The Dalek Invasion of Earth

The third release of the anniversary year sees the First Doctor reunited for the first time with his enduring enemies, the Daleks. With a bigger budget, impressive sets and the first major use of location filming in the programme's history, this six part serial cemented the Daleks' reputation for ever...

Most of 'The Dalek Invasion of Earth' exists on its original BBC Enterprises 16mm film recordings, and as an added bonus the 35mm film recording negative of episode five, a print of which was used for the original 1964 transmission of this episode,  has also survived. All six episodes were transferred from the negatives, with optical soundtracks for the 16mm episodes and both optical and magnetic tracks for the 35mm episode.

Jonathan Wood carried out a one-light Spirit transfer to Digital Betacam with no DVNR applied at the time. This had the advantages of ensuring that the precious negatives are on the telecine for as short a time as possible, to minimise the risk of damage and dirt pickup, cuts down on expensive telecine time, and ensures that a top quality 'flat' transfer of the films is available for future use. Then a tape to tape grade was performed, whilst at the same time using various degrees of DVNR to remove minor sparkle and reduce the grain.

Episode one was somewhat softer than the other episodes and suffered from a poorly aligned camera which produced pictures with an aspect ratio much wider than it should have been. This was corrected during transfer by stretching the picture vertically to compensate on a shot-by-shot basis. Many of the episode suffered from severe film-recorded distortions at the points where physical tape edits had been performed on the Quad videotapes. These were chopped out as required, ensuring that the sound edit was placed so as not to be obvious. Episode six was the worst in this respect and also showed much more tape dropout than the other episodes. It's possible that the replay into the film recorder or this episode was from an older or less well-aligned Quad VTR.

The 35mm negative of episode five was very sharp, but unfortunately had to be optically defocused in the telecine to filter off residual vertical detail from the 405 line structure, which was causing a moire interference pattern to be produced as a result of beating with the modern 625 line structure. The 35mm film recording was of the 'partial stored-field' type, where the top fifth or so of the film recorder CRT had a neutral density filter fitted over it which was supposed to exactly compensate for the increased brightness of the partially stored field at the top of the CRT. However, on this recording the match was not good and the top fifth of the picture was noticeably darker than the rest. This was corrected for by introducing a grading offset into the top section of the picture using a soft-edged window generated by the Electric Sunroof function on the Pogle grading system.

There was also some slight damage to the negative at several points, manifesting itself as an emulsion 'pick' - a small hole which stays roughly in the same area of the frame but wanders around slightly. To overcome this, a clone copy of the episode was run in parallel with the main recording, but with an extremely high level of DVNR applied. This wrecked the picture generally, but cleaned up the emulsion damage. The small area of the frame affected by the damage was then soft-edge wiped back into the main recording to remove the fault.

As episode five was recorded out of the studio directly onto 35mm film, the optical soundtrack on the film recording was raw studio sound. In comparison with the 35mm separate magnetic soundtrack, it was possible to hear which pieces of dialogue, music and effects had been added into the finished programme during post-production.

Two original trailers exist, both on 16mm negatives with separate optical soundtracks, which were transfered also. When we took the last roll of 35mm negative for ep5 out of its can, we noticed that it was still 'papered up' (pieces of paper stuck into the film roll to denote a section that was required for duplication) for the section that was used in one of the trailers. This suggests that the negative hadn't been used since 1964!

DAT copies of the soundtracks were sent to Mark Ayres for audio cleanup and restoration. Here, Mark briefly expalins some of the problems he had to deal with...

Episode One
"I've resynced the start (Roboman into Thames) as it was way out. General clean and tidy up. The last shot of the saucer landing had some talkback interference on it, so I've added in some saucer noise (which was missing on the original - I assume in error) to cover it."

Episode Two
"Sync very woolly, so I've slid bits of it around quite a lot!"

Episode Three
"Sync on Episode 3 is as was (it's +/- half-1 frame here or there, but it would take ages to spin it all in by eye). This episode suffered the most from talkback breakthrough but, though I removed a couple of very obvious "and....cut!"s, there's not a lot else I could do, as the areas from which I would have nicked clean sound were also contaminated. The start of this one was difficult, as the cliffhanger reprise (which is a repeat not a re-enactment) was minus the music that was on the end of part two. So I've had to cross to the original soundtrack for the last couple of notes of the theme music."

Episode Four
"Sync on this episode has been slipped by half a frame! This is an odd one, as (and this is true of this story generally) the sync seems to change from shot-to-shot. There is a lot of soft peak distortion on this episode which was impossible to remove."

Episode Five
"Woolly sync slipped slipped here and there using gunshots and tins being opened with knives as clapper boards! I used the mag, lightly denoised and with all the electrical static clicks filtered out. At about eight minutes in I repaired the start of the old lady's line: she is supposed to say "I went to London once" (and now she does!). On the original, there was a late cut and she says "London once", which makes no sense. Some excessive peaks brought under control. General cleanup otherwise. Sounds generally as if it was recorded yesterday; if only all Dr Who soundtracks existed on sepmag!"

Episode Six
"Consistently 2 frames out of sync: corrected. After the big explosion (around 15m in) you could still hear the dalek countdown effect for some time. This was obviously an error, so I've filtered it out. Likewise a couple of stray Dalek voices got played in to the final scenes at low level. Again, I've removed them where possible. I'm particularly pleased with the very ending, where I've tidied up the edit into the closing music - just one of those little things!"

Tape copies were then sent up to Peter Finklestone for retouching and to have the VidFIRE  videoising process applied.  Standard frame-by-frame scratch, dirt and sparkle removal was performed on all episodes.

The opening scene of episode one suffered from a particularly large scratch which was painstakingly painted out. The first episode also contained two shots which required very special attention and, while Peter beavered away with the rest of the story, John Kelly tackled these, as he explains:

“The first problematic shot occurs very early in the episode, and is the shot of the TARDIS materialising underneath the bridge. This was filmed on 35mm film, using the usual locked off camera method to take two shots, one of the empty scene, and one of the Tardis in place, then later the dissolve between the two using an optical printer. Unfortunately, it appears that the camera was unintentionally shifted between takes, resulting in a nasty blurring of the background during the materialisation. This was very distracting, so it was decided to remedy the shot as best we could.

Complications included a large scratch down the left hand side of the picture, and the fact that the episode title captions were superimposed as the film was telecined in studio. The best course of action seemed to be to re-build the shot from scratch. Taking all the available clean footage (ie no titles in view, and not during the dissolve) two short clips were extracted from the existing footage; 1. The empty scene & 2. The TARDIS landed. The scratch was removed from these clips and dirt painted out frame by frame.

Using specifically designed software, each clip was stretched to the required duration and the dissolve re-made in After Effects, matched to the original frame by frame. Clean titles were generated, again matched to the originals and composited over the top.

The second clip comes right at the start of the sequence where The Doctor and Ian enter a warehouse. Again originated on 35mm, this shot starts off as a static of the side of a building, then pans up. The clip is, like the rest of the telerecording, not outstanding quality, but the real issue was that the entire episode suffers from some very bad geometric distortion. There are many vertical objects in this shot, and the moment the camera starts panning upwards, the whole image wobbles horrifically! Photoshop was used on a single frame to 'straighten out' the distortion, then the same adjustments applied to the rest of the frames using the batch tool."

Episode recaps were replaced, where possible, with the shots from the previous episode as these are generally of a much higher quality. However, interestingly, this could not be done simply with the end of episode three / start of episode four and end of episode five / start of episode six. In each case, clearly a longer version of the scene was used in the recap than exists in the original episode (episode three already runs over 26 minutes so was probably cut down for time).

Although episode two was generally of high quality, there was a hair in the gate of the film recorder at the bottom of the screen, about 2/3 of the way across, which stayed throughout the entire episode. Although laborious to remove, it was considered worth doing as it was quite noticeable in some scenes; there are one or two shots where it remains and is just visible, but it is much less problematical than before.

Episode five was much less noisy than the other episodes due to being recorded on 35mm film. However, the 35mm film recorders tended to be older and the screens suffered more from phosphor holes (static black dots on the screen). There were up to 6 such holes in this episode, in different positions according to the film reel (each 35mm episode comes on 2 or 3 reels; furthermore, there would probably have been up to 7 or 8 reels of the studio recording edited together). These were, for the most part, removed although it was not possible to remove every instance.

Both episode four and six contained stock footage which was quite noisy and scratched; these sequences were cleaned up as much as possible.

For all episodes, end credit rollers were remade to replace the wobbly film recorded versions.

Dalek Saucer lifting off from Trafalgar SquareFinally, the two existing trailers for the story were cleaned up. Some studio shots were dropped in from the cleaned-up episodes, but the film sequences were carefully retouched as they were taken from the original film inserts and, subsequently are of higher quality than those shots from the episodes. The section of the title sequence is also from film and gives a unique view of the original quality of the (currently missing) generic Hartnell title sequence.

During December 2002 and January 2003, over 4000 road miles were travelled gathering interviews with many of the contributors to the story, including designer Spencer Chapman and actors Bernard Kay, Ann Davies and David Graham. These form the basis of three specially made featurettes.

One of the most popular features on our recent discs has been the alternative CGI versions of the Nerva Beacon effects on 'The Ark in Space'. Several people on internet forums commented that when we got around to 'The Dalek Invasion of Earth', it would be nice to be able to have the option to replace the 'pie-tin on a string' Dalek saucer with a CGI version and so this is exactly what we have done.

Mike Tucker, who designed the CGI effects for this disc, was given a design brief that specified very retro-styled special effects, which would imitate the sort of effects technology which would have been available to the production back in the sixties if they had a rather larger budget to play with. Particular mention was made of the films 'The Day the New Battersea Power Station compositeEarth Stood Still' (flying saucer and molecular dissemination effects) and 'The War of the Worlds' (heat ray effect). Mike decided to use Nick Sainton-Clark's CGI Dalek saucer model, which was based on the Dalek comic strips of the Sixties and which had previously been used for TARDIS-Cam. Background plates were shot on DV around London and composited on Adobe After Effects. The heat ray effect was realised in traditional style using a spark generator to produce a stream of fire, which was composited onto the CGI saucer and supplemented by interactive lighting effects rendered onto the saucer model. The matte painting showing Battersea power station with a nuclear reactor alongside it was also replaced, using a combination of DV background plates, CGI and a plastic model of a reactor built by Mike. The shot (above left) of the saucer lifting off from Trafalgar Square is a combination of 3D animation with multiple 2D animated layers. Extra detail such as the damaged, smoking building on the left of the shot were animated and composited in using After Effects. The CGI shots were then deliberately degraded by adding vignetting, grain, image instability and other distortions to help to match them in with the rest of the material from the sixties.

Verity Lambert OBE, William Russell, Gary Russell, Carole Ann Ford, Richard Martin

Extras at this point (all subject to final clearances, of course) include:-

Copyright Steve Roberts,  19 February 2003