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Did anybody see tonight's MeTV episode of Batman? (1 Viewer)

Artanis

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WoW! I'd never seen the original TV series look....well, quite like this. Not sure how to describe it. Looked almost 4k. Looked a little soap-opera-effect. Looked like it was shot last week on video. I've just never seen the original Batman TV series look anything like it. And I did, like it. In fact, I was quite mesmerized. I've seen the original series since it originally aired, but I've never seen it look like it did tonight on MeTV.

Is MeTV doing something on their end?
 
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Josh Steinberg

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Warner remastered the series in HD for Blu-ray, streaming and syndication in 2014.

MeTV often uses time compression to fit longer programs into shorter time slots - a half hour show like Batman would have run about 25-27 minutes back in those days minus commercials, but today, a half hour show runs closer to 19-22 minutes without commercials. In order to shrink the programming without cutting scenes, some television networks will run them at slightly faster frame rates, and running it faster has a side effect of giving it a “video” look - film is shot at 24 frames per second while U.S. video runs at 30 frames per second.

I no longer have access to MeTV so I can’t say with 100% certainty that that’s what you’re seeing, but they’ve done similar things before so it does seem a likely explanation.
 

Artanis

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Warner remastered the series in HD for Blu-ray, streaming and syndication in 2014.

MeTV often uses time compression to fit longer programs into shorter time slots - a half hour show like Batman would have run about 25-27 minutes back in those days minus commercials, but today, a half hour show runs closer to 19-22 minutes without commercials. In order to shrink the programming without cutting scenes, some television networks will run them at slightly faster frame rates, and running it faster has a side effect of giving it a “video” look - film is shot at 24 frames per second while U.S. video runs at 30 frames per second.

I no longer have access to MeTV so I can’t say with 100% certainty that that’s what you’re seeing, but they’ve done similar things before so it does seem a likely explanation.
Very interesting. Tonight the image was 16x9. If you switched to native aspect, it didn't look good, at all. 4x3 and it looked scrunched, big time. Being such a loyalist to original aspect ratio, I really didn't even notice that it was being shown in 16x9, let alone did I think I was missing anything, until I realized it was 16x9 and it looked jaw dropping prestine. Absolutely glorious tonight. I was tempted to break out my pulfrich glasses. I was never more aware or the incredible cinematography of the original series than I was tonight. The push/pull of the camera and the actors hitting their marks was mesmerizing. Definitely a soap opera effect going on. High frame rate, maybe? The data on my screen showed 1080. I freakin' loved it. But I can't help but wonder;

Did the series shift production from film to video tape, like the The Twilight Zone did? Tonight's episode was from 1966, Season 1, Episode 12.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Did the series shift production from film to video tape, like the The Twilight Zone did? Tonight's episode was from 1966, Season 1, Episode 12.

It did not. The entirety of the series was shot on film at the standard speed of 24fps.

What you’re describing sounds exactly like what I theorized: MeTV has almost certainly taken Warner’s 2014 remastering, cropped it to 16x9, and sped it up to fit it into the time slot they have, and speeding it up has artificially given it a high frame rate look because it is playing back faster than intended. If it sounds normal, they may have also pitch corrected the audio to compensate for it being sped up. They’ve done this for other shows so there’s no reason not to think they’ve done the same here.
 

Artanis

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It did not. The entirety of the series was shot on film at the standard speed of 24fps.

What you’re describing sounds exactly like what I theorized: MeTV has almost certainly taken Warner’s 2014 remastering, cropped it to 16x9, and sped it up to fit it into the time slot they have, and speeding it up has artificially given it a high frame rate look because it is playing back faster than intended. If it sounds normal, they may have also pitch corrected the audio to compensate for it being sped up. They’ve done this for other shows so there’s no reason not to think they’ve done the same here.
That blows me away. I remember seeing another thread here regarding MeTV (or, was it another network?) doing some tinkering, and I also remember that it was a polarizing subject.

An interesting note, Josh: I watch MeTV every Saturday night. Batman - the original series, airs during that block. I've seen Batman many times on MeTV. But never had it looked like this, like it did tonight, that I recall. Purists might not have been impressed. Yet I consider myself a Batman - original series, purist. If the original series didn't flip medium from film to tape which could contribute to a dramatic visual perception when remastered like the Twilight Zone Christmas episode with Art Carney, tonight's presentation looked nothing like film. At all. If I had to describe it, it was almost like a live HD sporting event, 4K(ish)...For the lack of a better way of describing it. I wonder if maybe MeTV did something tonight.
 

Artanis

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If you love the show, the blu-ray set is a treasure. Just gorgeous. MeTV does weird things to aspect ratios and it drives me nuts.
Hmmm. So, MeTV wouldn't be broadcasting the blu-ray prints, would they?
I've watched Batman on MeTV Sat nites since they started. But tonight was different.
At least from what I've seen in the past.
 

Wiseguy

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That blows me away. I remember seeing another thread here regarding MeTV (or, was it another network?) doing some tinkering, and I also remember that it was a polarizing subject.

An interesting note, Josh: I watch MeTV every Saturday night. Batman - the original series, airs during that block. I've seen Batman many times on MeTV. But never had it looked like this, like it did tonight, that I recall. Purists might not have been impressed. Yet I consider myself a Batman - original series, purist. If the original series didn't flip medium from film to tape which could contribute to a dramatic visual perception when remastered like the Twilight Zone Christmas episode with Art Carney, tonight's presentation looked nothing like film. At all. If I had to describe it, it was almost like a live HD sporting event, 4K(ish)...For the lack of a better way of describing it. I wonder if maybe MeTV did something tonight.
Twilight Zone just taped 6 episodes in the middle of the second season as an experiment to save costs. Tape was a primitive medium back then and nobody thought it looked good and it was difficult if not Impossible to tape outdoor scenes so they returned to film for the rest of the series.
 

Matt Hough

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Me-TV alters the aspect ratios of all of their 1.33:1 shows. Perry Mason, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Have Gun Will Travel: all shows I watched the complete runs on Me were framed at 1.66:1.

When Vudu put Batman on sale for around $20 a year of two ago, I bought the series and I can truthfully say the streaming version looks nothing like you're describing, Curt, so Me is manipulating it for their own purposes.
 

Harry-N

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I'm not a techie enough to say for sure what MeTV is doing, but they continue to essentially take these ancient TV series and do what they feel is necessary to upgrade them for todays audiences and TVs.

I first noticed this with THE TWILIGHT ZONE after MeTV had made the switch to HD at its source. The normal film rate of 24fps seemed to be somehow sped up, but it really wasn't. The effect I was seeing was just like setting my TV into the soap-opera effect mode of interpolating frames between the regular frames, in effect making it look like it was on videotape or live.

That's also about the time that I noticed that 1.37:1 shows were now wider, filling in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio. In some cases, these look like they are perhaps cropped top and bottom slightly, and/or stretched horizontally ever-so-slightly. This seemed to take place on nearly all filmed shows, with one major exception. (When they run STAR TREK, the don't mess with anything. I think maybe they want the Trekker-types on their side rather than making them angry.)

I was awake last night a few times and put on MeTV's SciFi Saturday night, mostly the Irwin Allen shows. All of them were expanded to something like 1.66:1, with maybe a touch of stretching.

Like @Artanis above, I don't hate this. I certainly prefer original ratios and original frame rates, but I can see where this technique might keep some of these old shows as "watchable" by the younger among us.
 

BobO'Link

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Because of how TV shows were shot to accommodate for the expected over scan loss in the image of the TVs of the 50s-70s (Safe Title and Safe Action areas) it's usually quite easy to crop the top/bottom of such video for a 1.66:1 image and suffer no true loss in what was originally intended to be seen. When you look at the raw film, those shows often look similar to a film shot open matte with the intention of cropping it to 1.66:1 or even 1.85:1 for theatrical presentation.

Here's a 4:3 chart showing "Safe Title" and "Safe Action (Image)" areas of the 35mm frame:
1699823253756.gif

As you can see, there's *lots* of area that was never intended to be seen and *wasn't* seen on TVs of that era.

With modern TVs it easy to see the entire frame, especially on physical media. What that often does for 4:3 content is make it look like it was shot too loose. If that's the case the image is often zoomed in for media authoring to put the edge of the frame on the "Transmitted/scanned" area. This crops the image on all 4 sides. However, if you crop the sides for "Projector Aperture" and the top/bottom for "Safe Action" you can get a faux WS image out of the frame with little to no loss of information on the top/bottom of the frame.

If you see mics/people/cables on the top/bottom of the frame on an older TV show it's likely that the image wasn't zoomed in quite enough for use on modern equipment. Those things would likely, but not necessarily, have been outside the "Safe Action" area and not seen on TVs of those years.

The ability to create this faux WS image *convincingly* really depends on how the series was shot. Some were shot tighter than others so performing such cropping absolutely causes loss of desired image (typically you'll have head room that's far too tight). In general, TV shows were shot and framed with *all* action inside the "Transmitted" area of the frame and if the cinematographer followed the "rule of thirds" with composition then things will still look to be properly framed if such an image is cropped for WS.

My equipment combination allows me to zoom 4:3 DVD product (won't do it with BR due to how its authored *or* with DVD product authored for a 16:9 presentation) to fit the sides of the 16:9 area and crop the top/bottom equally (much like you'd do creating it from a raw 35mm print). I'll occasionally do this depending on the show and many look surprisingly good done this way. Basically, if you didn't know they were supposed to be 4:3 you'd likely never know from the framing as head room looks "normal" for 16:9 shot product. I've done this with my DVD copy of Batman (1966) and it mostly looks good. However, it was either shot or put on DVD rather tightly zoomed to start and the odd angles used often cause a poorly cropped image when zoomed for WS viewing. It's kind of a moot point on that one as I normally watch my BR copy.
 

Artanis

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Curt
Because of how TV shows were shot to accommodate for the expected over scan loss in the image of the TVs of the 50s-70s (Safe Title and Safe Action areas) it's usually quite easy to crop the top/bottom of such video for a 1.66:1 image and suffer no true loss in what was originally intended to be seen. When you look at the raw film, those shows often look similar to a film shot open matte with the intention of cropping it to 1.66:1 or even 1.85:1 for theatrical presentation.

Here's a 4:3 chart showing "Safe Title" and "Safe Action (Image)" areas of the 35mm frame:
View attachment 203602
As you can see, there's *lots* of area that was never intended to be seen and *wasn't* seen on TVs of that era.

With modern TVs it easy to see the entire frame, especially on physical media. What that often does for 4:3 content is make it look like it was shot too loose. If that's the case the image is often zoomed in for media authoring to put the edge of the frame on the "Transmitted/scanned" area. This crops the image on all 4 sides. However, if you crop the sides for "Projector Aperture" and the top/bottom for "Safe Action" you can get a faux WS image out of the frame with little to no loss of information on the top/bottom of the frame.

If you see mics/people/cables on the top/bottom of the frame on an older TV show it's likely that the image wasn't zoomed in quite enough for use on modern equipment. Those things would likely, but not necessarily, have been outside the "Safe Action" area and not seen on TVs of those years.

The ability to create this faux WS image *convincingly* really depends on how the series was shot. Some were shot tighter than others so performing such cropping absolutely causes loss of desired image (typically you'll have head room that's far too tight). In general, TV shows were shot and framed with *all* action inside the "Transmitted" area of the frame and if the cinematographer followed the "rule of thirds" with composition then things will still look to be properly framed if such an image is cropped for WS.

My equipment combination allows me to zoom 4:3 DVD product (won't do it with BR due to how its authored *or* with DVD product authored for a 16:9 presentation) to fit the sides of the 16:9 area and crop the top/bottom equally (much like you'd do creating it from a raw 35mm print). I'll occasionally do this depending on the show and many look surprisingly good done this way. Basically, if you didn't know they were supposed to be 4:3 you'd likely never know from the framing as head room looks "normal" for 16:9 shot product. I've done this with my DVD copy of Batman (1966) and it mostly looks good. However, it was either shot or put on DVD rather tightly zoomed to start and the odd angles used often cause a poorly cropped image when zoomed for WS viewing. It's kind of a moot point on that one as I normally watch my BR copy.
Very interesting.
 

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