Restoration gives classical TV dramas a new lease on life

Have you ever been bitten by the nostalgia bug and tried to look up your favorite childhood TV dramas and watch them? Often it’s the case that you soon find the fuzzy images and the awkward color so unbearable that you drop the show after watching it for no more than three minutes.

However, recently a special film viewing marathon was held by Youku, a video streaming site owned by Alibaba, at a cinema in Beijing. The event featured nonstop episodes of a digitally-restored version of the 2006 hit TV drama Soldiers Sortie, and attracted a large crowd of diehard fans, many born after 1995.

Although the intensive viewing was quite a test of physical strength, much to everyone’s surprise, the greatly-enhanced definition of the restored version stood the test of the big screen.

With the advent of the Ultra HD era characterized by enhanced set-top boxes, ever-evolving virtual reality technologies, and display devices nearly all with an aspect ratio of 16:9 – when many of the original classical TV and film productions made with the 4:3 aspect ratio – they now look like “running mosaics” on today’s much wider screens.

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To top it all, due to multiple transfers of the original video file over the years, the edges of picture have become serrated. Plus, stored for decades, negatives of those classic shows have all been subject to severe color shift that calls for correction.

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