What do you think of "digital surgery"?

At the end of the Pumaman livestream, Matt asked us what we thought of the episode’s digital surgery.

We’ve already got a thread for what episode(s) you’d like to see get the same treatment, but I’m personally on the other side of the question.

Normally, I prefer to focus my comments on what I do enjoy in the show (and there’s much to enjoy, especially this season), and “digital surgery” just doesn’t do much for me. I don’t mind it. But it doesn’t really improve my personal experience. I’m happy leaving the episodes as they are. Under other circumstances, I’d just hold my virtual tongue and move on.

In this case, however, there’s an open question, which is: Is it worth putting a portion of the Gizmoplex’s limited resources into doing more of this?

(I don’t know the details of the process, but tracking down better film prints, possibly digitally remastering audio and/or video to improve it further, extracting the original shadowrama, and overlaying it back over the new print with crisp edges… I expect that takes some doing.)

I do not in any way want to put my thumb on the scale here. I’m perfectly okay with being outvoted, and I don’t want to dampen anyone else’s enthusiasm. But I’m curious to know if there are others in the same position as I. So I thought I’d just put it to a poll. (I’ll wait for a few others to vote before casting my own.)

ON A SCALE OF 1-5, HOW INTERESTED ARE YOU IN SEEING MORE CLASSIC EPISODES GET DIGITAL SURGERY?

  • 5 - I love it! Dopple me. It’s mandatory.
  • 4 - Why not? Do it for the kicks.
  • 3 - Enhancement for the the eyes? I just didn’t care. (Either way.)
  • 2 - I’d rather they focus on other things. I don’t think The Master would approve.
  • 1 - No way. Chili peppers burn my gut.

0 voters

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So what exactly does “digital surgery” do? Does it replace the movie part of the episodes with better prints? Svengoolie does that on a regular basis.

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Yes. They find a better print, maybe spruce it up a bit more, and replace the shoddy degraded VHS copy used in the original episode with something a little more HD. They said during the stream that the upgraded video contains “twice the information” as the original. It wasn’t clear to me whether that meant higher image resolution, more shades of color, or what. They also try to improve/restore the film’s audio track.

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Ivan and others have stated that they don’t have access to original tapes or footage and aren’t doing a full remaster.

What they are doing is closer to HD upscaling.

I thought it was fun, looked great and that made it a happier (and funnier) viewing experience. So, win, win and win for me.

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It works like they intended. I was able to watch the whole episode full-screen, large-screen, like I do with the newer HD seasons. And when the documentary started, I actually surprised myself at how fast I subconsciously switched back to windowed (inset) mode to reduce the size of the pixelated, blurry video of scenes at the original episode resolutions.

My only issue was with a pancake face Mike (stage makeup) in an early host segment, but apparently that was in the original(?). The rest of the host segments looked good.

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A few people mentioned Topaz during the stream, so I looked it up. Looks like it would cover at least some of what the Cranes have done (e.g. Topaz doesn’t seem to touch audio). Thinking about getting it for myself, except I’d probably have to buy a new rig to cope with it…

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I voted 4 because maybe other people really care and maybe they know Pumaman better than me, but I never really thought this specific movie was one of the ones that suffered from having a terrible print. It isn’t The Day the Earth Froze, or the other Russian films that look so beautiful when you see a good print. I don’t know, it really didn’t make much of a difference to me. Maybe I just have old eyes, but I didn’t feel like I was watching anything that was significantly different.

That said, I don’t have a huge TV so maybe I’m not the intended audience anyway.

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It’s not the worst print MSTs ever shown, but it is washed out, a little faded. I played them both, and watched them side by side, and the enhanced version has a crisper, more detailed, image.

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I’m sure I would notice if I watched them side-by-side, but I wasn’t doing that. But if it works for other people, keep doing it. It’s not like I expect them to cater the show to me personally.

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I’m as curious as a cat. So, after my first viewing, I just had to go back and compare, see the differences.

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It looked a lot better. A few more films around here could benefit from the treatment. Plus, given that originals are still available, what’s the problem? They aren’t being careless with the money, IMHO.

This will help with more casual viewers that want to see pretty pictures on their big screens.

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I’ve never been able to tell the difference between SD and HD. Am I just cursed with SD eyes, or is HD an Emperor’s New Clothes type scam?

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I can usually tell the difference, I mean the original show definitely does not have the visual quality of the last three seasons, but not enough for it to be a big deal to me.

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Disclaimer: I haven’t had a chance to see surgically enhanced Pumaman yet. BUT I do think some older episodes could definitely benefit from being put in the vegetable image crisper. Course there has to be a balance between making the visuals look better and still preserving the softened look of those movies done on that old film

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Do you watch sports? Because to me that’s the place it’s most obvious. Now that I’ve had HD for several years, a football game in SD is nigh-unwatchable.

I voted “for the kicks” on this poll but my feeling is: I liked the upscaling a lot, I think it’s worth doing, but not at the expense of more episodes. If they have X dollars and Y time/resources for making new eps, and find they have a rounding-out amount of Z dollars left, I’d love to see them put it to upscaling some of the classic eps.

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Not really sure how to answer here. I liked the do-over, but I don’t know how much of a difference using it really makes to Alternaversal’s budget, or how that budget’s spread around. To have an opinion, I’d have to know that first.

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This would be a good Kickstarter stretch goal. “And if we reach X amount, we’ll be able to surgically enhance another five classic episodes!”

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That’s a great idea.

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What are you watching it on? On a tablet or phone the change probably isn’t that noticeable. On a larger tv screen it should be.

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If the cost is primarily a license for the upscaling software and it requires a minimal amount of paid human time then it’s a whole different story than if they have to farm this out and pay $$$ each time to another company. It’s only worth being a stretch goal if it is expensive to do.

I agree that we don’t have enough information at the moment to know which situation we’re in so … splunge.

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