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Avengers on the Radio designed, maintained and Copyright by Alan and Alys Hayes.

The Avengers is Copyright CANAL+IMAGE UK Ltd. No attempt to infringe this copyright is intended. 

RESTORATION REPORT #15:
All Done By Mirrors

October 2005-February 2006
(Project initially commenced February 2005)

Due to renovations at home, the website and this particular restoration have been put on the back burner. Returning to the work we had performed prior to the break, we realised that it wasn't as good as it might be, and for this reason, have made a second, fresh transfer from the master tape. More after the preamble...

This Avengers serial, All Done By Mirrors, is notable in that it is the last of the serials to be restored that has yet to be made available to Avengers and Springbok Radio fans. It has been unheard outside of John and Coral Wright's South African home for thirty-two years and was not among the thirteen serials that were originally doing the rounds after their transmissions in New York in the 1980s. Of added interest, it's another of Dennis Folbigge's serials which were based upon television scripts which featured the character of Tara King rather than Emma Peel. Folbigge's adaptation features Emma Peel, portrayed by Diane Appleby, as with all other South African Avengers serials.

As noted earlier, we had started on this restoration in February 2005, and had got as far as transferring, noise-reducing and graphic equalising all the episodes. Listening back to what we achieved, frankly it could have been better (hence the desire to start afresh, having learned our lessons). To be honest, the quality of the first three episodes is poor, and perhaps we attempted too excessive a clean-up first time round. They ended up sounding very artificial and not particularly pleasant on the ear. Consequently, you may find the new restored version to be less than perfect: in all honesty, it's a compromise, and the episodes will not be up to our usual standards. They are simply too far gone to adequately dredge up something perfect from them.

We made fresh transfers of John Wright's original quarter-inch tapes of All Done By Mirrors, to our PC on Wednesday 12th October 2005. Trying something a little different to the February work, we graphic equalised the tape (via an analogue graphic equaliser) on the route to the computer, with the intention that less noise would reach the PC, so less digital noise reduction processing would be needed. Initial tests seem to bear out our theories that this might well represent an improvement.

As had been noted in February, we were aware that the serial was not among the best of John's recordings, and that the quality of the sound varied from episode to episode. This new transfer has merely served to confirm this memory. The first six episodes of this serial were recorded on one track of a quarter-track tape, with the final episode being on the reverse side of the tape. For the sake of convenience, we dubbed the first six episodes as one file, and the seventh separately. In terms of recording quality, the 7th episode is the best, with the 4th-6th installments being good, and the first three being rather poor by comparison (quite muffled).

The files were cut up into episodes on the afternoon of Friday 28th October 2005, in preparation for noise reduction work.

Tuesday 24th January 2006: Amplification and noise reduction work carried out upon Episodes 1-4. This involved manually dealing with extreme pops and distortion and then amplifying each episode by 130-135%. Noise levels were very high on these recordings and had tobe  cut by as much as 57dB!

Wednesday 25th January 2006: Amplification and noise reduction work completed on Episodes 5-7.

Sunday 29th January 2006: Declicking work has been commenced, and Episode 1 is now completed.

Monday 30th January 2006: Episode 2 declicked and completed tonight .

Wednesday 1st February 2006: A year (!?!?!?!) after we commenced this particular restoration, we're still at it! There's no denying it's been a frustrating time for fans of the radio series not to mention ourselves. Aside from the upheaval in our lives last summer, it's been a tough serial to restore - as evidenced by our not being happy with the early work we did on it. The episodes haven't turned out as well as those from other serials have - but considering the source material, we honestly feel it's the best we can manage. Apologies if anyone's struggling to understand any dialogue! Anyway, last night and tonight, we've been working on declicking Episode 3.

Thursday 2nd February 2006: Episode 4 completed.

Sunday 5th February 2006: Episode 5 completed.

Friday 10th February 2006: Episode 6 completed. One more to go...  :)

Saturday 11th February 2006: The restoration work on Episode 7 (and therefore, the complete serial) has now been completed. It's rather embarrassing that it's taken us a year to get through this one, but it did present some difficulties in terms of the recording quality - and ultimately needed a 'Heath Robinson' novel approach to get it into a condition that we were happy with. The serial's not in perfect condition, and some episodes are markedly better than others, but when all is said and done, this is the best we could manage with the source materials and the equipment/software that we have access to. We hope that the serial has been worth the wait for our many RadioAvengerphiles!

by Alan and Alys Hayes