Macgyver - Film or Video?

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Vader, Apr 28, 2005.

  1. Vader

    Vader Supporting Actor

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    I was alwas under the impression that MacGyver was shot on video as opposed to film, and using the video mode on my TV seems to confirm this, However, according to IMDB, it was shot on film... I know IMDB is never inaccurate (insert appropriate sarcasm here...[​IMG]), but does anyone know for sure? IIRC, Star Trek CL, Battlestar Galactica (the real one... [​IMG]), and Buck Rogers were among the last to be shot on film. Is this correct?
     
  2. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    I wouldn't be surprised if MacGyver were shot on film; I think most hourlongs were until relatively recently (Star Trek was using film until at least DS9, though post-production was done on video).
     
  3. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    MacGyver was shot on film and post-production was done on video.

    In 1985, Paramount switched their filmed shows to tape-based post-production as opposed to film-based post-production. Most of the other studios followed suit soon after. I know Cheers switched to video post (though still shot on film) at this time.
     
  4. Vader

    Vader Supporting Actor

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    So, what does this mean in regards to fps? I noticed that titles on Mac episodes show slight digital artifacting when the TV is set to 'Film'. If I change the mode to 'Video', the artifacting disappears. As I understand it, the different modes compensate for artifacts resulting from the 30fps/24fps difference between video and film. If post-production was done on video, does this mean that the film footage is transferred to video for final touches (credits, editing, etc), and could this account for said artifacting?
     
  5. Jay Pennington

    Jay Pennington Screenwriter

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    Yup, just all about all such shows (at all studios) switched to video post around the same time...one can spot the switch in Magnum, P.I., Dallas, Simon & Simon, the list goes on. The giveaway is video-generated titles instead of opticals (if you have the eye for the distinction).

    The selected raw footage would've been transferred to the video realm using 3:2 pulldown, and then edited tape-to-tape from then on out, video titles being added last. Dissolves and other effects that previously would have been done optically would now be done in the video realm as well.

    So while DVDs of early seasons of these shows, finished before the switch, are able to enjoy progressive transfers from the original film elements, the video-posted stuff will have to remain at 30fps (29.97 actually), as that is the way the episodes are mastered--on tape.

    This also means that while the film-posted shows can enjoy new HD transfers and look all the better (revealing more of the detail present on the film), HD versions of the video-posted shows will have to just be NTSC to HD conversions and thus can never look any better than they already do.

    It would take re-editing the shows from scratch to change this. (If the raw film footage still exists, even.)
     
  6. Vader

    Vader Supporting Actor

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    Jay, approximately when did this switch take place (mid-80's, late-80's, etc)?
     
  7. Jeff#

    Jeff# Screenwriter

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    A filmed show edited on video is not the same as a show being videotaped from the start. That's apparently not what Derk was asking, but that's how it reads.

    The only dramatic shows shot on videotape in modern times other than occasional stage plays that I know of are soap operas. The American ones look cheap because they are done entirely on soundstages. The much bigger-budgeted Spanish soaps aren't just limited to interior sets, but are also taped in real practical locations. I don't watch serials, but sometimes flipping the channels during commercial breaks it's hard not to notice the distinction! [​IMG]

    It's easy to tell the difference between a series that is taped Vs. one done on film.
     
  8. David Tolsky

    David Tolsky Supporting Actor

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    Here's a quick example in the half-hour sitcom realm:

    Video: Home Improvement, Mr. Belvedere, All in the Family,
    Rosanne, Fresh Prince of Bel Aire,

    Film: Happy Days, Laverne & Shirly, Cheers, Seinfeld,
    Friends, Taxi, Will & Grace

    Hi-Def Digital: Just about everything these days [​IMG]
     
  9. Mike Heenan

    Mike Heenan Second Unit

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    Anybody notice how one episode of MAcgyver season 1 was shot on video and apparently filtered to look like film? It was the one with the huge ant problem at the end.
     
  10. Vader

    Vader Supporting Actor

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    Jeff,

    Since the raw film footage is "upconverted" (for lack of a better term) from 24 fps to 30 fps via 3:2 pulldown, would a TV see this as 30fps, same as if it were video from the start? Also, the titles are 30 fps natively (because they were done in the video realm), right?
     
  11. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    The switch took place circa 1985. Cheers switched at the beginning of the season, Knots Landing switched in the middle of the season.

    By 1986, it was clear that this would be the norm, unfortunately. Newhart switched that year. So did Dallas. Videotape-based shows would not have been affected (many sitcoms, all soaps and game shows). However, HDTV was light-years away, so no one thought about future airings.

    It really is a crying shame when you think about it.

    A list of shows that were done on film at this time (1986), and I assume most made the switch:

    Airwolf
    Cagney & Lacey
    Cheers
    Dallas
    Designing Women
    Dynasty
    Falcon Crest
    Fame
    Hill Street Blues
    Knots Landing
    Magnum P.I.
    Miami Vice
    Murder She Wrote
    Newhart
    Perfect Strangers
    Scarecrow and Mrs. King
    St. Elsewhere
    Simon and Simon
    The (new) Twilight Zone
    all Saturday morning cartoons

    Videotaped series of the era included:

    227
    ALF
    Amen
    The Cosby Show
    Facts of Life
    Family Ties
    Gimme a Break
    The Golden Girls
    Growing Pains
    Kate & Allie
    Mama's Family
    Mr. Belvedere
    Night Court
    Punky Brewster
    Silver Spoons
    Webster
    What's Happening Now
    Who's The Boss
    all soap operas, game shows, and news

    Ironically, tapes of soap operas and game shows were routinely erased (except in special cases) due to the expense of new tape stock up until the late 1970s.

    Sitcoms were entirely on film until "All in the Family." Norman Lear wanted a flat, theatrical look similar to soap operas. And taping in front of a studio audience has its limitations. Look at a scene of people sitting around a table. The subjects are usually seated in a semi-circle formation. The Golden Girls is another example. The kitchen scenes always have no more than three of them sitting at the table at one time.

    But I'm getting off track. I just wanted to clarify for anyone who didn't know.
     
  12. Jay Pennington

    Jay Pennington Screenwriter

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    Good post, Matthew.

    A side note about Newhart for everyone else: its first season (1982) originated on tape...they switched to shooting and posting on film the next year, only to switch back to video post later, as Matthew stated.

    Going back a bit, at least one season of The Brady Bunch originated on video.

    Mike, I haven't seen that episode of Macgyver, (or any, for that matter), but if it was indeed shot on video (which would be a great surprise to me, given the rest of the season was apparently film), perhaps it was given a fake 24p cadence by the DVD author to match the 24p of the other episodes in the set. Such can be done in After Effects and other programs. I wouldn't have bothered, though--treat each medium as it was designed to be treated, I say.
     
  13. Jay Pennington

    Jay Pennington Screenwriter

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    This reminds me: in the late 80s I caught a syndicated episode of Three's Company (shot on video) that looked, for the life of me, like a KINESCOPE. I think now it may have been a poor NTSC-PAL-NTSC conversion that got into the mix for whatever ungodly reason.

    Or maybe TBS's tape deck was screwing up. [​IMG]
     
  14. Vader

    Vader Supporting Actor

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    Does the Video/Film settings on my Mitsu relate to refresh rate? In other words, if I have 'video' selected, does that optimize the refresh rate for a 30 fps source? Conversely, if I have 'film' selected (and if the above is true - that 'film' will optimize for 24fps), and play a 'video' source (30 fps), could that result in artifacting? Is my understanding of this stuff completely off-base (I get a headache trying to understand 3:2 pulldown)?
     
  15. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    Thank you, Jay, but I do not believe any seasons of The Brady Bunch were done on videotape. It simply would have clashed with the more colorful look they were going for. But I could be wrong. The dramatic 1990 series, The Bradys, was shot film and finished in post on tape. Thanks for reminding me about the first season of Newhart.

    And I think during its last season, Dallas may have gone back to film-based post (judging from the way SoapNet's copies look compared to the 1986-1990 episodes)

    Another reason to always have everything for a filmed series on film is because of the shelf life of videotape stock. IMO, it is by the grace of God that some of the older videotaped stuff (The Judy Garland Show, Laugh-In, etc.) that was not thrown out still survives. And the uncertain longevity of digital tape adds more concern.

    Sure, they went back and remastered Twin Peaks, but that was a special case.
     
  16. Jeff#

    Jeff# Screenwriter

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    All of those 1980s filmed series in which the credits were reshot on videotape obviously preserved quite well, so this layman doesn't see what the big deal is! But why speed up the film from 24 to 30 frames per second -- what does that accomplish?

    Regular sitcoms maybe, but I considered certain extended sketches within variety shows (pre-All in the Family) shot entirely on videotape sitcom-worthy as well. Examples: The late 1960s The Jackie Gleason Show (the ones showcasing The Honeymooners segments for most or all of the 1 hour), and from the 1969-1970 season the Family sketches on The Leslie Uggams Show featuring Leslie along with Johnny Brown.
     

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