Thundercats picture quality and mastering for DVD

Discussion in 'ThunderCats (1985)' started by Booshman, Sep 20, 2015.

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  1. Booshman

    Booshman Thunderian Legend

    I have been thinking about the quality of the DVD's and how unlikely it it well ever see this show on bluray, mastered from it's original elements.
    It got me wondering about the order the mastering was done in for the initial release, and I have a few questions that people here might be able to chime in on.

    As far as I know the first release was in France under the Cosmocats name. I don't think these DVD's had an English audio option. Were these episodes transferred from French broadcast tapes? Does anyone have these and can let me know how they compare to other releases?

    The US DVD's came out before the ones in the UK. Which tapes were these mastered from? All of season 2 has to have come from NTSC tapes since those episodes never aired in the UK, but what about the first season? Is there much of a difference between the PAL and NTSC release for those early episodes? The PAL discs have higher resolution, but if they were created from NTSC sources they won't look any better for it. I have the US NTSC discs. If anyone has the PAL discs to do a direct comparison I'd be very grateful to have a look.

    I would like to try and take what we have available right now and spruce up the quality as much as I can. So far the results I'm having with the NTSC discs look promising, but given the extra resolution of PAL I'm considering using that as the source. I want to be sure I have the best quality assets before devoting too much effort to it.

    Here's a few shots of of the DVD compared to my filtered version. I've run some deblocking and noise reducing plugins, and added a grain plate. The original is on the left, untouched other than I de-interlaced it.

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    You can see the filteres version loses some of the sharpness of the original, and some of the small details are lost (check the rock beneth Cheetara's feet). I can tweek the settings a bit to try and find a better balance, but for now what do people think.

    These were all taken from the Trial of Mind Power episode. If anyone has the PAL discs and can grab the same frames form the same episodes it would really help a lot. Same goes for the Cosmocats DVD's.
     
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  2. Daremonger

    Daremonger Thunderian Legend

    Most classics such as ThunderCats don't get a remaster when they're released on DVD, and that's a real shame, too. :(
     
  3. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist TC.org Staff

    First and foremost, I applaud what you are doing. Despite not being an expert in this field, I know that something like this requires a great deal of time and effort. And since this is a labor of love that you have undertaken mainly for the fans of the show, I say a big thank you to you! :)

    Yes, you are right, the filtered version does lose its sharpness quite a bit. As you said, perhaps you could play around with the filters to make sure that the crispiness is not lost. Personally, I would not mind a few "grains" and "spots" as long as the image is very sharp. I would rather sacrifice cleanliness for sharpness, but that's just me. ;)

    As I said, I am no expert in this matter but I'm guessing that the people who do the official remastering, clean up the cartoon, frame by frame, thus ensuring that the sharpness is not lost. Most of the softwares can do a pretty good job of imitating this effect but often result in some loss of resolution. It's the same with Adobe Photoshop and pictures. Whenever one tries to remove the "jagged edges" on some cropped photos, the resulting image will always be a bit less sharp.
     
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  4. Booshman

    Booshman Thunderian Legend

    Cheers Wilycub. I've added a sharpening filter to the video and I think it's a marked improvement.
    Here's a couple of shots to compare. The first is the regular DVD on the left/ cleaned up on the right.
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    Second is regular DVD on the left/ cleaned up and sharpened on the right.
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    Here's a couple of shots from Excalibur. Regular on the left/ filtered and recoloured on the right.
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  5. Gerrit

    Gerrit Berserker

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  6. Booshman

    Booshman Thunderian Legend

    The description at Youtube says it was redrawn.

    "Specific interventions: Compensating the missing parts from 4: 3 to 16: 9, Frames completely redesigned (by hand), Recoloring (hand), Effects recreated in AE, Sync audio original soundtrack, Vectorization of logos"
     
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  7. Daremonger

    Daremonger Thunderian Legend

    I like your remastering of ThunderCats very much, Booshman. The sepia color for "Excalibur" episode's screenshots looks toned down considerably. Maybe WB could've hired you to clean up the show for its 2005-06 DVD releases. ;)
     
  8. Booshman

    Booshman Thunderian Legend

    Thanks for the vote of confidence Daremonger! I wouldn't have known what i was doing back in 2005, but it would be ice if they had at least had someone go over it. By the looks of some of the episodes I doubt anyone took too much time on it.

    The colour of "Excalibur" is affected mostly by a load of red in the midtones and highlights, so not really sepia. It's worth noting that the beginning credits, title card and end credits arent affected by this blanket of red, so they must have been added on after whatever point that red was in place.

    I'm still interested to here from anyone who has DVD's other than the NTSC version.
     
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  9. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist TC.org Staff

    Oh yeah!!! :thumbsup The sharpening filter really has done wonders to the image. It looks even crispier than the original! I also like how you reduced the "reddish" tone from the original "Excalibur" video. Kudos on both counts! :biggrin

    Wow! The guy sure must have put a lot of man hours into redrawing every single frame by hand. Great dedication. But doing something similar to the ThunderCats Intro would probably take three times as much time as it is a lot more complicated with moving backgrounds, multiple characters and is longer in length. I still feel that the ThunderCats intro remains the best animated intro ever as far as animation quality is concerned. Nothing has come even close to it till date. :)
     
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  10. Daremonger

    Daremonger Thunderian Legend

    It remains as iconic as the show itself.
     
  11. Booshman

    Booshman Thunderian Legend

    Yeah, the opening to Thundercats is phenomenal. I've had a crack at upscaling it to 720p, it's not perfect, which is all down to the source, but I think it looks pretty good.

    I've uploaded it for anyone who fancies a look, it's not a small file, but if I compressed it more then all of the improvement would be compressed again and come out looking terrible.
    https://mega.nz/#!Ndc3lb5B!9oyEm5HDvT_GX0tdxQDx7TIIBzod2pGoShqs63kQ0cU
     
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  12. Daremonger

    Daremonger Thunderian Legend

    Well done, bro.
     
  13. Gerrit

    Gerrit Berserker

    Well done Booshman ... it looks very nice!

    What I did see is that the same guy that did the He-man intro is now also doing a He-man episode ...do you guys really think he is redrawing the whole thing ?
     
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  14. Booshman

    Booshman Thunderian Legend

    Nice one!
    Cheers!
    The He-Man clip you posted is all redrawn apart from some of the backdrops and the particle effects. The guy has posted another video of just the line drawings so you can see the work he put into it. He's gone frame by frame and traced the outlines, adding to the side of the image on 2 occasions to extend past the 4:3 border. The first is when He-Man shouts "I have the power", some of his hand and sword have been added where they would be usually cropped off. The second is when He-Man punches the screen and his shoulders and fist have been extended. If you count, there are a total of 4 painted backdrops that have been repained and extended to the 16x9 frame. The rest of of the backgrounds are made in After Effects. I think the particle effects are a good effort but don't match the quality of the hand drawn stuff in the original.

    To do this sort of thing with Thundecats would be much more of an undertaking. The animation is so much more complex. I also wouldn't be keen to extend the image to a wider frame, as it would take to many artistic liberties on the original version.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2015
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  15. Daremonger

    Daremonger Thunderian Legend

    4:3 is definitely the way to go for the ThunderCats intro.
     
  16. Booshman

    Booshman Thunderian Legend

    OK, this is about as good as I can get it based on the source. I've added some anti aliasing and gotten rid of the grain plate.

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  17. Daremonger

    Daremonger Thunderian Legend

    I dig your kind of remastering, dude. :)
     
  18. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Looks like a very worthy cause. I don't have enough understanding of the remastering process to get what's actually going on, but of course I understand the desire for better picture quality.

    It's a bit like when I'm making custom CDs of my favourite singer-songwriters. I am limited by the 80min capacity of an audio CD (yes, I know, behind the times), and sometimes it forces me to make painful choices, sacrificing classics in favour of songs that aren't quite as good but flow better at that point on the compilation (or equivalent if the tracklisting overruns and if I can't trim out pauses, or make an acceptable edit of a song, I have to replace one song with a shorter one). It's a rare thing indeed where I can look at a final tracklisting and be completely happy with all the songs I have chosen, as opposed to the infinitely more frequent thought of "I wish I could have had this song here . . . but unfortunately it didn't fit".

    I have two rules for these compilations:
    1. Every song must be written and sung by the artist in question.
    (Meaning that when I split The Beatles down the middle, I couldn't put "Day Tripper" on either the Lennon or the McCartney compilation as it's written by John but sung by Paul! I know the writing credit lists both of them, but when it comes to The Beatles, we all know that the dual credits were more a formality after the first album or two, and not technically accurate.)
    2. The songs must go in chronological order by album.
    (There are ways that this rule can be bent - re-recordings and live versions can be a godsend here, especially when these later versions trump the originals, as with Styx's 1995 re-recording of "Lady", and the orchestral version of "The Grand Illusion" that Dennis DeYoung did after he split from the band in 1999 - not to mention the 1981 live version of Billy Joel's "Miami 2017", originally recorded in 1976. Also non-album singles from the same vintage can be placed before or after the songs from that actual album. Again with my Beatles compilations, Strawberry Fields Forever came before the Sgt Pepper material on my Lennon disc, but on the McCartney one Penny Lane came after the same!)

    But I get there in the end. I've noticed over the years, the compilations I'm least pleased with tend to be from bands with one singer but multiple songwriters (my Freddie Mercury compilation suffers at the forced omission of many Queen classics written by other members of the band), or similarly where the singer isn't the main writer (I had to omit so many classics from my Lou Gramm compilation because virtually every great Foreigner song was written or co-written by Mick Jones, and while the co-written ones were eligible for inclusion, anything that was written by Jones alone wasn't, so I couldn't use "Urgent" or "I Want To Know What Love Is" for instance).
     
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  19. Booshman

    Booshman Thunderian Legend

    After a long while away from this project, I've managed to redo the scripts I was using before I lost everything in a hard drive crash. Luckily the after effects project was on another drive so I had all of the recolouring settings saved in that. I've got a pretty decent sytem for upscaling to 720P now, I think. I've finished Excalibur, if anyone wants to take a look to give feedback I'd appreciate it. The file is around 3gb. PM me for the link.

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  20. Daremonger

    Daremonger Thunderian Legend

    The 720p quality looks really good!
     

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