Farscape will not be released in high-def

In light of Sci-Fi channel’s hit 1999 series Farscape getting re-released on DVD, Brian Henson admitted to the crowd at Creation Entertainment’s annual Farscape convention that there are no plans to release Farscape in any high-definiton format.

The series was filmed on 35mm, which is far superior to HD, said Henson, but the visual effects were created for a standard-definition format, and when looking at the costs of re-creating the visual effects in HD, it would have been in the millions of dollars. Per season. Understandable for a series that holds the Guinness world record for the most digital effects in a TV series.

Unfortunately, there was yet another cost that would kill the possibility of Farscape appearing in high-definition. At the end of each season, the original camera negatives were archived, which according to Henson left “a gymnasium of footage” that was particularly costly to store due to the volatility of the film itself. And so, I assume, the original 35mm prints of Farscape have been scrapped.

Henson stated that the Farscape series was produced in both NTSC and PAL formats, and that PAL’s 576 horizontal lines of resolution (compared to NTSC’s 480) was the highest-definion version of Farscape available. This is a far sight less than HD’s top resolution of 1,080 lines, and a sad fate for such a visually stunning and complex series.

By Tim

An animator, video producer, Lego artist, and author—I am moderately skilled at a lot of different things.

3 replies on “Farscape will not be released in high-def”

Well, all I can say is that they were very short sighted. Back in the early 90’s, Joe Michael Straczynski at least had the foresight to shoot Babylon 5 with future technologies in mind, such as widescreen and HD. OK, JMS did make the mistake of doing his CGI in SD, in the mistaken belief that in the future it would be inexpensive to remake the CGI in glorious HD (wrong!), but at least he made the effort – and there is still a BIG possibility that Babylon 5 will see a high definition future. Mr Henson & Co. on the hand obviously had no such foresight, even though technologies such as HD and widescreen were already upon us at that time. What exactly was the point in using all that expensive 35mm film stock to end up treating it with such disregard? There is simply no excuse for this…at all.

And it won’t just be Blu-ray sales they’ll be missing out on as a result. One day in the not too distant future, TV companies won’t be touching SD content with a barge pole. ITV in the UK is currently giving all its archived drama gems the HD makover (such as Sharpe, Poirot and Sherlock Holmes). Are they doing this for the sake of the relatively small few people who will upgrade from DVD to Blu-ray? No. They’re doing it so they can then sell the HD transfers to HD TV stations world wide….with Blu-ray a mere afterthought. Most sitting room sized TV’s these days come with free-to-view HD receivers built in…such as Freeview or Freesat. The world IS moving over to HD, and SD content will be getting left behind. Not by us fans of course, if SD is all we can watch Farscape in, then SD it shall be. But we’re fans…not Joe Public who just might want to grab an hour of Sci-Fi on his HD TV. Joe Public is where the money is at….not we fans.

It’s not true HD, though. They’re still working with the original limited quality final product, 576p (or what have you). So what we’re getting is the best, upscaled to BD, which means fewer discs, and a more compact collection, with lossless audio, on less than stellar, but the best we’ll ever get, BDs.

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