Try your best to make the left scene look like the right image (ignoring framing and colors) by using video processing filters on 4.avi provided in the sample below.
I’ll start with the story for context. In May 2016, Sephirotic and I set out to create the best possible version of Episode 16 of Neon Genesis Evangelion using a combination of different sources, video editing, digital enhancement/filtering and color correction.
Why is this necessary?
Episode 16 is broken! At some point after the original airing the 16mm negative was lost and Gainax were forced to use a lower quality 35mm internegative for all subsequent releases. This has resulted in all released versions being blurry, crushed, haloed, have wrong/bad colors and many, many other problems.
A glimmer of hope?
In late 2015 Studio Khara released the Archive of Evangelion DVD box set containing Episode 16 as it was originally aired in 1995! This gave audiences the opportunity to see detail in shadows not seen for nearly 20 years! Despite the increased detail afforded by this release it’s also riddled with problems, however with significant editing, filtering and color correction it has the potential to look better than any prior release about 95% of the time when compared on a scene-by-scene basis.
The editing process started in May 2016. Since then, 1000+ hours of work and an Avisynth script of more than 3000 lines (containing over 5000 individual edits) was created to clean up scene changes, remove ghosting and inter-scene jitter and various other fixes. To account for the 5% of scenes that look better on other sources, we’ve utilised those sources to splice in those scenes and create the best possible version of episode 16. We now need to design an Avisynth script (or equivalent) to filter each source so that they resemble each other as closely as possible to make the entire episode look consistent in quality and clarity.
Info on the sources
There are two official ‘versions’ of Episode 16. One was released on DVD (1,2,3 and 4.avi from the sample below) using the original negative during the transfer, and the other was released on BD (target1 - target6.bmp from the sample below) using a lower quality inter-negative. It’s important to note that even though the BD version of episode 16 was released in 1080p, it looks much softer than the other episodes that were also released on BD. It looks this way because the inter-negative was scanned for this release at a SD resolution and then upscaled to 1080p. Every other episode was scanned in HD and looks amazing. This is important as we will soon see. It’s also important to note that the original cells for episode 16 will never be re-scanned in HD for a future re-release. What we have now is what we will have forever.
So to recap, we have discussed two sources of the same episode: one DVD, and one Blu-ray, both very different in every way except that they both look soft. Our project seeks to create a new version of the episode using the DVD as the base but with selected scenes replaced by those from the Blu-ray. We want to use the DVD as the base because, believe it or not, it’s actually better than the Blu-ray in most cases (but not all).
But there’s also another source we can use for scene replacements (sort of). Remember how I said that every other episode in the BD set looks amazing? Well it turns out that some scenes from episode 16 are duplicated in other episodes! target7.bmp from the sample linked above is one such example. With these other episodes looking as good as they do, naturally we also want to make use of them to replace those scenes that look bad in both the DVD and BD version of 16 with the equivalent scenes from the other episodes. However because the other episodes were scanned in HD and look so amazing, it’s immediately obvious when one of these ‘amazing quality’ scenes is spliced in and shown during playback of the episode. To combat this, these ‘amazing quality’ scenes will need to be ‘dumbed down’ to bring them more in-line with the adjacent scenes from the BD/DVD sources.
We are now at the stage where all the splicing, syncing and color matching/correction has been done and the final form of the episode has been finalised. Many months of discussion between Sephirotic and myself were necessary to ensure that the careful balance of quality and consistency between scenes was maintained. In some cases a particular shot looked better on a different source but we chose not to use it to ensure consistency within the scene. And so with the episode structure finalised, it is at this point that I make my plea for your assistance. The DVD source we are working with has strong halos and color bleed. Therefore we need someone skilled in video filtering to create a specialised Avisynth script (or equivalent) to clean up the edges and remove the bleeding and other artefacts to make it more closely match the visual quality of the Blu-ray.
Want to help? You can! Here’s how
You can help by downloading the sample below (~350mb) and:
- Making “1.avi” and “2.avi” look like target2, target3, target4, target5 and target6 (by removing halos)
- Making “3.avi” look like target1 (by removing halos and fixing color bleed)
- Making “4.avi” look like target7 (by removing halos, fixing color bleed and sharpening 4.avi)
Obviously it won’t be possible to make them look exactly the same (especially #3), but the closer they look, the less obvious source changes will be. In the case of #3, it’s OK to upscale 4.avi and, if necessary, ‘dumb down’ target7 to achieve a closer result.
Is this really worth all this time and effort?
Of course it is! This is because it is highly unlikely that we will ever get a better version of this episode given that the original negative has been lost to time. A project to restore episode 16 on this scale has never been attempted and Neon Genesis Evangelion has had a significant impact on Japanese and Western culture alike since its release in 1995. The way we see it, by restoring this episode we are preserving an important part of anime history. If you would like to be a part of this project and think you possess the necessary skills, we’d like to hear from you. Please download the sample below and submit a link of your completed work to my email firstname.lastname@example.org. After Sephirotic and myself have reviewed your work, we will contact you.
Get the sample here!
This post has been edited.