Sign In

The Simpsons: Embiggened Edition

Replies
7
Author
Time

Something a little different from what we’re used to around here. Here’s a project that will restore, remaster and preserve the first 13 seasons of the long running animated show: The Simpsons. Why stop at 13? These are the only seasons with hand drawn animation (save for a few in S14) and thus need a little bit of attention. We’ll also be returning the episodes to their first broadcast state (wherever possible) as some eps have had minor changes in audio/picture since, according to this website here which lists them comprehensively

The current remasters that air on FXX are poorly done, overly processed and have been butchered by cropping to 16:9. They’ve made no attempt to stabilise or correct any transfer issues. We can do better.

This edition will also be presented frame for frame in 59.94 progressive. Usually animation preservations (like the aforementioned HDTV remaster) are simply IVTC’d down to 23.976 discarding anything that does not fit. Instead the Embiggened edition will be retaining the pulldown patterns from the NTSC source using full progressive frames. The reason? Since the show was edited on tape rather than on film, it does not have a consistent pulldown pattern, there are duplicated and dropped frames, orphaned fields, and areas where 60i overlays have been placed on top. For example scrolling text on TV screens, dissolves, fades to/from black. These are few and far between but worth preserving.

The goals of this project are
Preserve each episode with frame and field accuracy to the original NTSC 59.94i presentation
Keep 60i elements at 60fps
Present in the best possible way for HDTV viewing
Remove artifacts introduced during the film to tape transfer
Remove artifacts introduced during the tape to DVD transfer
Remove dirt originating from cells
Remove telecine wobble
Avoid turning soft blurry detail into hard sharp detail

Right now the current workflow is this, using mostly Avisynth…

Rip NTSC DVDs
Repair Dotcrawl/Rainbowing
Detelecine/Deinterlace
fix changes where possible
Stabilize
Clean noise, compression artefacts, banding, cell edges, dirt
upscale to 720p/1080p
Render and Remux with DVD audio & subs
Release

Im expecting this project to take a very long time, so I want to do it right in the first place.


The first few seasons are the worst, especially Season 2.

This is what I’ve dubbed the KC effect (for Klasky Cuspo, who were terrible apparently). Here are 3 consecutive, “identical” IVTC’d frames
Imgur
See how jagged the middle frame is. I believe this is caused due to a bad tape to tape transfer, from one inferior format to another. It only affects certain shots, which you can identify with the black line at bottom of frame.

Check out this scene here from Dancing Homer. Look at the lines on the dome. . Every few frames they become jagged, despite the frames being progressive. Take a look again zoomed in 2x and slowed down 10x. . See how the lines have a shadow that switches from below the line to above the line. This happens roughly every five frames, sometimes between frames and sometimes between fields, giving the jagged looking frames you can see. These clips were properly IVTC’d so the IVTCer doesnt see these frames as being a problem. Here’s that same scene taken from the HDTV version . You can see the exact same issue.

So right now i’m writing a script that is about 700 lines long and runs at 4fps that detects these frames as well as a few other Interlacing issues, and outputs an Overides file for TFM. It does a great job of correctly picking the correct match code but I’m having trouble getting it to write the file.


This project should hopefully do a lot of good and make a lot of videophile Simpsons fans happy. Happy to take any suggestions or help along the way.

This post has been edited.

Author
Time

Interesting project. I too have been frustrated at not being able to get good quality early Simpsons episodes. I have many of the season DVDs, but had stopped purchasing them as I was frustrated by their quality, expecting something better to come along.

Author
Time

Interesting project, but if the goal is to preserve the original format, you really shouldn’t be deinterlacing at all. Also, removing dirt originating from the cels, removing telecine wobble, and cel edges, isn’t preservation, but processing.

Agreed the official new masters are horrible, though.

[quote]This is what I’ve dubbed the KC effect (for Klasky Cuspo, who were terrible apparently). Here are 3 consecutive, “identical” IVTC’d frames[/quote]

I think those artefacts occur when a scene is time-stretched in post production. I’m not 100% sure Klasky Csupo would be to blame.

Author
Time

I wonder if the 4:3 versions on the FX app are the original broadcast versions without the aforementioned changes… Those are the ones I watch and they seem to be original broadcast versions as many of those streaming episodes still have the “Presented in Dolby Surround” logo at the start of the episode. The audio definitely has a different sound than that of its 16:9 counterpart on the app.

Author
Time

Frank Sintelle said:

Interesting project, but if the goal is to preserve the original format, you really shouldn’t be deinterlacing at all. Also, removing dirt originating from the cels, removing telecine wobble, and cel edges, isn’t preservation, but processing.

I guess an ideal preservation would be to reasseble the episodes from the 35mm neg which would get rid of both wobble and cel edges, but as this would be largely impossible. Deinterlacing and IVTCing gets us one step closer to the cells as they appear on the negative (99% will be original progressive frames rather than interpolated frames). You’re right about cel dirt though. But with every project like this you have to draw a line somewhere.

Frank Sintelle said:
I think those artefacts occur when a scene is time-stretched in post production. I’m not 100% sure Klasky Csupo would be to blame.

Thats a good guess, but its far too consistent to be a timestretch. For one episode, Dead putters society, these artifacts appear halfway into the first act and are on almost every single shot till the end. Its consistent enough to be part of the workflow. Introduced somewhere along the chain from telecine to post.

Author
Time

nafroe said:

I wonder if the 4:3 versions on the FX app are the original broadcast versions without the aforementioned changes… Those are the ones I watch and they seem to be original broadcast versions as many of those streaming episodes still have the “Presented in Dolby Surround” logo at the start of the episode. The audio definitely has a different sound than that of its 16:9 counterpart on the app.

From what Ive heard the FXX 4:3 versions come from the DVD masters but I don’t think anyone has done a full check. I know at the very least, hitlers birthday/lassies birthday is the same on the DVD as FXX.

Author
Time

Chewielewis said:

I guess an ideal preservation would be to reasseble the episodes from the 35mm neg which would get rid of both wobble and cel edges, but as this would be largely impossible. Deinterlacing and IVTCing gets us one step closer to the cells as they appear on the negative (99% will be original progressive frames rather than interpolated frames).

Then you would have to re-do all the video effects, which the early seasons made extensive use of.

Author
Time

Wazzles said:
Then you would have to re-do all the video effects, which the early seasons made extensive use of.

Yes, Very impractical. Although not unheard of. Pee Wee Herman’s Playhouse got a restoration back to the original Neg with all video effects redone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqaQi0Iyfow

This is why this is a 59.94 remaster rather than 23.976, we keep film elements in the 2:3 pattern while video elements are kept at 60fps.

To the top