The fifth and final DVD release of 2002 will be Peter Davison's explosive clash with the Doctor's arch enemies the Daleks and their creator, Davros, in the 1984 adventure 'Resurrection of the Daleks'.
Originally conceived, written and produced as four 25-minute episodes, 'Resurrection of the Daleks' was re-cut at short notice and broadcast as two 45-minute episodes to fit in around the BBC's coverage of the 1984 Olympic Games. For the DVD release, it was decided to present it in the original four part format. Although it would technically be possible to allow the viewer to choose to watch either the two part or four part version using seamless branching, the cost and complexity of providing this feature whilst maintaining continuity across multiple audio and subtitle tracks was considered an unjustifiable expense.
Jim Easterbrook of BBC Research and Development at Kingswood Warren recently developed an entirely new method of decoding PAL video. It uses Fourier transforms to separate the chrominance and luminance components exceptionally well, leading to decoding which is free of the usual cross-colour and cross-luminance artefacts(such as dot patterns on edges of coloured objects and coloured patterns on fine detail etc). The design was implemented in hardware by R&D's Richard Russell, who was kind enough to lend the Restoration Team one of the prototype Transform PAL Decoders to use on 'Resurrection of the Daleks'. The results were exceptionally good. No noticeable cross-colour or cross-luminance artefacts could be seen on the episodes and fine detail was rendered as through it had been shot on component video. As well as providing a much nicer picture, the lack of these artefacts will also be of great help in the MPEG encoding stage because the images are much cleaner than normal. The story was briefly featured in the electronics industry magazine, EE Times.
Picture cleanup work is now well underway. A small amount of adaptive video noise reduction has been applied via the DVNR to reduce the levels of noise - which, like 'The Caves of Androzani', is quite high due to the story being shot on old Plumbicon camerasand recorded on one-inch analogue videotape - and then dropouts and other small faults have been painted out manually. A number of small technical faults such as the picture hopping sideways during materialisation effects have been rectified.
Although the physical film inserts for the story are no longer in the library, a one-inch spool of the original telecine transfer of the inserts does. As this is at least two tape generations higher than the shots used in the episode, it is advantageous to use it to improve the quality of these sections. The opening shot mixes through from the title sequence, so these will also be replaced from new Spirit transfers of the 35mm titles film.
The original TARDIS materialisation had to be remade, as the effect was created electronically from the videotape of the film inserts. Jonathan Wood took the opportunity to correct a couple of problems with the original 1984 version. On location, the camera had moved between the pan down to the empty dock and the TARDIS prop being wheeled in. In the edit, they tried to correct this by moving one image using a DVE. Unfortunately they didn't have precision to exactly match the position of the background and also the shot that was moved through the DVE was noticeably softer. To remake the effect, a Snell & Wilcox 'Shakeout' real-time image stabiliser was used to remove the hop and weave from the two film elements, which were then mixed back together to recreate the TARDIS materialsation. The effect is now rather more convincing.
Episode one includes a horribly noticeable and very jerky VT slo-mo at the end of the scene in which Lytton arrives back aboard his ship and walks away with the other troopers. This was done in the edit in order to remove a microphone boom which had intruded into the end of the shot, whilst retaining the scene at the same length. The effect was very jarring, pulling the viewer out of the story, so it was decided to remake it. Working on Illusion, 3D Effects Designer Ian Simpson broke down the slo-mo shot by de-interlacing each field and removing the ones which were repeated by the VT slo-mo process. He was able to use the frequency of the repeated fields to map a speed curve for the slo-mo, which turned out to be non-linear - it starts off very slow, then ramps up to a steady speed. He then used Realviz Retimer to match the original speed curve, with Retimer using its powerful motion-estimation software to put the objects into their correct spatial position in the new timeline. An unfortunate bi-product of the motion estimation software was severe warping of the fine detail in the background grilles built into the set, so Ian used Illusion to stabilise the shot and generate mattes to prevent Retimer operating in these areas. The stabilisation was then undone to return the shot to normal, a small amount of manual touch-up carried out to remove remaining artefacts and finally reinterlaced. The slo-mo is now extremely smooth and does not distract the viewer.
As well as the original mono soundtrack, the disc will feature both a brand-new Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix and an isolated music soundtrack.
A commentary, featuring Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and director Matthew Robinson, has already been recorded. It is very much in the style of the one on 'The Caves of Androzani'.
Interviews with Matthew Robinson, writer Eric Saward and producer John Nathan-Turner were recorded in and around the old warehouses in the story's Shad Thames location near London's Tower Bridge. Paul Vanezis has edited these interviews into a featurette of approximately 18 minutes duration called 'Resurrection of the Daleks - On Location'. The interviews were all shot in an aspect ratio of 16:9, but the featurette includes clips from the story which was made in 4:3. Viewers watching on a 16:9 TV set will see these story clips in a 'pillarbox' format - ie with vertical black bars at either side of the picture. This presents a slight problem for viewers watching on 4:3 TV's, as the story clips will be both pillarboxed and letterboxed, meaning that they will have black all around them. For those people who wish to watch the featurette fully filling their 4:3 screen at all times, the disc will be authored to support the little-used '4:3 Pan & Scan' feature, where a 4:3 full-screen image can be extracted from 16:9 source material. The interviews were carefully shot to be 4:3 safe, as were the captions and credits added in the edit. The only complication is that viewers wishing to take advantage of this feature will have to enable the '4:3 Pan & Scan' option in their DVD player setup menu.
Two items from the BBC's breakfast TV show, one from 1984 and the other from 1986, have been edited together to form a 'Breakfast Time' featurette. These are an interview with Janet Fielding and John Nathan-Turner talking about Tegan, and a Radiophonic Workshop item featuring Brian Hodgson and Malcolm Clarke showing how music was used to create tension in the story.
A number of deleted and extended scenes, ex timecoded VHS, have been included. Where the material was used in the final version, it has been reinstated in broadcast quality, allowing the viewer to easily see where the extensions are. The sound has been left from the earlier edit, so contains no music or sound effects.
A BBC1 trail for episode one which was loaned to us on VHS has been recreated using the episode masters.
Subtitle production information, TARDIS-Cam, Easter Eggs and a photo gallery will be included as usual.
Steve Roberts, 10 May 2002