BBC Studios and Post Production restores The Sweeney
Following the release of The Sweeny film, which saw Ray Winstone taking on John Thaw’s Regan role, home entertainment label Network Distributing decided it was time to bring the original into the 21st century. They called on BBC Studios and Post Production’s award-winning Digital Media Services who painstaking restored the content frame-by-frame to create a new HD version
Network Distributing was able to source the original negatives for The Sweeney, although the 16mm film negatives varied in quality and condition and in some cases were very badly worn, with lots of scratching, scuffing and in one instance missing sprocket holes.
Led by Colourist Jonathan Wood, the team were tasked with the digital restoration of four series – 53 episodes in total. They devised a special workflow, comprised of a SCANITY film scanner, Nucoda Film Master and a HS-ART DustBuster. First a 2K scan of the original 16mm A/B negative rolls was generated on the SCANITY and conformed on the Nucoda Film Master, removing any residual picture movement caused by the physical film edit. After this, a full shot-by-shot grade with grain reduction and automated dust removal was carried out using the Nucoda. The HS-ART DustBuster was then used for manual clean up to ensure each of the episodes had a consistent look and feel. The master mono tracks were cloned across and the timecode of these new HD masters made to match the old so that the previously created 5.1 tracks remained in sync.
It was important that clarity and colour improvements were balanced with staying faithful to the style of the show and maintaining the 16mm film feel of the 1970s police series. The final episodes were formatted to HDCAM SR masters and released on Blu-ray.