Video quality of digital episodes

@Lesley or @ivan, would it be possible to download a small portion of a Season 1-10 digital episode before the door closes on adding digital episodes?

I’ve spent years buying all the Shout Factory sets and ripping them to digital myself, but the fact that they were originally shot on 3/4" interlaced video, coupled with the generational loss going from DVD MPEG-2 to MPEG-4, produces less than perfect results. (Converting interlaced material to digital video is incredibly frustrating; it’s a great exercise for pulling out your hair.)

Having spent a considerable amount of money on all these disc sets, I’m hesitant to spend hundreds more on digital versions that I technically already have, but if they’re of even slightly better quality, I’d probably do it.

Also, will the digital versions include the captions that are already present with some episodes on the discs?

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@McCloud – Apologies if I sound dumb… just not sure I fully understand what you’re asking. When you say “download a small portion of a Season 1-10 digital episode before the door closes on adding digital episodes”, what do you mean?

If you’re asking if you can still add more episodes to your pledge: When the reward survey goes out, everyone will still have a chance to select additional digital downloads as Add-On Rewards… and even after that, those episodes will be available for sale/rental, just at a higher price.

If you’re asking if you can download episodes now, before the deadline for selecting Add-On Rewards: Unfortunately, we don’t have a way to allow that, because we’ll need to use the finished reward surveys to distribute the correct digital download codes to each backer.

But… I’m not sure you’re asking either of those questions, so if I’m getting this totally wrong, let me know!

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Thanks for the speedy reply @ivan! I’m actually not asking either of those. I’m essentially wanting to get my hands on one of the digital episodes so I can see if the video quality is better than what I’ve already got (just a few-minute portion of an episode would work). I’m hoping that it is, since my guess is that you guys made the digital videos directly from the original masters. I specify season 1-10 episode because the newer seasons are shot with modern technology and look perfect already.

It’s a nit-picky request, I admit. I’ve already got some of the episodes coming my way via the rewards, but if the digital files are indeed better quality than my home-brew re-encodes from DVD, I’ll probably add the rest to my backer survey.

But if I wait for the surveys to close and my handful of episodes to arrive, and then I decide I really want them all, it will be too late without paying the higher per-episode prices. Hence my somewhat unusual request to sample the video quality ahead of time.

Thanks again for humoring me on this. I’m already incredibly fortunate to have all the episodes on disc, I’m just pursuing perfection here wanting the best possible video quality for my digital collection.

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Hmmm… what about instead of an entire episode, they provide a “sample” file, of just a few minutes long? Then you could check out the quality and ease any concerns. Like a “free trial”.

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Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m asking here. Just a sample so an irritating perfectionist like me can see the video quality. :nerd:

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Ahhh, NOW I understand what you’re saying. The quick answer is that a lot of the older episodes (unfortunately) are lower res files – in some cases, as low as 360 or 540. I’m not entirely sure, but I think it varies on an episode-by-episode basis, or at least season-by-season.

My understanding is that, for any given episode, these files represent the highest resolution we have access to – but I can’t say for sure if that’s a higher resolution than you’d get from the DVDs. I suspect it’s not, since it’s the same files.

But I understand the concern, and have an idea – drop me an email or send me a DM here on the forums, and I’ll run it past you!

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@ivan, I’m going to echo McCloud’s question about captions, because it seems like you are in the know of such things. Will any of the original MST3k (or Netflix’s) episodes offered as Kickstarter rewards have captioning?

[CC] for the hearing impaired?
[CC] for people who have fine hearing but just really like to read anyhow?
Subtitles in a rainbow of glorious languages?

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@MyWy As of now, the plan is for all episodes in the Gizmoplex to support full [CC] for both the hearing impaired and on-screen-text connoisseurs.

I’m not sure about subtitles, but I believe we’ll have whatever is usually available when episodes are released on DVD and Blu-Ray!

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@MyWy, in case you’re interested, I wondered a while back what exactly is the difference between captions and subtitles, and I learned the answer: Subtitles only include dialogue whereas captions include other stuff ([ominous music], [car engine starts], song lyrics, etc.).

Shout Factory has released 39 MST3K box sets to date, and about halfway through this run they started captioning the episodes. Each 4-disc set contains episodes from across the 10-season run, so the net result is that about half of all original episodes are captioned, roughly 50% from each season. (All season 11-12 episodes were subtitled from the start so I don’t include them here.)

It is hit-and-miss; some classic episodes are captioned (Space Mutiny, Time Chasers, Giant Spider Invasion), others are not (Manos, Future War, Laserblast). However, I’ve heard that some of these uncaptioned episodes do have captions elsewhere, such as Amazon Prime. My guess is that Amazon requires them for everything on the platform and some third-party service was engaged to caption them there.

So if all of them will be captioned for the Gizmoplex, that’s fantastic news. :smiley:

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This thread hit me right in the feels. Great question and excellent discussion.

Speaking of digital video quality - are all of the digital episodes being offered at their highest possible quality available or will there be different options like you would find on other digital stores like Vudu/Amazon?

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That’s a good question. I just learned that episode downloads will apparently include different bitrate/quality levels to choose from, to suit our bandwidth/storage needs. My understanding is that these quality options will not be gated behind additional fees – if we have access to download the episode, we’ll have access to all versions of it (similar to what RiffTrax does).

If by “different options” you mean HD vs. non-HD, for seasons 1-10 it’s a moot point since those were shot in the pre-HD era so no high-def version exists.

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Will the digital download episodes have introductions with MST3K alumni, similar to the episodes available for sale on rifftrax.com?

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In regards to downloads of digital files - and if this is too early to ask, I completely understand! Is there a general filesize for most of the downloads? I’m sure that will obviously vary based on resolution/quality offered, but I was hoping to get a dedicated drive/USB/whatever to store all the downloads on that I purchased through the KS - would be amazing if I could find an MST-related USB device somewhere (hint, hint) that could contain the library I purchased. I was hoping that would be in the add on rewards somewhere, but I understand getting something preloaded with all the digital files could get really difficult to manage with the different digital download options/packages that were available. I have no problems managing that myself! I just want to make sure that I have something with adequate space to hold it all.

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Based on my experience with RiffTrax downloads, the average size of a non-HD digital MST3K video should be about 1.5 gigabytes (1.5GB). There will probably be variance from episode to episode, but I’d bet the average will be in this area.

HD episodes, such as seasons 11 - 13, will probably hover around 6 - 9GB each.

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That makes sense. Good to know!

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Good discussions and I’ll just toss in here re. captions – a lot of us weirdos would be more than happy to spend our weekends or evenings or all of our vacation typing up captions for episodes which don’t have them – or QAing captions that have already been proposed – and uploading submissions in whatever formats y’all wanted. It’s that kind of fandom.

(And along those lines – speaking of the “mandated” captions that appear on some of the streaming episodes – how many of you have shared my experience of reading captions which COMPLETELY MISSED THE POINT! and got the riff/joke reference ALL WRONG!! and then you SCREAMED AND SCREAMED AT YOUR TELEVISION . . . .!!
mst3k2_f
Ahem. What I mean is, having the opportunity to contribute captions and corrections to captions would be very welcome. What do you think, sirs and madams/clones of same?)

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You’re definitely not alone about this. I’m also one of the weirdos who would give time for this cause. Captioning is clearly time-consuming and as prone to human error as any other endeavor (let’s not even give any attention to the lunacy of using AI to generate captions), but it turns out captions/subtitles for riffing require an extra layer of awareness that would really be well suited to the fans.

After all, who better to do it? Someone who knows the joke and the reference, or someone who’s just punching a clock to get it done as fast as possible?

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Exactly. I am not so smart that I can hear/transcribe/get every line of an episode, but with the power of a hundred other fans we can get captions that are as close to perfect as possible. Double oooh!

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It has been a while since I watched any of the digital episodes from the first KS, but I remember them being a bit pixelated, and preferred the DVD versions. I will take another look tonight and make some comparisons.

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OK, Here are some screenshots from Alien from LA. Except for the last one they are unaltered direct from the source.
The first is from the KS digital;
0516. Alien from L.A. 540p .26.22.047
Next is the DVD (Aspect ratio is off because the pixel aspect ratio of the source. It is corrected by the video player);


The next is a version I re-encoded from the DVD;
MST3K-DVD - 0516 - Alien from LA 26.22.047

The screenshots don’t really show the difference that watching video shows. The 540p just does not look as good to me.

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