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RESTORATION REPORT #8:
The Morning After

December 2002 to January 2003

After a healthy break, we're back with the Restoration Project. Not that it was much of a break - we ended up using the free time to makeover the whole website, which was probably a more time-intensive job than even the restorations! However, we're going to slow down the pace of the restorations a little, mainly for the sake of our sanity. So expect regular breaks in work between, and even during, serials. These will be designed so that we can keep up the standard we've set for ourselves without turning into zombies.

To kick of phase two of the Restoration Project, we've elected to spruce up The Morning After, mainly because, on first listen it sounded pretty damned good. The six episodes of this serial were transferred from the untreated compact discs (taken direct from John Wright's off-air tapes) on Monday 2nd December 2002, dubbing to computer in CD quality (44.1KHz sampling rate, 16 bit resolution).

On the evening of Tuesday 3rd December, we took a closer listen, with headphones. As usual, our initial prognosis wasn't entirely accurate. The general sound quality on Episodes 1-4 is excellent, whereas the final two are a little less distinct. All episode have a considerable amount of tape hiss and rumble. Unfortunately, there is also evidence of quite bad clicks and pops. All these problems can be dealt with - and if not removed completely, then at least considerably reduced.

Amplification and noise reduction on all episodes was performed in Sound Forge, also on 3rd December. Noise was reduced by 20dB for Episodes 1-4 and by 18dB for Episodes 5-6. Due to the lesser quality of the latter episodes, we elected to retain more of the noise, as its removal gave rise to artifacting and made the programme sound artificial.

Work is proceeding on the declicking of the episodes. This has proven quite a considerable task as this serial is rather prone to them - more so than many of the others we've dealt with so far. As at Sunday 12th January, we've worked our way through to the end of episode four. Naturally, the Christmas holidays distracted us from the task, but we're back on it now.

Episode Five has received extensive extra work, also on 12th December, as it was considerably more muffled than the other episodes. This problem has been dealt with by graphic equalisation and subsequently a minimal dose of additional noise reduction to remove the nasties resulting from the graphic equalisation. The results are a great improvement and are quite acceptable. On reflection, Episode Six is nowhere near as bad as we had thought, and we elected to leave this episode as it is, declicking notwithstanding!

Declicking proved extremely labour-intensive and was completed on Sunday 26th January 2002. As expected, the final two installments are less impressive than the opening four, despite the best efforts to restore them. Sadly, they are probably as good as they will ever get.

by Alan and Alys Hayes