Did you know that Spearhead from Space is the only Classic Who story that can be remastered into genuine HD?
Originally broadcast in January 1970, the story features John Pertwee’s first outing as the Third Doctor and was the first colour production of the iconic series.
A scene-shifters strike at Television Centre in 1969 meant that the entire story was filmed on location using 16mm film rather than recording to video tape, which allowed the team at BBC Studios & Post Production to remaster the story.
Working with the 16mm format meant BBC S&PP’s Digital Media Services lead colourist Jonathan Wood took a different approach to the grading of Spearhead from Space. He explains: “The look of this HD remaster is a low-key filmic approach, which gives it more of a dramatic result. Working with the original negative and using a powerful non-linear grading system, we decided to treat this four-part story like an individual filmed drama rather than thinking of it as part of an ongoing series normally shot in a TV studio.”
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IT’S a still image that is more about time than space. Remarkably, the picture has not been Photoshopped: it’s simply a different way of looking at the world. If The Doctor had a camera, he might take shots like this. And as it happens, the title sequence for the BBC show in the 1970s was created with a similar “slit-scan” technique.
Slit-scan cameras take many images in vertical slices, and stack them side by side. The result is that anything stationary, in the background, appears blurred, while anything passing by the slit jumps out at you, clear against the smear. This photo shows a field in Siem Reap, Vietnam, taken by photographer Jay Mark Johnson of Venice, California.
It’s hard to get your head around. The camera views the world through an unmoving vertical slit, taking successive shots over time. The left side of the image here corresponds to the earlier shots and the last sliver on the far right is the most recent. It’s a time-panorama. The background didn’t move, so is smeared out, but the farmer and his buffalos passed by. If the farmer had stopped for a while in front of the slit he would appear elongated; had he raced past the camera, he would appear compacted.
“I make photographic time lines,” Johnson says on his website. “Because the photographs seamlessly blend visual depictions of space and time into a single hybrid image they provide an altered ‘spacetime’ view of the world.”