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Special Edition in HD Widescreen

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A short clip from "The Land of Vampires" after re-mastering in widescreen.
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A short clip from "Knight School" after re-mastering in widescreen.
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Notes on the Big Knights re-mastering for the Special Edition. March/June 2009

The Big Knights was originally released on VHS. The series consisted of 13 episodes but only half of these were on the VHS and a planned second VHS, which would have contained the remaining episodes, was never released.

Fast forward almost ten years...

Astley Baker Davies are in the process of re-mastering the entire series in Widescreen HD 1080p Format.

The project has been off and on for the last few years, but has now begun in earnest with director Andrea Tran working full-time on it.

The original series was animated with widescreen in mind but was delivered in Academy 1:1.33 format, since that was the BBC's delivery requirement. This was at the end of 1999, when widescreen TVs weren't common.

But the original digital artwork extended beyond this 1:1.33 screen size. And this artwork was made using vector files, which can be scaled to any size without loss of quality. So, there was always the possibility of producing a version in Widescreen High Definition.

The two images below are low quality JPegs but they give an idea of just how much artwork was never seen in the standard aspect edition:

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Original 1:1.33

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Widescreen

The process has also given us an opportunity to fix a few technical glitches we re-discovered. All in all the restoration has been a lot of fun and allowed us to re-visit the Land of Borovia, the Brain of Sir Morris and the Stomach of Sir Doris.

May 2009

Andrea Tran has finished restoring the visuals for all 13 episodes of the Big Knights. The task turned out to be more involved than we at first thought.

In particular, the new widescreen framing meant that some shots where we originally had to have a wide camera (in order to accommodate a wide composition) now could be framed tighter (since widescreen is by it's nature wider!).

Here's an example:

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In the original version, we had to show a lot of ceiling and floor in order to get the whole width of the Big Knight's long table into shot.

But in the new widescreen format, it looked a lot nicer to crop in, losing a bit of the ceiling and floor:

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Here are a couple of shots from "The Land of Vampires" showing just how much of the original artwork was rediscovered in the re-mastering process. None of this artwork is new - it was always there but hidden from view by the screen format.

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Original 1:1.33

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Widescreen

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Original 1:1.33

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Widescreen

Here is some behind the scenes footage showing the wonders of the world of "Foley" and reveals the amazing secret of how we created the sound of pots and pans bashing up and down for the sequence where the Big Knights dance on King Otto's table...

And here is a piece of early design artwork for The Big Knights. This is actually from the very first storyboard from a firt draft of "The Village Games".

In this first draft, Morris had gone off alone to the middle of the woods looking for a stick that Boris had thrown out of the village.

We really liked this image of Morris burping flames and this survived right into the final version despite many other changes.

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Still from first Big Knights Trailer, which was animated on an Amiga computer, with pixels the size of boulders.

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