Ironically, as production largely moved away from film and on to videotape (which Friends did not), it means that many programmes from the 60's and 70's can be remastered into HD with much better results than later programmes from the 80's and 90's can as they were often recorded on SD videotape and as such are inherently SD in a way that 35mm filmed programmes are not. You can reprocess and upscale as much as you like, but you can't create what isn't there.
Yes - though relatively few US scripted shows were shot on SD video (low-end 80s sitcoms like Family Ties and Kate and Allie spring to mind as taped shows). Most US stuff - drama and multi-camera sitcom - stayed with film. Only relatively recently did some (but not all) leave film and start shooting on HD electronic cameras.
Some US shows shot on film switched to videotape for post-production (Dallas notably) - and in these cases HD remastering can be a bit trickier (also the case with STTNG where effects were done in the video domain) as you have to re-transfer rushes and re-edit to match the SD video edits (assuming the film rushes still exist) However most US shows stayed with film as their acquisition format until HD shooting became possible at a similar quality, so at least it was possible.
The UK industry didn't have the multi-take single-camera Hollywood movie influences (we initially shot far more theatrically as-live in mulit-camera video studios) nor did we have the US budgets, so when we switched from B&W to Colour most of our domestic shows used 16mm for location film shooting not 35mm, and many of the interiors were shot to tape. Whilst some 16mm can stand-up well when transferred in HD (the Blu-ray of the Doctor Who story "Spearhead from Space" for instance - shot entirely on film as a result of a studio strike) - some of the stuff shot on fast stock doesn't. And the video is SD. If you can get the 2" masters and run them through a PAL Transform decoder you can maximise the quality of the SD video - reducing the composite analogue artefacts significantly - you can't make it HD...
Apart from shows shot for US colour markets (The ITC series for instance) - most UK production is less well suited to HD remastering sadly. We switched to shooting far more using video cameras on location (lots of 80s UK drama - from costume to contemporary - was shot on SD tape) On the other hand this stuff often has a far more 'realistic' feel as much was shot on location rather than in studio, and lit in a more natural manner in some (but not all cases).
Compare "Murder She Wrote" with "Life and Loves of a She Devil"... Sure, Murder She Wrote looks great in HD technically, but it's lit to within an inch of its life and so obviously studio shot.
Though there is something quite odd seeing 80s costume drama like By The Sword Divided, The Barchester Chronicles etc. shot on video not film. Personally I quite like the 50Hz motion and more realistic 'look' - it stopped it feeling like something archaic. But the production values are undoubtedly lower in some areas (though lots of UK TV film production on location was often very 'tripod-bound' and static, whereas location video stuff was often a lot more dynamic with tracking cameras and handheld stuff)
In regard of a point Pete made earlier relating to
Red Dwarf Remastered
, I believe that Red Dwarf is one of the rare occasions were the original 2"/1" masters exist as it was a Paul Jackson Production made for the BBC. This meant that most, if not all of the original material still exists in some form.
However, when the BBC commissioned for the remastering of the first three series, these original masters were rarely accessed simply because it would be too expensive to re-edit the 18 episodes from scratch. I believe that they were only used to re-composite certain blue/green screen shots. As a result, the footage used was from the final edits which suffered from generation loss, etc which would not have been as evident had the episodes been completely put together again from scratch. I believe attempts were made to digitally boost the colour in post-production.
That being said, the remastered series did have a completely new soundtrack, as well as many of the original music cues being reprocessed in stereo. I also believe that the model shots used were all recorded on 35mm, but were subsequently replaced for 1997-era CGI.
Last edited by Maaixuew on 25 June 2014 3:00pm - 2 times in total