Q&A with Jim Hardy CEO of Illuminate on Remastering 'The X-Files' in high definition - Part 2/3
Apart from standard definition stock footage for establishing shots and the aforementioned special effects sequences, how much negative was ultimately missing or unable to be used?
We were determined to locate as much of the original film as possible - roughly 99% of nonvisual effects and stock shots were located. For scenes that required our SmartRez process, we spent a lot of time restoring them to cut into the show as seamlessly as possible. We constantly did updates and research all the time to make sure we found every single piece of film that we could. That's a lot of data management, but we did it.
The decision to reframe the original three seasons to a widescreen 16x9 aspect ratio has been met with a range of responses from fans. Was there any involvement from the original crew in these re-framing decisions and what, if any, specific issues did these cause?
The early seasons were shot 1:33:1 and remastered in both 4x3 and 16x9. Later seasons were shot 16x9 1:78:1. We were aided by having the film scans of the whole negative, which gave us more image to work with. Unfortunately, we didn't have any input from the original production creators regarding the reframe to 16x9. We would have loved to have worked with the creators or anyone affiliated with the show at the time. We gave our best effort to maintaining the highest overall image we could. Decisions have to be made to position each shot, and I think overall we were very successful that the end product worked well.
There was some input [from the studio] on certain things, for instance, on visual effects. We would list all the VFX for each episode that we could identify. Sometimes you will have a shot that looks like a practical shot, but it's actually full of effects work. Some of those shots could have five or six composites in it. We've had a number of scenes that fell into this category. Fox had a budget that we had to work with for the visual effects work. We ultimately did far more recreations of visual effects than what was paid for. We wanted to go beyond the budget because we knew this was a high profile series that people really admired and we wanted to give Fox 110% of our efforts, over and above what they asked for.
Were any frame leader charts photographed at the head of reels to guide the 16x9 extraction?
No, there weren't any 16x9 alignment charts photographed. We did our best to maintain what we thought were the best decisions.
To confirm; seasons 1-3 were re-assembled in the original 4x3 aspect ratio?
How tempting was it to go in and fix errors in the original production?
Our job was to recreate what the filmmakers created in the original NTSC master. It's not our place to do anything subjective or more creative than what the original creators had in mind - unless we work with the creators, and they wanted something different, and then they are at liberty to do so. There may have been some things that are a little cleaner, a little better than what it was in the original NTSC. If we composited a VFX shot, maybe we had better tools to make the image look a little better, but it always stayed in the exact same vein as the source and stayed true to the original integrity of the shot.
Was there any attempt made to try to recreate, rather than uprez, the opening credits sequence?
The main title is a hybrid of recreated and uprezzed elements. Any element uprezzed was restored to cut in as best it could.
Some fans have expressed disappointment that the original logo font has been changed in the opening titles for this remaster. Were there issues that prevented the original text style being retained?
Unfortunately, the exact font was not available to us. We used the closest font we could find to match the original production.
I find that interesting in that Fox included the original logo font on the cover of the Blu-ray set and also on newly produced merchandise.
If we had known what the original font was or had access to that, we would have used it. We did our best. Maybe we didn't talk to the right people; maybe there is somebody out there that's "oh, this is the font", but we didn't have access to them. Yes, it's not exactly the same, but hopefully people can look aside from that and look at the integrity of the entire show and accept the fact that it's not the same, but it looks great.
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