Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Tucker wrote:

Probably the more complex explaination is that he knew Kromagg Prime Mrs. Mallory would be an on-going role and if he didn't like Linda Henning, he hired a new actress, while still kept her in that episode to explain her off in a way. But that's giving a little more credit then is needed to Peckinpah.

I have skimmed Reborn. That part of the explaination as far as I understood it was due to the universe being rewritten and stuff. You also included an explaination for the production order vs the airing order. Nice Job.

To be blunt, I don't know if the explanation is actually that strong. Part 4 of SLIDERS REBORN is a transcript of a conversation between a man in a mental asylum claiming to be an interdimensional traveller named Quinn Mallory. A psychiatrist listens to his crazy story. Quinn describes how he had four amazing years of adventures in sliding with Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo -- except in Year Five, they ran into Dr. Geiger's Combine experiment. Suddenly, reality shifted: Quinn found himself trapped in the body of another man, Mallory, Wade and the Professor were gone, Rembrandt's mustache vanished and there was this new slider, Maggie, whom Quinn had never met and didn't know.

Quinn was further confused when Mallory used a holographic memory machine on himself and Quinn proceeded to watch the first four seasons of SLIDERS as we know them in these holographic flashbacks. Quinn was baffled by what he saw: the day of the first slide, March 22, 1995, was now September 27, 1994. His adventures were being shown in the wrong order. The extra sliders of "Luck of the Draw" and "El Sid" and "Love Gods" would instantly vanish between slides. The third year had monsters and magic which he'd never encountered as well as the death of Professor Arturo which Quinn had never seen. The fourth year had the invasion of Earth. "It was like someone had taken my life and infused it with horror and madness," says Quinn. I think this is the part of the story that actually works; it features Quinn effectively watching SLIDERS as though he is a fan of SLIDERS and being upset by the network issues, production problems, cast departures and showrunner changes.

The explanation is later that Quinn's original memories are the original timeline and that Dr. Geiger's experiment ripped all Quinn-doubles of reality which, due to Quinn being an interdimensional traveller, was like tearing load bearing walls out of the entire multiverse. Reality collapsed, resulting interdimensional scar tissue to try to maintain the structure of reality via an altered timeline with a damaged form of Quinn's adventures, a form where the differences from the original were initially small but became more overt as events neared the ground zero point of the Combine disaster. This serves as a catch-all blanket explanation. The story further explains that the multiverse has the capacity to activate a 'system restore' function that's later used to restore the original Wade, and then the original timeline with the Kromaggs expunged from the rebuild.

This is the part where the story starts to make less and less sense because the rules and explanations don't really speak to any coherent or consistent perspective on physical reality.

There's an earlier passage in Part 3 where Quinn says that "all matter is frozen light." Arturo calls this "an absurd oversimplification" and I think Arturo is correct; in reality, light is not matter at all but electromagnetic radiation. However, in the context of SLIDERS, Quinn is correct because Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt, Arturo and everything around them were illuminated diodes on a cathode ray tube television and in the context of SLIDERS REBORN, everyone and everything is composed of pixels on a screen. The 'science' of SLIDERS REBORN is really the science of stories.

The dual timeline argument is not a rational one. Instead, it's emotional, declaring that the SLIDERS multiverse may have been warped and twisted into something obscene and unrecognizable, but it is fundamentally a fictional construct defined by friendship, teamwork, problem solving and the triumph of improvisation and imagination, and that however damaged or broken it may be, Quinn and Wade and Rembrandt and Arturo will always return to save it. The author can only hope that the reader is so won over by the conceit of Quinn watching SLIDERS as a fan and voicing the same complaints of fans that they'll accept the second half of the story.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Just a heads up guys.  There's a DVD AI upgrade enhancer software package normally 200 bucks that is free today.

https://sharewareonsale.com/product-tag … tive-deals

Search dvdfab video enhancer AI on the page.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Sadly, I won't be able to try this software. I thought about downloading it, but ultimately didn't because my gaming laptop is currently upscaling all my DUE SOUTH DVDs to 720p and I can't stop it right now to try a different software. Maybe you could take a run at some of the SLIDERS episodes.

Anyway. Get ready to see clips of Quinn and Wade's first date tonight in FakeD. :-D

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

Sadly, I won't be able to try this software. I thought about downloading it, but ultimately didn't because my gaming laptop is currently upscaling all my DUE SOUTH DVDs to 720p and I can't stop it right now to try a different software. Maybe you could take a run at some of the SLIDERS episodes.

Anyway. Get ready to see clips of Quinn and Wade's first date tonight in FakeD. :-D

unfortunately, it didn't work on my computer, as I have an older version of Windows.  So no luck.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

And one Nvidia graphics card reinstall later, we are back! Presenting Quinn and Wade's first (and last?) date in FakeD: https://mega.nz/folder/Ph5GBYxQ#KAHjapDSD1ReV3kWVSmNAg

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

And one Nvidia graphics card reinstall later, we are back! Presenting Quinn and Wade's first (and last?) date in FakeD: https://mega.nz/folder/Ph5GBYxQ#KAHjapDSD1ReV3kWVSmNAg


cool

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

The finale of "The Weaker Sex" in FakeD where Arturo tries to lose an election.
https://mega.nz/folder/Ph5GBYxQ#KAHjapDSD1ReV3kWVSmNAg

There was a huge gap between recent sample updates because -- I'm actually not sure. I updated the driver to my Nvidia graphics processing unit and for some reason, Handbrake lost the ability to do GPU-enhanced video encoding. Instead of using the graphics card, the computer was using the Intel processor which was way too slow for daily encodes. I had to start from the earliest driver available and keep uninstalling and reinstalling each successive driver until I finally found the one that Handbrake could use to access the GPU.

Interesting to see Quinn and Wade have their first date in "Last Days" and then in "The Weaker Sex," Wade is apparently referring to Quinn as her boyfriend and Quinn is drying her hair after a shower. We somehow go from this to "Luck of the Draw" where Wade no longer wants to be romantic with Quinn for reasons known only to Sabrina Lloyd (which is to say, we know why Sabrina Lloyd didn't want to keep the romance, but we don't know why Wade wanted to end it).

It's also noteworthy that despite Quinn and Wade apparently being quite romantic in "Last Days" and "The Weaker Sex," Rembrandt was totally surprised to learn that Quinn and Wade had a romantic date in "Last Days" when it's mentioned in "Gillian of the Spirits."

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

"Eggheads:" Arturo's first scene with his late wife and Wade's reaction.
https://mega.nz/folder/Ph5GBYxQ#KAHjapDSD1ReV3kWVSmNAg

"Eggheads" nearly killed me. For reasons beyond me, the Season 1 + 2 Dual Dimension set has Eggheads encoded at an even lower bit rate than all the other episodes in the set. I have no idea why. It's not as bad as the Mill Creek release, but it was still too blurry to upscale effectively. After four attempts, I manage to convince someone with the standalone Season 2 Universal DVD release to rip their disc and send me the file. This version of "Eggheads" was at the same level as the other Season 1 and 2 episodes on the Dual Dimension release, and this was the version I upscaled to FakeD.

Anyway. When writing SLIDERS scripts, I always come back to this scene to hear Arturo say, "Intellectual refinement's one thing. Moral refinement's something different." It helps me get his voice.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Interesting to see Quinn and Wade have their first date in "Last Days" and then in "The Weaker Sex," Wade is apparently referring to Quinn as her boyfriend and Quinn is drying her hair after a shower. We somehow go from this to "Luck of the Draw" where Wade no longer wants to be romantic with Quinn for reasons known only to Sabrina Lloyd (which is to say, we know why Sabrina Lloyd didn't want to keep the romance, but we don't know why Wade wanted to end it).

I would guess perhaps they tried or attempted a romance once more between Weaker Sex and Luck of the Draw but ultimately they (well more so Wade) decided it wasn't a good idea while they were busy sliding from world to world. Plus they wouldn't get much alone time with Rembrandt and Arturo around a lot. I always just thought that she only told the lady at the company that Quinn was her boyfriend even if they never established it fully because it would have been easier to get him a job that way.

It's also noteworthy that despite Quinn and Wade apparently being quite romantic in "Last Days" and "The Weaker Sex," Rembrandt was totally surprised to learn that Quinn and Wade had a romantic date in "Last Days" when it's mentioned in "Gillian of the Spirits."

Well I don't know Remmy but it's possible he saw them being cute together and was secretly shipping them lol. So then when he hears that they had an actual romantic encounter, he's like "yeah my friends are getting together, finally." Their romance in Weaker Sex was also a lot more subtle. All that happened was Quinn drying Wade's hair while they talked to Arturo. There wasn't anything more to it (that we know of).

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

"The King is Back" finale in FakeD.
https://mega.nz/folder/Ph5GBYxQ#KAHjapDSD1ReV3kWVSmNAg

Not sure what to say about this one. It is very funny, but music is not one of my strengths. Also, I don't know about Torme's writing for black characters. Some have criticized it as a racist caricature; some have seen it as based on Torme's friendships with musicians. All I can say is that Cleavant Derricks is a wonderful actor and I love how he takes Rembrandt's torment and makes it all funny.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

"The King is Back" finale in FakeD.
https://mega.nz/folder/Ph5GBYxQ#KAHjapDSD1ReV3kWVSmNAg

Not sure what to say about this one. It is very funny, but music is not one of my strengths. Also, I don't know about Torme's writing for black characters. Some have criticized it as a racist caricature; some have seen it as based on Torme's friendships with musicians. All I can say is that Cleavant Derricks is a wonderful actor and I love how he takes Rembrandt's torment and makes it all funny.

There's something I really like about the feel of that episode.  Not sure if it's the directing, production design, wardrobe, cinematography etc but it feels a little..... cinematic?  The way the 80s/90 comedies felt.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I really enjoy it, but I can't speak to the racial and cultural implications. I'm not accusing it of anything; I'm just saying that as a Chinese-Malaysian-Canadian, I am not qualified to say whether or not it is a respectful and appropriate presentation of black culture. I absolutely love this episode and deeply enjoy it, but if a black person wanted to tell me why I shouldn't, I would welcome it, hear it and reconsider whether or not I like it.

213 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-06-28 21:15:04)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I really enjoy it, but I can't speak to the racial and cultural implications. I'm not accusing it of anything; I'm just saying that as a Chinese-Malaysian-Canadian, I am not qualified to say whether or not it is a respectful and appropriate presentation of black culture. I absolutely love this episode and deeply enjoy it, but if a black person wanted to tell me why I shouldn't, I would welcome it, hear it and reconsider whether or not I like it.

yes, it's fair to say it is very troupe-y.  john landis really disliked the Rembrandt character where tracy thought it was over the top political correctness to criticize.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

So... is it offensive? Is it not offensive? I don't know what I think. Will you tell me what to think? My copy of WHITE FRAGILITY is not helping me in this matter.

215 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-06-28 21:13:37)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

So... is it offensive? Is it not offensive? I don't know what I think. Will you tell me what to think? My copy of WHITE FRAGILITY is not helping me in this matter.

it's not really my place to say either way -- i'm pretty sure there'd be folks within the black community who would laugh at it and folks who would be offended. and the former may be a bigger group of people but if people are really offended, and there's enough of them, then their feelings have to matter, even if outnumbered.

i don't look at the episode with any sort of shame but i think people have a right to have a conversation about it and they should be listened to.  but right now, i have yet to hear of anybody having that conversation around that episode that who are within the black community.  it's obviously very old content and i think that sort of conversation would take place  if it were a new show on a platform like netflix.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

"Luck of the Draw": the ending in 720p.
https://mega.nz/folder/Ph5GBYxQ#KAHjapDSD1ReV3kWVSmNAg

Annie Fish once remarked in their review of "The Dying Fields" that "Life is cruel, and unusual, and completely unfair. So why bother? Why bother feeling? Why bother trying— why bother with anything? You shouldn’t. And this is what SLIDERS is really about. It’s the personification of cynicism. Of nihilism. Of existential horror taken to such a complete extreme as to become completely meaningless."

Part of this is seeded in "Luck of the Draw" where Annie Fish tacitly argues that the logical endpoint of SLIDERS is that all the sliders die horribly because they are interdimensional travellers, but they are interdimensional travellers with no combat training, no resources, total randomness in their journey, a makeshift piece of equipment that facilitates their journey that is unreliable and possibly unmaintainable, and that inevitably, they will slide to their deaths.

But... I don't agree with that. Sci-fi television is all about people beating the odds, not meekly submitting to them. "Luck of the Draw"'s cliffhanger was not borne of nihilism. It came out of confidence: Torme knew that SLIDERS would be back. He knew that FOX would get the last 13 episodes of the original Season 1 order on the air and get the full cost of their fee to Universal realized in ad revenue. It's also why FOX finished the second season of SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES; FOX would have lost money by not finishing out their original order even though the show's ratings were poor.

Torme knew SLIDERS' return would be delayed. That the show might return in a very different form as FOX wanted to 'retool' the show for what would be Season 2. But it would be back. And so, SLIDERS in Season 1 ends with a cliffhanger to keep the show in the viewers' minds and urges them to anticipate its return.

"Luck of the Draw"'s cliffhanger is not declaring that Quinn getting shot is the likely fate of everyone on the show; "Luck of the Draw" is declaring that SLIDERS will return. That the sliders will always come back.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I've decided to attempt another upscale from 480p to 720 on the first season of SLIDERS (Episodes 2 - 9). The results of AI upscaling on the Pilot and Seasons 2 - 5 have been pretty good. While Universal and Mill Creek overcompressed the video files to fit more episodes on fewer discs, underneath the blockiness was film grain in which AI video upscaling could read and rebuild detail, so that from Season 2 onward, you could see the texture of the sliders' jackets and a crisp rendering of Rembrandt's hair and the scar on Quinn's face. The pilot was also scanned at a strong bit rate where the subsequent episodes were overcompressed for DVD.

However, Episodes 2 - 9 of Season 1 seem even further compressed than Seasons 2 - 5. Upscaling on these episodes has yielded an image that remains fuzzy and blurry in stark contrast to the strong results of upscaling Seasons 2 - 5. Compare a shot from the Pilot episode (left). This same shot is used in the credits of the remaining Season 1 episodes (shown on the right). You can see that the image quality is severely reduced.

https://i.ibb.co/85hVhjH/compare.jpg

I'm not sure why this over-overcompression is specific to Season 1's episodes after the Pilot. I can only guess that Universal's home video department compressed the Pilot to a reasonable bit rate only to be told that Season 1 would be released on one disc or two single layer discs. Perhaps that's why the remaining Season 1 episodes were encoded to be so small, only for the home video department to decide to release Seasons 1 - 2 together in one set on higher capacity discs, leading to a higher bit rate after Season 1.

I'm told that the German blu-ray release (all 88 episodes in standard definition on blu-ray discs) has the least amount of compression and is a marked improvement on the Universal DVD releases, and I have been able to buy a used copy off eBay. It will take anywhere from 6 - 8 weeks to arrive by post.

I'm hoping that the blu-ray will contain decent standard definition files for Episodes 2 - 9, or at least files good enough for AI upscaling them to bring them to the same level of video quality as the AI upscales on Seasons 2 - 5.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Let us know how the German version compares to Universal. Not really related to Sliders but I've noticed countries outside of the US get blu ray versions before the United States. Never understood that.

slidecage.com
Twitter @slidersfanblog
Instagram slidersfanblog

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Actually, I was thinking about sending you a blu-ray set so you could review it on your Slidecage blog. :-D

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I've been contemplating in the past about getting a set.

slidecage.com
Twitter @slidersfanblog
Instagram slidersfanblog

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I'm told that the German blu-ray release (all 88 episodes in standard definition on blu-ray discs) has the least amount of compression and is a marked improvement on the Universal DVD releases, and I have been able to buy a used copy off eBay. It will take anywhere from 6 - 8 weeks to arrive by post.

I'm hoping that the blu-ray will contain decent standard definition files for Episodes 2 - 9, or at least files good enough for AI upscaling them to bring them to the same level of video quality as the AI upscales on Seasons 2 - 5.

great news

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

It's news. I don't know if it's great because for all I know, the blu-ray quality is the same as the Universal DVD set and unfit for upscaling.

I don't know what to expect. I've never been able to get a hold of anyone who has both the Universal DVD sets and the blu-ray. I did try upscaling the Mill Creek version of "Summer of Love," however, and the Mill Creek video quality is simply too poor for Topaz to rebuild any of the detail. I am a bit worried that the blu-ray version of the Season 1 episodes will be bad as Universal's DVDs.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

It's news. I don't know if it's great because for all I know, the blu-ray quality is the same as the Universal DVD set and unfit for upscaling.

I don't know what to expect. I've never been able to get a hold of anyone who has both the Universal DVD sets and the blu-ray. I did try upscaling the Mill Creek version of "Summer of Love," however, and the Mill Creek video quality is simply too poor for Topaz to rebuild any of the detail. I am a bit worried that the blu-ray version of the Season 1 episodes will be bad as Universal's DVDs.

I suppose it's possible, although I think  I've also heard the german dvd-on-blu-ray copies were perhaps better.  Or perhaps I am thinking of the Sliders reruns in germany on NITRO.  Or maybe I am thinking of re-runs on The Hub.


You can email the german sliders site:
http://www.sliders-dimension.de/

here's their review, which translated seems to indicate its a bit better than the dvds
http://www.sliders-dimension.de/DVD/com … cb_de.html


Despite SD quality, the video material looks slightly better compared to the DVDs, especially when it comes to the colors. You can see a slight improvement in contrast with the BD and the image appears a bit grainier and sharper. Especially with the newer seasons, colors are more natural. The DVD, on the other hand, looked slightly muddy and darker. However , a mistake seems to have occurred in the editing of the video material, at least in the episode In the Warlock's Realm . Over the entire term to recognize so-called interlaced strips ( interlaced). So image artifacts when people or things are in motion.

224 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-09-17 17:42:10)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Has anyone ever heard about the quality of the Australian collector's edition release?

https://www.amazon.com/Sliders-Collecti … d=&sr=

I guess since it's in PAL format the frame rate may be stroby..

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I'd like to learn more about the Australian release too!

I had a nightmare last night that my grandfather rose from his grave to slap me for buying a standard definition blu-ray set that conceivably has the same problems as the Universal set.

It's unclear which episodes the German site reviewed to compare the blu-ray to the DVDs, so we don't know if the video quality is better or worse or equal.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I received the German blu-ray set of SLIDERS this evening. It's region free, plays on my Region 1 blu-ray player. This blu-ray set is the set that Universal and Mill Creek should have released. I am delighted with the video quality. The Season 1 episodes offer a good DVD quality image.

For whatever reason, Universal's DVD release has an excellent scan of the Pilot on DVD with a high bit rate. It's a clear 640x480 image, it looks good when upscaled on an HDTV, it looks amazing when AI upscaled by Topaz to 720p video. However, for the subsequent episodes, Universal overcompressed the digital files so severely that they are fuzzy, blurry, washed out, hazy and Mill Creek's release brought the Pilot episode down to the level of the other 86 episodes and made everything even blurrier.

On the blu-ray release, the pilot and all 86 episodes that follow appear to be at the same level of quality as Universal's DVD release of the Pilot. The files have not been compressed into blurry haziness. I can use Season 1, Episodes 2 - 9 from this blu-ray to get a great 720p upscale. However, that's less necessary because the high DVD level video quality of this blu-ray is so good that even lightly stretching the 640x480 image to 1080p on my HDTV yields very pleasant results. The stretched image doesn't have the crystalline sharpness that AI upscaling would add, but it still looks pretty good and is devoid of the blocky blurriness of the Universal and Mill Creek releases.

I'm not clear if Universal provided high quality digital files to this German blu-ray company, Turbine Medien, or if Turbine got a hold of the master tapes and did their own scans. It's peculiar that the files on this DVD are not the files used for streaming services. This blu-ray uses standard definition video files, but they are well-scanned, high bit-rate standard definition files.

I'm going to upscale Episodes 2 - 9 of Season 1 again and then upscale "As Time Goes By" from Season 2 and see if these SD blu-ray files yield better results than the Universal and Mill Creek DVDs. The Universal DVDs for Seasons 2 - 3 weren't as compressed as Season 1's post-pilot episodes. The Mill Creek versions of Seasons 4 - 5 were compressed but not to the point of eliminating the grain in the 16mm film. It's possible that the upscaled results for post-Season 1 episodes won't be any better even with the less-compressed blu-ray files. But it would be interesting to see.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I'm still in the process of upscaling "Summer of Love," but I've been further exploring the Turbine Medien blu-ray set and... it's interesting. Season 1 on the blu-ray looks good, certainly better than the Universal DVD releases. However, Season 1 on this blu-ray set does not look as good as Season 2.

I skipped ahead to "As Time Goes By" in Season 2 (all of Seasons 1 - 2 are on a single blu-ray disc). "As Time Goes By" is a quantum leap forward from the Season 1 video quality: I can make out every strand in Jerry O'Connell's hair, I can see the texture of his skin right down to the details of the scar on his face. And this isn't a high definition image: it's a 640x480 pixel image that my blu-ray player is simply stretching to 1080 pixels high. This 640x480 pixel video of "As Time Goes By" is actually superior to my 720p AI upscale of the Universal DVDs because there is so much more texture detail in the image. (I'm still not sure if upscaling this 640x480 picture to 720p via AI would necessarily make it better; it might be numerically at 960 x 720 pixels in the video file, but it might not look any different from simply stretching it.

When watched at living room-TV distance and with the backlight reduced on the HDTV, the "As Time Goes By" blu-ray SD looks close to blu-ray HD. Turn up the backlight in full and get up close and you can see that it's not quite as sharp, of course.

The blu-ray versions of the Season 1 episodes -- including the pilot -- are not at the same standard as what I've seen of Season 2. They do not look like near HD files on my HDTV. They have a fogginess, they lack the crystalline sharpness of the Season 2 episodes. Season 1 episodes on the blu-ray look like a decent DVD (as opposed to the Universal set looking very poor and the Mill Creek set being a blurry set of blocks). The pilot episode on both the blu-ray and the DVD have the same level of video quality which means that an upscale will be able to sharpen up the Season 1 episodes quite effectively and create good 720p files.

However, Season 2 on this blu-ray looks so good that AI upscaling any of the Season 2 blu-ray episode files seems totally unnecessary to me at this point, at least to the degree that I was doing it. Topaz has alternate algorithms for higher quality SD files; the Season 2 blu-ray might benefit from being boosted to 1080p or even 4K via AI upscaling.

I'm not sure why Seasons 1 - 2 look so different. Certainly, Seasons 1 had Peter Woeste as the cinematographer and Season 2 had Robert Hudecek. Woeste liked gray midtones, Hudecek preferred high contrast and shadows. Woeste's photography is more painterly and artfully in soft focus, Hudecek likes sharpness. But the massive difference in visual quality can't just be stylistic. For years, it looked like Universal and Mill Creek's overcompression was why Season 1 looked so bad because everything other than the pilot looked bad.

However, the blu-ray isn't overcompressed. Each episode is at least 1.6 GB large. I think that Season 1 used a film to tape transfer process that significantly muddied the results; it wasn't noticeable on original broadcast on a cathode ray tube television. But it's clear that not every film to tape transfer process is built equally: the original LOIS AND CLARK broadcasts had pretty decent 35mm photography even after the tape transfer, but any time there was a special effect, the video quality would drop into blurriness as though a lower quality video suite were now in play.

I think Season 1 must have used a different process from the subsequent seasons for the film to tape transfers for editing and effects. A process that yields poorer results, a process that has left the original master tapes of SLIDERS in Season 1 with a fogginess that is not due to overcompression (although the overcompression made it blurrier).

I think the AI can clear most of that away the way the AI could present a very sharp 720p version of the pilot using the high bit rate of the Universal DVD's version of the series premiere.

Anyway. I think my upscales of Seasons 2 - 5 are totally worthless. People should just buy this blu-ray from Germany. My Season 1 upscales might be worthwhile, though.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I def. hear what you are saying ireactions about a different process used in season one vs. season two in the production process of the assets because it def. seems to me that they changed something between those seasons.  And maybe even from season three on vs. season two.

In any case, it would be interesting to try to push season two in an upscale as far as you can.  1080 or 4k.  I continue to marvel at your clips in the last up-res and it seems like with the german blu-ray you are also benefiting from your blu-ray player's upscale algorithm.  Which is not something everyone has.

I think there's definitely a case being made here for us to make a push to Universal to re-scan the film for the season one episodes and up-res any special effects shots.  It would be great if we could push peacock to do it.

In anycase, the question remains -- why are they streaming compressed files that look like ass?  Are they gettting mixed up between how they store digital assets?  The german release looks better per your reports and we know with The Hub the content looked better (did they upscale it?).

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I've played the raw blu-ray video files on my computer and I can assure you that the excellent SD video quality of the Season 2 episodes isn't from my player or TV. Turbine's video quality is just that good. :-)

Why are the blu-ray files so good while the streaming versions are so terrible?
My theory: Turbine Media Group acquired copies of the master tapes from NBCUniversal and created their own digital files from the tapes. I have never seen The Hub's broadcasts, but if the quality was superior to streaming services and the DVDs, they may have done the same.

Bargain Bin Operation: Mill Creek said they didn't have the resources to do their own scans of the master tapes, but Mill Creek is a low budget operation. They cram whatever files they get onto as few discs as possible for the lowest price point possible. As you said, their SLIDERS release was for people who vaguely remembered the show and would pay the discounted $20.

Even Mill Creek's blu-ray releases, described as adequate in various reviews, compress as many episodes onto as few discs as possible (although reviews indicate that the compression isn't too damaging as the HD files have margin for reduction).

A Different League: In contrast, Turbine Media Group is a big budget prestige operation; their website sells blu-rays of classic horror movies from the 1970s to 1990ss in HD and 4K with steelbook packaging, vintage packaging art that's had digital aging effects to create a sense of authenticity.

Rescans and Remasters: Turbine advertises new releases of films where they have done their own 4K transfers and sound remasterings of DRAGONHEART, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, TWISTER, CRASH by David Cronenberg (and with Cronenberg's supervision). Not all of their blu-rays claim to be new transfers, however. It looks like they do remasterings if the files they've received are not up to their standards. Even for the blu-rays where they seem to be using the studio's files, they have Turbine-exclusive commentaries such as with CANDYMAN, THE HILLS HAVE EYES and AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON.

Existing Infrastructure: This tells me that Turbine has a facility for rescanning film negatives and videotapes into high quality digital formats, remastering sound and audio, and recording audio commentaries, and they were able to put SLIDERS master tapes through their in-house processes rather than taking whatever NBCUniversal sent Mill Creek and Netflix. It would definitely have cost Turbine time, but they wouldn't have had to rework their operation or purchase new equipment because they were already using that equipment for their remasters of TWISTER and whatnot.

_________________________________________


Season 1 Restoration
It takes 10 hours to upscale each episode of SLIDERS and that's after taking some time to copy the files to my hard drive and convert them to constant framerate with progressive video. Season 1 on the blu-ray looks like a good DVD transfer: clear but lacking in fine detail and a little fuzzy. That fuzziness is accentuated when stretching the image from 480 pixels to 720p; I think Topaz can likely reduce that. It's going to take me about 3 - 4 days.

The Pilot looked like an okay DVD video. Upscaling made it a very good DVD video. I expect the rest of Season 1 when upscaled will fall in line and look like good DVDs. That's nice, but not at the same level as the Season 2 blu-ray SD episodes which surpass the limits of DVD quality.

An Impromptu Scale
Let's create a scale of HD video quality. We'll put a blank screen at 0 out of 10. And we'll consider, say, a 1080p blu-ray of the latest Marvel movie at 10 out of 10.

Abysmal to Poor: I would put the Mill Creek DVDs at 1 out of 10 which is to say that there is a video image and it qualifies as being more than a blank screen. I would rate the Universal DVDs at 3 out of 10; they're viewable but blurry and covered in compression artifacts.

Middle of the Road: I would rank the Universal DVD version of the Pilot episode and the blu-ray version of Season 1 at 5 out of 10. Not overcompressed, decent enough DVD quality, but still on the blurry side.

Better Than Average: I would put my upscale of the Pilot and Season 2 - 5 episodes at 6 out of 10: serviceable, not distractingly poor, nowhere near a 1080p Marvel movie release, but certainly more good than bad.

Very Good: However, I would put the blu-ray SD release of Seasons 2 - 5 at 7.5 out of 10 in terms of HD presentation. They are still not HD, but the flaws of SD on an HDTV are largely absent and all the merits of sharpness and detail and clarity are strongly in evidence. Put your face up to the screen and you can see it's blurrier than a true HD image and short of the crystaline quality of CAPTAIN MARVEL or a Netflix episode of RIVERDALE -- but who actually watches TV that way?

I can get the other Season 1 episodes to 6 out of 10 with Topaz. However, it's really just for my own personal viewing. Season 1 on the SD blu-ray looks good enough and most people who'd play SLIDERS on blu-ray have a player or TV that can sharpen up the image.

_________________________________________


Future AI Upscaling
Once Season 1 is finished, I'll certainly AI upscale "As Time Goes By" to 4K. However, it could take 24 hours and my expectations are not high.

Topaz upscaling does not actually add detail to the video. Instead, it removes flaws. When you stretch the Universal DVD version of the Pilot or "As Time Goes By" from 640x480 to 1080p on an HDTV, you get an image that is stretched to the point of blurriness and the blocky artifacts of compression are even more present.

Cleanup: Topaz removes these distortions of stretching and compression with clever combinations of increased pixel contrast that's applied specifically to different categories of texture. Topaz's result is still a stretched image, but with all the blur and artifacts alleviated with pixel contrast and deblocking so that it resembles an HD image on an HDTV. However, that high definition look is an illusion; Topaz is not adding any detail, it's just clearing away the obstructions that distract from the detail underneath the stretch and compress.

The fogginess of the S1 episodes even in an uncompressed format is, in its way, a form of compression. It's from crunching down a 35mm film image to a standard definition videotape. And Topaz can alleviate some of the fogginess of the poor quality film-to-tape transfer in S1.

Hitting the Ceiling: In the case of the S2 - S5 blu-ray files: there is no fuzziness. There are no artifacts of compression. I don't think Topaz can do any more cleanup because the image is already clean. It's a standard definition 640x480 image, but the detail and depth contained within those 640x480 pixels are sufficient to scale to an HD screen without blurriness. The SD blu-ray version of "As Time Goes By" has more film graininess than the upscale. Within that SD graininess is texture that shows you pores in the actors' skin and their individual strands of hair.

I don't believe Topaz can improve this image. Topaz tends to smooth out grain in video files when upscaling them, extrapolating and increasing the pixels around the grains to create the illusion of detail, and ultimately producing high resolution video files that lack film grain texture. Topaz would likely, in bringing these files from SD to HD, cover all this detail with a waxy sheen. I suspect that the blu-ray video files, outside of S1 needing a sharpening pass, are best left alone.

My view: S2 - S5 on blu-ray are the best possible digital versions of the standard definition master tapes. They can't be improved by our current level of AI upscaling technology; at this point, the only improvement would be to rescan the original film to 4K and rebuild HD versions of the episodes.

(It'll be good to find out for sure, of course.)

Standard Definition Detail: Also, my upscaled video files, for wider shots, often had a watercolour blurriness because the AI couldn't lock onto any fine detail in order to increase it from 480 pixels to 720p. Examples include Arturo-2 holding his book in "Prince of Wails" with the text being unreadable; the stairs to Quinn's front porch in "Into the Mystic" being a mess of overlapping lines, or the sliders standing at a distance at the end of "Time and Again World". The upscale made these shots look like garbled video data. But in the blu-ray SD version, these shots look deliberately soft focused.

The blu-ray is just better. The DVDs have been garbage; my upscales have been garbage with some polish. Get the blu-ray. :-)

I will try AI upscaling the blu-ray SD version of "As Time Goes By" to 4K. It will take at least a day. But based on what I'm seeing, the results will probably be the same as having Handbrake stretch the image to 4K in 20 - 30 minutes and it will lose image detail and fail to gain anything.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Skimming through some Season 4 episodes on the SD blu-ray. The level of detail in these low-compression files is amazing. And these episodes were definitely shot on 16mm film. I'd recognize this graininess anywhere -- specifically from watching five seasons of the TV show CHUCK, also shot on 16mm and also extremely grainy.

231 (edited by ireactions 2021-10-03 08:17:48)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

"Summer of Love" is looking well after the upscale, having gone from okay DVD quality off of the blu-ray to being a good DVD. Still nowhere near the splendor of the S2 - S5 episodes, but it's good enough.

It looks as good as my other upscales -- clear and clean (and a bit 'waxy' post-upscale) -- but it does not match the look of the Pilot upscale.

Left: SD blu-ray file. Right: Upscaled to 720p blu-ray file.
https://i.ibb.co/5W69T97/quartet-summer-of-love.jpg

In fact, looking at the Pilot and "Summer of Love" on uncompressed blu-ray, it's become clear: the Pilot and "Summer of Love" have very different standards of video quality. The Pilot does not have the soft focus look of "Summer of Love" and subsequent Season 1 episodes. I'm not sure why.

Yes, there's a different cinematographer for the Pilot (Glen Macpherson), but MacPherson still seems to gravitate to low contrast, gray-oriented filming like Peter Woeste. My guess -- and it is just a guess -- is that the Pilot used one particular method for film to videotape transfer -- then the rest of Season 1 used a different method, one that created the blurriness from "Summer of Love" to "Luck of the Draw."

Left: SD blu-ray file. Right: Upscaled to 720p blu-ray file.
https://i.ibb.co/P40v6mC/01.jpg

I wonder if it was deliberate in that the film to tape process for Season 1 after the Pilot seems to have smoothed out the grain texture of the 35mm film. The Pilot episode had occasional flickers of dust and scratches across the image that makes it so distinctly filmic. "Summer of Love" to "Luck of the Draw" are so smoothed out that it could be deliberate; an effort to present a clean image where all the dust and scratches of film have been almost airbrushed away.

It wouldn't have been particularly noticeable on a cathode ray tube television; in fact, the Pilot and "Summer of Love" didn't look any different to me when I watched it on the SPACE channel in the late-90s aside from the absence of dust and scratches after the Pilot. But in a digital format, the smoothing is deeply destructive because it destroys the film grain that, in high definition, presents fine detail.

Left: SD blu-ray file. Right: Upscaled to 720p blu-ray file.
https://i.ibb.co/3vnkW3h/02.jpg

I guess the Season 2 team went back to a film to tape method that left the grain alone.

In the original upscale I did of "Summer of Love," you couldn't make out anyone's hair: the Professor's beard and the top of Rembrandt's head was just a vague, dark, digital fuzziness. Now the hair is distinct and defined. Everything still has the soft-focus look of all the S1 episodes, but it's still more in-focus and closer to the Pilot episode without being a match for it.

Left: SD blu-ray file. Right: Upscaled to 720p blu-ray file.
https://i.ibb.co/JpCph48/3.jpg

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I'm hoping these screenshots capture some of the splendor of the blu-ray, in motion and scaled to an HDTV.

https://i.ibb.co/M2LbXmq/01.jpg https://i.ibb.co/09Kzqjw/02.jpg https://i.ibb.co/y6cFKd2/03.jpg https://i.ibb.co/Mpwbtn5/04.jpg https://i.ibb.co/xCF9zZP/05.jpg https://i.ibb.co/k6QXLgk/06.jpg https://i.ibb.co/YyNzhHK/07.jpg https://i.ibb.co/23ZLDhY/08.jpg https://i.ibb.co/XCHKFpP/09.jpg https://i.ibb.co/ThyypmQ/10.jpg https://i.ibb.co/R9XvpLJ/11.jpg https://i.ibb.co/rbZvMYb/12.jpg

233 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-03 08:41:49)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I've played the raw blu-ray video files on my computer and I can assure you that the excellent SD video quality of the Season 2 episodes isn't from my player or TV. Turbine's video quality is just that good. :-)

love this entire post... will be re-reading it many times over.


ireactions wrote:

https://i.ibb.co/5W69T97/quartet-summer-of-love.jpg

just so i am understanding correctly, is image on left your original upscale (off universal dvd), right an upscale off the german release?


ireactions wrote:

I'm hoping these screenshots capture some of the splendor of the blu-ray, in motion and scaled to an HDTV.

https://i.ibb.co/M2LbXmq/01.jpg https://i.ibb.co/09Kzqjw/02.jpg https://i.ibb.co/y6cFKd2/03.jpg https://i.ibb.co/Mpwbtn5/04.jpg https://i.ibb.co/xCF9zZP/05.jpg https://i.ibb.co/k6QXLgk/06.jpg https://i.ibb.co/YyNzhHK/07.jpg https://i.ibb.co/23ZLDhY/08.jpg https://i.ibb.co/XCHKFpP/09.jpg https://i.ibb.co/ThyypmQ/10.jpg https://i.ibb.co/R9XvpLJ/11.jpg https://i.ibb.co/rbZvMYb/12.jpg



I always thought though universal s3-s5 releases were not so "dated" looking besides the 4:3.   Especially 4 & 5.

But these look really really good.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

On the blu-ray release, the pilot and all 86 episodes that follow appear to be at the same level of quality as Universal's DVD release of the Pilot. The files have not been compressed into blurry haziness. I can use Season 1, Episodes 2 - 9 from this blu-ray to get a great 720p upscale.

===================

ireactions wrote:

I've decided to attempt another upscale from 480p to 720 on the first season of SLIDERS (Episodes 2 - 9).

However, Episodes 2 - 9 of Season 1 seem even further compressed than Seasons 2 - 5. Upscaling on these episodes has yielded an image that remains fuzzy and blurry in stark contrast to the strong results of upscaling Seasons 2 - 5.

So it seems like ep  2 - 9 have large file sizes (1.6g) but doesn't quite hit quality of pilot, which is a bummer.  It would have been great otherwise.

It would be great if we could try to get a Discovery owned network to broadcast Sliders in re-runs again.  They owned The Hub.  I'd be curious to see what their assets are like for s1.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I have edited a previous post to clarify that on the left is the blu-ray SD image and on the right is the blu-ray image upscaled to 720p.

Regarding the post-Pilot Season 1 episodes: I've been able to look at the blu-ray SD version of "Summer of Love" more closely after upscaling it to 720p. A bit like looking at the video through a magnifying glass. I've realized that some of my previous comments on the Season 1 video quality were incorrect.

A closer look at the upscaled blu-ray version and comparing it to the SD blu-ray version makes it clear: the quality of "Summer of Love" is not at the same level as the Pilot on the blu-ray. The Pilot is very sharp and filled with detail from 35mm film. All the episodes from "Summer of Love" to "Luck of the Draw" lack that detail; they have a soft-focus look. It cannot be due to file compression because the files are around 1.6 GB each and have the same bit-rate as the Season 2 - 5 episodes and S2 - S5 look really sharp. The problem with Season 1 episodes is clearly in the master tapes themselves.

It appears that after the Pilot, the remaining Season 1 episodes were shot on film, then run through a film-to-tape conversion process that smoothed out the dust, scratches and grain on the 35mm film. Because the grain has been severely filtered out of these post-Pilot S1 episodes, there is a lack of fine detail and sharpness. Grain is what contains all these fine details. This is why the eight episodes after the Pilot have always been blurrier than the other 80 episodes surrounding them; it's present on every DVD release before this blu-ray set and it's present in this blu-ray set as well.

I have seen this anomaly before in LOIS AND CLARK on broadcast and in the DVD release. The 35mm film for LOIS AND CLARK looked like 35mm film (sized down to videotape) until there were special effects. When LOIS AND CLARK had scenes needing post production events (composites, video effects, background replacements), the film for those scenes was put through a different film to tape process that filtered out the grain (and dust and scratches) and also blurred the image.

Presumably, this 'cleanness' made it easier to add and overlay effects onto the footage.

I am not sure why SLIDERS' post-Pilot Season 1 episodes were subjected to this process for all scenes whether they had effects or not. It may have been an attempt to simplify production by having all film sequences transferred to tape in the same way regardless of whether they needed special effects or not.

It may have also been an aesthetic decision to clean up the shots by removing noise, dirt and scratches from the 35mm image with the thought being that for broadcast TV on CRT televisions, the loss of sharpness would not be perceivable to the viewer.

The Pilot episode has a lot of brief artifacts appearing across the image: specks of dirt and dust, small scratches across the negative. It makes it look like a movie. Someone processing SLIDERS at the time may have considered that a flaw. The next eight episodes look very denoised and despeckled to me with far fewer instances of dirt, dust and scratches. It shifts the 35mm film more towards the look of videotape.

Thankfully, there is a small amount of grain in the S1 episodes that remains present and the AI upscale has been able to give the image a slight boost in sharpness to make it look a bit more defined as a 720p video. It isn't perfect, but it's a nice step up and meets the quality of my upscales for Season 2 - 5 -- even if it doesn't meet the quality of the Season 2 - 5 episodes on the blu-ray.

It looks like with Season 2, SLIDERS changed its film to tape process; beginning with "Into the Mystic" (or "Time and Again World" if you prefer), dirt and dust and scratches reappear across the 35mm image. In addition, there is also graininess again once Season 2 starts.

A lot of studios and viewers see graininess as a flaw. As an obstruction over the image. Part of that is because modern audiences are used to digital video which doesn't have that graininess except when it's added as texture. But in film, the image is made of grain and reducing it is to reduce the rough texture of Rembrandt's hair or the wrinkles on Quinn's shirts or the muff of Wade's jacket or the pattern on Arturo's suit jackets.

236 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-03 11:41:27)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I have edited a previous post to clarify that on the left is the blu-ray SD image and on the right is the blu-ray image upscaled to 720p.

Regarding the post-Pilot Season 1 episodes: I've been able to look at the blu-ray SD version of "Summer of Love" more closely after upscaling it to 720p. A bit like looking at the video through a magnifying glass. I've realized that some of my previous comments on the Season 1 video quality were incorrect.

A closer look at the upscaled blu-ray version and comparing it to the SD blu-ray version makes it clear: the quality of "Summer of Love" is not at the same level as the Pilot on the blu-ray. The Pilot is very sharp and filled with detail from 35mm film. All the episodes from "Summer of Love" to "Luck of the Draw" lack that detail; they have a soft-focus look. It cannot be due to file compression because the files are around 1.6 GB each and have the same bit-rate as the Season 2 - 5 episodes and S2 - S5 look really sharp. The problem with Season 1 episodes is clearly in the master tapes themselves.

It appears that after the Pilot, the remaining Season 1 episodes were shot on film, then run through a film-to-tape conversion process that smoothed out the dust, scratches and grain on the 35mm film. Because the grain has been severely filtered out of these post-Pilot S1 episodes, there is a lack of fine detail and sharpness. Grain is what contains all these fine details. This is why the eight episodes after the Pilot have always been blurrier than the other 80 episodes surrounding them; it's present on every DVD release before this blu-ray set and it's present in this blu-ray set as well.

I have seen this anomaly before in LOIS AND CLARK on broadcast and in the DVD release. The 35mm film for LOIS AND CLARK looked like 35mm film (sized down to videotape) until there were special effects. When LOIS AND CLARK had scenes needing post production events (composites, video effects, background replacements), the film for those scenes was put through a different film to tape process that filtered out the grain (and dust and scratches) and also blurred the image.

Presumably, this 'cleanness' made it easier to add and overlay effects onto the footage.

I am not sure why SLIDERS' post-Pilot Season 1 episodes were subjected to this process for all scenes whether they had effects or not. It may have been an attempt to simplify production by having all film sequences transferred to tape in the same way regardless of whether they needed special effects or not.

It may have also been an aesthetic decision to clean up the shots by removing noise, dirt and scratches from the 35mm image with the thought being that for broadcast TV on CRT televisions, the loss of sharpness would not be perceivable to the viewer.

The Pilot episode has a lot of brief artifacts appearing across the image: specks of dirt and dust, small scratches across the negative. It makes it look like a movie. Someone processing SLIDERS at the time may have considered that a flaw. The next eight episodes look very denoised and despeckled to me with far fewer instances of dirt, dust and scratches. It shifts the 35mm film more towards the look of videotape.

Thankfully, there is a small amount of grain in the S1 episodes that remains present and the AI upscale has been able to give the image a slight boost in sharpness to make it look a bit more defined as a 720p video. It isn't perfect, but it's a nice step up and meets the quality of my upscales for Season 2 - 5 -- even if it doesn't meet the quality of the Season 2 - 5 episodes on the blu-ray.

It looks like with Season 2, SLIDERS changed its film to tape process; beginning with "Into the Mystic" (or "Time and Again World" if you prefer), dirt and dust and scratches reappear across the 35mm image. In addition, there is also graininess again once Season 2 starts.

A lot of studios and viewers see graininess as a flaw. As an obstruction over the image. Part of that is because modern audiences are used to digital video which doesn't have that graininess except when it's added as texture. But in film, the image is made of grain and reducing it is to reduce the rough texture of Rembrandt's hair or the wrinkles on Quinn's shirts or the muff of Wade's jacket or the pattern on Arturo's suit jackets.


Thanks for clarification on the before and after.  I certainly see a difference.  I am assuming this is better than upres on a universal source as well as mill creek?

In terms of the season one post production process, outside the pilot, i think it makes sense to see if universal would maybe consider fixing those episodes.  But seems like even re-scanning tapes they are edited on wouldn't deal with the problem?  The problem was when it jumped from film to tape, and de-noised?  In that case, they'd have to do film.  It'd cost about $10-15k per episode to do the scan/edit/up-res with an outsourced house.

Maybe if universal or peacock ever got serious about salvaging library content.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I think that the SD blu-ray has the best possible scan of the master tapes. I just noticed: they aren't actually 640 x 480 pixels, but 20 per cent larger at 768 x 576 pixels.

The blu-ray S1 episodes are not as overcompressed as the Mill Creek/Universal S1 files, so yes, the upscale is a massive improvement on my previous efforts. My S1 upscales before looked poor; they now look very good (but not great). I've actually deleted all my S2 - S5 upscales. The blu-ray has made keeping them unnecessary. I'm just going to keep the upscaled Pilot (no need to run it twice) and the new S1 upscales.

My suggestion for Universal would be to scan the videotapes of S1, upscale it to 720p, then run it through the AI again but not increase the resolution. This would be specifically to have the AI reapply another round of texture-specific sharpening (and it would be another 15 - 20 hours on my hardware.)

It's also possible that I can run the upscaled files through a Handbrake sharpening filter. I can't do it right now, however, because Handbrake uses the graphics card and the GPU is presently occupied with upscaling the rest of Season 1.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I think that the SD blu-ray has the best possible scan of the master tapes. I just noticed: they aren't actually 640 x 480 pixels, but 20 per cent larger at 768 x 576 pixels.

I wonder if it's possible the German company got their hands on source files different than what universal america distributes to u.s. partners, or they keep stuff  in seperate folders.

Maybe there is some seperate set of assets (that maybe even have different  specs for conversion to pal, or requirements internationally), that are just better.  Perhaps provided by an enttity in Europe or Universal has some seperate folders for international assets.

If the  german company re-scanned tapes, maybe there are copies of masters for international partners floating around.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

My guess: Turbine licensed SLIDERS from NBCUniversal and requested the master tapes, which they scanned to digital files at their own facilities. However, I don't believe Turbine would be required to provide NBCUniversal with their digital scans; Turbine did it on their own equipment for their own release of SLIDERS and is only obligated to pay NBCUniversal the licensing fees and sales percentages.

I imagine NBCUniversal wouldn't be allowed to use Turbine's files without paying Turbine a fee for the resources and labour that Turbine put into rescanning the tapes on Turbine's equipment -- and NBCUniversal likely doesn't wish to pay Turbine for their work and isn't going to use their versions for streaming services when NBCUniversal's DVD files won't incur any further fees.

240 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-03 12:45:57)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

My guess: Turbine licensed SLIDERS from NBCUniversal and requested the master tapes, which they scanned to digital files at their own facilities. However, I don't believe Turbine would be required to provide NBCUniversal with their digital scans; Turbine did it on their own equipment for their own release of SLIDERS and is only obligated to pay NBCUniversal the licensing fees and sales percentages.

I imagine NBCUniversal wouldn't be allowed to use Turbine's files without paying Turbine a fee for the resources and labour that Turbine put into rescanning the tapes on Turbine's equipment -- and NBCUniversal likely doesn't wish to pay Turbine for their work and isn't going to use their versions for streaming services when NBCUniversal's DVD files won't incur any further fees.

Yea. I'm just not sure universal would trust them with the master tapes. Wouldn't that be a bit of a concern?  Like they could even get lost in transit.

That said maybe universal would consider it an acceptable risk.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

The term "master tapes" may be an overstated misnomer. I think it unlikely that each video master of each episode of SLIDERS exists solely on a single cassette per episode.

There must be multiple videotape copies of the final edit of each episode. Copies would have been needed for review, for affiliate broadcast, for overseas airings, for advertising to cut ads and create create lower resolution copies to send to press, for archival purposes should production need a clip show.

Are there 100 cassettes for each of SLIDERS 88 broadcast hours? Probably not, but the number has to be more than one even if it's less than 100. Before digital files, there must have been a sufficient number of the cassettes to send to different locations for airing and conversion to alternate standards of broadcast and for NBCUniversal to send copies to companies like Turbine seeking to produce home video products while still having quantities remaining.

I think there would have also been some expectation, perhaps even contractual, that these tapes would be returned to NBCUniversal upon expiry of syndication and affiliate broadcast requirements. Surely the Canadian SPACE channel and Canada's Global TV aren't keeping SLIDERS videocassettes still. These wouldn't be cheap, consumer grade VHS tapes; this would have to be something like Betacam or U-Matic or DV cassettes. NBCUniversal might contractually require Turbine and such to pay penalties in the event that these materials are not returned upon a set deadline.

There may also be, from an accounting standpoint, value in retaining multiple copies of video masters because they can be assigned a dollar amount, that NBCUniversal can use to present the SLIDERS property as one of their many assets that adds to their company being worth a specific amount of money should they be courting investors or seeking to be purchased.

That said, a fan editor whose name I won't give -- he apparently managed to acquire copies of videocassettes of WONDERFALLS, LOIS AND CLARK, XENA, HERCULES and other 90s and early 2000s shows. He spent tens of thousands of dollars buying them. He seemed to have found former staff members at broadcast affiliates and home video distributors and marketing firms that had kept the tapes (so maybe they're not always returned). He scanned these tapes to digital formats and ran them through AI upscaling. He crowdsourced for donations to buy more of these master tapes and, I guess, was issued a cease and desist by various studios because he abruptly shut down his crowdsourcing and went dark.

Now, these were not NBCUniversal productions. But I don't think this hobbyist fan would have been able to get master tapes if the industry standard was to only have masters existing in a quantity of one; there must be more than one. But probably less than 100.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

The term "master tapes" may be an overstated misnomer. I think it unlikely that each video master of each episode of SLIDERS exists solely on a single cassette per episode.

There must be multiple videotape copies of the final edit of each episode. Copies would have been needed for review, for affiliate broadcast, for overseas airings, for advertising to cut ads and create create lower resolution copies to send to press, for archival purposes should production need a clip show.

Are there 100 cassettes for each of SLIDERS 88 broadcast hours? Probably not, but the number has to be more than one even if it's less than 100. Before digital files, there must have been a sufficient number of the cassettes to send to different locations for airing and conversion to alternate standards of broadcast and for NBCUniversal to send copies to companies like Turbine seeking to produce home video products while still having quantities remaining.

I think there would have also been some expectation, perhaps even contractual, that these tapes would be returned to NBCUniversal upon expiry of syndication and affiliate broadcast requirements. Surely the Canadian SPACE channel and Canada's Global TV aren't keeping SLIDERS videocassettes still. These wouldn't be cheap, consumer grade VHS tapes; this would have to be something like Betacam or U-Matic or DV cassettes. NBCUniversal might contractually require Turbine and such to pay penalties in the event that these materials are not returned upon a set deadline.

There may also be, from an accounting standpoint, value in retaining multiple copies of video masters because they can be assigned a dollar amount, that NBCUniversal can use to present the SLIDERS property as one of their many assets that adds to their company being worth a specific amount of money should they be courting investors or seeking to be purchased.

That said, a fan editor whose name I won't give -- he apparently managed to acquire copies of videocassettes of WONDERFALLS, LOIS AND CLARK, XENA, HERCULES and other 90s and early 2000s shows. He spent tens of thousands of dollars buying them. He seemed to have found former staff members at broadcast affiliates and home video distributors and marketing firms that had kept the tapes (so maybe they're not always returned). He scanned these tapes to digital formats and ran them through AI upscaling. He crowdsourced for donations to buy more of these master tapes and, I guess, was issued a cease and desist by various studios because he abruptly shut down his crowdsourcing and went dark.

Now, these were not NBCUniversal productions. But I don't think this hobbyist fan would have been able to get master tapes if the industry standard was to only have masters existing in a quantity of one; there must be more than one. But probably less than 100.

Makes sense.  Though you have to wonder.... If these were copies second generation if there could be degradation there too.  Or perhaps they make multiple "masters" they find a way to all have them identical quality

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

One would think that the episodes would be edited on a videotape suite and then the videotape suite would be able to output the final cut to multiple U-matic or Betacam or DV cassettes with a set number for distribution, storage, archival maintenance, some of which would be returned, some of which would be lost, and some of which would stay within the hands of the studio for legal and financial precautions.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

One would think that the episodes would be edited on a videotape suite and then the videotape suite would be able to output the final cut to multiple U-matic or Betacam or DV cassettes with a set number for distribution, storage, archival maintenance, some of which would be returned, some of which would be lost, and some of which would stay within the hands of the studio for legal and financial precautions.

Makes sense.

245 (edited by ireactions 2021-10-04 16:16:47)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I tried running some Handbrake sharpening over some of the S1 upscales and... for the closeups, the sharpening did eliminate a lot of fuzziness. However, for the more distant shots, it wasn't effective. Distant shots in AI upscaling tend to have a muddy, watercolour effect. The sharpening made it even worse and it went from tolerable to distracting. It occurred to me that individual scenes could be sharpened separately from the wider angles. It also occurred to me that I should go to bed and be ready for work in the morning and not spend any more time upscaling SLIDERS outside of plug and play solutions that can run while I do my day job.

**

Thinking some more about this -- NBCUniversal must have multiple copies of the master tapes and a way to duplicate them losslessly and maintain their originals. I understand that NBCUniversal does not care about SLIDERS, but I'm sure that as a corporation, they care very much about owning their properties and citing the combined value of their properties as part of their total corporate worth.

As an amateur accountant, I would severely reduce the estimated value of the SLIDERS property if NBCUniversal didn't own videotape masters of the completed episodes in their archives. If they don't have the masters, then they don't have the ability to convert the show into future formats for future sales.

I don't know what these future formats or future sales would be -- they're in the future.

But if NBCUniversal doesn't have masters, they have nothing they can mine for future sales; they can only engage in their current sales: bargain basement DVD packagers like Mill Creek, NBCU's in-house streaming service.

I would (as an amateur accountant) reduce SLIDERS' value by 80 per cent if that were the case because NBCUniversal would no longer have the ability to monetize the episodes beyond what they are doing now. Having the masters means SLIDERS has significantly more value than it does if NBCUniversal only has a box of their godawful DVDs.

I think NBCUniversal would keep the video masters. They might not use them, they might not bother to rescan them, they might hold them in utter contempt or bland indifference -- but they're not going to use them for target practice or to prop up uneven tables. Whatever we might think of multinational corporations, they're not going to allow their potential sale value to be diminished by a refusal to store some cassettes.

Anyway. Turbine Media has clearly done a maximum resolution scan of the master tapes for the standard definition blu-ray release. NBCUniversal has the masters.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I tried running some Handbrake sharpening over some of the S1 upscales and... for the closeups, the sharpening did eliminate a lot of fuzziness. However, for the more distant shots, it wasn't effective. Distant shots in AI upscaling tend to have a muddy, watercolour effect. The sharpening made it even worse and it went from tolerable to distracting. It occurred to me that individual scenes could be sharpened separately from the wider angles. It also occurred to me that I should go to bed and be ready for work in the morning and not spend any more time upscaling SLIDERS outside of plug and play solutions that can run while I do my day job.

**

Thinking some more about this -- NBCUniversal must have multiple copies of the master tapes and a way to duplicate them losslessly and maintain their originals. I understand that NBCUniversal does not care about SLIDERS, but I'm sure that as a corporation, they care very much about owning their properties and citing the combined value of their properties as part of their total corporate worth.

As an amateur accountant, I would severely reduce the estimated value of the SLIDERS property if NBCUniversal didn't own videotape masters of the completed episodes in their archives. If they don't have the masters, then they don't have the ability to convert the show into future formats for future sales.

I don't know what these future formats or future sales would be -- they're in the future.

But if NBCUniversal doesn't have masters, they have nothing they can mine for future sales; they can only engage in their current sales: bargain basement DVD packagers like Mill Creek, NBCU's in-house streaming service.

I would (as an amateur accountant) reduce SLIDERS' value by 80 per cent if that were the case because NBCUniversal would no longer have the ability to monetize the episodes beyond what they are doing now. Having the masters means SLIDERS has significantly more value than it does if NBCUniversal only has a box of their godawful DVDs.

I think NBCUniversal would keep the video masters. They might not use them, they might not bother to rescan them, they might hold them in utter contempt or bland indifference -- but they're not going to use them for target practice or to prop up uneven tables. Whatever we might think of multinational corporations, they're not going to allow their potential sale value to be diminished by a refusal to store some cassettes.

Anyway. Turbine Media has clearly done a maximum resolution scan of the master tapes for the standard definition blu-ray release. NBCUniversal has the masters.

i would think re-scanning tape masters would be relatively in expensive.  maybe turbine was willing to roll the dice since at least people were buying a physical good (that would be reviewed) whereas w peacock it's a free, commercial supported play w/o a less picky consumer.  but i also think people at peacock, svod services, mill creek, and even hulu and netflix just assume that whatever digital files universal provides, that's the best that you really gonna get.   they arent really familiar w. the terrible look of dvd releases etc.  If Peacock knew better was possible, maybe they'd insist a rescan of master tapes in order to license it.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I think Turbine has clearly tapped into a market in Germany with audiences who want German audio tracks and want a premium product. If you look at their website, they're like a boutique version of Criterion. They're like Apple Computers: a small selection of high priced, high quality products with a devoted audience prepared to spend $80 USD on a box set of SLIDERS.

In contrast, Mill Creek is the equivalent of Walmart's laptop division, caring more about hitting a low price point with low to near non-existent levels of effort. Mill Creek will take what they're given; they don't care if their SLIDERS product is good, they just care about making it available, priced at $40 and discounted to $20.

Apple's executives once remarked during the netbook craze, "We don't know how to release a $200 computer that isn't a piece of junk and it's not in our DNA to do that." Turbine's website and their high quality, small selection lineup speaks to a company that wouldn't have tolerated 500 MB files for a SLIDERS DVD; they don't know how to release a $20 box set of SLIDERS that isn't a piece of junk and it's not in their DNA to do that. If that were their only option for SLIDERS, Turbine would have simply declined to license it and found some other project.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I think Turbine has clearly tapped into a market in Germany with audiences who want German audio tracks and want a premium product. If you look at their website, they're like a boutique version of Criterion. They're like Apple Computers: a small selection of high priced, high quality products with a devoted audience prepared to spend $80 USD on a box set of SLIDERS.

In contrast, Mill Creek is the equivalent of Walmart's laptop division, caring more about hitting a low price point with low to near non-existent levels of effort. Mill Creek will take what they're given; they don't care if their SLIDERS product is good, they just care about making it available, priced at $40 and discounted to $20.

Apple's executives once remarked during the netbook craze, "We don't know how to release a $200 computer that isn't a piece of junk and it's not in our DNA to do that." Turbine's website and their high quality, small selection lineup speaks to a company that wouldn't have tolerated 500 MB files for a SLIDERS DVD; they don't know how to release a $20 box set of SLIDERS that isn't a piece of junk and it's not in their DNA to do that. If that were their only option for SLIDERS, Turbine would have simply declined to license it and found some other project.

Might you be able to email Turbine and see if they could tell you if they rescanned master tapes for this release?  It would be great to get confirmation on your suspicions here.  Id send them a note myself but I think you'd be in better position to discuss the technical with them, especially if there is a back and forth.

I'm also really curious if the fact that the release is limited to four discs caused any compression that resulted in picture loss.  E.g. you wonder if they could have gone even better. Guessing not but 22 episodes per disc does seem like a lot when normally one 2 hour movie goes on one of those things (even if its more lines of resolution).

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I've asked if they did a new scan, no response yet, but they may not have an English speaker reading customer messages. However, compression isn't an issue on their discs. They only have four discs because the files are not HD, just 20 percent bigger than SD. And their video scan can't be improved because their files for S2-5 have all the film grain. Once the film grain is present, the smallest aspect of the film image has been captured. There is no further level of detail to be scanned from the tapes.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Sooo, I'm finishing up my upscales on the S1 blu-ray files... but honestly, I'm not sure it was really worth it.

Stretched version on the left, AI upscaled version on the right:
https://i.ibb.co/qkRJnGY/king-is-back-comparison.jpg

The difference is so small that once the video is in motion, I honestly don't think it would make any difference. It started as decent DVD quality and so it remains.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

They look quite similar. Obviously the right is a little better. Seems like it isn't much worth the effort. Perhaps Tracy can at least get them to do a rescan of the 35mm. I mentioned it to him in the chat of the youtube live stream. Maybe that could help the negotiation in some way for the series.

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Twitter @slidersfanblog
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252 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-05 19:16:33)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

Sooo, I'm finishing up my upscales on the S1 blu-ray files... but honestly, I'm not sure it was really worth it.

Stretched version on the left, AI upscaled version on the right:
https://i.ibb.co/qkRJnGY/king-is-back-comparison.jpg

The difference is so small that once the video is in motion, I honestly don't think it would make any difference. It started as decent DVD quality and so it remains.

maybe i'm a nut but i see a huge difference on my desktop monitor at full screen (tho on my laptop, it's not quite as noticeable).

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I've asked if they did a new scan, no response yet, but they may not have an English speaker reading customer messages. However, compression isn't an issue on their discs. They only have four discs because the files are not HD, just 20 percent bigger than SD. And their video scan can't be improved because their files for S2-5 have all the film grain. Once the film grain is present, the smallest aspect of the film image has been captured. There is no further level of detail to be scanned from the tapes.

good to know regarding compression level.

my guess is they'll be able to handle the english language in your inquiry.  I am more so worried that the folks with the institutional knowledge of making that disc (five years ago) maybe not be looped in or handle the inquiry.  It will be awesome if you get a definitive response either way to help unlock this mystery..

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

So, I finished "Luck of the Draw." I'm reviewing all the upscaled blu-ray S1 episodes now and... honestly, I don't like the results at all.

Individual shots when frozen look really nice as still images for screencaps. Clear and smooth. But when in motion, the AI upscale has an odd plastic, plasticine, wax dummy look to everything despite more defined detail. The problem is that AI upscaling depends on grain to rebuild detail. The grain in the S1 episodes, as I said, has been severely filtered out. There's a small amount left that makes AI upscaled close-up shots look good. However, AI upscaled medium and wide shots just look terrible, like paintings where the ink has gone outside the outlines of the figure being drawn.

This was present in my Season 2 - 5 upscales for the wide shots, but for S1 SD blu-ray, it affects everything except close-ups of faces.

I think the videotape scan was best left alone and I've decided to delete my upscales and just go with the blu-ray versions as-is. The SD blu-ray of Season 1 is better than the DVDs and AI is only improving close-up shots of people's faces, the rest isn't working.

Also, I'm not going to upscale any more episodes from the blu-ray. It's clear that for these files, AI upscaling and bicubic scaling will produce the same results. The only reason upscaling was so dramatic with Universal and Mill Creek DVDs is because those DVDs were so badly riddled with compression artifacts and the AI could lift away those artifacts. With these blu-ray discs, there's nothing to lift.

The blu-ray is good. Everyone should buy it!

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

The blu-ray is good. Everyone should buy it!


Already did!  I do regret not using the german amazon to get it new, however.  Only a dollar more than a used one (very good condition) I ordered at u.s. amazon.

Did yours come with an insert pamphlet book? About 20 pages or so of photos? I  am not sure if that only comes with the "limited edition."

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

There is a pamphlet is bound to the disc case. It's just episode descriptions.

Before going to the office, I put my 720p AI upscales into Handbrake and set them to re-encode the files back to 720x576, but with a sharpening filter applied. Maybe that can add some of the gains while mitigating the losses. But what it comes down to: Topaz AI upselling upscaling is, currently, only effective at removing compression artifacts, and only if the image under that compression retains film grain. The Universal and Mill Creek DVDs had grain for S2 - 5, and after Topaz, those episodes looked broadly like the Turbine Blu-ray but without the fine grain and smaller details in that grain. Wide shots have a watercolour effect, medium and close up shots look good.

However, if the image isn't compressed and lacks grain, Topaz AI will make the image worse. Everything except closeups will have watercolour effect. In terms of the Blu-ray S2 - S5, there is a lot of grain, and AI upscaling the image will simply smooth out that grain in rebuilding that detail at a higher resolution. But the results wouldn't be worth the 24 hours in AI. S2 - S5 would technically be an HD or 4K resolution image that would look clean, but the fine detail would have a sheen over it and you'd get the same results with on the fly bicubic scaling and a noise reduction filter.

257 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-06 07:33:09)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

There is a pamphlet is bound to the disc case. It's just episode descriptions.

Before going to the office, I put my 720p AI upscales into Handbrake and set them to re-encode the files back to 720x576, but with a sharpening filter applied. Maybe that can add some of the gains while mitigating the losses. But what it comes down to: Topaz AI upselling upscaling is, currently, only effective at removing compression artifacts, and only if the image under that compression retains film grain. The Universal and Mill Creek DVDs had grain for S2 - 5, and after Topaz, those episodes looked broadly like the Turbine Blu-ray but without the fine grain and smaller details in that grain. Wide shots have a watercolour effect, medium and close up shots look good.

However, if the image isn't compressed and lacks grain, Topaz AI will make the image worse. Everything except closeups will have watercolour effect. In terms of the Blu-ray S2 - S5, there is a lot of grain, and AI upscaling the image will simply smooth out that grain in rebuilding that detail at a higher resolution. But the results wouldn't be worth the 24 hours in AI. S2 - S5 would technically be an HD or 4K resolution image that would look clean, but the fine detail would have a sheen over it and you'd get the same results with on the fly bicubic scaling and a noise reduction filter.

Perhaps adding upres on S2-S5 german release could have grain effect added in after the smoothing.  But as you said, it really comes down to ROI.

I asked Bill Hunt, founder of Digital Bits if he thought Uni would send master *tapes* to Turbine.  Here's his response (maybe he fails to distinguish between tapes and negatives):

It really depends. The film masters would never be given to Turbine, but Turbine may have paid for new film scans, which would have been done here in the States by a company Universal worked with. But I haven't seen the SD on BD release. So my guess is that it's not a new release.
A new scan, I should say.
Given the fact that they're SD and not HD (any new scan would certainly be in HD) it's probably NOT a new scan.

If Universal actually rescanned everything it's plausible they are so disorganized that they didn't then provide that stuff for Peacock etc.  Another theory would be german release is in PAL.  Maybe that helps?  idk. 

I reached out to someone at universal who deals with a bunch of management of their digital stuff and licensing it out.  He has given me a couple responses in the past but for the most part isn't very responsive.  I've very much tried to push them to do up-res's etc.  Everything I've gotten the sense of is unless the licensee asks for HD (and the deal i guess big enuf) it's not gonna happen otherwise. 

If we keep chirping to peacock maybe they will press universal's internal team on these matters.

258 (edited by ireactions 2021-10-06 07:50:10)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I think there's been a miscommunication with Mr. Hunt. He says NBCUniversal would never have given Turbine the film for SLIDERS episodes. But SLIDERS' completed episodes do not exist on film. They exist on videotape. Possibly Betacam, U-Matic, DV or some other form of videotape, but tape nonetheless. No scan of videotape is going to be HD. There is no new film scans for SLIDERS because there is no film outside of the raw, unassembled material with no colour processing or effects. NBCUniversal may have given video cassettes to Turbine for a rescan (or yes, Turbine may have paid another company to do it, but Turbine has videotape and film scanning infrastructure and NBCUniversal isn't just going to have a single cassette of their archived shows).

Mr. Hunt seems to be responding with the impression that the completed SLIDERS episodes are stored on film negatives with the need to create release prints and with the master copy remaining under strict storage and preservation. But SLIDERS was made by transferring film to videotape, specifically because videotape was easier and cheaper to edit, duplicate and distribute and store.

It's the only format in which the completed episodes can exist and it would be insane for NBCUniversal to not have multiple copies and lossless duplication for all of their tape-stored shows. The ability for future resale in future formats is a high value proposition, admittedly not for SLIDERS alone, but for the totality of their standard definition catalog of properties.

259 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-06 08:29:40)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I think there's been a miscommunication with Mr. Hunt. He says NBCUniversal would never have given Turbine the film for SLIDERS episodes. But SLIDERS' completed episodes do not exist on film. They exist on videotape. Possibly Betacam, U-Matic, DV or some other form of videotape, but tape nonetheless. No scan of videotape is going to be HD. There is no new film scans for SLIDERS because there is no film outside of the raw, unassembled material with no colour processing or effects. NBCUniversal may have given video cassettes to Turbine for a rescan (or yes, Turbine may have paid another company to do it, but Turbine has videotape and film scanning infrastructure and NBCUniversal isn't just going to have a single cassette of their archived shows).

Mr. Hunt seems to be responding with the impression that the completed SLIDERS episodes are stored on film negatives with the need to create release prints and with the master copy remaining under strict storage and preservation. But SLIDERS was made by transferring film to videotape, specifically because videotape was easier and cheaper to edit, duplicate and distribute and store.

It's the only format in which the completed episodes can exist and it would be insane for NBCUniversal to not have multiple copies and lossless duplication for all of their tape-stored shows. The ability for future resale in future formats is a high value proposition, admittedly not for SLIDERS alone, but for the totality of their standard definition catalog of properties.

Yes, I already noted that in my response to him.  Will see what he says...

260 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-07 06:44:37)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

A gentleman who does making of documentaries/special features for dvd companies on the notion that the master tapes were re-scanned for the Turbine release:

It is possible. Their transfers of AMAZING STORIES looks better than some of the streaming versions.


Interestingly enough... the resolution here says it was upconverted:

resolution: 1080p (upconverted)
https://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Amazing- … ay/174005/

Turbine actually commented several times in this thread here:
https://forum.blu-ray.com/showthread.php?t=289083

261 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-07 07:25:32)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

this is interesting...

also says resolution: 1080p (upconverted)

https://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Sliders- … ay/161702/

Altho,  it actually may be 720x576, right?

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I'm still curious about how they did the Quantum Leap blu-ray.

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Twitter @slidersfanblog
Instagram slidersfanblog

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Jim_Hall wrote:

I'm still curious about how they did the Quantum Leap blu-ray.

Universal rescanned the film for a blu-ray release. The Mill Creek release is apparently somewhat overcompressed (shocker), but they're HD files, so there's margin for loss.

RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan wrote:

this is interesting...

also says resolution: 1080p (upconverted)

https://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Sliders- … ay/161702/

Altho,  it actually may be 720x576, right?

Yes, it's 720x576. The claim about being upconverted is likely miscopied from an entry on a different TV show. The box art even says SD on blu-ray on the site.

No response (yet?), but the Turbine representative posting on the forum seems to speak very colloquial English, so I sent a message asking if Turbine did a new scan of the tapes. I also specified that it is a terrific blu-ray release.

**

Downscaling my AI upscales from 720p back to 546 pixels high didn't improve the image at all for Season 1 episodes.

Adding grain on top of the image isn't helpful for AI upscaling. AI upscaling works by seizing onto the grains that form the picture, not grains laid on top of the picture afterwards. That is simply a layer of dots that the AI dismisses. Season 1 of SLIDERS is way too denoised to upscale properly.

It's definitely not Turbine's fault and I don't even think it's Universal's fault. The 35mm film was transferred to tape in a very peculiar fashion that might have made sense in 1994 (creating a clean image for cathode ray tube TV) but is unfortunate in 2021 for an HDTV that renders that grain as detail.

Future upscaling technology may offer some gains.

**

However, regardless of all that, the Turbine release is an excellent home video release for SLIDERS. Turbine has shown the show some true respect and diligence. The packaging is effective and resilient; the episodes are presented in the correct order and in the highest possible quality from the video masters; the disc count is precisely what is needed to show the files at maximum fidelity while still being small enough to be priced reasonably ($80 for the whole show is great). And Season 1 looks okay. It just doesn't look great.

Considering how bad Season 1 on the Universal DVDs and how Season 1 is contemptibly awful on the Mill Creek discs, the fact that Turbine's files look okay is a massive achievement.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Do you know if they upscaled the CGI on Quantum Leap or was the CGI originally done on film?

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Twitter @slidersfanblog
Instagram slidersfanblog

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Apparently, QUANTUM LEAP was a rarity for the first three seasons: it was edited on film and the effects were created optically on film. However, for Seasons 4 - 5, there was a switch to videotape effects and all the effects for the blu-ray version of 4 - 5 are upscaled SD shots.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I'll be trying the up-res samples from earlier this year on a 135 inch projected image today.  The peacock content of course looked awful. Let's see what happens here.

267 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-09 07:38:51)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Here's the up-res'd content projected onto a white wall in a dark room from a 600 dollar projector from about 15 feet away.  Making for a 135 inch screen. You can see the couch next to the image for scale.

https://i.imgur.com/9ctHsje.jpg

https://i.imgur.com/wxSwsMn.jpg

https://i.imgur.com/4CgFwza.jpg

https://i.imgur.com/FlKQhfT.jpg

https://i.imgur.com/zUsr24E.jpg



These are of s3's The Guardian.  The  pilot looks equally as good.  Beautiful image like newer content.

In the photos above,  I actually used the projector's zoom feature to zoom in on the image so it would crop 16:9 from within the 4:3 native image, and then scale that cropped image up to fill the screen.

Other s1 (non-pilot) episodes and s2 can't use this zoom feature without not looking great.  But s2 still looks very solid at 4:3, and s1 non pilot to a lesser degree.  All are LIGHT YEARS better than the Peacock at 135 inches.  In that case, s4 episodes look worse than up-res'd s1's.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I got a message from Turbine media.

Hi there,

this is SD on Blu-ray, so I am puzzled you find the quality differs from the DVDs. It's the sam data and stream. But we used the PAL masters for Europe of course...

Cheers!

I think it's safe to say that NBCUniversal has plenty of copies of the video masters.

**

Do you use your projector a lot? I imagine the Zoom function, while 'cinematic,' cuts off a lot of vital information from the frame of a 4:3 image.

I am pleased to report that while my upscales are superficially as good as the blu-ray, the blu-ray is better because of all the fine grain. It's interesting: Cez of LEGO SLIDERS has the blu-ray. But he told me that he prefers the look of my upscales (I sent him the clip of Sabrina singing in "Stoker") because they are "cleaner." However, that "cleaner" look is actually a lack of detail due to a lack of film grain; the graininess may seem unappealing in a screenshot, but on an HDTV screen, it gives the image far more physical reality.

The Season 1 blu-ray episodes look a bit muddy for wide shots and distant elements, but I honestly stop noticing it once I get into the episode and the lack of compression artifacts means that the image isn't constantly obscured with distractions.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I got a message from Turbine media.

Hi there,

this is SD on Blu-ray, so I am puzzled you find the quality differs from the DVDs. It's the sam data and stream. But we used the PAL masters for Europe of course...

Cheers!

.

Does this mean they used the digital copies for euope/pal or that they rescanned the tapes (which were in pal format for the European market)?

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I got a message from Turbine media.

Hi there,

this is SD on Blu-ray, so I am puzzled you find the quality differs from the DVDs. It's the sam data and stream. But we used the PAL masters for Europe of course...

Cheers!

I think it's safe to say that NBCUniversal has plenty of copies of the video masters.

**

Do you use your projector a lot? I imagine the Zoom function, while 'cinematic,' cuts off a lot of vital information from the frame of a 4:3 image.

I am pleased to report that while my upscales are superficially as good as the blu-ray, the blu-ray is better because of all the fine grain. It's interesting: Cez of LEGO SLIDERS has the blu-ray. But he told me that he prefers the look of my upscales (I sent him the clip of Sabrina singing in "Stoker") because they are "cleaner." However, that "cleaner" look is actually a lack of detail due to a lack of film grain; the graininess may seem unappealing in a screenshot, but on an HDTV screen, it gives the image far more physical reality.

The Season 1 blu-ray episodes look a bit muddy for wide shots and distant elements, but I honestly stop noticing it once I get into the episode and the lack of compression artifacts means that the image isn't constantly obscured with distractions.

The zoom function can cut off info but in this case it's worth the trade off for a more overwhelming and encompassing image size.  Mostly the framing just seems closer than really losing elements needed for the story.  At least on the two episodes I tried. 

I'll definitely compare the sd on bluray once it arrives, especially with the image on a 135 in projection ... because that's where issues reveal themselves most.  I was honestly shocked how well the up res looked on pilot and s3 that big.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I've sent Turbine another message asking if they received digital files or tapes. No response (yet?).

I wonder why Season 1 looks so different from Season 2 - 5 onward. One theory of mine was that the film to tape process involved some sort of denoise process (which is common for effects shots, but it seems to have been applied to all scenes all post-Pilot Season 1 episodes).

I'm also wondering if it's a videotape medium situation. SLIDERS' first season was filmed in 1994 - 1995; I wonder if maybe the Pilot was edited on something like Digital Betacam (540 lines of resolution) or Hi8 (420 lines of resolution). And maybe the subsequent episodes were edited on some lower quality videotape format like 8mm tape, U-Matic or Betamax (250 lines of resolution). It would certainly explain the loss of sharpness going from the Pilot to "Summer of Love." The Pilot episode would have been filmed and edited some time before the subsequent episodes and at a higher budget than the rest, possibly on a pricier videotape format.

In 1995, Panasonic introduced the DV format (540 lines of resolution) and I can see that leading to non-Panasonic 540 line video formats to become cheaper to compete. Season 2 began filming in October 1995 and the massive leap in sharpness after "Luck of the Draw" is obvious; "Into the Mystic" is razor sharp. It's possible that a switch to a new videotape format for editing and effects is why the video quality of Season 1 is so below that of Season 2 onward.

There is also another massive leap forward in video quality for Seasons 4 - 5 which are far more detailed than any Season 2 - 3 episodes. That one's easier to explain: the grain is obviously that of 16mm film. It's less than half the size (and resolution) of 35mm film; the image is composed of much larger grains, and those grains survive a film to tape transfer more resiliently than 35mm film.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Can't say on any of that, but the Director of Photography from Season 2 through most of 4 was Robert Hudacek.  Glen MacPherson did "The Pilot" while Peter Woeste worked the remainder of the first season.  Might have been a change in film stock, or simply in the way the show was lit and shot that is what you're seeing.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Got a message from Turbine on whether or not they received videotapes or digital files. "It was so long ago I honestly don't remember." Anyway. If RussianCabbie has further questions, he can message Turbine himself! I can't spend the rest of my life in the middle of this line of inquiry! :-)

**

Going from the Pilot into "Summer of Love," the level of resolution in the episodes clearly takes a drop with the sharpness falling from 40 to 50 per cent. This cannot be the result of a different 35mm film stock or a different cinematographer; that might result in differing depths of light and alternate grain patterns and new colour tones, but that's not what's on the videotape scans.

It looks to me less like a different style and more like the Season 1 episodes having fewer lines of resolution than the Pilot and Seasons 2 - 5. 35mm film doesn't suffer from this; the situation resulted during or after the film being transferred to videotape. Then Season 2 'suddenly' has at least double the sharpness of Season 1 episodes except it's not so sudden given the break between seasons.

The timing is incredibly striking with Season 1 being filmed in late 1994 and early 1995, just before the rise of digital video tape in 1995 through Sony and Panasonic releasing the new DV format, and the shift from analog videotape editing to digital videotape editing with 540 lines of resolution instead of the mid-range of 200 - 250 with U-Matic and Betamax and 8mm. Then we have Season 2 starting production in the fall of 1995, with film being transferred to videotape just after DV tape has become the new industry standard and Season 2 now looks at least twice as sharp as the Season 1 episodes before it.

274 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-11 11:29:51)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

Got a message from Turbine on whether or not they received videotapes or digital files. "It was so long ago I honestly don't remember." Anyway. If RussianCabbie has further questions, he can message Turbine himself! I can't spend the rest of my life in the middle of this line of inquiry! :-)

I actually had made attempts on the blu-ray forum at the same time as you...  They probably found it weird they got the same sort of questions.

Here's the latest of what i got re: quality difference and if they re-scanned tapes:

I must assume that the reason is that we used the PAL masters and not the NTSC masters. ...

which was similar to a possibility i previously threw out:

RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan wrote:

Maybe there is some seperate set of assets (that maybe even have different  specs for conversion to pal, or requirements internationally), that are just better.  Perhaps provided by an enttity in Europe or Universal has some seperate folders for international assets.

I've looked for other PAL formatted DVDs because that's one way we can compare to see if it looks same as German release. 

The australian one is all i saw at this point and seems cost-prohibitive.  Also they warn about won't play on U.S. dvd players... so i assume that has a specified region and germany's is region-free....

Could make it hard to test then.

All this stuff I am super curious about, including the process, because as I mentioned earlier, on occasion i have been able to "get to" someone who manages distribution for universal.  So having specifics can help lock down what may be repeatable.  Right now the stuff can look aborish on Peacock.  If there's a way to push for a fix for that -- so a wider consumer audience can enjoy the show  -- great.   It certainly wouldn't hurt Tracy's case (and obviously they examine streaming numbers).

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

There is also another massive leap forward in video quality for Seasons 4 - 5 which are far more detailed than any Season 2 - 3 episodes. That one's easier to explain: the grain is obviously that of 16mm film. It's less than half the size (and resolution) of 35mm film; the image is composed of much larger grains, and those grains survive a film to tape transfer more resiliently than 35mm film.

shouldn't 35mm look better than 16mm?  I am assuming you are saying s4 & 5 were shot on 16mm then.  Wouldn't 35mm look better?

Or are you saying 16mm will up-res better in topez because the gain will give it something to "latch" onto?

276 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-11 11:39:41)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

The timing is incredibly striking with Season 1 being filmed in late 1994 and early 1995, just before the rise of digital video tape in 1995 through Sony and Panasonic releasing the new DV format, and the shift from analog videotape editing to digital videotape editing with 540 lines of resolution instead of the mid-range of 200 - 250 with U-Matic and Betamax and 8mm. Then we have Season 2 starting production in the fall of 1995, with film being transferred to videotape just after DV tape has become the new industry ctandard and Season 2 now looks at least twice as sharp as the Season 1 episodes before it.

If Universal says "NO" to Tracy, the one thing I hope he would try to do is ask Universal to scan and re-edit the eight episodes of s1.  He can supervise the process.. they can make a documentary about it (and sliders) and maybe do a "what would a reboot entail" with animation's like the Deep Space 9 documentary (and writer's room).  Google it if you haven't seen it, free on tubi, amazon etc.

JW_Slider, maybe you can pass this along.  If it goes well, they can consider making the pilot (as a movie) and if that goes well, a new spin off series.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan wrote:

shouldn't 35mm look better than 16mm?  I am assuming you are saying s4 & 5 were shot on 16mm then.  Wouldn't 35mm look better?

Or are you saying 16mm will up-res better in topez because the gain will give it something to "latch" onto?

The issue is that when film is transferred to videotape, there is a corresponding loss of resolution as a high resolution format is reduced to a small percentage of its full detail.

If projected to a screen or scanned for digital presentation to HDTV, then yes, 35mm produces a crisply detailed image while 16mm is less than half the resolution. In addition, the grain on 35mm film that forms the image is small enough to offer subtle texture while in contrast, the grain on 16mm film produces an image that is seemingly covered in noise (although that noise is actually forming the image).

However, what we are seeing when we watch SLIDERS is a videotape version of the film image. The film has been transferred to tape. When 35mm is transferred to tape, the image forming grain looks very fine and minute; the standard definition image can't render it fully because it's too small to show up entirely, and that means a loss of detail in going from film to tape.

The same thing happens with 16mm film. However, the image forming grains on a 16mm are more than twice the size 35mm film. That grain remains visible when reduced to a videotape resolution, which means that the details within those grains remain visible as well. The result is that while Seasons 4 - 5 are grainier and don't look as 'clean,' as Seasons 2 - 3, faces and clothing and surfaces in Seasons 4 - 5 have more detail and texture than than in Seasons 2 - 3.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:
RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan wrote:

shouldn't 35mm look better than 16mm?  I am assuming you are saying s4 & 5 were shot on 16mm then.  Wouldn't 35mm look better?

Or are you saying 16mm will up-res better in topez because the gain will give it something to "latch" onto?

The issue is that when film is transferred to videotape, there is a corresponding loss of resolution as a high resolution format is reduced to a small percentage of its full detail.

If projected to a screen or scanned for digital presentation to HDTV, then yes, 35mm produces a crisply detailed image while 16mm is less than half the resolution. In addition, the grain on 35mm film that forms the image is small enough to offer subtle texture while in contrast, the grain on 16mm film produces an image that is seemingly covered in noise (although that noise is actually forming the image).

However, what we are seeing when we watch SLIDERS is a videotape version of the film image. The film has been transferred to tape. When 35mm is transferred to tape, the image forming grain looks very fine and minute; the standard definition image can't render it fully because it's too small to show up entirely, and that means a loss of detail in going from film to tape.

The same thing happens with 16mm film. However, the image forming grains on a 16mm are more than twice the size 35mm film. That grain remains visible when reduced to a videotape resolution, which means that the details within those grains remain visible as well. The result is that while Seasons 4 - 5 are grainier and don't look as 'clean,' as Seasons 2 - 3, faces and clothing and surfaces in Seasons 4 - 5 have more detail and texture than than in Seasons 2 - 3.

Gotcha.  VLC player has a nice film grain effect where it's easy to at least see how it helps S2&3 though I get it wouldn't be the same as natural grain.

Also, s4&5 really lacked locations vs. 2&3 so I wonder if lighting plays any role on the superior look of 4&5.  The colors seem to pop pretty nicely.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Well, if you look at the screencaps from earlier, you can compare the faces. You can see all the lines and grooves on Kari Wuhrer's face because the smaller 16mm film is, when reduced to standard definition videotape, only reducing the 16mm film grains to about 53 per cent of their original size (operating on the presumption that 16mm film is only worth scanning at 2K/1080p because any higher resolution yields no further fidelity).

In contrast, Wade's face in the Season 2 screencaps is slightly fuzzier with less pixel contrast. That strikes me as the result of reducing 35mm film grains to about 27 per cent of their original size (assuming 35mm film has a maximum scan resolution of 4K/2100 pixels high). Grain-composed images aren't like pixel-based images because not all grains are the same size. The smaller you make the grains, the less you can see the details in the grains.

In terms of upscaling: Topaz has a tendency to smooth out grain in extrapolating pixels to add into a larger-sized image. I found that increasing the image by 50 per cent (480 pixels high to 720 pixels high) made the image presentable on an HDTV, lifted compression artifacts and made effective use of the grain while leaving a little at the end. However, upscaling the image beyond that (480 pixels to 1080 pixels) removed all the grain completely and without grain, the image looked more like it had been painted than photographed.

I've seen this odd phenomenon with the STARGATE blurays which were 576i master tapes upscaled to 1080p; everything's just too smooth and flattened out (although after watching for a bit, I get used to it).

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

In working on some other upscaling experiments, I've come to realize that Topaz is doing some more complicated things than I realized and Season 1 of SLIDERS might benefit from another effort at upscaling.

I was trying to upscale a Canadian show, SLINGS & ARROWS (2003 - 2006, 18 episodes). While released to 720p, the first six episodes were unfortunately not available in true HD; they had been filmed on a standard definition format that looks to me like 8mm film. (The next 12 were filmed in HD and what looks to me like DVCPro HD, a digital videotape format that can be set to record at 720p and 24 frames per second.) The first six episodes were, for blu-ray, stretched from SD to 720p and while they look okay, the entire picture is covered in these huge dot patterns obscuring every part of the image. These are (probably) the 8mm film grains inflated to 720p.

I ran one of these stretched episodes through Topaz with the preset for low quality video but with no change in resolution. Topaz smoothed out all the noise and rebuilt all the detail underneath, but there was a slightly painted look to the video. So I changed it to the preset for medium quality video. Now, a small portion of the noise remained, but much of it had been replaced with crisply rendered detail and it looked like the episodes that were actually shot in 720p. I ran this episode through the preset for high quality video and in this case, Topaz didn't seem to change the video at all, leaving all the video grain untouched.

I also ran the pilot for the TV show CHUCK through Topaz. CHUCK was shot on 16mm film and there's always this pattern of static that seems baked into every frame of every episode. Topaz on the low quality video pre-set totally denoised CHUCK but made it a little too blurry. The medium quality setting was a massive improvement: no grain and a very faint loss of texture sharpness. The high quality video setting, however, left the grain intact but faintly diminished to the point of being totally undistracting and the underlying details were left the same.

I don't think Topaz *has* to remove the grain; I think that the algorithms actually address two aspects of video in need of upscaling: compression artifacts (such as from DVD compression, which need to be lifted off) and grain (which the AI uses to work out what additional pixels should be added and where and how). The low quality preset will aggressively smooth out the image (and severely reduce the grain texture in the process) and this was the right preset for every episode of SLIDERS on DVD -- except for the Season 1 episodes where it smoothed out video that was already (too) smooth. The medium quality preset will reduce the degree to which it targets compression noise.

The high quality preset, however, doesn't seem to be trying to reduce flaws in the image, but is instead designed to scale good quality video to a larger size and not create any new flaws in the process. It's not meant to correct video (although it can), it's meant to be a highly forgiving way of stretching a video that is presumed to already be in good quality.

I'm trying this preset now on "Luck of the Draw," scaling the 576 image to 1080 this time -- the same resolution as my HDTV. It isn't going to make the video look dramatically better, but rather than having my Android TV box scale the video from 576 to 1080 on the fly, Topaz will produce the 1080 resolution in advance so it should at least look about the same as playing the file at the 576 resolution.

I'll see if it's better. I won't know for 22 hours, this upscaling preset is a lot slower than the low quality preset and I'm increasing the video to a higher resolution this time.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Well, this is certainly an interesting development...

282 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-11 18:30:39)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

Well, if you look at the screencaps from earlier, you can compare the faces. You can see all the lines and grooves on Kari Wuhrer's face because the smaller 16mm film is, when reduced to standard definition videotape, only reducing the 16mm film grains to about 53 per cent of their original size (operating on the presumption that 16mm film is only worth scanning at 2K/1080p because any higher resolution yields no further fidelity).

In contrast, Wade's face in the Season 2 screencaps is slightly fuzzier with less pixel contrast. That strikes me as the result of reducing 35mm film grains to about 27 per cent of their original size (assuming 35mm film has a maximum scan resolution of 4K/2100 pixels high). Grain-composed images aren't like pixel-based images because not all grains are the same size. The smaller you make the grains, the less you can see the details in the grains.


i assume you mean

this
https://i.ibb.co/K0HY1JC/01.jpg

vs this?
https://i.ibb.co/Xbn2ZmG/11.jpg

283 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-11 18:55:27)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Maybe this was already said but apparently PAL sd tapes had 576 lines of resolution vs. NTSC 480.

But, if they created the PAL tapes off of a 480 source, it wouldn't explain a PAL tape automatically being better.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I think that the SD blu-ray has the best possible scan of the master tapes. I just noticed: they aren't actually 640 x 480 pixels, but 20 per cent larger at 768 x 576 pixels.

.

Oops this was discussed  already.  In any case I wonder if sliders was edited in at least 576...  if so that may mean universal could theoretically create something better for North American market.

285 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-11 19:43:58)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I'm also wondering if it's a videotape medium situation. SLIDERS' first season was filmed in 1994 - 1995; I wonder if maybe the Pilot was edited on something like Digital Betacam (540 lines of resolution) or Hi8 (420 lines of resolution). And maybe the subsequent episodes were edited on some lower quality videotape format like 8mm tape, U-Matic or Betamax (250 lines of resolution). It would certainly explain the loss of sharpness going from the Pilot to "Summer of Love." The Pilot episode would have been filmed and edited some time before the subsequent episodes and at a higher budget than the rest, possibly on a pricier videotape format.

In 1995, Panasonic introduced the DV format (540 lines of resolution) and I can see that leading to non-Panasonic 540 line video formats to become cheaper to compete. Season 2 began filming in October 1995 and the massive leap in sharpness after "Luck of the Draw" is obvious; "Into the Mystic" is razor sharp. It's possible that a switch to a new videotape format for editing and effects is why the video quality of Season 1 is so below that of Season 2 onward.


Ok this was covered... you could say I'm catching up.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I finished upscaling "Luck of the Draw" to a 960x1080 file and it looks okay. The Topaz HQ video preset ensures that it went from 576 to 1080 without losing what clarity it had. The SD blu-ray file, when scaled to HDTV, was fuzzier due to the TV and Android TV box stretch.

The thing about stretching the Season 2 - 5 SD blu-ray files to an HDTV scale: the quality of those video files is so good that any added fuzziness is quite low because the files are in such good quality and clarity that losing a little doesn't make much difference. Season 1, however, doesn't have much quality to lose.

With the HQ preset scaling Season 1 episodes to 1080, Topaz has done the stretch so the TV won't have to. Nothing is gained, but nothing is lost. The image isn't better, but watching it on an HDTV won't make it worse. I'm going to do the other S1 episodes too, if only for myself.

**

I think Topaz might have further value as a noise and grain reduction process, but it's currently far too slow to be practical. Going back to CHUCK, a TV series shot on 16mm film: it is a very grainy looking show and every scene is covered in a pattern of static that's very solid and obstructive. Digital noise reduction is loathed by many film connoisseurs because it blurs out the underlying detail as well as the grain itself and many film restorationists urge viewers to enjoy and appreciate all the grain and never try to reduce it.

However, I imagine most of these purists aren't watching 16mm film projects made by relatively low budget TV shows. I don't intend to create new files for CHUCK, but just as an experiment, I ran a few shots from the pilot through Topaz's HQ preset and realized: Topaz's algorithm has created a 'denoised' version of CHUCK that has taken that grain and rebuilt it as pixel detail; the details within it are still present, but the random static over the image is gone.

This could be incredibly beneficial to 16mm restorations where you lose an obnoxious, unhelpful texture but the detail underneath is fully resolved as crisp pixel rendering.

DAWSON'S CREEK is currently available in HD on Netflix and as a 16mm film image, it's very noisy as well, but not to the degree of CHUCK, likely because the scan processing has lightly muted the grainy texture. However, Topaz could take DAWSON'S CREEK and re-render that those grains into pixel clarity.

The issue, unfortunately: my computer would have needed 28 hours to re-render the CHUCK pilot from grain to pixel. In contrast, I ran CHUCK's pilot through a denoise filter in Handbrake which simply applied a filter to lightly reduce the noise. 13 minutes later, CHUCK had a new file for the pilot: the static pattern of the noise was now a slightly diminished cloud, faded out, present but not prominent, and the underlying image had a slight loss of detail due to blurring out the noise; it was maybe 5 per cent less sharp.

I recognize that my computer is a aged gaming laptop (i7, SSD, 32GB of RAM, 4GB VRAM) and that this machine was considered a low grade machine even when I originally bought it. And that professional video editing computers would be so much faster. But I think most video distributors would go for the filter and a small, barely perceptible loss of sharpness since the AI option would take 129 times longer.

Topaz isn't currently practical for grain-to-pixel conversion on a 1080p scan of 16mm film, but maybe someday it'll get there.

287 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-12 16:02:20)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

Topaz isn't currently practical for grain-to-pixel conversion on a 1080p scan of 16mm film, but maybe someday it'll get there.

I am pretty sure or at least hope we will see more gains with the tech in the future. You have to believe that if AI can understand what a crisp image of at least a human (or car or building or tree) looks like, it can make an intelligent guess at what the SD content intented.

I was reading some 2004 DVD reviews of the dual dimension s1&2 release and surprisingly, the reviewers were almost all fairly complimentary of the transfer and image.  Only one bad review on that.  Everything probably looked good on tube tvs. A theme that was consistent though is the blacks were problematic.  It would be good if AI had some HDR changes although I guess TVs can do that. 

I think part of turbine's secret was simply PAL files and maybe less compressed dvd files.  Other pal dvds may have been a gig  or less per episode.  Who knows if they re-scanned the tapes... i don't think we'll find out.

288 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-13 21:30:16)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

fwiw, just found this email reply from turbine in my spam folder:


> Can you tell me if you the SD on Blu-Ray release of SLIDERS in

> 2016 includes new scans of the master tapes from Universal       Studios?

>

we used the SD masters provided by Universal that previous DVD releases were also based on.

As of today no HD masters exist.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

So videotapes!

290 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-14 13:53:27)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

My german blu-ray came!

The packaging is very nice and the prints on the discs themselves are gorgeous.

The menus are also really nice.

Unfortunately, playing PAL didn't work on my blu-ray player where I have a projector.  So I tried it on an XBox.  Fortunately, Xbox played the episodes but I have to say I was pretty unimpressed with the image quality.  I had it on a good quality HD tv (about 70 inches) and it may be that it couldn't scale for that size well or the xbox's upconvertor on the blu-ray didn't upconvert pal format (or maybe because it was sd on blu-ray it didn't upconvert it like a dvd it would). 

I tried the pilot and the first episode of season 3.  The pal format actually caused the strobe / frame rate effect that you commonly see with some of the European shows played on PBS.  Weirdly, the english audio was blatantly out of sync in some spots (I wonder if this would happen on all blu-ray players or just xbox?) and the voices were a bit more high-pitched than i ever remember hearing them on other Sliders sources..

I'm gonna do a comparison against the universal dvds on that same xbox/tv to see how it compares as maybe I am being overly harsh.

291 (edited by ireactions 2021-10-14 14:23:40)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Sorry to hear blu-ray playback is problematic. I have not experienced anything you describe, but I can see why some of what you describe is happening.

Turbine used PAL masters and is based in Germany, so their blu-ray is PAL. PAL video is played at 25 frames per second, but you may be using an NTSC player and NTSC is 30 frames per second, so your XBox may be playing the disc 20 per cent faster than designed and unable to sync the audio. That's also why the voices are sped up and high pitched.

Are there Xbox display settings to enable PAL framerates?

I'm not sure why my North American blu-ray player didn't have these issues; it was a bargain basement purchase. I'm surprised that it can accommodate PAL discs. My player has no upscaling whatsoever and my TV also doesn't have any upscaling aside from a noise reduction filter (which I've turned off). It is a monitor with poor speakers (plugged into a small PC subwoofer bought for $20 years ago).

I was happy with the Season 2 - 5 video quality, but I'm only watching it on a 55 inch TV (about one-fifth smaller than yours).

My external blu-ray drive was able to read the disc, but I've never tried to play the disc on my computer, just copy the files as MKVs for upscaling experiments for home viewing. The file framerate is 25 frames per second. Also, I've learned that PAL resolution is 720 x 576, that's why it's higher than the 480i files on the North American DVDs.

292 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-14 15:13:54)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

Sorry to hear blu-ray playback is problematic. I have not experienced anything you describe, but I can see why some of what you describe is happening.

Turbine used PAL masters and is based in Germany, so their blu-ray is PAL. PAL video is played at 25 frames per second, but you may be using an NTSC player and NTSC is 30 frames per second, so your XBox may be playing the disc 20 per cent faster than designed and unable to sync the audio. That's also why the voices are sped up and high pitched.

Are there Xbox display settings to enable PAL framerates?

I'm not sure why my North American blu-ray player didn't have these issues; it was a bargain basement purchase. I'm surprised that it can accommodate PAL discs. My player has no upscaling whatsoever and my TV also doesn't have any upscaling aside from a noise reduction filter (which I've turned off). It is a monitor with poor speakers (plugged into a small PC subwoofer bought for $20 years ago).

I was happy with the Season 2 - 5 video quality, but I'm only watching it on a 55 inch TV (about one-fifth smaller than yours).

My external blu-ray drive was able to read the disc, but I've never tried to play the disc on my computer, just copy the files as MKVs for upscaling experiments for home viewing. The file framerate is 25 frames per second. Also, I've learned that PAL resolution is 720 x 576, that's why it's higher than the 480i files on the North American DVDs.

I'll check re: PAL frame rates on the xbox settings and then see if i can try it on a couple of other blu-ray players to see if they handle it any different (assuming they can play PAL).

Perhaps the solution would be to rip the discs, then somehow convert it to NTSC but I assume I'd have to do it as non-SD files or the 576 lines of resolution might be bumped down to 480?

It is interesting your blu-ray player seemed to handle the frame rate thing better (and obviously audio as well).  Xbox's blu-ray player is supposedly really good for upscaling content but not sure about other aspects.

293 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-14 16:24:20)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Got it working on another DVD player.  Certainly looks an order of magnitude better than the CometTV broadcast (happening now).

On a 40-inch tv, you can see the issues with the content upclose (sharp, pixelated noise on turbine vs a very fuzzy Comet image) but it looks pretty decent from 12-14 feet away.

I'll still have to compare against the universal blu-rays. I'm still hitting the higher pitched audio issue but I'm am not noticing the frame rate issue nearly as much.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Yeah I'm watching Greatfellas on WatchComet right now. As bad it is, it makes the Peacock version look remastered in HD.

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Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Jim_Hall wrote:

Yeah I'm watching Greatfellas on WatchComet right now. As bad it is, it makes the Peacock version look remastered in HD.

Comet vs Peacock

https://slidecage.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/comettvspeacock.png

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Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Jim_Hall wrote:

Yeah I'm watching Greatfellas on WatchComet right now. As bad it is, it makes the Peacock version look remastered in HD.


ha!

297 (edited by ireactions 2021-10-14 17:19:49)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan wrote:

I'll check re: PAL frame rates on the xbox settings and then see if i can try it on a couple of other blu-ray players to see if they handle it any different (assuming they can play PAL).

Perhaps the solution would be to rip the discs, then somehow convert it to NTSC but I assume I'd have to do it as non-SD files or the 576 lines of resolution might be bumped down to 480?

It is interesting your blu-ray player seemed to handle the frame rate thing better (and obviously audio as well).  Xbox's blu-ray player is supposedly really good for upscaling content but not sure about other aspects.

Well, I used MakeMKV (paid version) to create MKV files which I have played on my Android TV box as a test. The MKV files are encoded with the specific frame rate of 25 frames per second. The video player apps (VLC or the paid version of MX Player) will play the video at 25 frames per second; MKV files aren't decoded based on whether they fall into NTSC or PAL standard, but by the information stored within the codec regarding framerate, and an MKV file can be any resolution. However, I don't know how your devices will handle MKV; my blu-ray player can't even recognize them, so they aren't universal.

I'm not aware of any free software for creating blu-ray backups.

I am very, very, very sorry for recommending a home video release that I now see has issues in being enjoyed by North American fans with NTSC hardware. I did not realize this would be the case as I didn't experience these issues myself, but I clearly got lucky. I am going to re-update the information in the first post of this thread with warnings about the PAL format.

298 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-14 17:40:00)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I just did a comet vs. german release vs. original up-res samples comparison on goodfellas.

then universal dvd Rules of the Game vs. german release.

On the dvd/sd on blu-ray comparison, there was a clear advantage to the german release.  The universal release had a comparative noisy haze over the entire picture.

On the greatfellas comparison, the upres blew the german release out of the water.  The german release was an order of magnitude better than comet.


it's difficult for me to say if the german release looks better than peacock on goodfellas.  Close ups may be better and peacock seems to have more of a greenish hue to the image (i think) but on farther shots there is a far amount of pixelation on the german release that is smoother with peacock.  Then again, standing 12-14 feet, away the german release just looks better.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I think there are probably some differences in personal taste when it comes to aesthetics and priorities here when comparing the blu-ray to DVDs or streaming services.

In my highly personal opinion, the German blu-ray release's SD files are superior to the upscales of the Universal/Mill Creek DVDs. Others have disagreed. Cez (of LEGO SLIDERS) and I have been comparing upscaled DVDs to the SD blu-ray. Cez prefers the upscaled DVD files of Seasons 2 - 5 episodes, he says that they look cleaner and are at a higher resolution; the blu-ray SD files are covered in a grainy texture that looks, to him, like they're fuzzy, rough standard definition files that are trying to punch above their weight on an HDTV.

In contrast, a Topaz-upscaled DVD file looks clean, clear, and like it belongs on an HDTV. And I understand that.

I think that if you're looking up close at an AI upscaled DVD file, you might like how AI has cleaned up the rough noise of the videotape, smoothed it out, resolved it and added additional pixels to render it with clarity. In contrast, the blu-ray's video quality has a flickering noise texture to it that might be seen as pixelation to some and it's stretched from 576 to anywhere from 1080 to 2100 pixels high, so up close, that may seem like it isn't as clearly defined as the upscale.

However, to me, I prefer that pixelation because when watched at a living room distance, I see detail, texture and minute visual elements and I imagine that the smoother look in other releases is just file compression and the NTSC masters being 20 per cent smaller than the PAL versions. Seen at a sensible separation, that noisy pixelation is strands of hair, pores in skin, perforations in clothing.

Now that I understand that the Topaz HQ preset is designed to resolve grain into pixel detail, I can see that Seasons 2 - 5 would actually benefit greatly from being run through Topaz's HQ algorithm. All that grain in the image that some people dislike, upscaled from 576 to 1080 pixels high, would become pixel-rendered detail whether seen up close or at living room distance.

Personally, I am satisfied with the blu-ray as is. But Universal is capable of taking their PAL masters and performing an AI grain-to-pixel conversion on Seasons 2 - 5 and creating an excellent 1080p version of these seasons that would please Cez and RussianCabbie. The technology is there. The files are available (in PAL).

And Season 1 -- the PAL version looks to me like an okay DVD on the blu-ray and when scaled to an HDTV, it looks like a slightly below average DVD. When AI upscaled for an HDTV, it goes back to looking like an okay DVD at 1080p, no improvement, but also no degradation. It's possible that AI upscaling technology will improve and be able to fix the fuzziness of Season 1. There may be other AI upscaling technology out there now that I haven't personally encountered or heard of.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I am very, very, very sorry for recommending a home video release that I now see has issues in being enjoyed by North American fans with NTSC hardware. I did not realize this would be the case as I didn't experience these issues myself, but I clearly got lucky. I am going to re-update the information in the first post of this thread with warnings about the PAL format.

On balance, i'm glad I got it.  I'd rather own a copy with files that have the best resolution that we know in existence. Even though I find it inferior to your up-res samples, I think it's good to have on hand the best looking files from an official release.  I was surprised at some of the pixelation at times, so I almost wonder if Turbine tried to do some sharpening or something, or maybe that's just how the PAL looks in HD.

It's really a beautiful release from a packaging / menu standpoint as well. Maybe one day we can push Turbine to do an "upconverted hd blu-ray" although they probably wouldn't bite.

I wish we could take a look at the image The Hub had again as they may have done upconverting on that.  I do recall it looking good.