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RESTORATION REPORT #17:
The Super Secret Cypher Snatch

September-October 2008

The revived Restoration Project continues apace. No sooner than the work on A Deadly Gift has been completed, we commenced work on the next serial, The Super Secret Cypher Snatch. No mystery behind the choice - it follows on from A Deadly Gift on John Wright's tapes, with Episodes One and Two being on the same side of tape as the final two episodes of that serial. A little bit of investigation has lead me to the conclusion that this story followed A Deadly Gift on broadcast. Not only does it follow it on John's tapes, but also its second episode has a Friday production announcement. Had it followed A Deadly Gift, Episode One would have had to have been a Thursday episode. The jigsaw fits together...

Sunday 14th September 2008: All episodes of The Super Secret Cypher Snatch were transferred from 1/4 inch tape to PC in CD quality and were graphic equalised. Some particularly nasty clicks were removed at this stage.

Monday 15th September 2008: All episodes noise reduced in Soundforge 8.0. They sound really good, but will clearly need considerable attention on the manual pass for clicks and pops. This impression proved right on the money, as we processed Episode One tonight, and it ended up taking an hour and a half to process manually in Adobe Audition (compared with between 45 minutes and an hour per episode of A Deadly Gift).

Tuesday 16th September 2008: Another mammoth session declicking Episode Two of this story. No particular problems, just slow going. Plenty of clicks and pops to remove, but overall, we're very happy with the sound quality on this one so far. Ultimately one of the best quality recordings.

Wednesday 17th September 2008: Episode Three manually declicked.

Thursday 18th September 2008: Episode Four cleaned up tonight, clicks and pops removed. Pleasingly, another episode with no problem beyond the reparative capabilities of the software (and the operators!).

Friday 10th October 2008: After a brief time out between episodes while we work on another project, it's down to Episode Five tonight. The quality is generally excellent but with a fair amount of background noise, even after the noise reduction work of earlier. We have decided to leave it rather than compromise the natural sound - removing further noise will only leave digital artifacts in their place. Quite an interesting fix to make in this episode - clearly the tape was damaged at some point and spliced. This means that half of the word 'activity' is lost from Hugh Rouse's narration around the four minute mark (including commercials). We checked through the other narration in this episode and discovered that he also says 'activities' at one point, so we took the 'tivity' from it and patched the missing section. The inflection isn't quite right, but it's not too intrusive and is better than an omission. Aside from this, the episode was completed in just over an hour and there were no irreparable faults.

Sunday 12th October 2008: Work on Episode Six has been finished this evening. It presented another problem in the same vein as the previous episode, in that a chunk of audio was missing from Hugh Rouse's narration due to a splice or possibly, in this case, a break in the tranmission signal back in 1972/3. Fortunately, enough remained to work out what was said. It's like Blankety Blank... "A short while after, Steed in the the white overalls of a .... eaner, walked confidently up to one of the armed guards on duty." So, I had to check the other episodes for the phrase, "a window cleaner" in Hugh Rouse's narration. I ended up lifting "cleaner" from one episode and "a window" from another! With a little bit of clean up of the "a" sound, it fits in quite naturally, and the narration is now restored as best as possible.

by Alan and Alys Hayes