**Update (4/6/13): Version 1.0 is up on MySpleen and soon to a.b.starwars **
We all know how terrible the DVD releases for Droids and Ewoks were. They were cut up, mangled and all together different. This set is the culmination of about 3+ years of tracking down foreign tapes to find the best sources possible for the original Droids animated series in full. And then syncing them up with English audio tracks that contain the original sound effects and music as they aired in 1985 and 1986.
The set will include UK PAL VHS tapes, Japanese NTSC VHS tapes, as well as original TV broadcasts.
At first I had just collected the PAL tapes in hopes of making a direct transfer but I (along with a number of other people here on OT.com) found them to suffer from some terrible frame blending. The NTSC->PAL transfer done by CBS/FOX was atrocious. No amount of IVTC or deinterlacing appears to help.
But then I was made aware of the Japanese NTSC tapes. It took me months and months to finally track them all down but fortunately I was able to get them and they do not suffer from the frame blending problem.
So the plan is to use the Japanese tapes for the video and the PAL tapes for the English audio.
The main problem at the moment is there is no Episode 9 “Coby and the Starhunters” on either the UK PAL tapes or the Japanese NTSC tapes. The only source that I have at the moment is a recording of the original broadcast on ABC. The broadcasts from the SciFi channel will not suffice as they have been edited down by a few minutes. The only commercially available source of this episode (to my knowledge) is a Mexican NTSC VHS release that has proven near impossible to track down. The copy that I have is not the best in the world but it will have to do for now.
The other problem being that there is no Japanese release of the Great Heep. (Edit: this turned out to not be true. See post on page 6) Again, there is a Mexican NTSC release of this episode that is impossible to track down and the SciFi channel airings were edited. I plan on using the UK PAL tapes as a source for the time being.
The workflow for NTSC is JVC HR-S9600U SVHS with TBC -> Hauppauge HVR-2250 capture card -> VIrtualdub -> AVI
For PAL it is Phillips VR1070 SVHS -> Hauppauge HVR-2250 capture card -> VIrtualdub -> AVI
Then I have been using minimal Avisynth and Virtual dub filters to just perform IVTC, light leveling to brighten the image and slightly darken the blacks, and some light denoising. I am trying to do as little “improvements” as possible. I will then piece together the audio track in Sony Vegas and save the audio as an AC3 file and then merge it with the AVI file.
The 1.0 version of the project will be uploaded as an MKV set with AC3 audio (incase anybody wants to make their own DVD set you are already half way there). Version 2.0 will come later on down the road when I get a commercial version of the Coby episode as well as The Great Heep. This could takes years at the rate it is going. I will then likely make a DVD set.
And I would just like to state upfront that these are VHS rips. They are only going to look so good. All of us will be able to find plenty of defects and eye sores with little effort. But I really have no ambitions of laboring over them in Avisynth for the next couple of months. Trust me, with 14 episodes totaling almost 400 minutes…it is a huge time-sink. But if there is somebody around here with tons of experience and a proven track record then I would simply offer up my raw AVI files to them to make their own set.
The audio sync alone has proven to be quite the undertaking. The UK PAL tapes repeatedly trim seconds off near commercial breaks and fadeouts in an attempt to make it feel more like a movie. I have been using some clips from the original broadcasts and the SciFi airings to fill in some of the shortcomings.
All in all, I think it has turned out pretty good. I am just about done with the Japanese/UK mixes and will soon be focusing on the Coby and Great Heep episodes.
Here is a sample of what the completed MKV set will probably look like