Feeds

BBC rebuilds Civilisation in HD

Seminal 1960s documentary restored for transmission

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Kenneth Clark's Civilisation was a genuine television event when it was first broadcast in 1969. Thanks to restoration work carried out on the more than 40-year-old film stock it may be about to repeat its success.

The BBC has remastered the 13-part series into HD and will broadcast the critically acclaimed documentary on the BBC HD channel next month.

While Civilisation was produced for transmission in standard definition - and in black and white, to boot - it was considered sufficiently prestigious to be shot entirely on 35mm colour film.

Almost all other television film footage at the time, and for many years after, was shot on 16mm film.

The bigger frame size would have given the Corporation's technicians a better source for digitising the work, having sonically cleaned the film stock and scanned it using something like the Spirit one-light telecine system used so effectively in the BBC's Doctor Who DVD restorations.

Manually and automatically cleaning up remaining dirt and grain, will have generated a top quality digital copy which can then be re-graded to restore the colour vibrancy.

Technical jiggery-pokery aside, will the programme still stand up? Clark was a toff - he was a Knight of the Realm and sat in the House of Lords - and an art historian of the old school, disdaining most modern works, when the programme was made. His conclusions won't match those of a more down-to-Earth colleague making such a show today.

But it will a good to get away for a moment from the current vogue for filling historical programmes with dramatic reconstructions - do extras dressed up as Goëring or Roman legionaries really help us understand history more? - and return to the old style talking heads approach, something only Simon Schama's A History of Britain production team has ever quite managed to come close to.

Civilisation will be shown in weekly parts from Monday, 21 February. A Blu-ray Disc release will almost certainly follow. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
Bose says today IS F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.