With Ray Winstone taking on John Thaw’s Regan role for the Sweeney film, home entertainment label Network Distributing decided it was time to bring the original into the 21st century. They turned to our Digital Media Services team, who painstaking restored the content frame-by-frame to create a new HD version.
Many masters and negatives of early TV classics are unavailable. Fortunately, Network Distributing was able to source original negatives for The Sweeney, although the 16mm film negatives varied in quality and condition and in some cases were very badly worn, with lots of scratching, scuffing and in one instance missing sprocket holes.
Our Digital Media Services team, lead by Colourist Jonathan Wood, were tasked with the digital restoration of four series – 53 episodes in total. They devised a special workflow, comprised of a SCANITY film scanner, Nucoda Film Master and a HS-ART DustBuster. First a 2K scan of the original 16mm A/B negative rolls was generated on the SCANITY and conformed on the Nucoda Film Master, removing any residual picture movement caused by the physical film edit. After this, a full shot-by-shot grade with grain reduction and automated dust removal was carried out using the Nucoda. The HS-ART DustBuster was then used for manual clean up to ensure each of the episodes had a consistent look and feel. The master mono tracks were cloned across and the timecode of these new HD masters made to match the old so that the previously created 5.1 tracks remained in sync.
It was important that clarity and colour improvements were balanced with staying faithful to the style of the show and maintaining the 16mm film feel of the 1970s police series.
Tim Beddows, Managing Director Network Distributing says: “We’ve been mightily impressed with what Colourist Jonathan Wood and the BBC Studios and Post Production Digital Media Services team have achieved and delivered. Part of the brief was to preserve the filmic, documentary quality that is the hallmark of the series. Jonathan is very sympathetic to this approach. We left them to get on with it, and having worked with Jonathan on previous versions, we knew he has an eye for archive material that we’ve not seen in anyone else in the industry.”
The final episodes were formatted to HDCAM SR masters and released on Blu-ray.