death comes to time
Released between 2001 and 2002, Death Comes to Time was BBCi's first foray into Doctor Who webcasts. As an experiment, it was an unqualified success, receiving many thousands of views. However, the story was panned by fans due to the massive changes to the Doctor Who mythology. Despite this critical response, the story always struck a chord with me due in part to it's epic nature.
A story about Gods fighting men was always going to inspire my imagination.
Due to the limited internet connections in the time period in which the story was made, it was broadcast via RealPlayer at 56k. The video resolution, even then, was atrocious. Combined with a stuttering, freezing video, it was unsurprising that even the most ardent fans lost interest as further parts of the story were released.
The story, however, lead the way to future animations including Real Time and Shada before culminating in Scream of the Skalka featuring a brand new Doctor played by Richard E. Grant.
Despite the limited broadcast capabilities, artist Lee Sullivan created the artwork for Death Comes to Time to stand the passage of time. The artwork when viewed today easily stands up to HD and looks truly mesmerizing. Later animations Shada and Scream of the Shalka were created in Flash and therefore can be upscaled quite simply to any resolution. This has allowed them both to be released on Blu-ray and DVD respectively.
Death Comes to Time and Real Time, however, were created as standard video productions. Using the artwork created by Lee, the editors compiled them using fades and pans set to the soundtrack. For this reason, neither story can be simply upscaled to HD. Instead, every single frame would have to be recreated using the original artwork. That's where we come in.
A small team of talented artists have gradually been recreating shots from Death Comes to Time using artwork provided by Lee Sullivan. The first episode in the story consists of 150 individual shots. The second episode features over three hundred. The third, fourth and fifth episodes feature approximately five hundred images each. To state the obvious, this is an absolutely monumental piece of work.
After our artists have composited all the shots for each episode, our editor then combined them together with the original soundtrack, alternating between fades and pans. Every effort has been taken to show due respect to the source material and not improve the original animation. Taking our cues from the Doctor Who Restoration Team, we are simply attempting to recreate the original story in full 1080p HD.
Once each episode has finished video editing, our audio editor can then get involved. As we've already said, the video quality of the streamed animation wasn't great. However, the audio quality was little better.
To provide the absolute best listening experience, our editor has taken the CD release and re-edited the tracks to match the now completed animation, removing audio imperfections and massively increasing the bitrate.
Take a look at the before and after screencaps on this page and tell us - can you tell the difference?
While the finished animation has not been released online like most of our other work, we hope that one day we'll be able to share with you Death Comes to Time: Remastered in HD - the way it was always meant to be seen!