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VMPhil9,528 posts since 31 Mar 2005
Granada North West Today
Not sure where to put this.

ITV4 are showing an HD remastered version of the 1994 Granada series The Memoirs of Sherlock Homes. It now has a wider aspect ratio than 4:3 but has not been cropped to 16:9, with pillarboxing on either side.

However on the SD channel it’s still being shown in 4:3, and actually looks better given that’s the aspect ratio it was framed for. The HD version now has a lot of distracting empty space. I wonder if it actually would have looked better if they’d reframed it to 16:9. Of course ultimately it would have looked better if they’d just kept it 4:3.

EDIT: and now the second episode has come on which *has* been cropped to 16:9… strange.
james-20014,746 posts since 13 Sep 2015
Central (East) East Midlands Today
That's one of the issues I have with the HD versions of Friends, lots of empty space at the sides and the action cramped in the middle of the frame. Then you have the widescreen/HD versions of Buffy where you can see lights, crew members, edges of sets etc. on the edge of the frames on some shots (though from what I've read about the Buffy HD remaster, that's the least of its problems). You might be getting extra picture, but it doesn't mean it's useful extra picture.
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VMPhil9,528 posts since 31 Mar 2005
Granada North West Today
I will concede to being a hypocrite when it comes to the Friends HD remaster, considering I'm against 16:9 cropping when they remaster these old shows so I should probably be against altering the aspect ratio this way too. I personally think they look great, the earlier seasons in particular look miles better than Channel 4's copies did, and I don't find there to be much empty space on the sides of the frame. There are errors such as actor stand-ins now being visible, or being able to notice how they extend an audience reaction by muting one of the actors before cutting to them talking in the next shot. But overall I think they're a huge improvement.

This does makes me a massive hypocrite, and I should probably be advocating for 4:3 HD versions to be shown instead.

As for Buffy, I think the issue with that is the 16:9 versions were never meant to be shown at all, and weren't in the US, but the BBC forced them to provide 16:9 copies here because we already had digital widescreen broadcasts.
james-20014,746 posts since 13 Sep 2015
Central (East) East Midlands Today
There's an entirely separate, more recent, HD remaster of Buffy than the 16:9 versions the BBC used to show. I don't think it's been shown in the UK, yet at least, but it has in the US (and is on streaming services there). It's got countless issues, to the point the people who worked on the show have condemned and disowned it. I'll dig up the details when I have more time.

Perhaps unsuprisingly Fox, who also did the awful peusudo-HD Simpsons versions we now get on Sky, are responsible for it.
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james-20014,746 posts since 13 Sep 2015
Central (East) East Midlands Today
It's not just the framing that's the issue with Buffy HD, though that is a major part of it, it's also things like issues of how they handled the effects shots (basically just cropping and upscaling the 4:3 NTSC footage) and the proper colour grading and filters are virtually non existant, as well as awful noise removal filters in overdrive.
james-20014,746 posts since 13 Sep 2015
Central (East) East Midlands Today
This is a video I watched a few weeks ago about the awful Buffy HD remaster:



That video does mention The Wire as an example of a HD remaster done right. Star Trek TNG is pretty much spot on too (apart from some iffy effects work when CBS outsourced it to get it done quicker) Some are better than others.

TV shows shot on film before the mid-late 80s were usually edited on film which usually makes it fairly straightforward to convert them into HD, it's from the mid-80s onwards when they switched to editing on video and a HD remaster requires going back to the original film (if it even still exists) and re-editing from scratch and redoing effects work, which where bad decisions often end up being made.

I think Cheers was one of the earliest HD remasters to be done that way, that one was done way back in the early 00s (from what I read, the first 4 seasons were edited on film- but they still have recreated end credits even though they could have kept the original optical film ones). I always remember how bad the old versions that Channel 4 and Paramount Comedy used to show, they looked dreadful (and you still see some shots like it in the remastered versions, presumably because they couldn't find the original film and had to use the existing SD material).
Last edited by james-2001 on 10 June 2019 8:43pm
VMPhil9,528 posts since 31 Mar 2005
Granada North West Today
The one show I'm really surprised hasn't received an HD remaster is Scrubs, given it was composed for 4:3 but protected for a future 16:9 transfer from the start, and they went to the trouble of remastering clips from the first episode to be shown in the final episode (technically the season 8 finale). It seems like a no brainer but perhaps the show isn't popular enough in the syndication market for it to be worth the cost.
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Neil Jones5,218 posts since 23 Dec 2001
Central (West) Midlands Today
The one show I'm really surprised hasn't received an HD remaster is Scrubs, given it was composed for 4:3 but protected for a future 16:9 transfer from the start, and they went to the trouble of remastering clips from the first episode to be shown in the final episode (technically the season 8 finale). It seems like a no brainer but perhaps the show isn't popular enough in the syndication market for it to be worth the cost.


Hm, and there was me thinking the entire thing had just been shot in 4:3 (as I'd only ever seen it in 4:3) whereas all long it had just been 4:3 protected.

I notice now a similar thing seems to have happened with Two and a Half Men, which the first season seems to have been syndicated in 4:3 (and were on the DVD that way) and then some 16:9 transfers of it "turned up", not entirely sure whether they were similar to what happened with Friends or whether it was similar to Scrubs.
james-20014,746 posts since 13 Sep 2015
Central (East) East Midlands Today
For a while until the mid-00s we often only got 4:3 copies of serveral US shows that were made in 16:9 HD. I think distributors often only sent out SD versions in 4:3, I guess because 16:9 SD has never really been a thing in the US (or even most countries outside the UK at the time). Channel 4 still show the last 2 seasons of Frasier in 4:3 even though they were made in HD (probably still using the same copies from when they first showed them). Paramount Comedy/Comedy Central showed them in 16:9 HD at one point though.
Last edited by james-2001 on 10 June 2019 10:44pm - 2 times in total
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VMPhil9,528 posts since 31 Mar 2005
Granada North West Today
For a while until the mid-00s we often only got 4:3 copies of serveral US shows that were made in 16:9 HD. I think distributors often only sent out SD versions in 4:3. Channel 4 still show the last 2 seasons of Frasier in 4:3 even though they were made in HD (probably still using the same copies from when they first showed them). Paramount Comedy showed them in 16:9 HD at one point though.

Yes although season 10 was just badly cropped from 4:3, looks better in 4:3 SD. Season 11 is proper 16:9 HD and does look great.