This is the first video restoration that we are releasing…We couldn’t think of a better attraction to start with other than Horizons! Martin Smith, whom you all know from his Ultimate Tributes (www.martinsvids.net) was kind enough to send me this footage from June 1990 for enhancement/restoration.
A few things before you jump right to the video. Some of you will ask, if this was shot in 1990, why does it look “softer” and less realistic than the 1972 footage you recently restored? The answer is very simple – The footage shot in 1972 was film, which I sent off for conversion – it was scanned in at 1080 lines of resolution, the same as HD television. The 1990 footage was filmed in PAL (European video standard) and only has 576 lines of resolution – we can’t scan this again, what we get from video is it! Its interesting that older footage in a way can provide a better experience with today’s technology…
Martin supplied me a “rip” from the DVD, while the quality is excellent, it is no where near perfect. DVDs are the WORST possible way to archive your videos because they compress the footage into a smaller package and the chemical dyes in the disc will eventually fail over time, rendering your memories useless. On a screen DVDs may look wonderful, but when you take them apart frame by frame like I do for restoration, the artifacts from the compression begin to show. Imagine the video as a giant flip book – in a perfect world we’d have one page for every frame of video, just like in an animated film; on cell for every frame. However with DVD and other compression methods, each frame is not saved, instead they store parts of information about frames and the difference between each, this tells the video what has changed in the next frame and what has not. Complicated? Not really, but I may have put half my readers to sleep by now.
If Martin still had the S-VHS tape that contained this footage, we would start from that and could make this restoration even better. Fortunately the transfer that Martin had done years ago was very good so our starting point, while not perfect, its pretty darn good.
A few more notes:
- The video has been stabilized, so it is zoomed in a bit from the original – doing this allows for a more stable image and you only sacrifice about 20 pixels around the edge, no more than TV overscan. There may be some slight jerky motion on some scenes, this is because the computer can’t compensate for extreme motion; its doing the best it can. I feel the trade off for a more stable video is worth a few of those now and then.
- The colors on the original are very muted and change from scene to scene. Without taking apart each scene (which would take me eons), I applied a general color enhancement across the whole video. Some scenes may be over saturated, while others may be less vivid. Again, source material and time here.
- Same with the brightness; I tried to brighten some scenes but keep it dark enough so that you didn’t see artifacts and in the dimmer sections. If I get an overall consensus that it is too bright/dark, I will make changes and update the video.
- Sharpness/softness – Same trade off here – each scene varies depending on how the camera was focused – got to opt for the best all around setting.
- Don’t watch this full screen sitting at your computer. Your computer has 2.5 to 5 times the lines of resolution, this video looks best smaller or if you do play it full screen, walk away, turn up the volume, turn the lights off and sniff an orange as you go through Mesa Verde.
- If you have a Roku player, you can find this video on the Vimeo app on your Roku box/stick!
Feedback is always welcome; as are pointers and hints of where we can find new source material. Martin has supplied me with another Horizons video and we are working on obtaining an original DV tape transfer of what we think is the most pristine Horizons footage ever. As always you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We aren’t done….spread the word, and Enjoy!
And for those interested, here is an approximate side by side comparison of the source video as compared to the restored video. This is not as good quality as above, but you’ll see the differences: