Did Syndication Prints really look this bad?

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by goodiesguy, Jun 13, 2013.

  1. Anybody else don't like the colors of that one?

    Perhaps my expectations are somewhat unrealistic for TV shows from the 60s...
     
  2. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    They also had the connections and the ratings to pull the strings necessary to get the studios to send them better 35mm prints rather than the usual beat-to-hell 16mm prints used for traditional TV syndication.

    I did my best on the 100 episodes of Get Smart that I mastered in the 1980s, but bear in mind that's a 30-year-old transfer. We can do better now. I personally think they hold up pretty well, and the client (Republic Video at the time) was very happy with the results. To me, the show never looked better, but I was looking at the D1 digital master recordings. I went to the trouble of pitch correcting all the dialogue for the PAL version, BTW, so that Don Adams wouldn't wind up sounding like Donald Duck, which I thought was nice. (Only the dialogue was pitch-corrected -- the music went to the normal 25fps frame rate and pitch.) All the mastering was done from 35mm IPs struck off the original camera negatives, so we were only one generation down. For that era, this was as good as it got.
     
  3. Benjamin Edge

    Benjamin Edge Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukie, OR, US
    When syndicated prints are up for renewal from film to videotape, are they temporarily removed from broadcast until the remastering is finished?

    I know that was the case for Star Trek (TOS) in 1984, as Paramount transferred these 79 episodes from film to videotape for rebroadcast in September 1984, which were then made available on VHS starting in February 1985, with 10 episodes released per release date. With these prints, we saw not only the Desilu logo with the 1978 Paramount copyright added in via a clock-wipe effect (on all the season 1 episodes, and six season 2 episodes), but also the Paramount Television "Blue Mountain" logo (a clean taped version) with the 1979 jingle, which by itself can still be seen to this day on two episodes of MacGyver. But on Star Trek, it was only used on those episodes carrying the Desilu logo as well.


    ~Ben
     
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  4. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    There's a lot of weird politics involved. Sometimes, one studio department is involved in mastering the series to video, but another department is involved in actually distributing that version to local and worldwide TV stations and cable channels. And yet another department might be involved in selling the show on home video and via streaming & download services. I have had many cases where I worked on a specific series, and here in LA, they were still showing beat-to-hell 16mm prints of the show on the local station owned by Fox (!!!). I complained to our Fox studio rep, and he basically sighed and said, "if I call the guy in charge of that, he'll bite my head off and tell me to stop telling him how to do his job." :eek:

    There's also cases where the station has paid for the rights to a show -- including the videotapes or files or satellite downloads -- for X number of years. If a newer remastered version of that show gets done in the meantime, it's possible they won't have access to it without actually paying for it. This happened with the standard-def and HD versions of Star Trek: The Next Generation (as one example); a bunch of stations just kept showing the old SD version because it was already paid for. And there's also stations that just don't care.

    The ending logos are all legal decisions made by people far above my pay grade. My observation is that whoever is in charge at the moment basically sends out a memo that says, "we just paid X hundred thousand dollars for a classy new logo, and we insist that this logo be used from now on on every single TV show owned or distributed by the studio." Period. Historical accuracy is the last thing they're thinking about -- they're only worried about corporate identity and forging a profitable path so they can stay in business.
     
  5. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    I don't blame these TV stations not interested in upgrading their prints for HD and studios only caring about their profits not caring about historical accuracy. If I were in the business and I only could afford a license to an SD print yet there is an HD version available, I'd stick with what I got, the same with stations paying X number of years and if they were interested in upgrading to HD prints and had to pay for the HD prints, I would just stay with the SD prints as after all, many viewers do not care about picture/sound quality, they just want to watch the shows. There are in fact, Blu-Rays that only have SD video including public domain movies on Blu-Ray after all.
     
  6. As he'd surely say... "Sorry about that!"

    Thanks for all those details and the fine work: I'm still certainly glad anyway I have these transfers to enjoy my favorite comedy show ever!
     
  7. JohnO

    JohnO Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    From vague memory, the NYC stations also might have had the network daytime syndication prints which were 35mm, or just the original network 35mm prints.
    I have a vague memory of circa 1970 that WCBS (NYC) was showing Perry Mason at 4PM, obviously from 35mm, AND the Philly station WCAU, which was CBS at that time, was showing the same episode at the same time also from 35mm. (Based on both local TV Guides of that week, obviously I wasn't in both places at once.) Obviously networked, even though it wasn't part of the standard CBS daytime schedule. Some Philly station also showed 35mm of Burns and Allen then, which might also have been running in NYC at the same time, networked. Even at my age then I could see those showings were miles ahead in quality compared to the scratchy splicey 16mm junk that showed in DC on WTTG. It was like reruns shown on WCBS itself outside of the "CBS Daytime" schedule were also available to affiliates, or maybe just O&Os, on some kind of add-on basis. Or something like that. Perry Mason for one couldn't work like that in DC at the time since WTTG (Metromedia then) had Perry Mason, in scratchy splicey 16mm, at 11pm.
     
  8. Benjamin Edge

    Benjamin Edge Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukie, OR, US
    A question for vidiot: is it true that TBS was still using 16mm prints of The Brady Bunch (some episodes only) until it stopped showing that series for good after 1997? I remember there was one episode from season 1, "Vote for Brady" likely, that had a even-dismal sounding version of the 1969 Paramount Television logo, and I remember seeing that in 1996:


    ... which oddly sounded a pitch lower. I do remember other episodes were on videotape, because on some of those episodes that had the same Paramount logo I mentioned, the logo froze for a few seconds after the music ended.

    ~Ben
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
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  9. MarkTheShark

    MarkTheShark Forum Resident

    Batman ran on WFLD-Channel 32 in Chicago for several years in the 1970s, from 16mm film prints. They took it off around 1979-80 and eventually brought it back in January 1984. At first they were 16mm prints (maybe even the same ones). Then suddenly, they switched to remastered versions on video. They were complete but time-compressed and even had the "Batman in color" intro at the beginning for the first time in many years (although the station created its own shortened show closing to squeeze in an extra commercial). Now, I don't remember if this switch happened on a Monday or in the middle of the week, but it happened abruptly, just like that.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
  10. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    We spent months and months and months saying, "ah, yes! The old <blah-blah-blah> trick!" or "Missed it by that much!" or "We need the Cone... of Silence!" Get Smart has a way of ingraining itself into your head after awhile.

    TBS very definitely had specific rights to certain syndicated versions, and I'm positive that the various studios and distributors would want to charge them X dollars more if a series suddenly got remastered in another format. Paramount did transfer the 35mm IPs to 1" analog video in the mid-to-late 1980s, and I think they retransferred everything to digital standard-def in the late 1990s (for DVD), and I would bet they've retransferred it again to digital HD in the 2000s.

    On the rare occasions I encountered bad logos, I'd temporarily shelve that master, find a different show, then replace the logo if the sound and picture were identical except for sound & picture quality. In a few cases, I rebuilt the main title from scratch for certain series using the original-episode film elements, because it was about 4 or 5 generations cleaner; I did that for Ghost & Mrs. Muir and also for Lancer (to name two): it was exactly the same shots, only without tons and tons of dirt and crud in it. I begged our Fox guy to let me fix the TV main title for M*A*S*H, because of the horrendous amount of dirt and optical crud in those pictures, but it wasn't possible due to scheduling reasons.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
  11. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    You cheapskate! C'mon, it's 2017! Get off your ass and pay for the HD already.
     
  12. Would you believe :) that this show was so funny that even as non-English viewers - my own understanding of English was terrible, and my couple of school pals who also watched the show during our early teen years fared even worse - we still enjoyed it?! Now for non-slapstick humor, THAT's funny!

    Some of the absurdity in the writing managed to get to us... For instance, the "The cRaw, not the cRaw, the cRaw!" business. It killed us every time, and we had no idea what it really meant!! I guess it was simply the situation of a bad guy about to execute a good guy, but still insisting with frustration on the proper pronunciation of his name, whatever it was... We loved that one!
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2017
  13. antoniod

    antoniod Active Member

    Reminds me of when my local PBS outlet, WGBH in Boston, was showing season one of MONTY PYTHON again around 1980, and mid-way through the series, the tapes they ran switched from the jerky, herring-boned NTSC conversions made in 1974 to smooth, clearer looking new ones, which became the norm from then on(but, unfortunately, were missing a few scenes).
     
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  14. Benjamin Edge

    Benjamin Edge Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukie, OR, US
    You'll be delighted to know this series is now finally available to order! Street date is August 25!
    The Magician - Visual Entertainment Inc

    ~Ben
     
  15. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Member

    Location:
    Fountain Inn, SC
    That's it in a nutshell! That's gotta be it on why the 2006 Blue Thunder release (the all-in-one DVD of that short-lived ABC action series from 1984 w/the late James Farentino) had the longform SPT logo on it, and not the 80s Coke Lady of the time (also, of course, why Laverne & Shirley, among others, had the CBS/Paramount logo of a few years ago, and not the Blue Mtn. of long before [when L&S was on ABC]).
     
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  16. Benjamin Edge

    Benjamin Edge Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukie, OR, US
    Then again, how much longer will Me-TV and Decades and other related retro-TV stations keep the vintage 1980s videotaped prints of such series as Happy Days and Family Ties?

    ~Ben
     
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  17. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    I did the remastering on about 60 or 70 episodes of Happy Days, and those were all shot on film and look spectacular. You could take a show like this to HD or 4K and it would still hold up very well. Unfortunately, Family Ties was shot on standard-def NTSC MII videotape, so it's doomed to look crappy forever and ever.
     
  18. O Don Piano

    O Don Piano Forum Resident

    I still have a 27 inch Sony CRT in my bedroom. All reruns look just fine on it! Especially 80s shows shot on videotape, like Family Ties and so on. When I'm in my living room, it's almost unwatchable from a quality standpoint.
     
  19. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Member

    Location:
    Fountain Inn, SC
    And the same could be said, I think, of Five-O (original-recipe 1968-80), Mannix, Perry Mason, et al.
     
  20. MikaelaArsenault

    MikaelaArsenault Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Hampshire
    What does MeTV use for Happy Days? I watched an episode yesterday with my mom and it looked like the original vintage videotapes prints.
     
  21. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    Yeah, there's tons and tons of episodic dramas that shot on film for decades. Universal did most of their library, as did Disney, Sony, and Warner Bros./MGM, but Paramount has kind of dragged their corporate feet. I did the mastering on Hawaii 5-0 for the 1979-1980 season, one of the first network shows I ever did. The producer told me he was floored by the sudden improvement in picture quality from the mundane CBS network "film chain" look. We also did the audio from mag tracks, so suddenly viewers heard about 5kHz more high frequency response, and that was a huge improvement as well.

    Still, 37-year-old analog masters are going to suck. The same show in HD from camera negative will look like a million bucks today, with rich color and tons of detail.

    I don't know of CBS/Viacom/Paramount ever redid the 1" master videotapes that we did on all the Gary Marshall sitcoms from the 1980s at Modern Videofilm in Hollywood. Those were done between 1982-1985, and while they looked good for that era, they could be a lot better today.
     
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  22. Benjamin Edge

    Benjamin Edge Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukie, OR, US
    Universal Television's library was one of the few exceptions to the rule, as unlike (CBS) Paramount Television and 20th (Century-Fox) Television in the 1990s and 2000s, their classic logos are (more or less) kept intact on the respective shows carrying them despite the remastering done over the years.

    ~Ben
     
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  23. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Member

    Location:
    Fountain Inn, SC
    They certainly are on Mill Creek's releases of Knight Rider and Miami Vice, just to name a couple.
     
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  24. fitzysbuna

    fitzysbuna Forum Resident

    Location:
    Australia
    yep that's the way the picture looked over here in Australia same with Happy days!
     
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  25. MikaelaArsenault

    MikaelaArsenault Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Hampshire
    The quality looks really bad, you're right.
     

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