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Dick Spanner PI ('The Case Of The Human Cannonball' & 'The Case Of The Maltese Parrot')

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UPDATE - 03/09/13

If you're interested in my Dick Spanner PI DVD, see the following website page first, which has a proper writeup of the completed DVD project;

http://www.bookofthedead.ws/online_portfolio/dvd_dick_spanner.html

 

 

 

Hi all,

I'm SeeNoEvil, the guy who put together 'The Evil Dead - The Treasures Collection' DVD about a year ago. This is a placeholder post for a new preservation project which I will expand upon as I work through it. Hopefully it doesn't breach any rules, let me know if it does.




It's a VHS to DVD transfer of both episodes of the animation show Dick Spanner P.I. a british animation TV show I remember fondly from my childhood. I was a little young to have seen it first time round, but I do remember seeing it in it's split 5min episodes on Channel 4 weekday lunchtimes (I went home for lunch when I was at school). Ok so firstly for those who don't know what this is, here is some blurb from the shows' Wikipedia entry;


Dick Spanner, P.I. was a 1986 British stop-motion animated comedy series which parodied Chandleresque detective shows. The titular character and main protagonist was Dick Spanner, voiced by Shane Rimmer, a robotic private detective who works cases in a futuristic urban setting. The show made frequent use of puns and visual gags.

The series consisted of 22 six-minute episodes, covering two story arcs of equal length: "The Case Of The Human Cannonball" and "The Case Of The Maltese Parrot". The programme was originally broadcast in the UK as a segment of the Sunday morning show Network 7 on Channel 4, and was later repeated on the same channel in a late night spot.

Produced by Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson, the series was created and written by Terry Adlam, who had previously worked on effects for Anderson's Terrahawks. It was also the basis for the Anderson-created Tennants Pilsner advertising campaign using the Lou Tennant character (voiced by Vivian Stanshall).

The series was released on VHS by the Channel 5 video label (who released many other Gerry Anderson series) towards the end of the 1980s; two cassettes were released, 'The Case of the Human Cannonball' and 'The Case of the Maltese Parrot'. Both 'cases' had their respective episodes spliced together to meake up the complete story, with minor cuts. In the early 1990s, both 'cases' were re-released on a single cassette by Polygram Video. All of the VHS releases are now hard to come by and command respectable amounts of money when sold online.

Now, this show was released on DVD not long ago, so why bother? Good question, here is some more blurb from Wikipedia which should make it clear;


A DVD of the series was released on 15 October 2007, with extras including an interview with Gerry Anderson. At the request of Anderson himself, the episodes featured new acoustic background music in place of the original synthesiser theme tune/background music (which is probably the series' most famous element and is fondly remembered by many who watched the series on Network 7). The remaining soundtrack (sound effects etc) were altered to the extent that many of the show's audio gags either no longer work, or are missing entirely. The quality of the original prints appears to have degraded somewhat since the VHS releases, as they seem a lot cleaner and have more vibrant colour. Finally, although the DVD release version is split into the original six minute segments, the original end credits sequences have been replaced by a new set of credits made for the DVD. In all, the DVD is a less-than-faithful representation of the series; those wishing to watch Dick Spanner in its original form are better served by the original VHS releases.



For a good few months now, I've been keeping an eye on Ebay & Amazon waiting for the Polygram Video release to come up (being that it's the newest VHS tape available, it would likely be the best quality, and both episodes are on the one tape) and it finally has, and I bought it. Having tested it, the quality with my S-VHS VCR connected to my PC is outstanding, easily as good as the retail DVD. I know there are some so-so quality WMV VHSrips on the net already, but my version will be far higher quality than those, plus it will be a full DVD, as opposed to compressed video. The only down side is that the new DVD is in 1.85:1 widescreen, and the VHS tape is a cropped pan & scan version of that 1.85:1 aspect ratio (although the original TV broadcasts would have also been in  that cropped pan & scan aspect ratio too).

I'd be interested to see who remembers seeing  this on Channel 4 or VHS first time around, and if anyone is interested in 'seeing how the project turns out'. I'll update this page as I go.

This post has been edited.

Book Of The Dead DVD    The Evil Dead DVD    Dick Spanner PI DVD      Gamesmaster S1-7 DVD Box-Set
Dawn Of The Dead - Extended Cut OST    BookOfTheDead.ws Website    EvilDeadChainsaws.com Website

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Hi, good to see you again...

Being the geek that I am, I'm interested in the technical details of this project - what VCR you're using, what capture device, software, etc.

It would also be interesting to see screenshots comparing your preservation with the official DVD.

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Being the geek that I am, I'm interested in the technical details of this project - what VCR you're using, what capture device, software, etc.

Ok, well I'm using a JVC HR-S7600EK S-VHS PAL VCR, connected to a PC with an ATI All-In-Wonder 128 AGP card via an S-Video cable and Left & Right audio phono leads.

I'll be capturing the video using VirtualDub with the Huffyuv 2.1.1 codec and uncompressed WAV audio. From that I'll use and AVIsynth script to edit down and process the video (if needed, I'll likely leave the hard interlace as it is originally captured) and frame-serve it HC MPEG2 Encoder 0.23 for the MPEG encode, and BeLight & BeSweet to encode the AC3 audio, which will then be multiplexed together with ImagoMPEG-Muxer 1.1  I'll then use GIMP 2.6.7 to design the DVD menus and DVD-Flick 1.3.0.7 to author and assemble the final DVD. I'm not sure at the moment whether it will be a single or dual layer DVD, or even two single layer discs (which the retail DVD is). I will have to do some quality tests to settle that.

I know you recommended & used the Lagarith Lossless video Codec for the Evil Dead Laserdisc capture, and I did test this out as well as Huffyuv, but I was getting dropped frames with Lagarith, but none with Huffyuv, really it just comes down to compression, the quality between the two is virtually identical by the time you get to the finished DVD, so I'm happy to stick with Huffyuv.

I recently used this process to capture two 2hr NTSC video tapes, which I successfully captured & authored to DVD (and for anyone out there who's tried to capture an NTSC/PAL-60 signal with a PAL VCR connected to an ATI All-In-Wonder 128 AGP card knows that's really not an easy thing to work out, as the card doesn't really support PAL-60, although it can be done as I managed it!)

This process is a combination of these two guides;
http://dvdguide.ennik.com/
http://www.doom9.org/capture/capturing_vdub.html

This post has been edited.

Book Of The Dead DVD    The Evil Dead DVD    Dick Spanner PI DVD      Gamesmaster S1-7 DVD Box-Set
Dawn Of The Dead - Extended Cut OST    BookOfTheDead.ws Website    EvilDeadChainsaws.com Website

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See No Evil said:

Hopefully it doesn't breach any rules, let me know if it does.

To clarify the rules:

If you were just adding the original audio from VHS to the video from the official DVDs, that would be classed as a Custom DVD - you can still talk about the project, but you're not allowed to talk abut sharing it.

However, as your project is purely a Preservation of the original VHS, then there are no such restrictions.

See No Evil said:

Being the geek that I am, I'm interested in the technical details of this project - what VCR you're using, what capture device, software, etc.

Ok, well I'm using a JVC HR-S7600EK S-VHS PAL VCR, connected to a PC with an ATI All-In-Wonder 128 AGP card via an S-Video cable and Left & Right audio phono leads.

Nice VCR - has a built-in TBC I think. Don't know much about the capture card, but the later ATi Theatre chipsets are known to be pretty good.

... BeLight & BeSweet to encode the AC3 audio,...

BeSweet's AC3 encoder used to be buggy, don't know if it's been improved. You should probably look at using Aften.

I know you recommended & used the Lagarith Lossless video Codec for the Evil Dead Laserdisc capture, and I did test this out as well as Huffyuv, but I was getting dropped frames with Lagarith, but none with Huffyuv, really it just comes down to compression, the quality between the two is virtually identical by the time you get to the finished DVD, so I'm happy to stick with Huffyuv.

Both Lararith and Huffyuv are lossless, so the quality is not "virtually" identical - it is "exactly" identical! As you say, the only difference is that Lagarith produces slightly smaller intermediate files (and it is compatible with more colourspaces - not an issue here).

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Nice VCR - has a built-in TBC I think. Don't know much about the capture card, but the later ATi Theatre chipsets are known to be pretty good.

Yes, I got this VCR specifically to transfer those two tapes I mentioned earlier. Having read up on it, I know a high end S-VHS Panasonic might have given better results, but would also have been more expensive. I got the JVC HR-7600EK for £40 second hand off Ebay. It has a digital TBC (Time Base Corrector), NR (Noise Reduction), Digital 3R (edge correction), the B.E.S.T. Picture System (Biconditional Equalized Tracking System). It can record & play in both VHS & S-VHS formats and record PAL & SECAM signals and play PAL, NTSC (as PAL-60) & MESECAM tapes, as well as having all the standard VCR gubbins.

For VHS archiving I couldn't recommend this VCR more highly. They come up quite often on Ebay and can be picked up for around £30-£60. Here is a link to the PDF manual on JVC's website;

http://www.jvc.co.uk/files/instruction_manual/hr-s7600%20engelsk.pdf

One point I did notice, and something which I had to find out for myself, was that many of the units that come up on Ebay often come without remotes. You need the remote to access the system OSD menu and tinker with some of the more advanced features, you can't do that with just the buttons on the VCR unit itself. The specific HR-S7600 remote can be quite hard to find on it's own at a reasonable price, but many of the JVC VCR remotes are interchangable, I ended up getting the LP20303-003 remote for £6.99 on Ebay which I'd read should work ok (the -003 is usually the most widespread unit of the LP20303's available on there, but there are sometimes LP20303-008, -009, -014, -015, etc.. all which just differ very slightly and are usually quite cheap) The LP20303-003 remote was listed to work with other JVC VCR models, but works with my HR-7600EK VCR just fine.

With regards to the ATI All-In-Wonder 128, I've had that for about 8-ish years. I know that makes it obsolite in computing terms, but it has served me really well, especially once I started using third party capture software rather than the bundled programs that come with it (which can be quite restrictive in what options you control)

I'll be doing the VHS to PC capture this weekend when I can devote a whole day to it, so I'll post some screenshots then.

This post has been edited.

Book Of The Dead DVD    The Evil Dead DVD    Dick Spanner PI DVD      Gamesmaster S1-7 DVD Box-Set
Dawn Of The Dead - Extended Cut OST    BookOfTheDead.ws Website    EvilDeadChainsaws.com Website

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UPDATE - 31/01/10

I've captured both episodes and already encoded both MPEG and AVI (XviD/MP3) versions. I made AVI versions as I figured at some point someone would make them anyway, and they might as well be properly done using the uncompressed source footage rather than the compressed MPEG DVD. They're 350mb each, so both would fit on a 700mb CD-R. These AVI files will be put in a DVD-ROM folder on the DVD disc. I gave the MPEG files quite a high bitrate as I decided to go for one dual layer DVD for this project; 7800kbps average and 9500kbps maximum bitrate, along with 192k AC3 stereo audio. They're both virtually the same length so came out the same size at 2762mb each.

Here are three uncompressed JPEG screenshots taken from the  final encoded MPEG files;

I said above that this VHS tape is a Pan & Scan version of the 1.85:1 widescreen version recently brought out on DVD, but having a quick compare, I don't think that's quite the case. It looks like the DVD gains a little over the left & right sides of the VHS, but looses a lot more by being cropped top & bottom. Here is a superimposed image to show what I mean;

I've also made a start on the DVD cover for this release. It's based on the Channel 5 VHS release cover (rather than the Polygram VHS tape I've captured). I'll hopefully be adding high quality 600dpi scans of the three VHS tape covers too (the Polygram double tape and the separately released two Channel 5 tapes). Below you can see the original Channel 5 VHS cover, and beneath that you can see the progress I've made on my version.

It'll likely take another week or two to get the DVD cover & printable DVD disc art, along with the DVD menus completed.

This post has been edited.

Book Of The Dead DVD    The Evil Dead DVD    Dick Spanner PI DVD      Gamesmaster S1-7 DVD Box-Set
Dawn Of The Dead - Extended Cut OST    BookOfTheDead.ws Website    EvilDeadChainsaws.com Website

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UPDATE - 02/02/10

Both the DVD cover & disc art are just about complete. I may still tweak them, but basically here are the final designs. Since this is more of a nostalgia project, which is unlikely to have mass appeal beyond the people who already know what this is, I've not gone overboard with technical info or DVD symbols, leaning more towards trying to replicate the look & feel of the original VHS cover.

The next & final piece of this project to start designing the DVD menus in GIMP, then assemble the final DVD using DVD-Flick. The menu design should be quite simple to put together as it will be made using many of the existing graphical elements from the cover & disc art.

One last point, I'm having trouble locating someone who can supply a cover scan of the Channel 5 Dick Spanner VHS release of 'The Case Of The Maltese Parrot'. It would seem this tape is far rarer than 'The Case Of The Human Cannon-Ball' (there are five Cannon-Ball tapes currently on Ebay, but no Maltese Parrot tapes). Hopefully I can locate one before completing this project as I really would like to include it in the disc's DVD-ROM folder.

This post has been edited.

Book Of The Dead DVD    The Evil Dead DVD    Dick Spanner PI DVD      Gamesmaster S1-7 DVD Box-Set
Dawn Of The Dead - Extended Cut OST    BookOfTheDead.ws Website    EvilDeadChainsaws.com Website

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The DVD is now basically completed. I've just got to write it onto a test disc & watch it through on a DVD player to check it's all ok, and then I'll be good to make copies.

 

One thing to make clear; I know some directors are inclined to tinker with their old work as it's re-released on new media, even if this is to the severe detriment the piece in the eyes of it's fans (as to which the many Star Wars threads on this board will attest).

If the 2007 retail DVD release had contained the untampered versions (4:3 unmatted, and with the original music), I would have happily bought it and there would be no need for this DVD to exist. Actually, it would have been cheaper for me to buy a brand new DVD, rather than the second/third hand Polygram VHS I used as the capture source.

That said, I've not created this DVD to rip off Gerry Anderson and the show's creators, the time & effort I putting in to the project should make my utter fondness & respect for the show obvious. I also appreciate that if people don't support obscure & small scale DVD releases (no matter how clumsily thought out), then it will reduce the willingness of companies to take the financial risk of future releases of old gems such as this. In that spirit, anyone wanting a copy of this fanmade preservation DVD would be expected to own either one of the old retail VHS release sets or the new DVD release, otherwise this would simply be piracy. You can buy the retail DVD quite cheaply if you shop around, especially in online sales and such.

 

I'm not going to be sharing this online/P2P (or selling it, of course) but I can't really afford to send out free copies to anyone who asks (one full-face printable dual layer DVD+R disc with printed label + printed DVD cover + DVD case + padded envelope + postage, multiplied by a couple of people, it adds up!)

Assuming only a handful of people would ever want this (which may be revised if it's more than that); we can just work a 1:1 trade or something out. I've shied away from asking people to post me discs with a SAE, as on some previous projects I kept getting sent duff discs (either unbranded poor quality or covered in dust/fingerprints/scratches), which left me using my own personal discs to send back to them. Anyway, you can PM me if interested.

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Book Of The Dead DVD    The Evil Dead DVD    Dick Spanner PI DVD      Gamesmaster S1-7 DVD Box-Set
Dawn Of The Dead - Extended Cut OST    BookOfTheDead.ws Website    EvilDeadChainsaws.com Website

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hello fascinating reading and is it possible for a copy?

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The dvd arrived today with case and artwork and it's really, really good. The quality is excellent + the original score in tact which (personally) really makes dick spanner what it is.

 

Thanks and recommended to anyone, 

 

Cheers

 

Nick

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i know its been a while since you posted this, but but I was wondering if its still possible to obtain a copy?

 

 

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Fantastic stuff.  Pretty much exactly how i remember watching it all those years ago in the middle of the night on ITV's Night Network.  Great artwork and the original score included make this is as perfect as a fan-edit as you can get.  As a bonus, loads of artwork and AVI/XVID versions of both features are included.  Quite awesome frankly.


Scoobysnack

 

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Yeah, I'd like one myself. Or if you don't want to sell it, could you perhaps send me the VHS rip if you've saved it.

 

I'd like to track down good condition VHS Rips to burn to my own DVD, as a better substitute for the lousy 2007 DVD One Media Entertainment managed to butcher.

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Hi i would be really gratefull if i could get a copy of this great show, several years ago  i had the VHS also and ripped it to my pc for a custom dvd but have lost my files i created. i sold the Vhs tape some years ago so can no longer rip it again.

 

  thanks

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Have uploaded my personal VHS rip on 'spleen. It's MKVs rather than DVDs and the overall size is pretty big.

As per usual: Buy the (very reasonably priced) DVD set, then download the rip.

If you want DVDs, you are probably best looking at See No Evils set.

On the other hand, my set does include a rather nice scan of the front of the VHS tape. 

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Awesome work See No Evil - I remember watching this when I was a kid during my lunch break from school. I re-found it a couple of years ago on youtube, but the quality left a lot to be desired. Shame it never got a decent re-release. Not counting the recent DVD release with the awful Jazz sound track etc. /Sigh

Someone has the original signed poster on ebay right now for 300 quid - not me btw, I just happened to see whilst looking for VHS tapes :-)    

 

 

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You might be interested in seeing this. It looks like One Media uploaded the original 5 minute episodes in their original 4:3 format and with the original music and title cards!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iehxeWlwh44

I really hope it signals a new release on DVD, or failing that an online download... If only they released these original versions on DVD in the first place instead of putting needlessly wasted effort onto re-editing the show.

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Wow and they're great quality too! Thanks for the heads up.

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