The X-Files

Matt Kendrick posts on Facebook

Originally Posted by Matt Kendrick in a Facebook discussion
September 25th - September 30th, 2015

Was The X-Files shot on film?

[2015-09-25 16:11] Yep! All shot on 35mm and re-conformed in HD

[2015-09-25 16:13] I was one of the editors on the HD remaster. We did our best to only up-convert if we didn't have footage. Or if too many VFX elements were missing.

You did a great job, Matt! Thanks for giving one of my favorite series a new lease on life.

[2015-09-25 17:02] You're welcome! It was a fun 2 years. One of the most interesting parts was tracking down all the stock footage inserts. They came from all over the place. Some were 16mm, some 35. Occasionally they would come from Fox movies (couple elevator shots from Speed) it was a puzzle for sure.

I'm not always a fan of opening up the aspect ratio when the original broadcast was 4:3, but I have to say I was blown away by how great they look.

[2015-09-25 17:47] Yeah, fortunately except for the Pilot, there was always more picture on the sides. Season 1 and 2 didn't have as much so there is sadly a little cropping, but season 3 and 4 had much more room and therefore almost no cropping at all. (Except for shots with gear/cameras in frame)

How much up-converting was done overall would you say? Per episode on average?

[2015-09-25 17:50] As far as up-conversion it varied from episode to episode. There were very few that were totally complete. Most had at least 1 stock shot missing. Unfortunately some episodes were missing a great deal of the original negative film. There's an episode in Season 6 (Dreamland Part 2, I think) that was missing like 20% of the film. That was a heartbreaker. And also sadly the VFX got more numerous and complex in seasons 8 and 9, which necessitated more up-converting.

[2015-09-25 17:53] There were a few cases where we would have finished an episode with a bunch of up-converts, then 3 months later we'd find a box with 3 more rolls of film mixed in with a totally different episode's film. We would always go back and open the old episode to include all available film. We held hope until the last days that we would find everything. But sadly this was not possible. I want to say less than 5% of the total show ended up being up-converts.

[2015-09-25 17:58] The worst up-converts were from season 1-4 because we had to up-convert the 4:3 video then crop in to 16:9. The seasons 5-9 episodes were 16:9 already so there was no cropping necessary. And the video was usually pretty clean so the up-converts are not too noticeable, especially when the scene is dark, which thankfully happened a lot on the show!

Can you describe for those who aren't entirely sure, what up-conversion means?

[2015-09-25 18:42] We had to use the original standard-definition video and process it through the computer to de-noise, sharpen and scale up to HD resolution. This was necessary when the original film elements were not available. When we had the film, it could be scanned in actual HD.

Is there any chance that the 4x3 will make it to blu-ray?

[2015-09-25 20:30] We delivered a full HD [master] in both 4:3 and 16:9 for all episodes of Season 1-4, up to Fox if they want to release it. But it does exist.

[2015-09-25 20:30] And the 4:3 is a match of the original framing and not just a crop of the new 16:9 version.

For those first two seasons, was it ever on the table, either by you guys and/or Fox to not go fully 16:9, but something close to 1:66.1? Me and a few other BD/HD enthusiasts always thought that it would have been nice to go as wide as possible as the film would allow but still have tiny black bars in order to avoid cropping.

[2015-09-25 21:35] As far as I know that was never discussed. Personally I think that would have been odd, and I think even with the small amount of cropping, the 16:9 version looks really beautiful.

They've already gone with 16:9 on every streaming service & digital media store anyway, I think it's clear that's the one they've decided on.

[2015-09-26 00:11] Yeah they most likely will go 16:9 for the whole series. I would love the option to do 4:3 on seasons 1-4 since that's how they originally aired, but I kind of doubt that will happen.

(Question lost)

[2015-09-26 11:49] John, the film was all shot in 24 frames. The new masters are 1080p/24. When we did the up-conversions we did a reverse pull-down to get [the] 30-frame video back down to 24 for the HD version.

Matt, any chance Fox can bring you in to save their Buffy HD remaster?

[2015-09-26 11:52] Will, I don't want to give the impression that I was in charge here. I worked for the company that was hired to do the remaster. I was one of the editors, but there are dozens of other people that helped the process. As far as Buffy, I heard rumors around the company that we were going to get that job, but it never happened. (The reason I remember being cited was too much computer generated VFX and our company wasn't set up to do that).

Most episodes on Netflix looks awsome. Will they look even better on Blu-ray perhaps?

[2015-09-28 12:55] Hopefully! They look pretty good on Netflix to my eyes. But the full-res versions were spectacular

By the way, was it a 4k or a 2k restoration?

[2015-09-29 17:04] It was a 1080p master the whole way. They talked about 4K but it was too expensive. The work started in 2012. And as far as stock shots. Many of those only existed in 4:3 and some were even 16mm film. So there is more cropping or different cropping from the main unit footage.

[2015-09-29 17:06] And as for the VFX of season 1-4, the decision to go 16:9 came at some point while we were already working on Season 3, so some of the VFX for seasons 1 and 2 were created in 4:3 only. This required a little more cropping than a normal shot. Once the decision to go 16:9 came down, we did all the VFX (where possible) on the full film frame so we could expand.

I know it's probably no where near the kind of editing software used to remaster TV shows. But I recently started messing around with Adobe Premiere...

[2015-09-29 17:45] We used Avid DS for all the editing. That's a great and powerful system. Adobe Premiere is great, but it's not a mastering program.

I wish music studios cared about their artists music videos the way movie studios care about their films/tv shows. There needs to be more Music Video collections released on Blu-ray IMO.

[2015-09-29 18:58] Lots of TV shows and movies cut on Premiere. Many still cut on Avid Media Composer too. (Avid DS is the heavy-duty final mastering version). And I feel like music videos are like short films. They are cool in the moment, but rarely ever get a real release on home video. Thankfully now with YouTube and Vimeo and stuff like that, there is a way to see lots of this stuff. But most 1980's and 1990's videos were made on standard def video, just like X-Files and all those shows of the era. That's just what they did for television.

Matt, have you been upgrading any special features from the old dvd releases as well for the upcoming blu-rays?

[2015-09-30 11:18] Jimmie, we didn't do anything with special features.