Digital Delight

Looking closer - by Andrew Ellard

14 June, 2002

As you would expect, the early seasons of Red Dwarf have been put through a clean-up process for their DVD release. Not the 'film effect' applied to the remastered editions - which has since taken British TV by storm to enhance the look of dramas without the budget to shoot on celluloid - but a more fundamental Digital Vision Noise Reduction polish. Scratches and blemishes are removed from the Beeb's original, one-inch master tape footage, the picture 'warmed up'.

Red Dwarf on DVD

Recently, a sample DVD-R arrived in the office - The End, all polished and shiny and ready for inspection. It's amazing how used I'd become to the VHS versions of Red Dwarf. Hundreds of viewings may have worn the tapes to the approximate thickness of an ant's wafer-thin mint, but I still thought I'd taken pretty good care of them. I had. But, bottom line, they're only VHS tapes.

You really do forget how different a programme looked upon broadcast, compared to the lower video quality you watch ad infinitum for the rest of its days. DVD rectifies this, bringing the image into such sharp focus that it seems as if I'd previously been watching Red Dwarf without my glasses.

Colour's become more vibrant, too - George McIntyre's funeral scene, for example, contains blacks that are actually black, not a dark but dirty grey; and those blacks stop dead at the edges. The green of the Welsh flag on McIntyre's canister becomes vivid. For the first time you notice the Red Dwarf model on Hollister's desk - not during the scene, but as soon as Lister steps into the room. And, of course, the Cat's suit is even sharper - if that's possible.

Nobody's fooling anyone here - it's a show made back in 1987, recorded on a one-inch tape format that is essentially redundant. But, man, check out the detail on this puppy! Crystal-clear close-ups, set details you'll never have noticed. I can actually read what Rimmer's writing on his limbs, for smeg's sake!

If November 4th seems a long way off, console yourselves, as I do, with the knowledge that it will be worth the wait. It'll look really nice. No, wait, better than nice - it'll look dangerous.

More DVD Details will follow soon...

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