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Not To Be Sneezed At

June / July 2002

Gluttons for punishment, after restoring Who Shot Poor George / XR40?, we elected to tackle another serial that falls into the "challenging" bracket. Not To Be Sneezed At is, like XR40, another serial that was previously thought to be lost forever. Also like XR40 it is one of the serials that has not worn the years terribly well... Again, the episodes were rather lacking in high frequency response (or 'treble' to the layperson), but fortunately less so than XR40. As with the restoration of this other serial, Not To Be Sneezed At was originally dubbed to compact disc untreated on Saturday June 1st 2002, but our experiences shortly afterwards with Who Shot Poor George / XR40? made us realise that the best course of action with this particular serial would be to do a major analogue graphic equalisation, whilst capturing the audio via Cool Edit 96 on our PC. This was performed in the same dubbing session as XR40 and a few other episodes that were deemed likely to benefit from this treatment.

This process was performed, and after a little break after the work on XR40 (mainly spent watching the World Cup and, oddly, The Professionals!), we commenced restoration work on Not To Be Sneezed At on Saturday 22nd June. Taking a look at the soundfile (for it was dubbed as one 104 minute chunk), it was clear that the episodes were not all cut from the same cloth. Episodes 1 and 7 were recorded at a higher level than the others, though both sets appeared to be of a similar quality, with the exception of Episode 5, which is more muffled than the others. It was decided to approach Episodes 2, 3, 4 and 6 as one large file, splitting them up after restoration, and the other three separately. First up, we ran a graphic equalisation filter over each of the files, brightening the sound and boosting the vocals, using Cool Edit 96. After this, we performed a noise reduction on all episodes using Sound Forge from Sonic Foundry. In side-by-side tests, we have found the Sound Forge noise reduction filters to create less by way of digital artifacts than the Cool Edit equivalents. For all other operations, we will be using Cool Edit, as we find it more user-friendly, and the results are as good if not better than those from Sound Forge. The operations of noise reduction and graphic equalisation (which was, for the most part, of a mild nature) were completed in a day.

Finally (and laboriously!), the episodes were manually declicked in Cool Edit, most episodes taking upwards of an hour and a half to process... Doesn't make sense: we appear to be getting slower! Work completed on the serial in the early hours of 9th July 2002.

by Alan and Alys Hayes