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First colour Doctor Who remastered

6 December 2012
First colour Doctor Who remastered

The four part series Spearhead from Space, first broadcast in January 1970, was the first time Doctor Who was captured in colour. Due to industrial action at Television Centre at the time, the whole series was shot on 16mm film. BBC Studios & Post Production have gone back to the original negative to restore and remaster the series in HD. It was the ability to go back to the original negative that allowed the production to be remastered into genuine HD, but working with material close to 45 years old also set the team some significant challenges which required a sophisticated post production workflow. First, the original 16mm A/B roll negatives were cleaned then scanned, using the DFT Scanity film scanner. The negative of one episode had been damaged by a wet-gate printing process at some time in the past, but an interpositive copy of the reel was found. Once all material had been scanned into digital form it was conformed using Nucoda Film Master. The Nucoda tools were then used to provide a digital restoration workflow. Residual picture movement due to physical film joins, always a significant problem with the small-gauge 16mm format, was minimised in the scan and fully removed in Nucoda. Other Nucoda restoration tools employed included Dark Energy to minimise the grain and Diamant Dustbuster to clean up poor joins, residual dirt and other diffuse marks. Finally, the clean files were graded and played out to HDCam-SR. “We are delighted to have teamed up with BBC Worldwide to remaster such an iconic programme,” said Clive Hodge of BBC Studios & Post Production. “Doctor Who is one of the few series to remain popular through the ages, and it is fantastic that younger generations will have the chance to see this story in the same picture quality that they are used to.” Spearhead from Space will be released on Blu-ray in July 2013, as part of the celebrations for 50 years of Doctor Who.

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