You would assume that the Doctor Who Restoration Team (or DWRT as they are known – for short); who have spent the last 30 years – remastering the Classic Doctor Who back-catalogue, were a specialist team, set up by the BBC. However, you would be quite wrong!
Infact, DWRT began life as a bunch of fans, working professionally – in various parts of the television industry, who came together due to a mutual
love of Doctor Who.
Around 1992, the group combined forces and persuaded the BBC to fund a one-off experiment. To restore a black and white – Third Doctor adventure, back to colour.
They did this, by perfecting the technique of combining a fuzzy colour video copy, over a high resolution 16mm black and white image. The result, was a perfect colour image, synced to the black-and-white film version.
Courtesy of ZegTheindestrucible – Youtube.
So impressed, were the BBC with this endeavour, that the BBC Archives and BBC Video departments provided further funding and the newly formed DWRT team, began work on the rest of the Third Doctor’s back-catalogue.
It was during this process, that the DWRT team began experimenting with computer software to help repair damaged and missing visual/audio sequences.
It became the DWRT team’s motto, that they only use software to return the adventure to as near original state – as was physically possible and not to just enhance it becuase they could (the Team did eventually start offering additional VFX improvements but only alongside the original version – as a choice – see below).
The basic GE3 Questech Charisma video effects unit, (which created the colour effects for Top Of The Pops) was used. Followed by the much superior, digital software package; Quantel. Which was able to digitally “draw in” missing elements, within scenes.
The process continued throughout the rest of the 1990’s, cumulating in a sizable number of the post-Pertwee years being released on VHS video format.
It was around 1999, that the BBC planned to show a series of previously remastered Pertwee adventures. As part of a weekly run on BBC2 channel.
By this time, the DWRT had also taken receipt of a new Philips SDC-2000 ‘Spirit’ Datacine which was a state-of-the-art CCD film scanner (of it’s era).
The prints were then rescanned onto digital videotape, including the high quality 16mm filmed Spearhead From Space (later released as the only “true” full HD blu-ray – in the series). Sound mixes were cleaned up, by splicing better quality mixes from various sources.
With technology moving on, the decision was then made to go back over all of the film stock – some original and some remastered, to restore it all to ‘digital grade’. This work was carried out using the Pogle Platinum and DVNR-1000 applications.
Later advancements, throughout the 2000’s; included the development of “Vidfire”. Software capable of digitally restoring missing frames by creating them fron scratch, based on it learning which frames came before and after. This produced a smoother video-style presentation of the episodes.
DWRT team even backtracked (somewhat) on their original pledge – to never over-digitise the remastered Who and also began “fixing” certain episodes.
However, the original untouched version was always presented alongside this “special edition”, as a straight choice of viewing. This included enhancements to special effects such as lazer blasts, blue screen background touchups or even redone model-effect shots in CGI.
The DWRT team had always strived to source and recover all missing adventures, by using their industry and fan contacts. This accumulated in the 2013 re-discovery of previously missing Troughton stories; the incomplete The Web Of Fear and the complete The Enemy Of The World – found in a stored cannister in a Nigerian TV studio.
For the still missing adventures, DWRT team restored what footage they had then spliced it against cartoon recreations of the missing footage. These cartoons featured the original audio (which by-and-large survives for every missing episode/serial).
Along with the Blu-ray remastered release of Spearhead From Space, DWRT fell quiet; for a time. Assuming their job was complete.
However in 2019, they began releasing further Blu-ray’s of specific showcase seasons from each of the Doctors. With the episodes remastered further, to upscale the footage to – as near full HD, as is possible.
Blu-ray releases – included Pertwee’s series 10, Tom Baker’s series 12, Davison’s season 19, Colin Baker’s season 23 and McCoy’s season 27.
Of course, DWRT are still waiting for more discoveries of missing Hartnell and Troughton adventures; so that they may weave their restoration magic. So far, no more missing Who’s have surfaced. It looks likely aswell more Blu-ray releases of other seasons may also be on the way – in the future.
You can view more on the DWRT website here : www.restoration-team.co.uk
You can also find an interesting Q&A session regarding DWRT team, on http://www.iwillvoice.com/faqpage.html