All In The Family Season Four Image Quality

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Moe Dickstein, Oct 31, 2005.

  1. Moe Dickstein

    Moe Dickstein Filmmaker

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    It had been a while since looking at the other sets and I had forgotten just how dreadful these look.

    The show is good enough though that you can deal with the look of degraded early 70's videotape though.

    The one thing that shocked me though was watching the episode with Archie's 50th Birthday - the first episode on disc 3, and at 8:30 in, just after Edith sits, it goes into a close up on her

    And the image becomes sharp and pristine.

    I had to rewind it a half dozen times, but 20 seconds of this episode looks amazing - at least in comparison to the rest. at 8:50 it goes back out to the wide shot which is oversaturated, fuzzy and generally awful looking, and even moreso after those two amazing shots. Even better - the quality returns at 12:00 and lasts until 12:47. This time the two different qualities can be seen in the same shot (a wide shot of Mr Quigley singing is seen before and after) I can't host images but I can make screen caps of this if someone would host them.

    Does anyone know the story here? Did sony do a test on a couple shots to see what restoration would look like, or might they be syndicated cuts put back in (the videotape is less worn perhaps) or simply some odd bit of luck.

    If all the episodes looked as good as those few shots...

    At least we have the pristine and beautiful MTM sets - now that's how good old tv can look - as long as it wasn't shot on tape.

    Edit: and again! 14:56 to 15:21, Archie at Kelseys, another shot that appears in both levels of quality.
     
  2. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    All I can say is, this show has always looked like this to me, even when it was originally broadcast. Just the way it is with the video. I'm prefectly satisfied with this series and hope to buy a few more seasons - at least up to the point where Mike and Gloria leave.
     
  3. JeffWld

    JeffWld Stunt Coordinator

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    Contrary to popular belief, the quality of an image on videotape (resolution/sharpness) does not change as tapes age. The physical properties of tape become more fragile (binder strength, oxide retention, lubrication etc.).

    One reason that many of the transfers of shows from this era can look "softer" is because the source material that Sony is using is at minimum, 4 generations down from an edited 2" distribution master (which is already down 3 generations to begin with). Sony is not going to go to the expense of using 2" as a source-it isn't practical. The use of Betacam reference/protection tapes is the norm. At best, these would be 5 generations down from the original tape footage.
     
  4. Mike*SC

    Mike*SC Second Unit

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    It could just have been a newer camera. Realize that, in the early '70s, most Americans were getting their television signal over the air, on television sets that were not nearly as sharp as they are today. A show did not have to look as good as we expect current shows to look, and there was no reason to spend money to make it look better than anybody would receive it. Certainly nobody could have anticipated DVD or hi-def televisions. There are episodes of "All in the Family" where one of the cameras has a red dot burned into the corner of the image. I can't imagine they thought anybody would notice.

    These cameras -- not the model, I'm talking some of the actual cameras -- were used as recently as on "In Living Color." They were workhorses, but far from what we now consider state-of-the-art.



    Even if they did such a thing (and I'm betting they didn't), it would never be worth it to them to splice them into the show, only to make the rest of the image look bad.

    This is a great show, but not exactly one you watch for the production values.
     
  5. David Rain

    David Rain Screenwriter

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    I know there has been criticism of the image quality of this series. I've been through the first 3 season sets and I'm perfectly happy with how the show looks. It's much improved over the lousy quality of the reruns that used to air late at night on local stations, which is where I first truly discovered this treasure of a show.

    I'd also like to remind everyone that this show is supposed to look somewhat bad. It was designed that way including the sets, costumes, wallpaper, furniture. This is about a middle class family (at best) who live in an old run-down house. It was intended to have a stereotypical "working class" look.
     
  6. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    The All in The Family dvds are exactly how I remember the show looking. Even if there was a spot on the camera and we saw it, we didn't even think twice about it. Plus, we had a tv antenna, and no cable. We were lucky that we could see any of the picture through the snow.
     
  7. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    That's how I feel about it, Scott. And as Mike said earlier, this is not a show I watch for production values (or blow-away picture quality). I love a stunning picture as much as anybody, but with this program? Not as much of a requirement.
     
  8. Jay Pennington

    Jay Pennington Screenwriter

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    Well, I think it's certainly possible different sources of different generations were used to replace sections that had been damaged (dropouts, creased tape, etc).

    Another thing to consider: this is one of those shows where they taped two complete performances of an episode and edited together the best takes from each. If there was any variance in lighting or focus between them, they would be noticable (esp today) as they cut from one to another.

    Finally, I have noticed in some episodes that pickups had been shot at a later time and edited in. On those instances the lighting was drastically different, not to mention the sound of the dialogue (proximity to the boom mike), etc.

    But I'm not familiar with the particular scene you described.
     

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