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
fix changes where possible
Clean noise, compression artefacts, banding, cell edges, dirt
upscale to 720p/1080p
Render and Remux with DVD audio & subs
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
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.