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The Magic School Bus in 4K (1994-1997)

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 (Edited)

After nearly two decades, I’m finally getting back into The Magic School Bus, and I figured, why not do a 4K restoration to make it resemble a potential primetime rebroadcast?

Each episode will consist of the following:

  • The 2019 opening PBS logo
  • The original funding credits
  • The opening sequence
  • The episode itself
  • The Producers Segment
  • The closing credits (with original South Carolina ETV and Nelvana logos)
  • The original funding credits
  • A PBS Kids Dash/Dot logo
  • #ILovePBS social media promo (only on Season 2)
  • Book promo

And, of course, I’ll be assembling the masters in Blender and doing all upscaling in Avisynth.

All episodes are presented in 4K, with the original stereo audio in English and Spanish. As I intend this restoration for those who grew up on the series as I did, and not just today’s kids, most episodes will be TV-G; those that are rated TV-PG, the reason is displayed right next to it on this page.

SEASON 1 (sponsored by National Science Foundation, Microsoft Home, U.S. Department of Energy, and Carnegie Corporation of New York)

  • The Magic School Bus Gets Lost in Space (27:16) [TV-PG] (Reason: the infamous “block of ice” scene) (105)
  • The Magic School Bus For Lunch (27:16) [TV-G] (106)
  • The Magic School Bus Inside Ralphie (27:16) [TV-G] (107)
  • The Magic School Bus Gets Eaten (27:16) [TV-G] (102)
  • The Magic School Bus Hops Home (27:16) [TV-G] (108)
  • The Magic School Bus Meets the Rot Squad (27:16) [TV-G] (104)
  • The Magic School Bus All Dried Up (27:16) [TV-G] (110)
  • The Magic School Bus in the Haunted House (27:16) [TV-PG] (Reason: pervasive frightening atmosphere) (109)
  • The Magic School Bus Gets Ready, Set, Dough (27:16) [TV-G] (111)
  • The Magic School Bus Plays Ball (27:16) [TV-G] (103)
  • The Magic School Bus Goes to Seed (27:16) [TV-PG] (Reason: inadvertent upskirt) (112)
  • The Magic School Bus Gets Ants in Its Pants (27:16) [TV-G] (101)
  • The Magic School Bus Kicks Up a Storm (27:16) [TV-G] (113)

SEASON 2 (sponsored by National Science Foundation, Microsoft Home, U.S. Department of Energy, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS)

  • The Magic School Bus Blows Its Top (27:46) [TV-G] (201)
  • The Magic School Bus Flexes Its Muscles [TV-G] (202)
  • The Busasaurus [TV-G] (204)
  • The Magic School Bus Going Batty [TV-G] (209)
  • Butterfly and the Bog Beast [TV-G] (203)
  • The Magic School Bus Wet All Over [TV-G] (205)
  • The Magic School Bus in a Pickle [TV-G] (206)
  • The Magic School Bus Revving Up [TV-G] (207)
  • A Magic School Bus Halloween [TV-PG] (Reason: pervasive frightening atmosphere) (214)
  • The Magic School Bus Taking Flight [TV-G] (208)
  • The Magic School Bus Getting Energized [TV-G] (210)
  • The Magic School Bus Out of This World [TV-PG] (Reason: inadvertent upskirt) (211)
  • Cold Feet [TV-G] (212)
  • Ups and Downs [TV-G] (213)

SEASON 3 (sponsored by National Science Foundation, Microsoft, U.S. Department of Energy, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS)

  • The Magic School Bus in a Beehive [TV-G] (304)
  • The Magic School Bus in the Arctic [TV-PG] (Reason: race joke) (301)
  • The Magic School Bus Spins a Web [TV-G] (302)
  • The Magic School Bus Under Construction [TV-G] (303)
  • The Magic School Bus Gets a Bright Idea [TV-G] (305)
  • The Magic School Bus Shows and Tells [TV-G] (306)
  • The Magic School Bus Makes a Rainbow [TV-G] (307)
  • The Magic School Bus Goes Upstream [TV-PG S] (Reason: sexual references) (308)
  • The Magic School Bus Works Out [TV-PG DS] (Reason: drug references, specifically blood doping, and brief realistic female human anatomy) (309)
  • The Magic School Bus Gets Planted [TV-G] (311)
  • The Magic School Bus in the Rainforest [TV-G] (312)
  • The Magic School Bus Rocks and Rolls [TV-G] (313)
  • The Magic School Bus Family Holiday Special + The Making of the Magic School Bus [TV-G] (310)

SEASON 4 (sponsored by National Science Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and PBS)

  • The Magic School Bus Meets Molly Cule [TV-G] (406)
  • The Magic School Bus Cracks a Yolk [TV-PG] (Reason: inadvertent upskirt) (401)
  • The Magic School Bus Goes to Mussel Beach [TV-G] (402)
  • The Magic School Bus Goes on Air [TV-G] (403)
  • The Magic School Bus Gets Swamped [TV-G] (404)
  • The Magic School Bus Goes Cellular [TV-G] (405)
  • The Magic School Bus Sees Stars [TV-G] (407)
  • The Magic School Bus Gains Weight [TV-G] (408)
  • The Magic School Bus Gets Charged [TV-G] (410)
  • The Magic School Bus Makes a Stink [TV-G] (409)
  • The Magic School Bus Gets Programmed [TV-G] (411)
  • The Magic School Bus in the City [TV-G] (412)
  • The Magic School Bus Takes a Dive [TV-G] (413)

For Season 4, I’d much appreciate if someone has an original broadcast copy from PBS of any of the episodes, so I can attempt a better recreation of the Season 4 funding credits sequence than has been circulating on YouTube for some years now.

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This sounds like a rather ambitious project…

…but were the final masters stored/edited on film or SD video? If they were finished on the latter, I doubt you’d get that much of an improvement. Would doing a 1080i restoration be a better way to go if the latter was the case? (I’d be all in for a 4K restoration as long as film prints for at least some of the episodes are known to exist)

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 (Edited)

SD video AFAICT, but it’s not for a lack of trying to get improvement that I’m not getting much improvement.

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 (Edited)

FTW here’s the AVS script I’m currently running:

SetMemoryMax(512)
SetFilterMTMode(“DEFAULT_MT_MODE”, 2)
SetFilterMTMode(“FFVideoSource”, 3)
PluginPath = “C:\Users\-----\Downloads\MeGUI-2896-64\tools\avisynth_plugin”
LoadPlugin(PluginPath+“DCTFilter.dll”)
LoadPlugin(PluginPath+“Deblock-x64.dll”)
LoadPlugin(PluginPath+“masktools2.dll”)
Import(“C:\Users\-----\Downloads\Deblock_QED_MT2Mod.avsi”)
LoadPlugin(PluginPath+“ffms2.dll”)
LoadPlugin(PluginPath+“nnedi3.dll”)
FFVideoSource(“C:\Users\-----\Videos\The Magic School Bus\The Magic School Bus For Lunch.mov”).ConvertToYV12()
Deblock_QED(quant1=24, quant2=26, aOff1=1, aOff2=1, bOff1=2, bOff2=2, uv=3)
Blur(1.0)
nnedi3_rpow2(rfactor=8)
Sharpen(0.25)
LanczosResize(2880,2160)

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 (Edited)

I actually thought the Dash/Dot logos would be more interesting to use in a “what-if” scenario such as “what if TMSB continued in reruns on PBS past 1998?”, for instance.

Though, for A Magic School Bus Halloween, I figured I’d use the 1992 general PBS logo instead, since hour-long PBS Kids specials tended to use that logo around that time (looking at you, Shining Time Station).

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Oh, I just found out the actual Season 4 funding credits may have used a still from the Arthur funding credits of the time for the “Viewers Like You” card.

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i like the idea but upscaling such a low res show into 4k is going to be a nightmare, i fucked around with using topaz gigapixel to try and upscale the intro of the show and there was literally no improvement to the fidelity.
good luck man

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I wonder if my script would do any better than Topaz Gigapixel? (Course, I’m not switching to Topaz Gigapixel, I’ve committed myself to using only free software in my restorations.)

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Charles Threepio said:

I wonder if my script would do any better than Topaz Gigapixel? (Course, I’m not switching to Topaz Gigapixel, I’ve committed myself to using only free software in my restorations.)

well the software is free if you know where to look

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Upscaling The Magic School Bus to 4k wtf?

I’ve heard people complain that some of the DVD releases were VHS quality. Upscaling isn’t going to accomplish anything. It would be better to just try to restore the original episode format while keeping it in SD.

Nobody sang The Bunny Song in years…

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 (Edited)

Or maybe I’d want to start out at 720p?

(BTW I’m using Cinedigm’s The Complete Series release as my primary source, so presumably it’s going to look better than if I went with the Warner masters; however, for obvious reasons, the Warner masters are my source for the funding credits sequences, book promos, and closing logos.)

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Update on The Magic School Bus Inside Ralphie. I decided to do an optical flip from the opening scene at the Tennelli house to Ms. Frizzle’s classroom, just because I thought it’d look good, and also because the fact that there was no fancy transition in between presented an opportunity.

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…the moment you start flipping things around for no reason was the moment this turned into a fan edit.

Nobody sang The Bunny Song in years…

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OK, maybe the optical flip isn’t a good idea after all. But it did look good from my Blender console.

Anyway, what do you think of my using the NVG masters as my primary source instead of the Warner masters?

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(Actually, now that I’ve had a chance to view the transition in real time, it looks too unnatural.)

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Also, I just today got a reminder that Topaz Gigapixel AI might not have been the smartest way to go for this kind of project anyhow.

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Not unless Nelvana, not Scholastic, has the original camera negatives.

Most cel animated shows (photographed in South Korea/China/Taiwan/Philippines) are a bit hard to find. The negatives are cut together and processed in laboratories in Canada.

Although Nelvana has digitally remastered a 1980s cartoon in the early 2000s as well as bringing in a stereo audio track with the original soundtrack intact while the original broadcast was in mono sound (only reducing many of the dirt and dust).

The high quality 1980s Nelvana logo would be hard to find since it is partly shot on film as well as some of the video layers being done within an Ampex ADO system.

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 (Edited)

Right now, I’m working on A Magic School Bus Halloween, and I’m using the DVD clips as much as possible, and the original videotape recording the rest of the way through, i.e. where no equivalent has yet seen a DVD release. Everything is generally cropped only 16 pixels each at top and bottom, with additional cropping only to hide artifacts, but I’m going to have to redo the closing credits sequence due to my source being cut off at the end.