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Star Fleet/X-Bomber (1980) Remastered Edition

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Hello to all,

I am Bladez, who has been lurking in the deep on these forums for some time without doing much else but commenting. I have put much of my sweat and blood into a DVD project since 2011. I do hope posting this is not a breach of any rules, please inform me otherwise.

This project is a fan remastered edition of the English version of the Japanese 1980 puppet series "X-Bomber", otherwise known as "Star Fleet" in the Western English Speaking Countries. The show aired on ITV from October 1982 to April 1983 in the United Kingdom.

This is the description from wikipedia:

X Bomber (Ekkusu Bon ba ) is a marionette tokusatsu TV series. It was created by manga master Go Nagai, and produced by Cosmo Productions and Jin Productions. The show aired on Fuji TV from October 4, 1980 to March 28, 1981, with a total of 26 episodes (including the pre-series pilot episode),and was billed in Japan as being filmed in "Supamariorama", a puppeteering process similar to Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation works.

The year is 2999 and the Earth is at peace following the Space Wars. The safety of the human race is ensured by Earth Defense Force (EDF). Shortly before the turn of the fourth millennium, the peace is broken by the appearance of a gigantic alien battle cruiser. Powerless to defend itself, the EDF's Pluto base is completely destroyed and the evil Commander Makara reveals that the same fate awaits the Earth unless the mysterious F-Zero-One is handed over to her.

X-Bomber was renamed Star Fleet and dubbed by English speaking actors for broadcast in the UK on ITV. The show was broadcast there on Saturday mornings, first airing on October 23, 1982,   the day before Star Wars UK TV Premiere.

The screenplay was adapted for English by Michael Sloan, who in later years would create the popular TV series The Master and The Equalizer. Actress Denise Bryer ("Commander Makara") and editor Tony Lenny both went on to collaborate with Gerry Anderson and Christopher Burr making another memorable sci-fi series, Terrahawks.

 

A DVD set of Star Fleet was released in the UK on February 9, 2009 by Fabulous Films.   Included in the DVD set are all 24 episodes, remastered, and restored to their original UK broadcast format. Beyond the episodes, the set also includes stills and a double-sided poster, as well as a comicbook and a comprehensive 'making of' documentary, which includes contributions from series creater Go Nagai, Dr Benn voice artist Peter Marinker, Brian May, Paul Bliss and Gerry Anderson.

So Why am I doing this? The 2009 DVD by Fabulous Films is restored-but that's different from remastered meaning it was in worse condition and cleaned to the point it resembled the masters as they were. The transfers for the English version of "Star Fleet" were always fairly bad condition, being stored on 16mm transfers of the 35mm used for the original Japanese. There's really little difference between the DVD masters and the US VHS Volumes aside from compression. In addition to that, the episodes vary in terms of color tone-one episode might be rusty looking whilst others might have a blueish hue or greenish hue. The Japanese episodes had a consistent hue of blue in each episode.

Another reason is that the series has only ever been released in Region 2 and 4 - Fabulous Films seems to believe that there's no market for the series DVD release in the US.

In 2010, the French edition of the series was released by Kaze Entertainment-these editions contained slightly cut but mostly complete sharp and fresh looking masters from the series.

There left me with the idea to sync the footage with the English version. The missing footage from the DVD would be patched up from scenes available on the Japanese DVD with color adjustments and contrast upping, along with unfortunately some edited bits of the 16mm English. In addition, some grain removal techniques will be edited in, given the one flaw of the French DVD being-the grain is immensely overbearing.

I'd like to see if anyone is interested in seeing my progress. Much of it is done at this point-I spent much time custom remastering both via Adobe Premiere and frame by frame in Photoshop. I want to bring this generally forgotten Non-Gerry Anderson Supermarionation production a better presentation. I will post picture progress and the DVD cover so on if there's interest. My progress since 2011 can be seen at the sfxb forums: http://www.sfxb.co.uk/cgi-bin/ikonboard/ikonboard.cgi

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Sorry for the inactivity here, but here's a side-by-side comparison of the quality: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZ5gGK5woVo

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I am very interested in this project. I imported the UK DVD set a couple years ago as I live in the US, and I would love to see what you end up doing with this. I think it was an amazing production and deserves more attention. Those comparison shots look amazing. The French DVD set looks far better from what I've seen in your comparison video. Shame they didn't include an English audio track.

A suggestion - please go gently with the grain removal. Removing too much grain will remove much of the fine detail, as the grain holds the detail. I always prefer grain and detail as opposed to a cleaned and "waxy" look.

Is this the French remastered edition your clips come from?:

http://www.amazon.fr/Bomber-Int%C3%A9grale-r%C3%A9%C3%A9dition-Go-Nagai/dp/B004618D3U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390135357&sr=8-1&keywords=x-bomber

Because there seems to be another edition but I think the remastered edition is the one I linked to above. Here's the other release:

http://www.amazon.fr/San-Ku-Ka%C3%AF-Int%C3%A9grale-Collector/dp/B002DPQ3JM/ref=pd_sim_d_3

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I'm also very interested in this. But please, please keep the grain.

George creates Star Wars.
Star Wars creates fans.
George destroys Star Wars.
Fans destroy George.
Fans create Star Wars.

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Turisu said:

I'm also very interested in this. But please, please keep the grain.

 

I gotta agree. The grain really should be left alone honestly. The grain is what contains the detail. I hate when studios use excessive DNR and ruin their blu-ray releases. It happens all the time. Thankfully, some studios know enough to leave the grain intact.

Question to Bladez636: Will you be retaining the DVD quality of these episodes? Will they be in DVD format or smaller compressed files? Of course this is your project but personally I always prefer going for the highest quality possible. When working from DVD it's always best to keep the project at DVD quality rather than compressing to avi or other file types.

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I noticed on Amazon.fr there are 2 versions of this series on DVD:

http://www.amazon.fr/Bomber-Int%C3%A9grale-r%C3%A9%C3%A9dition-Go-Nagai/dp/B004618D3U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390398650&sr=8-1&keywords=bomber+x

http://www.amazon.fr/Bomber-Int%C3%A9grale-collector-Go-Nagai/dp/B002DVA05O/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1390398650&sr=8-2&keywords=bomber+x

The Intégrale réédition is from 2010 and the other version is from 2009. Are they the same quality? The 2009 version says remastered but the 2010 version doesn't mention it so I'm confused.

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Oldfan said:

I am very interested in this project. I imported the UK DVD set a couple years ago as I live in the US, and I would love to see what you end up doing with this. I think it was an amazing production and deserves more attention. Those comparison shots look amazing. The French DVD set looks far better from what I've seen in your comparison video. Shame they didn't include an English audio track.

A suggestion - please go gently with the grain removal. Removing too much grain will remove much of the fine detail, as the grain holds the detail. I always prefer grain and detail as opposed to a cleaned and "waxy" look.

Is this the French remastered edition your clips come from?:

http://www.amazon.fr/Bomber-Int%C3%A9grale-r%C3%A9%C3%A9dition-Go-Nagai/dp/B004618D3U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390135357&sr=8-1&keywords=x-bomber

Because there seems to be another edition but I think the remastered edition is the one I linked to above. Here's the other release:

http://www.amazon.fr/San-Ku-Ka%C3%AF-Int%C3%A9grale-Collector/dp/B002DPQ3JM/ref=pd_sim_d_3

 

I don't really plan to go overboard, but given that I'm not 100% videophile I'm unsure I quite know what going overboard on that is. Most episodes have a rather small amount of grain, but there are a couple where the grain is overwhelming --- mainly on Episode 7 where I think it is almost distracting how grainy it is. I'm investing in a grain removal plug-in for Adobe Premiere that keeps the detail pretty well, at least compared to the built in ones that blur the hell out of it, removing the details.

The top one I have, the bottom one---I'm pretty sure you posted the wrong link there because I'm unsure what that is... But I'm sure I know which one you're talking of, and I'm fairly certain there is no difference in quality between the two.

The reason I can give for there being no English track is because the intro/outro is different for each dub of "Star Fleet" -- The French version also lacks the cliffhanger previews for the next episodes.

Oldfan said:

Turisu said:

I'm also very interested in this. But please, please keep the grain.

 

I gotta agree. The grain really should be left alone honestly. The grain is what contains the detail. I hate when studios use excessive DNR and ruin their blu-ray releases. It happens all the time. Thankfully, some studios know enough to leave the grain intact.

Question to Bladez636: Will you be retaining the DVD quality of these episodes? Will they be in DVD format or smaller compressed files? Of course this is your project but personally I always prefer going for the highest quality possible. When working from DVD it's always best to keep the project at DVD quality rather than compressing to avi or other file types.

I plan on rendering them in MPEG format so yeah. I work from a Mac so putting them on avi format wouldn't really work anyhow.

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Again, I implore you not to touch the grain or at least make an alternate version of your release with the grain intact.

George creates Star Wars.
Star Wars creates fans.
George destroys Star Wars.
Fans destroy George.
Fans create Star Wars.

Author
Time

Bladez636 said:

Oldfan said:

I am very interested in this project. I imported the UK DVD set a couple years ago as I live in the US, and I would love to see what you end up doing with this. I think it was an amazing production and deserves more attention. Those comparison shots look amazing. The French DVD set looks far better from what I've seen in your comparison video. Shame they didn't include an English audio track.

A suggestion - please go gently with the grain removal. Removing too much grain will remove much of the fine detail, as the grain holds the detail. I always prefer grain and detail as opposed to a cleaned and "waxy" look.

Is this the French remastered edition your clips come from?:

http://www.amazon.fr/Bomber-Int%C3%A9grale-r%C3%A9%C3%A9dition-Go-Nagai/dp/B004618D3U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390135357&sr=8-1&keywords=x-bomber

Because there seems to be another edition but I think the remastered edition is the one I linked to above. Here's the other release:

http://www.amazon.fr/San-Ku-Ka%C3%AF-Int%C3%A9grale-Collector/dp/B002DPQ3JM/ref=pd_sim_d_3

 

I don't really plan to go overboard, but given that I'm not 100% videophile I'm unsure I quite know what going overboard on that is. Most episodes have a rather small amount of grain, but there are a couple where the grain is overwhelming --- mainly on Episode 7 where I think it is almost distracting how grainy it is. I'm investing in a grain removal plug-in for Adobe Premiere that keeps the detail pretty well, at least compared to the built in ones that blur the hell out of it, removing the details.

The top one I have, the bottom one---I'm pretty sure you posted the wrong link there because I'm unsure what that is... But I'm sure I know which one you're talking of, and I'm fairly certain there is no difference in quality between the two.

The reason I can give for there being no English track is because the intro/outro is different for each dub of "Star Fleet" -- The French version also lacks the cliffhanger previews for the next episodes.

Oldfan said:

Turisu said:

I'm also very interested in this. But please, please keep the grain.

 

I gotta agree. The grain really should be left alone honestly. The grain is what contains the detail. I hate when studios use excessive DNR and ruin their blu-ray releases. It happens all the time. Thankfully, some studios know enough to leave the grain intact.

Question to Bladez636: Will you be retaining the DVD quality of these episodes? Will they be in DVD format or smaller compressed files? Of course this is your project but personally I always prefer going for the highest quality possible. When working from DVD it's always best to keep the project at DVD quality rather than compressing to avi or other file types.

I plan on rendering them in MPEG format so yeah. I work from a Mac so putting them on avi format wouldn't really work anyhow.

 

Nope, that 2nd link is the one I intended to post. That's whay I posted it - I'm confused as to what that is, as I haven't seen that one listed before.

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Turisu said:

Again, I implore you not to touch the grain or at least make an alternate version of your release with the grain intact.

Yeah, I gotta agree about leaving the grain intact. Grain doesn't bother me in the least. I've been enjoying some great 70's films lately on blu-ray, and those older films have a very distinct look to them, often owing a lot of that look to the type of film used, and the grain visible throughout the film. Nothing bothers me more with a blu-ray release than when they apply DNR and scrub the grain away, along with a good amount of detail. In fact, I skipped out on Weird Science on Blu-ray because they DNR'd it to death. So yeah, I think the grain is vital to the look of these films and shows. If some episodes are grainier than others, then that's likely how they were shot - perhaps different film stock was used at times.

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Any news on how this is coming along? Just curious if there are any new developments.

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Oldfan said:

Any news on how this is coming along? Just curious if there are any new developments.

I don't have much to really share. I'm still waiting on my translation guy to get the four Japanese episodes I plan as extras for this project to finish. I'm really considering contacting someone else to help me as well, only problem, I haven't a clue where I can find anyone...

Here, I'll just leave this link to a comparison between the original 16mm masters used on the 2009 DVD and the French DVD: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZ5gGK5woVo

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Okay, sounds good. Definitely looking forward to this one. A great series. I own the UK DVD set but it's a shame they look so bad compared to the remastered versions.

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Oldfan said:

Okay, sounds good. Definitely looking forward to this one. A great series. I own the UK DVD set but it's a shame they look so bad compared to the remastered versions.

The UK version to my knowledge was always kept on 16mm prints which explains the quality. Plus the masters being left alone for near 20 years probably didn't help the quality. Compared to the VHS rips that have been online, the quality doesn't differ that much, just the DVD masters look better only since they don't have VHS compression and the usual issues with tracking etc.

The main thing that bugs me with the UK version is the inconsistency with the tones. Like one episode will have an orange-ish tone to it while another one will have a blue-ish or neutral color balance to it.

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I discovered another DVD set of this series I didn't know existed. It was released last year I believe in Japan, by Bandai:

http://www.play-asia.com/x-bomber-aka-star-fleet-also-bomber-x-remaster-dvd-box-paOS-13-49-en-70-66ld.html

http://sgcafe.com/2012/11/1980s-sf-puppet-show-x-bomber-remastered-on-dvd/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

I've seen a rip of one of those remastered episodes and they aren't what I would call remastered - apparently there were some serious issues with how they handled motion - I believe they used field blending from what I've read. The color leans heavily towards green. There does seem to be some good detail though. The French remasters look far better from some rips I've seen, though they tend to be darker too - maybe a tad too dark - a lot of the shadow detail is hidden in blacks in the French remaster, but clearly visible in the Bandai remasters. I still believe the French DVDs look the best - they certainly have the best color. I've only seen rips of the French DVDs, not full DVDs, so it's hard to compare detail levels. The motion seems excellent in the rips I've seen.

I'd be watching these on a 46" screen though and I fear rips won't hold up so well - just watching the rips I've seen on my 46" shows a lot of pixellation from the .avi compression. Full DVDs hold up a lot better, especially when upconverted by my player.

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Oldfan said:

I discovered another DVD set of this series I didn't know existed. It was released last year I believe in Japan, by Bandai:

http://www.play-asia.com/x-bomber-aka-star-fleet-also-bomber-x-remaster-dvd-box-paOS-13-49-en-70-66ld.html

http://sgcafe.com/2012/11/1980s-sf-puppet-show-x-bomber-remastered-on-dvd/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

I've seen a rip of one of those remastered episodes and they aren't what I would call remastered - apparently there were some serious issues with how they handled motion - I believe they used field blending from what I've read. The color leans heavily towards green. There does seem to be some good detail though. The French remasters look far better from some rips I've seen, though they tend to be darker too - maybe a tad too dark - a lot of the shadow detail is hidden in blacks in the French remaster, but clearly visible in the Bandai remasters. I still believe the French DVDs look the best - they certainly have the best color. I've only seen rips of the French DVDs, not full DVDs, so it's hard to compare detail levels. The motion seems excellent in the rips I've seen.

I'd be watching these on a 46" screen though and I fear rips won't hold up so well - just watching the rips I've seen on my 46" shows a lot of pixellation from the .avi compression. Full DVDs hold up a lot better, especially when upconverted by my player.

I was aware of such a set, and really I can say it's not really remastered apart from them cleaning up a little bit of the footage. There was a 2004 DVD release of the Japanese series, and the quality doesn't differ much. There's only a couple differences; the intro is definitely remastered in the 2013 version because it's much sharper and clean looking. They also re-edited the titles back into the episodes, they weren't present in the 2004 version, excluding Episode 18 for whatever reason. I'm guessing they used a broadcast master for that one. I don't know why, but the Japanese version has a very blue tone to it really. I really wonder why. Either way, the Japanese version is still better quality than the English one...

The one thing I can see that is in any real remastered quality on the 2013 DVD set is a pilot that nobody in the fan base had any idea was in existence. You can find it on YouTube or download it on xbomber.co.uk

It really depends what rips you were watching really. If it was on YouTube, then say no more, because YouTube compresses the hell out of every standard quality video. I'm using high quality mp4 rips for my project and I don't really see anything wrong with the quality that wasn't already on the DVD.

Here's a screenshot I used on my Mac in fullscreen and I think it still holds up. I will be rendering the final project in mpg.

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That screenshot does look very good. Thanks for all the info. I'm still very much looking forward to this release.

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Star Fleet Remastering Project: Side-by-Side Comparison

An update after a while. Simply just a comparison video. All I can say is patience is a virtue, and in the long run, the wait has been somewhat helpful since some scenes I didn't have access to in higher quality at first have surfaced (mainly the Dai-X raising its arms in the opening and ending credits; thanks to the 2013 Japanese DVD which included an unaired pilot featuring that scene, I've got it in better quality rather than having a fruitless attempt at trying to make the 16mm DVD footage look better, an example of that is visible on one scene in the video).

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Yesterday, I was looking through the preservation posts to see when the last update was done for this project.   Good to see you're still plugging along on this series!

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Thanks for the update. I'm glad to hear you're sticking with it and I'm looking forward to seeing the results.

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Only just come across this, I must say your remasterd clips look fantastic! Count me interested in seeing your final product. Some of my childhood memories just came flooding back! Star Fleet, every Saturday morning. Geez.

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Bladez636, just wanted to say good on you mate for this incredible remastering effort. I/we're all hoping you're still persisting with it.

How's it coming along?

If you need any help just give us a shout. I'm sure there's some people on here that might have the skills set or contacts to assist.

Cheers mate

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It's coming along. It's just a long and tedious process, made even longer by real life matters. Right now, I haven't been working on it as much as I ought to, but by no means have I dropped it, nor do I plan to do so.
I'm trying to find better ways to make the small bits from the UK DVD I have to use in parts of the "next episode of Star Fleet" sequences, look better. I can probably only make them look so good because they're very rusty/unsharp 16mm transfers.

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Glad to hear you're sticking with it. This will be a great project when it's completed.

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