So as well as applying improved noise-reduction and equalisation, I also manually drew out a lot more clicks and pops that the original processes either did not remove entirely, or for which automatic removal left behind other undesirable artefacts. I spent approximately another four days on this, making an additional 3,500 repairs across the two episodes; these range from simple click removal, through more targetted filtering and resynchronisation, to the better disguising of unnatural level pumping due to the automatic gain control on the original off-air recording. One other thing I did was to better integrate the Holman scene in episode one by overlaying the brighter dialogue recording carefully filtered from the Australian tape; to help disguise this I also added the music back in from the copy I have of Don Harper's score (kindly supplied to me by him shortly before his death a few years ago - and hopefully soon to appear on CD), and laid some new background sound effects to replace those lost by the heavier noise reduction needed during this section.
I should point out that these episodes are still not perfect, and there are still areas that I could do considably more with if I had a couple of weeks spare. But the law of diminishing returns applies, and listeners should bear in mind that the original source is still a cassette copy of a low speed reel-to-reel recording made from a very crackly transmission in Australia of the film recordings of the original video tapes!"
The commentary needed to cover both the animated and original episodes. It was decided that episode one would feature James Goss, Mark Ayres and animation director Steve Maher and would concentrate solely on the animation process. This commentary was recorded by Mark Ayres directly onto his laptop, in a rather acoustically unforgiving conference room at the BBC's Media Centre at White City. The other episodes were recorded in Dubbing Theatre 3 at Television Centre. It was decided that episode four would feature actors Wendy Padbury, Frazer Hines and Nicholas Courtney, and would capture their genuine reactions to seeing their animated selves for the very first time. The remaining six original episodes would feature a rotating combination of Padbury, Hines and Courtney and the story's production assistant, Chris D'Oyly-John.
It was decided early on to split the story across two discs, which meant there was also a natural split for the extras. Disc one would contain the first four episodes (including the two animated episodes) along with animation-specific extras and disc two would contain the remaining four episodes along with extras related to the original production.
The Doctor Who Confidential team went behind the scenes at Cosgrove Hall for disc one's main feature, Flash Frames, interviewing the team responsible for animating the two missing episodes.
Love Off-Air, produced by James Goss and Rob Francis, is a warm and gentle look at the history of fan audio recording, featuring interviews with Gary Russell, Justin Richards, Michael Stevens and David Holman, along with Mark Ayres in his studio explaining how he pulled together the best bits of four different recordings in order to produce the final soundtracks.
An animation Character Design featurette includes an unused animated version of the Doctor Who titles, plus Steve Maher's original concept designs for the Doctor, Zoe, the Brigadier, Vaughn and Isobel. It also features the first animation test with the Doctor's eyes moving and blinking.
Two animated trailers are included, made early on in the process to demonstrate concept and style.
John Kelly was commissioned to produce and edit the major documentary for disc two - a 50 minute look at the making of the story. Evolution of the Invasion features interviews with actors Wendy Padbury, Frazer Hines, Nicholas Courtney, Kevin Stoney, Sally Faulkner, Peter Halliday, Edward Burnham and Ian Fairbairn, script editor Terrance Dicks and production assistant Chris D'Oyly-John. Narrated by Frazer Hines, the documentary also includes many rare colour and monochrome photos from behind the scenes and specially commissioned artwork by Robert Hammond recreates a scripted scene which was never filmed.
Ralph Montagu created a surprisingly exciting photo gallery, cutting together publicity, production and commentary session photos to segments of Don Harper's original score for the story, including some cues which never made it into the finished programme.
Rounding off this disc are Nicholas Courtney's original links to camera which were included in the 1993 VHS release in order to explain the storyline of the missing episodes.
Martin Wiggins supplies the production notes for all eight episodes.
Copyright Steve Roberts, Mark Ayres 27 August 2006. **No reproduction allowed without written permission**.