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David Macaulay Classics: Fully Restored

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 (Edited)

This project concerns the restoration of the animated adaptations of David Macaulay’s architectural books for PBS, part of my planned 50th birthday celebration for the network.

As we speak, I’m working on Castle, the first in the series. I’m hoping to get this special restored within a month or two. The program will be presented in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio. I have taken a lot of things into consideration when deciding on the framing. Among them: the complete version, which features added exposition about Master James of St. George (the real-life inspiration for the character of Master James of Babbington, voiced by none other than Brian Blessed) at the end of the second live-action sequence, is only available on old videocassettes issued before the 1994 rebroadcast; the DVD release from Paramount has some distracting artifacting in a single shot; and I wanted to ensure the best possible widescreen framing for the purpose of alleviating those flaws, making the presentation look as even and consistent as possible, and sacrificing as little of the picture as necessary and possible. Needless to say, great precautions will be taken in the reframing, and it won’t be a straight center cut all the way. I will be using the DVD as my source as much as possible, with my VHS copy coming in for the opening and closing bumpers (yes, even including the original videocassette promo at the end) and the aforementioned extended ending of the second live-action sequence. Audio will be English 1.0, with subtitles in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. AviSynth will be used to upscale the sources, and FFMPEG is being used to deinterlace them before upscaling. Audio remastering, if and whenever necessary, will be undertaken in Audacity. Subtitle tracks will be created in Aegisub. The complete video program will be edited in Blender.

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Have you ever thought of using Topaz Gigapixel AI for the upscaling?

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So are you cutting out stuff from the sides? How is that a preservation?

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Only from the top and bottom. I can understand not wanting any cropping whatever if you’re combining a 4:3 DVD with a 4:3 laser videodisc, but when you’re dealing with VHS, which very often, if not always, has a bit of picture distortion at the bottom of the frame (my VHS copy is, of course, no exception), it just can’t be helped if you’re going for consistency, which I am in this case. Besides, I watched my entire VHS copy cropped to 1.66:1 just to be sure it’d work, and all the titles managed to fit rather well. Plus, the DVD, which I intend to use for most of the restoration process, has some artifacting of its own in a single shot, and cropping to 1.66:1 hid it quite nicely. One key objective of a restoration, after all, is to make the program look good.

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sampsoninc916 said:

Have you ever thought of using Topaz Gigapixel AI for the upscaling?

I’ve committed myself to only using freeware for restorations. I find freeware to be most effective if you’re inventive enough, plus there’s no cost in using freeware.

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Charles Threepio said:

Only from the top and bottom. I can understand not wanting any cropping whatever if you’re combining a 4:3 DVD with a 4:3 laser videodisc, but when you’re dealing with VHS, which very often, if not always, has a bit of picture distortion at the bottom of the frame (my VHS copy is, of course, no exception), it just can’t be helped if you’re going for consistency, which I am in this case. Besides, I watched my entire VHS copy cropped to 1.66:1 just to be sure it’d work, and all the titles managed to fit rather well. Plus, the DVD, which I intend to use for most of the restoration process, has some artifacting of its own in a single shot, and cropping to 1.66:1 hid it quite nicely. One key objective of a restoration, after all, is to make the program look good.

Oooh, I understand now. Thanks.