Revelation of the Daleks

The fourth UK release of 2005 is 1985's 'Revelation of the Daleks', the Sixth Doctor's only brush with his most enduring enemies. A dark tale of grave robbers, assassins and corporate politics, 'Revelation' saw the welcome return of director Graeme Harper, lauded for his previous story 'The Caves of Androzani'...

'Revelation of the Daleks' was shot on 1" analogue videotape, which has subsequently been transferred to D3 digital videotape as part of the BBC's ongoing 1" archiving project. The remastering of this story followed our now standard route of Transform PAL decoding to Digital Betacam videotape, digital colour correction and video noise reduction and finally manual repair of dropouts or other videotape faults, all undertaken by the RT's Jonathan Wood. No major problems were found, although we did take the opportunity to re-make four shots in better quality, with all the work being carried out by Ian Simpson using Inferno.

The first of these is the shot where the camera appears to drop through the floor, revealing the various stacked corridors of Tranquil Repose. This was originally done using a fairly crude DVE unit to digitally move the pictures. The black lines representing the floors were very unstable and jittered up and down with respect to the movement of the images, so Ian motion-tracked the moving images and laid in a new black area to cover the jittery original. Two composite shots of the Doctor and Peri in the garden, which appear on the scanner in Davros's laboratory, were remade to stop the unstable live-action 16mm film elements moving around in relation to the stable painted elements around them. This was done by extracting each element from the original composite, stabilising the film element and then recompositing. Finally,  a new transfer of the 16mm film shot of the Doctor and Peri walking in front of the Tranquil Repose building was stabilised to make it rock-solid, then the hand-painted pyramids from the top of the original composite were recomposited in. This replaced the original version, in which the top half of the building and the pyramids were solid, but the bottom half was unstable 16mm film and moved around alarmingly in relation. Model sequences of the Dalek shuttle taking off and Tranquil Repose exploding were replaced by a new Spirit transfer from a copy of the film sequences that John Kelly had purchased on eBay!

Jonathan provided the following notes...

Jonathan Wood loading 16mm film sequences onto the Spirit telecine"Although some earlier generation recordings exist on some parts of this story, on comparison there was very little difference after noise reduction so to avoid the risks associated with missing layers of FX work the 2-part masters were used. As usual, the episodes went through the grading system and DVNR, which allows for shot-by-shot adjustments if necessary. Generally, a production of this era is fairly stable with regards to camera matching although there were minor differences between studio blocks. Effects shots of more video generations and ones derived from hand-held cameras usually required additional adjustment and a slight increase in noise reduction. Horizontal position and width of the analogue picture can vary greatly and although this can't be rectified without an undesirable amount of electronic zoom, the picture is at least moved via the grading system to re-centre the image.

Despite the fact that the story is based on an alien planet and the first shot from space is deliberately green to set this up, the exterior scenes were not really off-set in this way and purely suffered from the usual off-colour of a live or near one-light graded transfer from this period. Therefore the film sequences were completely re-graded while maintaining a very slight bias in the early scenes. There were quite a few problems with dark and grainy shots (probably loss of light at the end of the day) which were treated accordingly. However, the first shot of the mutant approaching from the bushes was very dark compared with the next similar shot, so although this one was stretched slightly the cut back was darkened at the start and then ramped up. This helped with matching of the two and hopefully gives the impression of the figure emerging from undercover into a lighter area. Although by Doctor Who standards the film wasn't too dirty it still required some hours of manual de-blob work on Scratchbox  after DVNR processing. Some of the film inserts are held privately and were given a one-light transfer, however a degree of damage had occurred and they were considerably more marked when compared to the original TX transfer. A few shots were useful though for re-making of one of the wide exterior matte shots (re-composited by Ian Simpson) and some model shots towards the end of the story. With the latter film sequences, one highly zoomed shot (originally done through a video FX device) was replaced instead with a telecine zoom done on the Spirit with an obvious improvement in quality."

As well as the transmission copies of both episodes, both an early edit and the undubbed sound (ie before music and effects had been added) of episode one and the undubbed sound  of episode two were retained in the BBC library. As all of Roger Limb's clean music also exists, Mark Ayres was able to provide a new 5.1 Mix, along with the remastered original mono audio and isolated music score.

Mark took the opportunity to keep a diary of his work as he went along,  from which he provides the following detailed notes...

"Preparing a 5.1 mix of a totally mono Doctor Who is quite a challenge. The first job to be done is to check all the assets. I know that I have the original mono mixes of the incidental music, the opening and closing title music, and the sound effects. For dialogues, we have the final and "71" (first) edits of episode one, and the final edit of episode two. This means that I have all the edited studio dialogue from the first episode, and most from the second. The reason I only have "most" from the second is that only one track of edited dialogue remains on the master video tape - the second track was over-written with the finished dub. The problematic areas are where there are overlapping scenes and takes. For instance, where Davros is watching something on his view screen, the sound from Davros's lair is on one track, while the "on screen" sound is on another. I go through the soundtracks using headphones - original mix in one ear, raw sound in the other - carefully comparing them, working out what is where, and making notes about sound effects and so on. A number of short pieces of Davros's dialogue are missing, along with some Dalek lines, death screams from Hugh Walters, Orcini shouting "Bostok" as the latter is shot, and a line from Trevor Cooper which was corrected in the dub. As these artists (including Dalek voice Roy Skelton) are all being interviewed for the "extra" features for the DVD, we take the opportunity of getting them to re-record these lines for use. Some additional missing lines are to be found on a compilation tape of some scenes that was made for visual effects use. With this job done, I can then start the dialogue edit.

I pick the best source for each line and carefully reconstruct the dialogue edit over a number of tracks. I have a couple of main mix tracks, a "dialogue splits" track (used if I wish to split off any dialogue or sync sound to be panned elsewhere in the surround image), a "Davros" track and three "Dalek" tracks. The latter four tracks each have a ring modulator plug-in inserted so that our newly recorded lines sound correct. In a couple of places, I put some existing Dalek dialogue onto one of the Dalek tracks in order to increase the modulation effect. A couple of places still prove problematic. At the start of episode two, about a minute of clean dialogue (Jobel talking to Peri next to the toppled statue) is missing, and I will have to use the tx sound at this point, carefully faking new surround information around the original mix. There are a couple of other short places where this will also be necessary.

During the scene near the end, where the Doctor and Peri leave Orcini to set off his bomb there is another, related, problem as a part of the conversation about the bomb is also missing from the clean tracks. Luckily, I had spotted that alternative takes of this scene (though not the take actually used!) were on the FX compilation, so I carefully resynchronised dialogue from these takes to create a new, clean, track. It was only at the last moment, sadly after we had done the replacement dialogue recording, that I noticed that William Gaunt changed one of his lines. On the used take, he refers to the bomb and says "I would like to explode it". On the clean take, he says, "I want to explode it". I had no option but to use this alternative take - the lipsync is slightly off for a syllable but I hope we will be forgiven.

As part of the editing process, I adjust levels and positioning of the sound so that it all sounds smooth. After a few days hard work, I have a finished usable sync track.

I then concentrate on the music, starting with the opening titles (I can use the closing titles master I prepared for "The Leisure Hive"). For Colin Baker's titles, the opening graphics had been redone, and the music altered to fit. The new titles run a few frames longer at the start, and have a new "flare-out" on the "Doctor Who" title reveal. To do this originally, Peter Howell copied his 1980 mono opening titles mix to two tracks of a fresh reel of 16-track tape, overlapped slightly at the start to account for the extra frames. Then on other tracks he added additional sounds for the title reveal. This reel of tape still survives, so I had it transferred to digital format, and synchronised it to the remix file I had created for "The Leisure Hive". I recreated the extended opening, and mixed the "reveal" elements into surround. Most of the "flare" sounds were sent to the centre speaker, and I added an additional low "thump" in the LFE. This new mix was then bounced down to a new surround file for use in the mix.

For the incidental music, we have the mixed mono master recordings and a very few short makeup elements. All of these are copied from the original 1/4" tapes playing on my ex-BBC Studer A-80 into the Macintosh. Using various tricks such as filtering, the addition of reverbs and delays, and a Waves "stereoising" plugin, I create new surround masters of each music cue (76 individual pieces in total) and again bounce new surround files for use in the mix. Some sounds (such as the low bass drums in Davros's lair and the heartbeat sound in the incubation room) are filtered off, put through an octave divider and again heavily low-pass filtered to create LFE elements.

The DJ music is a particular challenge. All of the DJ's scenes are backed with various hits of the mid-20th Century. Some are covers (the Elvis Presley stuff) while others are original (Procul Harum). One Jimi Hendrix track has had to be replaced entirely for copyright reasons. Originally, the source tracks had been fed through deep flanging effect to make them sound suitably weird, and copied to a new mono 1/4" play-in tape. Thankfully, this tape was still in the archive. First off, I took the library track that was used in place of the Hendrix and treated it to match. Then I created a new set of masters treated further for use in the surround mix. To make this even weirder, I set up two random pans - one left to right, and one front to back - with the result that the DJ's music now randomly pans continuously between the four corners of the room, and any place in between. This sounded great, but was to cause problems later...

Next come the sound effects. Again, I have all of Dick Mills's original mono 1/4" recordings. In fact, some of these are "split tracked", with alternative, or alternating, effects on each of two tracks of a stereo tape. These are carefully catalogued, transferred, remastered, and expanded to form stereo and surround tracks for use.

With all the elements checked and created, tracklaying commences. The dialogue is already done, so I copy my music tracks into the new master session file. I have five premix tracks: opening titles in 5.1 surround, closing titles in 5.0 surround (no LFE), two "checkerboarded" incidental music tracks (5.0) and an incidental music LFE helper track.

Next I work on the background effects - room tones and hums, corridors and catacombs. Each location has at least two tracks - often a front and rear atmos, or a background hum and a more specific effect (such as the Dalek control room). The reason for giving each location its own tracks is simple - it enables me to set pans, levels, eq and reverberation effects and so on for each, without having to return to them later other than for minor tweaks. External scenes have three tracks of wind. The catacombs have a low hum and two tracks of echoing drips which I carefully pan around the surround field as the picture cuts and pans to help give more of an impression of moving through the tunnels.

Finally, spot effects: doors, guns and so on. These again are split to specific tracks with pans and levels programmed to position them in the sound field. I add a lot of new effects, here. Some of the original explosions sound rather weak in surround, so they are added to or replaced with big digital explosions in stereo with LFE "wumps" where appropriate. I also beef up some hits and falls, make the toppling statue sound a bit heavier and so on. The final destruction of Tranquil Repose is a major challenge, matching all the various rumbles and shakes while keeping the dialogue clear. I discover one missing effect: the Dalek "scream" in the crypt (episode two) was not on the effects tape. Listening to it, I suspect it was a vocal scream, ring modulated, done in the dub, probably by Roy Skelton. This is something else I should have done at our ADR session, but I discovered it too late. Hence I did a new one myself: it's not quite the same as the original (which would have been impossible to match anyway!), but it works. Finally, as a little nod to the past, I have resurrected an old effect. In "Planet of the Daleks" there was a separate "positive/negative effect" sound for use as a Dalek weapon impact. I've used it here on a couple of occasions to add a bit of extra movement to the track.

I've been working on the mix for a few weeks, on and off, already, each of the above stages taking a few days. I have a dialogue mix, a music mix, a backgrounds mix, and a spot effects mix - all of which I have been working on individually. Now I unmute all the many tracks in the project (there are 74 fader channels and tracks in the final mix - many of which are not individual mono sounds, but stereo, quad, or surround premixes - the total number of tracks in traditional terms is well over 100) and see what happens. Of course, it sounds a mess - everything is roughly where it should be in time and space, but the levels are all over the place. So the mix proper begins. Over the course of the next couple of days I work through the two episodes, mixing as I go, making everything sit as it should. Additional eq and compression is needed in places to help glue everything together. I have six reverberation effects running: one for the main hall in Tranquil Repose, one for Davros's lair, one for corridors, another for the catacombs, one for the cells, and a final "early reflections" effect for small rooms and offices. These, like pans, levels, mutes, equalisation, compression and other effects, can be automated and programmed as necessary.

While working on the mix, I also periodically check the mix as a stereo fold-down, as I know that much of our audience will be listening to it in that fashion. Music levels which seem fine in surround can often be far too high in the folddown. And dialogue which is fine in the fold-down is often lost in the surround if the mix is too busy.

At the end of that initial mix, I burn a short run of DVD-Rs which I send to other members of the Restoration Team with their comments. I also sit down and watch the DVD in my own domestic sitting room. My own list of comments is many times as long as the longest list I get from any of my colleagues! A further day's mixing and finessing follows.

We have had a number of lively discussions amongst ourselves down the years as to how we should best approach various elements of our restorations, including the 5.1 mixes. One school of thought is that the 5.1 mixes should accurately reflect the original mix, simply expanded into surround. The other school suggests that these are new mixes, so "anything goes". I have sympathies with both viewpoints, and try to steer a middle course. For instance, here, we generally agree that the atmosphere on the planet Necros is rather old fashioned - a synthesised wind effect (actually two of them!) created using filtered white noise. Yet I feel that it is very much a part of the show, so I merely expand it into surround and leave it. Yet some explosions and impacts are replaced and rebuilt to take advantage of the greater dynamic range that DVD can offer.

One area which is causing concern is the DJ. His voice is in the centre speaker, with the music floating around the room. And we cannot hear the DJ properly. Problem is, if I lower the music so that the DJ is perfectly clear, the music has all-but disappeared in the stereo fold-down. I realise that, quite simply, the panning music is too distracting. But most of us like the weirdness of the effect. Hence, I decide to pull the DJ out of the centre speaker when he is "on air", placing him in all five speakers. This works, and makes the scenes even odder! I drop him back into the centre speaker for his little off-air asides. For the scene where Peri and the DJ meet for the first time, I drop the music back a little bit more, and brighten up the dialogue with a touch of eq. Many more little tricks like this are performed throughout the episodes.

At long last, I have a final mix. It is bounced down to the six master files (left, right, centre, LFE, left surround, right surround) and also to two different stereo versions - a straight stereo folddown (Lo/Ro) and a matrixed Dolby Surround track (Lt/Rt). Neither of these will feature on the DVD, but it's good to have them in the archive! While the discrete surround track is at full dynamic range, these stereo tracks are are a reduced "broadcast legal" dynamic - heavily (but carefully!) compressed so as to conform to broadcast guidelines. All of these master files are at 24-bit, 48kHz resolution. The surround files are then dithered down to 16-bit and played out to the DA-88-format DTRS cassette that is required by the DVD authoring house. "

Rights could not be obtained to use the Jimi Hendrix track, "Fire", which plays over one of the DJ sequences. When the VHS version of this story was released it also had to be replaced, but the job was done rather crudely with simple filtering and editing of the original mix. This was odd, as the undubbed audio was on the second track of the master video tape. Mark re-dubbed this section from scratch, replacing the music with something hopefully more appropriate than what was used on the VHS, and carefully matching the original ambience and equalisation.

Terry Molloy, Eric Saward, Nicola Bryant and Graeme HarperA commentary for both episodes was provided by Graeme Harper, writer and script editor Eric Saward and actors Nicola Bryant and Terry Molloy, recorded at Television Centre Dub 4. As an experiment , the stereo commentary was recorded in full broadcast quality directly to Mark Ayres' Powerbook laptop and subsequently mixed down with the remastered mono soundtrack in his studio.

Most of the other extras on this release have been produced by John Kelly, who is a huge fan of the story and who would have probably killed the rest of the team if the work had been given to anyone else!

The major featurette on the disc is Revelation Exhumed (provisionally titled Necrosphilia, a title unsurprisingly vetoed by BBC Video!) , a very detailed 45-minute look at the making of the story, featuring contributions from many of the cast and crew. This featurette was shot over a number of days by John and a hired camera and sound crew and edited by Ed Stradling.  The full line up of interviewees includes Eric Saward (writer/script editor), Graeme Harper (director), Alan Spalding (designer), John Brace (Visual Effects), Roger Limb (incidental music) and Pat Godfrey (costumer designer), plus cast members Trevor Cooper (Takis), Clive Swift (Jobel), Roy Skelton (Dalek voices), Terry Molloy (Davros), William Gaunt (Orcini), Hugh Walters (Vogel) and Colin Spaull (Lilt). Archive interview footage with Alexei Sayle is also included.

In Studio is a 15-minute look behind the scenes during some of the studio recording sessions, culled from the single-surviving tape of studio material that was originally pulled together for video effects work. The viewer has the option to watch with either the studio sound or with a running commentary by Graeme Harper and Terry Molloy. Three short Deleted Scenes are included, as well as off-air Continuity from both the original two-part transmission and the subsequent four-part repeat, the latter serving to demonstrate at which points the episodes had been split into two.

Optional Replacement Effects have been a popular feature on a number of our previous releases, and John was keen to provide an alternative set for this story. In all there are fourteen sequences, ranging from simple replacement of the ray-gun and blaster effects, through to a complex reshoot involving a model Dalek.

John has provided the following notes...

New video effect of Orcini detonating the bomb."I've always felt that Revelation still stands up pretty well as a piece of drama and hasn't really dated. Aside from the writing and performances, it is cleverly designed, well lit and especially well directed. This can't honestly be said about many productions of this era. The one point that does work to its detriment are some of the video effects – they were absolutely fine for the time, and I, personally, still really like them. It was very ambitious – for example, I doubt very many Doctor Who serials at that point had more laser effects than this one. However, I had a nagging feeling that, if watched by a savvy, modern audience, those would be the one thing that could draw the viewer away from the morbid activities on Necros, as well as their suspension of disbelief!

I knew a Mark Ayres 5.1 mix was a possibility, and knew that Jonathan Wood was going to be doing his usual stunning job on the pictures, so was very keen to do something about what I considered to be a very important aspect of the production. I approached Steve Roberts with the suggestion of re-making many of the video effects in the story as an option on the DVD, to which, fortunately, he was agreeable!

The first thing to do was to appraise what we felt actually needed to be recreated. All of the monitor shots looked fine (unstable film notwithstanding, but that was being sorted out by the BBC Resources 3dfx department). The beam weapons all needed to be recreated, and there were some complex effects shots, such as the two instances of levitation, that needed to be recomposited. In all, four sequences from Part One, and ten sequences from Part Two

The next stage was to examine what material actually existed clean (ie shots without any video effects added). I was provided with copies of the transmitted version of the  episodes, the 71 edit of Part One, and the 'studio reel' compilation tape.

Having logged down all the relevant information, I found that there were only a few sequences from which I could not start from scratch on and which would require the new effects to be "painted" over the originals – these being Tasambeker and Vogel being exterminated, the DJ's fight with the Daleks, Bostock shooting off Davros' hand, plus one shot of a Dalek firing in the Orcini/Bostock/Davros/Daleks confrontation.

All the laser effects were composited in Adobe After Effects. They are faithful in notion to the originals, but are given a modern 'glow' – and interactive lighting effects (a laser is, after all, a very intense beam of light) were added as appropriate. This process was relatively straight forward, the only complications being when an artist/Dalek didn't hold the barrel of their weapon still whilst opening fire – the beams were then carefully motion tracked to stay anchored at the correct point.

I know that previously, on the Five Doctors SE, the Dalek laser had been replaced by the Remembrance style energy bolt. I was not too keen on this effect, but had considered using a 'Star Wars' blaster style effect instead. Unfortunately, due to the availability of clean footage, I would have been unable to apply this too all the shots, which would have meant a lack of continuity. So I stuck with the laser 'beam', but updated as per the above description, compositing the new effects over the originals where necessary – and in retrospect, I actually feel that this style is the most effective anyway. One point to note is that when Tasambeker is originally shot *in the back* the beam accidentally appears over her stomach for a few frames. This has been painted out, and the Dalek blast has been motion tracked to ensure it gives the correct perspective.

The shot of Kara's factory was, originally, rather crudely coloured a vivid shade of purple. This film sequence existed clean on the studio reel, so I was able to re-grade it – keeping the feel of the original, but doing it *slighty* more subtly!

The shot of the glass Dalek materialising in front of Grigory and Natasha was achieved by a pixellating effect on the TX version – I have remade this using the clean elements, but utilised the luma-key and glow filters present in After Effects for the new version – the effect is now limited to the Dalek only, and doesn't affect any other areas of the frame now.

The DJ's rock and roll beam was original a static pair of waveform lines that alternated colour. This has been enhanced using various plug-ins on After Effects.

One of the most complex shots of the story involved Davros levitating over Orcini whilst shooting bolts of electricity into his body. The method used to achieve this was relatively simple – and is demonstrated in the 'In-Studio' featurette. Unfortunately, the final result is not perfect – the main problem being that Davros is semi-transparent. Using the clean elements, the shot was recomposited, with replacement effects subsequently added. There is an issue of perspective that we were unable to address – Orcini should be well in front of Davros, but his leg is behind the 'chariot'. Unfortunately there is nothing to separate Orcinis leg from the background (black on black) and William Gaunt is shaking his leg nineteen to the dozen, making a good mask impossible. Nonetheless, I was very pleased with the end results of this sequence.

Model Dalek shot against greenscreenThe original levitating Dalek that exterminates Grigory and Natasha ended up being rather confusing – the lighting and perspective on the model Dalek do not match the studio footage, and there is nothing to indicate that it is actually in mid air. The 'explosion' is also simply a pixelated zoom in – all of this makes for a very surreal sequence. After some unsuccessful attempts to re-grade and recomposite the original onto the raw studio footage, it became apparent that the only way to make the shot effective was going to be to reshoot the model. Time was running very short by this point, so I asked Dan O'Keeffe of the Hyde Fundraisers if he could make me a decent model with little budget within a very tight timescale. Dan obliged, and did a fantastic job, much to my delight. The model was shot against a greenscreen, together with some flash charge pyrotechnics. Everything was composited together, and new effects added. As a point of continuity, I stole the new glow I had made for Davros and added it to the base of the model Dalek to clearly indicate that it is hovering in mid-air, and I also gradually added a strobing negative effect to the Dalek to explain to the viewer that all is not well with it, and its subsequent explosive demise…

A final replacement effect was suggested at the last minute – the shot of Orcini detonating the bomb. I hadn't felt that the original needed replacing, but Ed Stradling and Steve Roberts felt that it would be in keeping with new effects to do so. Steve suggested that as the energy starts to dissipate from the device I could try an X-ray style effect on Orcini – thus, as he presses the button, all the bones now show through his gloved hand…"

As usual, the disc is finished off with a Photo Gallery, Production Notes courtesy of Richard Molesworth and of course the near-obligatory Easter Egg.

Update: 11 June 2005. There have been reports of problems trying to play this disc on some machines. Generally it plays fine up until 8' 32" into episode one, which is the point at which the first branch to the new CGI sequences occurs. Symptoms include looping, freezing and skipping video. Those having problems should try forcing CGI effects either on or off as desired using the menu option in the Special Features menu  and then try playing the episodes - we think a register isn't being set to a default in some players and this will force it.


Copyright Steve Roberts, Mark Ayres, Jonathan Wood, John Kelly  25 April 2005