Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Page

Published and maintained by Ian Williams

Updated January 3rd 2010

The purpose of this page is to supplement the Restoration Team's web site and answer some of the queries that so frequently occurred on the now defunct Technical Forum. 

I have tried to formulate the answers in a way that can be understood by the layman. If more technical data is required, you may need to invest in a book.

A Summary of the Questions

I've just seen Dimensions in Time on eBay (or other auction site). Surely that's an infringement of BBC copyright?


Section 1: General Questions

Section 2: Missing Episodes

Section 3: Colourised Episodes

Section 4: Technical Queries

Section 5: DVD Specific

Section 6: Audio Releases

Section 7: VHS Specific

Section 8: Copyright Stuff

The Answers

I've just seen Dimensions in Time on eBay (or other auction site). Surely that's an infringement of BBC copyright?
Indeed it is. Video piracy is against the law and jeopardises future programme making. If you see instances of copyright infringement with regard to BBC products, especially Doctor Who, you can notify the BBC via email to Mark Ayres or Paul Vanezis. They will pass the information on to the relevant department.

Section 1: General Questions

1.1 I have bought the faulty version of Revenge of the Blargblasters. How do I contact the BBC about a replacement disc?
1.2 I think you should release Revenge of the Blargblasters now! Can't the RT do something about forcing the BBC to put the tape out?
The RT can only make suggestions to 2|Entertain as to which titles are released. Generally they accept our suggestions based on our knowledge of the source material, but that is by no means set in stone.
1.3 Why not use the 1993 Missing in Action featurette as an extra on a future DVD release?
Shown before the 1993 repeat of Planet of the Daleks Episode 3 on BBC1, this 5-minute featurette is about the problem of missing Doctor Who episodes. Many fans dislike it because they feel the production team decided to poke fun at the obsessiveness of missing-episode hunters rather than raising interest in the search. In particular, comments by Ian Levine appear to have been deliberately edited to change the emphasis and show him in a bad light. The programme also lends credence to the rumour that some fans are knowingly hoarding missing episodes, without any evidence to support such a claim. The assertion that these episodes "change hands for vast sums of money" is both untrue and likely to hinder future recoveries.
For these reasons, the Restoration Team regards the production as a seriously flawed piece of journalism that does not deserve more exposure. (JS)
1.4 Why was a 16mm telerecording made of the pilot episode?
This was in the days when video tape was in its infancy. Portable cassette video tapes were nearly a decade away. A 16mm film print was by far the most economical way of making a viewing copy of a programme. It is likely that this viewing copy was requested by Sydney Newman or Verity Lambert.
1.5 Is there any reason why spoofs such as Dr Emu or Dr Where from Crackerjack could not be included as extras on future VHS or DVD releases?
There are no reasons why such items could not be included subject to clearance with the artists involved.
1.6 Does the original version of Revelation Of The Daleks with Colin Baker's full line of "I know, I'll take you to Blackpool" intact exist? If so would a DVD release have this reinstated as per the original direction/script?
The end of the final scene from Revelation of the Daleks no longer exists. (DF)
1.7 Is there any possibility that documentaries such as Resistance is Useless can be released as extras on DVD?
These documentaries are made up of clips from various episodes and it costs to have these clips cleared by the artists involved, i.e. each artist appearing in each clip would have to be paid. However the inclusion of Whose Dr Who on the Talons of Weng Chiang DVD suggests that nothing is beyond the realms of possibility.
1.8 There's are very strange edit in part three of The Ark In Space, where The Doctor and Vira meet a semi-transformed Noah. What's that all about?
TV shows often undergo fine tuning and editing before transmission. In this case, however the then producer Philip Hinchliffe decided that the scene be curtailed prior to broadcast, because it depicted the character of Noah suffering in his metamorphosis. A similar scene was removed from Seeds of Doom episode 1 involving Winlett. The scenes were certainly taped, but have subsequently been wiped, and are unlikely to be part of a future video release.
1.9 Is it likely that Dimensions in Time will be released as part of a DVD release?
Dimensions in Time was an insert in the BBC's Children in Need charity telethon. As the artistes taking part gave their time free of charge it was agreed that BBC Worldwide (then BBC Enterprises) would never seek to exploit it commercially in any form. (DC)
No amount of suggestions, "what ifs" or general pleading is likely to change this.
1.10 Why do some of the closing title graphics on The Green Death seem to be running backwards. Why is this?
They're not running backwards. The 35mm film from which the graphic was sourced was fed into the telecine machine upside down, and possibly back to front, which is why they are inverted. No records exist to suggest why this was done, although it has been suggested that the production team at the time wanted to try something new, as this was the last use of the material.
1.11 I saw Dame Celia Volestrangler at a convention last weekend, and she said that she had recorded a commentary for the DVD of Revenge of the Bargblasters. Can you confirm this will be the next DVD?
The RT are legally and contractually bound to withold any details of a release on any format of which they may have knowledge, until such time that 2|Entertain deem fit to make it public. This is partly for marketing reasons, and also for contractual ones, the exceution of which may be jeopardised by premature discussion. Don't ask because you won't be told until that time. As for the loose lipped Dame Celia, she should know better.
1.12 Will This Is Your Life featuring Jon Pertwee, Peter Davison or Tom Baker ever appear as an extra or bonus release?
The problem with This Is Your Life is that since 1969 when Thames bought the rights, it has not been in the BBC domain. So clearing any clips or programmes after 1969 puts the price bracket in the commercial sector. So while it cannot be ruled out, it is unlikely at the present time. (Tom Baker's edition was made by Thames/Pearson for the BBC, so the same rule applies). Secondly Jon Pertwee's TIYL was not retained in the Thames/Pearson archive, although copies of the Peter Davison and Tom Baker editions were kept.
Of course there's nothing to stop Thames/Pearson releasing TIYL on DVD- subject to clearance of course! (With thanks to SC)
1.13 Why is there such a problem with the uses of copyright music on BBC shows (e.g The Beatles' 'Paperback Writer'in Evil of the Daleks, when shows like The Prisoner ('All you need is Love' in Fall Out) and UFO ('Get Back' used in Ordeal) seem to be released and re-released all the time?
When Doctor Who was made (and indeed most BBC TV shows) the rights for the use of a particular piece of music were negotiated on the basis of use for one transmission and possibly one repeat, without a view on the worlwide market. ITC, which made The Prisoner and UFO, supplied a worldwide market, and the rights for the clips were negotiated for use in perpetuity, or at least for a very long time.
1.14 Which fonts are used for lettering Doctor Who episodes?
The following information lists the fonts used on the Doctor Who title sequences, and the availability of their nearest equivalents.
Please note that the graphic designers who worked on Doctor Who (Bernard Lodge, Sid Sutton and Oliver Elmes) made occasional  variations to the fonts for their own use, so strict accuracy may not be available generically. For instance the more eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that in the closing credits for The Deadly Assassin the "W" in "DOCTOR WHO" is styled differently to the "W"s in the rest of the credits. Why this was done I have no idea, but it was obviously felt to be important at the time!
Those wishing to replicate the look of the titles sequences used in the 1960s will find the excellent reconstructions of the credits for The Aztecs and The Seeds of Death DVDs to be a more accurate guide to their intended appearance. Distortions in the geometry and resolution inherent in the telerecordings of the 60s stories make them an unreliable a guide.
With the titles for seasons 7-13 an attempt to standardise the font style for the series resulted not only in the use of Futura for the captions, but also as the base font style for the creation of the series logos. With thanks to David Lavelle
1.15 Why does the sting associated with the closing theme appear in the reprises of Episodes Two and Three of Day of the Daleks? Is this a mistake?
It's not a mistake. This was how the episodes were originally broadcast. It's possible that Director Paul Bernard was unfamiliar with Doctor Who and thought that the sting was supposed to be heard in the reprises.(DF) It may have been a conscious desire to try something new.
1.16 Is it possible for Revenge of the Blargblasters to be made as a separate TVM as was done for The Curse of Fenric? What other stories have extra material?
The RT have not ruled out the possibility of other stories being given the same treatment as The Curse of Fenric on DVD (see the recent Black Grauniad Box Set featuring an extended feature length version of Enlightenment). For a full list of stories where extra material exists, I suggest you read Richard Molesworth's excellent article on the BBC Archives which can be found under the Articles section of the main page.
1.17 I've just seen Revenge of the Blargblasters on TV, and the quality was very ropey/pretty good. What is the quality of that story in the BBC Archives?
The RT don't always know what the quality of each story is like, especially those from the 1960s, until the story comes up for DVD release. Only then can they envisage the work to be done on it.

Section 2:Missing Episodes

2.1 Which episodes are missing?
There is a document in Word format that can be downloaded in the BBC Archives section of the Restoration Team web site. Click on Articles and Information followed by BBC Archives. It lists overseas sales of the BBC archive in relation to Doctor Who. Dominic Jackson has a very good FAQ on the actual archive holding.
There are some excellent links to other sites with useful information with regard to archive holdings on the Links page within Articles and Information.
Dominic Jackson's Archive Holding Website
2.2 Have all avenues for finding missing episodes been explored?
No. Many but not all of the TV stations to whom the show was sold in the 60s and 70s have been contacted and asked to search their archives. Thanks to the efforts of fans like Ian Levine who are willing to undertake the task, many episodes have been recovered.
2.3 What are the Restoration Team doing to find missing episodes?
As much as we can based on information received. We're always open to new suggestions.
2.4 What are telesnaps?
Telesnaps are photographic stills taken by John Cura in the 1960s of episodes as they were broadcast. Many Doctor Who stories exist in this form, but some (e.g. Galaxy 4) do not. The restoration team have been using these images to aid in reconstructing episodes which no longer exist for special editions.
2.5 Where did the audios of missing episodes come from?
The audio releases are compiled from audio recordings made by fans during the original broadcasts. They are cleaned up, new title music is inserted and a narration is added. Mark Ayres is responsible for making the audios worthy of release while Graham Strong and David Holman are two prominent contributors of the source material.
2.6 What are re-constructions?
These are fan based attempts to recreate missing episodes by running telesnaps in a sequence with an audio track underneath. They are sometimes captioned to describe events that occur between frames, and some use clever animation to make up the shortfall in visual action. Until recently these have had no official standing in the eyes of the BBC, although the technique has been utilised recently for the video releases of The Ice Warriors and The Tenth Planet in order to fill gaps. CD-ROMs have been published combining soundtracks with telesnaps.
2.7 Who shot the 8mm clips of missing episodes and why did that person only film 'significant' scenes from missing episodes?
This identity of this person is known and they still retain the original film recording, however they no longer wish to be connected with fandom. The clips were shot in Australia (possibly from a repeat screening) so the person already knew which scenes (s)he wished to record. Clips from existing episodes also exist (i.e. The Reign of Terror, Planet of Giants, The Web Planet, The Chase, The Time Meddler, The Space Museum & The War Machines.) These are however, by definition, of lesser interest. (RM)
2.8 Is it possible to recover missing episodes from landfills?
Unfortunately No. The original Video Tapes were wiped and reused, and were not disposed of in this manner. The 16mm film prints, although a lot of them were junked in this way, would not survive for the following reasons.
  1. The 16mm prints were spooled, and removed from their cans prior to being thrown away.
  2. The way that landfills work. Bulldozers are used to churn up the garbage and compact the earth. So any 16mm films that survived being spooled, or were thrown away in their cans, were more than likely crushed by a bulldozer when the earth was compacted.
  3. The nature of the film. Film soaks up water like a sponge. There are water trucks at landfills to water the land to help the bulldozers in compacting the earth. So no doubt the films got wet. When film soaks up water, it expands, and the emulsion (picture) on the film will come off, and turn to powder, resulting in blank film.
  4. Then you have all the dirt and rubbish that could stick to the film and rub the emulsion off the film like sandpaper, resulting in blank film.
  5. Some of the landfills have been turned into parks, towns that people live in, even motorways… Even if the films were only junked weeks ago, the damage was almost certainly already done to the prints by that time.
So, by the above examples, trying to find film in a landfill is not very realistic.(RR)
2.9 I've read that John Cura was not commissioned to take any telesnaps of Doctor Who during the John Wiles era, yet I've seen some off-air photos from The Daleks' Master Plan: The Feast of Steven published in various books and magazines.  Where do they come from?
The photos were taken by Dalek Operator Robert Jewell, who also played the role of the Clown (Bing Crosby) in that episode.(DF)
2.10 How about animating more episodes like The Invasion 1 and 4?
The animated episodes of The Invasion were comissioned for a BBC online project which never materialised. The inclusion in the DVD was an afterthought. and the DVD budget ran to their inclusion because they were already paid for. It's currently cost prohibitive to animate other missing episodes at this stage 

Section 3: Colourised Episodes

3.1 Why isn't the video release of Ambassadors of Death in full colour?
Episode 1 exists in the BBC archive as a a full colour 2" Quad master, and can be included in any complete or compilation release. The rest of the story is held in the form of B/W film prints. Episodes in this form can be colourised using the techniques described on the colour restoration page only if a stable source of colour material is available. Betamax tapes were made by Tom Lundy in the late 70s allowing the successful re-colouring of The Daemons, The Silurians and Terror of the Autons. Unfortunately a fault occurred in transmission, in recording or in the subsequent duplication of the Ambassadors of Death tape. To this end, the colour in certain episodes dissolves into a peculiar rainbow pattern and is irrecoverable on some episodes. Episode 5 has been successfully recoloured and has been shown on some cable satellite/stations. Episode 6 has also been recoloured, but is not considered to be of broadcast quality. Alas, Mr Lundy seems no longer to be connected with fandom, so we cannot ask him if he still has the original tapes.
As far as the recent video release is concerned, you can get the full story by clicking the VHS release icon to the left of this page for the full story. In short episodes 1 and 5 have been included in full colour. Where it was felt that an extended sequence could be included in the remaining episodes without noticeable deterioration of colour, these portions have been colourised. The rest have been left as B/W with subtle mixes between colour and B/W sections. Further to this, all episodes have been tidied up prior to whatever work was done on them, and all the extant B/W episodes have been re-mastered for sound from an alternate source.
3.2 Has anyone tried to contact Tom Lundy?
Prominent pursuer of missing episodes Ian Levine has restablished contact with Mr Lundy.
3.3 Can Ambassadors of Death be computer colourised?
Yes, but  Dr Who DVD releases do not have the budget of hollywood blockbusters, and have a limited appeal in terms of sales. See 3.5 for the latest developement 
3.4 I've seen bits of Mind Of Evil in colour. Why isn't it entirely coloured?
Part 6 of Mind of Evil has some colour elements. This is because approximately 5 minutes of that episode was recorded and retained on a tape subsequently used for other episodes. These are the only colour images that are currently known to survive. As with Ambassadors of Death fair quality and stable colour material of some sort is required to colour the balance of material. As with Ambassadors it is too expensive to colourise the story completely using computer.
3.5 What about Planet of the Daleks Episode 3 and Invasion (of the Dinosaurs) Part 1?
No decision has been made on IotD 1 yet, but using a combination of computer colourisation by US company Legend,  and the Colour Recovery (CR) process (See FAQ 3.6), a colourised Planet of the Daleks 3 will form part of the upcoming Dalek War box set
3.6 How is it possible to recover colour info from information derived from Black and White telerecordings?
(revised Jan 2009) In certain circumstances when a black and white film recording is made of a colour programme the colour information is also stored on the film. The subcarrier which stores the colour creates a pattern on the monochrome image. If you watch a colour programme on a B/W television - not a colour set with the colour turned down- you may see it.
The precise timing of this colour signal is critical but is completely distorted by the film, as by the nature of the filming process, the picture is slightly zoomed in and is geometrically distorted. There is also a further problem in that a particular film frame will record the lines from adjacent PAL fields, further confusing the issue.
So to recover the colour signal it is necessary to microscopically examine the film frame, extract each line and restore it to its correct spatio-temporal position in the PAL signal. Also the reference signal (the burst) which forms part of the signal and enables television to decode PAL is lost, and PAL also changes phase every other line as well and it would be necessary to track that as well.
This has now been successfully implemented using the method and software developed by Richard Russell (with significant contribution from Andrew Steer), based on James Insell's original idea. Credit should also go to Andrew Browne, whose initial experiments in Colour Recovery produced encouraging results. (IW)
3.7 Is it possible to Reverse Convert the off-air NTSC tapes used to recolour the Pertwee episodes back in 1993? Would this improve the picture quality compared with the original VHS releases?
Unfortunately these tapes suffer from a lot of noise and as such the RSC process wouldn't work (DF)
 3.8 In the DVD version of episode 6 of  Doctor Who And The Silurians, a ghostly caption appears on screen   when the Doc and Brig are outside the hospital (Time index around 1' 15"). It looks very much like a superimposed "Doctor Who: Jon Pertwee" caption from the end credits. It's still there in the lab scene between the Doctor and Liz Shaw at 2' 20". Why is this?
It's absolutely as transmitted. After about five minutes the production team seem to realise that it's breaking through on the vision mixer from another bank and cut away from it. It's burnt into the film recording and would have been seen on transmission. (SR+CS)

Section 4: Technical Queries

4.1 Why do you see parallel lines on the picture if guns are fired?
It's called Microphony. The percussion of the gunfire causes the camera tube to vibrate. Hence the lines. Steps were being considered to remove them from new releases such as the DVD of Caves of Androzani, but was found to be too complex a problem.
4.2 What are NTSC and PAL?
There are several different broadcast systems. The main ones tend to be identified by the colour coding used e.g NTSC and PAL. NTSC is used mainly in the Americas and Japan, while PAL is mainly European. There are variances such as PAL 60 and exceptions such as France's SECAM. For the main part the world is divided into PAL and NTSC.
In the US for example, television signals consists of of 525 lines at 60 fields per second with NTSC coding. In the UK the system consists of 625 lines and 50 fields per second with. PAL coding. So in combination with the line number, colour coding and frequency, images from different countries are not always interchangeable.
When it comes to domestic video tape, the VHS tape speed for play also differs between the two systems.
4.3 What is Reverse Standards Conversion?
It's exactly what it says on the tin, a method of undoing the standards conversions made to Dr Who tapes in the early 70s when they were sold to the US. The results are far better than those achieved by simply converting the NTSC tapes back to PAL
4.4 Can I play an NTSC tape in a PAL country?
Yes. Until 1990 it would have involved buying an expensive multi-standard VHS machine and television. The manufacturers gradually began to introduce the NTSC play back on PAL TV feature, which meant that the machines would produce a modified NTSC signal which would reproduce on a set provided that the television used was fairly modern. Today most VCRs support this feature and most TV sets will handle this modified signal through their SCART input.
4.5 Can I play PAL tapes in an NTSC country?
Yes, but only if you have a multi-standard VCR and TV. There is no PAL playback on NTSC TV equivalent on NTSC VCRs. There is no market for it, since the market (i.e. movies) originates in an NTSC country.
4.6 Can I watch NTSC DVDs in a PAL country?
Now this is an entirely more complex can of worms. The short answer is "yes" but the long answer is as follows.
Many DVD players are sold with the ability to play NTSC discs. This means that discs with both PAL and NTSC material can be played. This does not mean that imported American discs will play on European machines.
As the world is divided by TV systems, continents are subdivided by DVD region coding. In order to protect their interests on the American continent, movie makers insisted that US issued discs could only be played on machines of that region (region 1).
This means that films which may not have had a cinema release in a region 2 country can be sold again by the film companies in that country to make more money on their product, and thus capitalise on the publicity of that product. The only discs that should be played in a region 2 country are region 2 discs.
Now, some European machines can be modified or chipped to be multi-region which means they can play the region 1 discs. Similarly some players have software hacks which allow region switching without physical modification with the same result.
Manufacturers introduced an extra coding called RCE (Regional Coding Enhancement) which meant that some players set for multi-region may not have played them. Some did and some didn't. It depended on the model.
It is worth pointing out that DVD players on some Personal Computers can play discs from any region with the right software! This may, however, invalidate some warranties.
4.7 Can I watch PAL DVDs in an NTSC country?
There is no market for it in the US, thus the big brand name players do not carry the facility, although I am advised that multi-region players are avaliable in the US.
Again, with the right software, it is possible to play discs from any region with DVD players on Personal Computers
4.8 People keep talking about seeing artefacts in DVD pictures. What are they?
DVD artefacts are the result of data compression a disc. An artefact is anything in the picture that was not there in the original broadcast recording or film. DVD uses MPEG-2 data compression to dramatically reduce the amount of data needed to represent a moving image. The more the data is compressed however, the more likely it is that compression artefacts such as blocking and dot patterns around edges ('mosquitoes') will be visible. The art of MPEG-2 compression is to find a good balance between maximising the compression ratio and minimising the artefacts. (SR)
4.9 What Are Comet Tails?
Comet tails are caused by highlight lag in old tube cameras - basically a bright light hitting a particular area on the imaging surface causes so much charge to build up that it cannot be removed in one field. So when the camera pans again and that particular spot is supposed to be imaging a dark object, it still has charge on it and so is read out as light instead. Each of the red, green and blue imaging tubes had separate anti-comet-tail (ACT) circuits, and if not matched correctly, comet tails appear to be coloured rather than white. (SR)
4.10 What are 71 edits?
Prior to the introduction of the BBC's New Programme Number in 1978, the suffix "ED" was added to the programme identification number to signify that it had been edited. A further edit added another "ED" and so on. It was not uncommon for BBC Presentation to receive paperwork with numbers ending "ED/ED/ED/ED/ED". I worked in Pres Desk for 3 years and every day I heard planning assistants asking producers "Is that 4 EDs (EE-DEES) or 5 EDs?"

The new programme number rationalised the way in which programmes were identified and the included elements identifying the originating department, the costing prefix and other components such as a check digit (to spot incorrect and fraudulent numbers). The 71, 72, 73 etc suffix identified subsequent edits and the letter "X" at the end of the number identified the TX copy. Film programmes used the suffix "91".

It's therefore incorrect to talk about "71" edits for "Doctor Who" productions which pre-date the summer of 1978 as these programmes did not use the New Programme Number, but were VTC/6HT/------ED edits, although it has become commonplace to refer to all first edits as "71's". Incorrect, but a handy shorthand nonetheless. (BR)
Here are some examples of tape codes
VT/4T/19789 - An Unearthly Child:1
A 405 line VT recording.

(When tech codes were introduced it would have been 4MQ1 for this spool, but of course it was already wiped).
There may or may not have been an /ED suffix physically written on the tape and paperwork but it's unlikely it would have featured on the VT clock as that was recorded during the studio recording prior to editing.

FR/35/4T/23675 - Planet of Giants:3
A 35mm film recording from a 405 line source.

FR/35/6T/36252 - Power of the Daleks:6
A 35mm film recording of a 625 line source.

VT/6T/42351/ED - Enemy of the World:3
The first 625 line transmission videotape for Doctor Who.
(Some paperwork will note the spool as VTM/XX/etc... indicating a black and white 625 recording. Other paperwork for these codes notes VTM/6LT/XXXXX etc... meaning it's a black and white low band recording. However, it's likely that from as early as 1968 many programmes recorded in 625 would have been recorded on a High Band format with a colour subcarrier to allow the programme to replay untroubled on a colour 625 network, so the correct recording number for a tape like that would be VTM/6HT/XXXXX.)

VTC/6HT/55280/ED - The Silurians:1
The first colour 625 recording for Doctor Who.

VTC/6HT/63227/ED/ED - The Claws of Axos:1
The first re-edit of a Doctor Who, probably to replace the opening titles when it was renamed from 'The Vampire from Space'. Episode 2 is also an /ED/ED. In reality, edits and trims were made all the time prior to transmission on the physical tape. For example 'The Ambassadors of Death':1 has a section of the Master 'A' recording (the studio recording) edited back in physically, with splicing tape etc... rather than drop a video generation and incur the additional cost of another tape.

VTC/6HT/83751/ED/D - Planet of the Daleks:1
A dub of the transmission tape which then became the transmission tape. It is possible that this detail was changed on records and the dub which was probably a safety copy surviving the purges of the mid 1970's, becoming the TX tape after transmission. Either way, it is a physical generation down from the first edit.

VTC/6HT/B 12306/ED - The Deadly Assassin:3
Of course, the surviving master tape with the edited ending is an /ED/ED, but it's still the same original tape.

VTC/6HT/B 16847/BM/ED - The Horror of Fang Rock:1
The BM meaning it was originated at Pebble Mill.

LDLA063L/72/X - The Androids of Tara:1
The start of the new coding system or identifiers of versions of programmes. The 72 indicates that there has previously been a different version of this programme. The X means that this is the transmission version. You could also have a /71/X or a /73/X indicating different transmission versions of the same programme. Previously a different TX version of a programme may have a different recording number followed by a number of /ED's. The new system allowed any number of versions of an individual programme under the same core number. In this case the core number would be LDLA063L.(PV)
4.11 What is VIDFIRE and how will it improve the quality of VHS and DVD?
VidFIRE is short for Video Field Interpolation Restoration Effect and is a technique for restoring the video 'look' to programmes originally shot with electronic studio cameras but which now only exist as film recordings. It was devised and developed by Peter Finklestone.
Doctor Who on video has 50 discrete images per second, which gives a live, fluid feel, whereas film has 25 images per second. VidFIRE uses software designed primarily to produce smooth slow motion to create a half speed version of a programme. One extra frame is generated between each original film frame and is a true 'in between' image, rather than simply a mix of the surrounding frames. The resulting programme is then run at double speed, with consecutive frames being interlaced. This gives a picture with 50 discrete images per second and, therefore, looks reminiscent of video.
To complete the effect, it is necessary to remove as many film recording artefacts as possible, so before processing films need to be thoroughly de blobbed and scratches removed. Finally, about 1dB of DVNR is applied in video mode.
Problems which remain are static noise (phosphor grain and dirt on the film recorder screen, phosphor holes) and the motion blur which is locked in to the recording on fast-moving scenes.
The first VHS to use this method was Planet of the Giants. The first DVD was The Aztecs. (PF)
4.12 What is that White spot that I keep seeing on pre 90s video taped shows?
Sometimes a camera would develop a blemish on its targetting scanner causing the white spot. As the camera would be one of a number within a scene, the spot would appear in some shots and not others.
4.13 There are a couple of film sequences in The Claws of Axos where the action takes place against a blue background. Is this a case of a CSO Screen without something being electronically inserted?
No, it's not. The background in question is in fact the sky. CSO was only ever used on videotaped sequences, not film sequences. (DF)

Section 5: DVD Specific

5.1 My DVD counter doesn't work on Spearhead From Space and Robots of Death. Why?
After consulting with the DVD authoring house Electric Switch the RT have discovered it's done this way because they have to compromise between the ability to access chapters within episodes using direct chapter entry from the remote, and time facilities. (SR)
5.2 Since Black and White programmes have less information than colour recordings, does this mean that you can get more monochrome episodes on one DVD because of the lower bit-rate?
In theory yes, but in practicality, and especially with regard to Doctor Who episodes, no. If the B/W telerecordings were as high quality as some old films then the theory would apply. But the prints are much grainier than a feature film - so we can't apply as much grain reduction without visible noise reduction artefacts, therefore we need a higher bitrate to encode the MPEG with, in order to prevent MPEG artefacts.
5.3 What are Easter Eggs on DVDs? What Eggs have been placed on the recent releases? Will there be anymore?
The term Easter Egg derives from early computer game software programmes. The compiler would leave a hidden 'signature' on the game to identify himself. As time went on and the games became more complex, these Easter Eggs (so called after the American tradition of an 'Easter Egg Hunt' on Easter Sunday) came to include secret levels, power ups and extra lives. In DVD terms they mean extra features not advertised on the disc box and not part of the main menu. Robots of Death was meant to have some 'Eggs' but the DVD authoring house included them as advertised feature. Spearhead from Space has one which can be accessed on the main menu- with 'Play all' highlighted press the left hand cursor key and the Doctor Who logo will become highlighted in red. Press play/enter to access. Please note the Region 1 version of the disc has a similar egg in a different place. All the eggs on subsequent video releases are hidden in a similar fashion, so scour the menus keep tabbing with your remotes, or hovering with your mouse, and you will find them.
5.4 Why is the original DVD release of Remembrance of the Daleks different from the broadcast version and previous video release?
Because of a cock-up on the technical front, for which the RT debarred themselves from their usual curry diet in favour of humble pie for some time. Essentially in an effort to optimise picture quality, earlier edits of episodes 1 and 2 were used for certain scenes. These scenes contained some visual effects which were incomplete. The full story can be found in the Remembrance of the Daleks section of the DVD page accessed from the menu on the left of this page. In consolation it could be argued that the UK release has unique features which will not be seen outside of the Region 2 edition!
5.5 Why are deleted scenes not included as part of the main feature on DVD releases?
Sometimes, the deleted scenes no longer exist in broadcast quality and would therefore jar if included in the main feature (Vengeance on Varos is an example). Even where picture quality is not an issue, the scenes may have been removed for artistic reasons as they significantly alter the tone or pace of a production (Remembrance of the Daleks ). Inserting extra scenes may well require new music and effects to be recorded and the soundtrack to be re-mixed, adding to production costs. In any case, some people prefer to see the 'authentic' version of a story as transmitted. In principle, seamless branching could be used to present both versions on a DVD, although the authoring would be more expensive. Even then, some players have a tendency to pause before a branched section, so that it is not truly 'seamless'. (JS)
The exception to this is the DVD release of Curse of Fenric , which includes two versions of the show. The original programme as broadcast, and a movie length version containing additonal scenes not in the original, and in addition to the extras in the 1990s video version.
5.6 I'd like to suggest an extra for a future DVD release.
A website has been set up specifically for this purpose, Time Rotor. Please do not post such ideas to the Technical Forum, as any such threads will more than likely have slipped off the bottom of the page by the time the Team comes to consider suitable extras for a particular story. (JK)
5.7 What is there to say about the faults on the DVD release of the 1960s Dalek movies?
In the US and Australian release of Dr Who and the Daleks there is a slightly different edit from the generally accepted print during the battle scene at the end of the movie. The Australian version is apparently a zoomed widescreen version of the VHS master, while Daleks-Invasion-Earth 2150AD is from a pucker anamorphic print, however it has a sound glitch (about 10 secs) in and both US and Oz versions of the film have the prologue and opening title switched around.
MArk Ayres writes: "There were a number of problems with Warner UK's boxed-set release of the two Daleks movies. This was of slight embarrassment to me as I was a consultant to the release, though I had no input into the final DVD mastering, where the errors occured. The problems (all with disc 1) were as follows:"
  • The original issue had a sound problem whereby the music and effects track (M&E) was overlaid with the final English dub. This led to all music and effects having a glassy 'echoed' quality - very uncomfortable to listen to. When this was pointed out to Warners, the disc was re-authored, re-pressed and reissued.
  • The second edition had sound which was OK, but an authoring fault led to the disc freezing on chapter 16 (note that the layer change is at the very end of chapter 16).
  • The third edition appears to be OK.
  • In case you wish to check which version you have (obviously, version 3 is ideal) it is possible, on close examination to tell the discs apart visually (though it could have been made easier!).
  • Carefully turn the disc over so that the playing side is uppermost. There is a narrow silvered band at the centre of the disc, just inside the actual data area. In good ambient light, you should be able to make out two broken circles made up of little squares (for the technically minded, these are alignment markers, one circle for each of the two layers of the disc). Each layer is labelled, but the deeper layer is labelled back-to-front (don't worry, it's meant to be like that! - in the numbers given below, the number after the slash is '2' for the second later). Look at the inner of these two rings, and turn the disc until you can make out the version code (it's very small and very faint, so you'll need to squint!):
    • 38024D5/1 (original version with faulty sound)
    • 38024D5/1.2 V02 (second pressing with corrected sound, but mpeg encoding error)
    • 38024D5/1.3 V03 (final version - hopefully all correct!)
5.8 Who decides what comes out on DVD?
2|Entertain's producers. However, in practice they follow recommendations made by the core members of the RT, who decide based on known popularity, technical issues, and the availability of extras. Marketing strategy is also important - decisions such as releasing from all eras (as opposed to, for example, Season Box Sets), and the number of releases per year, are made at senior management level with very little influence from the RT. (PF)
5.9 Is there any real difference in quality between Region 1 NTSC discs and Region 2 PAL discs apart from the running time? I've heard that a DVD picture is 500 lines of resolution which is less than NTSC's 525 and PAL's 625, so in theory there should be no difference in quality, yet people say you can notice a jerky movement on NTSC moving and pan shots.
When people talk about "lines of resolution", it has nothing to do with the 625 or 525 line systems. It refers to the ability of a picture to differentiate alternate vertical black and white lines before they merge into a grey mush. It is a sort of measure of image clarity, but is prone to inaccuracy and perpetual confusion!!
There are actually 576 active horizontal scanning lines in a 625 picture (the rest are earmarked for things like teletext and blanking signals) with 25 pictures (50 fields) per second, and in a 525 picture there are 480 active lines with 30 pictures (60 fields) per second.
A cinema movie has 24 pictures per second. When a movie is on a 625/50 DVD, it is speeded up to 25 frames per second, with a resultant 4% increase in speed. A movie on a 525/60 DVD has 24 frames per second, but every 5th field is repeated to meet the 30fps standard. This is why motion on panning shots can appear jerky. Some DVD player/TV combinations can remove this to give a smooth 24fps picture.
Think of it in computer terms…
A region 1 disc has a picture 720 pixels wide and 480 pixels high. A region 2 disc has a picture 720 pixels wide but 576 pixels high. So you can see that the the R2 system is capable of higher resolution in the vertical plane. Additionally, it does not suffer from the pan judder that R1 suffers from when it has to reformat its 24fps pictures to 30fps to match the video system.
In summary, a R1 disc will play at the right speed, but with some jerky motion and the detail will be 480/576 that of a R2 disc. However, the R2 disc will run slightly fast (as does video in the UK too). (answer derived from various contributors but compiled by MC)
5.10 Why does the Vengeance on Varos disc lose the Production Subtitles after the layer change?
The problem occurred in the software when the master disc was created. The file for the Production Text is missing for the post layer change (the first priest scene in Part Two) element of the disc and was omitted in error. Unfortunately the problem was not spotted in time to correct it. All UK copies of Vengenace on Varos currently have this problem.
5.11 Tomb of the Cybermen has a PG rating, and states that there is "some, mild sex and nudity" of the disk. Is there an Easter Egg I'm missing?
5.12 Why do the title captions on Carnival Of Monsters appear ragged?
A decision was made to remake the opeing titles to all four episodes as they were of variable quality. In order to maintain the authenticity of the font and caption style, the intention was to 'grab' the images from the originals. Unfortunately a single field of video information was grabbed rather than a full frame, and so the image lost definition.
5.13 Why is the R4 version of Remembrance of the Daleks in NTSC and not PAL?
Roadshow refused to pay the couple of thousand pounds required to turn the UK disc into an international version (there was a music clearance problem with one track), so they decided to take the US NTSC version of the disc instead.
5.14 I really liked the CGI effects that were done for The Ark in Space. Is it feasible to to create new CGI effects in place of certain model shots, eg the dinosaurs from Invasion of the Dinosaurs?
The RT cannot guarantee all the DVDs will have newly shot features, but there may well be others. However, it won't be a mainstay feature of the DVD releases, so no more requests for CGI 'fixes' please. As far as the Invasion of the Dinosaurs is concerned it's not just the problem of modelling CGI dinosaurs, but unpicking the original dinos from the original footage and compositing the new ones in. The original footage does not exist as 'clean', and even if it did, most of them included the rubber ones anyway. (DF)
5.15 Is the 'movie version' of The Curse of Fenric filmised or widescreen?
Absolutely not. The story was shot on videotape in the standard 4:3 TV ratio, and was released as such on DVD. Think of it as an extended 'feature-length' version instead, as it is accompanied by the episodic version as originally transmitted. See the article on the main website for more details about this release. (JK)
5.17 Will the new Doctor Who series affect the DVD releases of the Classic Series, only I see that the DVD release of Revenge of the Blargblasters has been brought forward from its original release date.
The new series will not affect the DVDs of the Classic Series in any way. (DF)
5.18 At the beginning of episode one of The Web Planet the information text reads "This episode was first shown on 13 February 1965, and was seen by a record million viewers, the largest audience for a Doctor Who episode until 1975." What is the figure supposed to be and why is it missing?
The figure, as written by Martin Wiggins and sent to the subtitlers, was 13 million, but somehow the figure was inadvertantly omitted. (DF)
5.19 In the first episode of The Daleks, the picture suddenly goes negative for a couple of seconds, before returning to normal. Is this a technical fault and, if so, can it be rectified?
It's not a technical fault. The negative effect seen on screen was part of the episode when it was first broadcast back in December 1963. It's supposed to give the impression of the intense heat on the surface of Skaro. (DF)
This naturally applies to both VHS and DVD releases.
5.20 I would like to be able to watch Doctor Who in an omnibus version, as that's how I originally watched the programme. Can this be done using seamless branching?
MArk Ayres writes: "I am afraid that there is no easy way to author the discs to effectively offer this option. The expense of truly seamless branching is beyond us, and the use of stories to achieve such a result would mean freezes and gaps on almost all except the most expensive players.
The programme was originally episodic, and that is how we present it except where we can offer an entirely new director's cut option as we did with The Curse of Fenric."
5.21 Is there a problem with the remastered credits to episode 1 of The Time Warrior on the DVD in which two actors are uncredited?
Unfortunately credits for David Daker (Irongron) and John Carney (Bloodaxe) were obmitted in error. (PF)
5.22 Is there any difference in the DVD content between the old covers and the new O-Ring packaging
No. the content is the same. An additional slip cover has been added to the original
5.23 I've noticed that some of the production subtitles are onscreen for only a couple of seconds before being replaced by the next subtitle, while others stay on for much longer.  Why does this happen?
Taken as a complete sentence, the amount of time to read each subtitle is probably about right.  Unfortunately, what happens a lot is that the author hugely overestimates the amount of text that the subtitlers can get on screen at once, so they are forced to split it over two or more screens.  Given that you are going to need a second or so to even register that the subtitle has changed and start to pick up on the first word, you can see that a caption that should have been up for ten seconds is reduced to a series of three captions which are only up for a couple of seconds of actual reading time each, once you subtract the thinking time. (DF)
5.24 Why is there a female voice describing the menu navigation on new DVDs?
This is a new feature to allow blind and partially sighted fans to navigate the menus more easily. To avoid it, do not press 'enter' when prompted by the female voice and the regular menu will appear

Section 6: Audio Releases

6.1 I've heard that the audio release of The Celestial Toymaker has been censored! Is it true?
Yes and no. In episode 2, the King of Hearts recites the old version of the children's rhyme Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Moe which includes the word "nigger" (with apologies to those reading this who may be offended by the usage but it is included to give an accurate answer) in the second line. Although acceptable in 1966, it was felt that modern audiences would take offence. The word is still present on the audio release, but it has been obscured by placing Peter Purves's narration over the top. (JS)
6.2 I still think there are bits missing from the audios!
As far as possible Mark Ayres tries to make sure that everything that can be heard will be heard. However sometimes the narrative necessary to describe the action masks it. He does extend silent passages to allow more narration and do justice to the events that would have been seen on screen. So if anything, some episodes are longer.
6.3 Will any new versions be complete?
It is the policy always to present the episodes as close as is possible to their original form, whether for DVD, VHS, audio or whatever. But, as we have seen, changes occasionally have to be made for legal and/or rights issues, and such an amendment was made for Evil. (MA)
6.4 I understand that there is a fault on the Doctor Who and the Daleks audiobook. What should I look for to see if my copy has the fault?
Track 18 ends with "It never got anywhere because she simply turned the conversation away whenever I tried to follow something up", which is the bottom of page 30 in the Target edition, while track 19 starts with "Susan turned and went out of the room again without saying a word and I turned to Barbara", which is from near the top of page 32, so there is a whole page missing, including Susan's entrance. (PH)
6.5 Why can I hear I can hear the Doctor Who theme tune during CD scene 14 episode 5 of The Reign Of Terror?
It's a fault on the off-air recording, and impossible to remove. There is another off-air recording which is free of the music, but with almost inaudible dialogue, so it was a case of making the best of it.
Technology improves all the time, though, and MArk Ayres will look at it again when the need arises (MA).

Section 7: VHS Specific

7.1 Did the Carnival of Monsters VHS release include a 71 edit, and how does it differ from the broadcast version?
Yes, Episode 2 was recovered from Australia, where it was sent in error when bought as part of the complete story. The principal difference is that the opening and closing theme used are derived the Delaware version of the Dr Who theme created for the 10th season, but ultimately abandoned as unsatisfactory. It also contains some additional scenes and a repeated scene from part 1 where Vorg passes off a document of authority signed by 'The Great Zarb' as bearing the seal of the president of Inter Minor whereas, as Shirna points out, 'The Great Zarb' was a Wallarian wrestler. The DVD release includes the original broadcast version, with the additional bits included as extras.
7.2 Was the Carnival of Monsters VHS release edited for content?
Apart from including a 71 edit of part 2, part 4 contained a slight edit to conceal an imperfection in Plectrac's makeup as he plays the Find the Lady game at the end of the episode. This was created for the Five Faces of Doctor Who repeat on BBC2 in 1981, and was included on the VHS release in error. The DVD includes the original broadcast version.
7.3 Did the Frontier in Space VHS release include a 71 edit, and how does it differ from the broadcast version?
Yes, Episode 5. The principal difference is that the opening and closing theme used are derived the Delaware version of the Doctor Who theme created for the 10th season, but ultimately abandoned as unsatisfactory. It also contains some additional scenes. When the DVD of the story is released, it will be included as an extra in addition to the broadcast version.
7.4 Why were 6 part stories sometimes on one tape and sometimes on two?
Most costs of issuing Doctor Who on video relate to artist clearances, and these increase with the length of a story. Therefore a 6 part story costs the BBC more to produce and this is generally passed on to the consumer. In the UK retailers believe that a single VHS cassette which is more expensive than others will not sell as well, but a double cassette pack looks like good value to the average customer and will sell well. Having two cassettes adds very little to the unit cost of the release.
For foreign releases (and sometimes reissues in the UK) the clearance costs are less of an issue and a longer story will often be the standard price and therefore a single tape is used. (PF)

Section 8: Copyright stuff

8.1 Will the inclusion of The Beatles 'Ticket to Ride' in The Chase cause problems with a DVD release?
We don't know at the moment. All stories are potential DVD releases. Some may have copyright related pitfalls. The RT will cross bridges when they come to them. There is a new music clearance deal but how it will affect future releases is as yet undetermined. (MA+IW)
8.2 Why are there so many issues regarding the use of the Daleks in video/ DVD releases?
The Terry Nation estate- managed by his agents and family are very protective of the Dalek property. Quite rightly, they are keen that the image of their property is not demeaned or made to appear frivolous in any way. In that respect, they are entitled to veto any element of a story or extra in which they feel the image of the Daleks is being abused. This may vary from media to media and their decision can depend on a number of factors.
8.3 Why was the Dalek Cake segment edited from the Dalek Invasion of Earth DVD?
With reference to FAQ 8.2, permission was sought to use the full version of this item but a response was not received from Terry Nation's agents by the deadline for the material on the disk. So rather than put the item into production and then have to recall, a shortened version was used. (SR+IW)


Answers derived from threads and comments on the technical forum.

Specifically worded answers by the following (SR) Steve Roberts, (SC) Sue Cowley,(KH) Keith Hunter, (RM) Rob M, (JS) Joe Sueiras, (PF) Peter Finklestone, (MC) Matthew Carless, (DF) David French, (MA) MArk Ayres, (PV) Paul Vanezis, (RiM) Richard Molesworth, (RR) Ralph Rose, (JK) Jonathan Kaye, (MC) Mark Caston, (PH) Paul Heath, (PF) Patrick Furlong, (CS) Cliff Shelton, (IW) Ian Williams, (BR) Bob Richardson and (DC) David Carmichael.

Special thanks to Phill Garnett for his updated design as of 13/12/07

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