Question of the week: should people use CGI to improve effects in old films and TV shows?

It can’t have escaped your notice that computer graphics have improved a lot over the last few decades. Not only are they better than the graphics that computers could create in the 80s and 90s, they’re also better than some of the physical effects that people used to use. Not always (cf The Thing), but sometimes.

Now, some companies – particularly the BBC with its Doctor Who range, but also George Lucas with Star Wars – instead of releasing the original films and TV episodes as they were when they were first made, have been releasing DVDs and Blu-rays with improved versions of the original special effects.

Sometimes, this has been for a good reason: in the case of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the effects needed to be redone for Blu-Ray since they were mastered on video and so were too low quality for Blu-Ray:

But in some cases, it’s purely because the producers of the DVD or Blu-Ray think the effects look bad, need improving, or will improve sales:

To be fair, there’s usually an option to watch a version with the new effects or one with the old. But not always. So this week’s question is:

Would you like to see old films and TV shows improved with modern effects when they’re released or do you want to see something that’s as close to the original as possible?

  • Mark Carroll

    I’m generally fine with the new-effects version so long as it doesn’t touch plot, etc. For instance, despite the disappointments with the new versions of the old Star Wars films meaning that we do have the original theatrical releases on DVD, a lot of the things that were done to make backgrounds look better, etc. were, I thought, improvements; indeed, things that would have been done originally had it been then possible. Broadly, if it doesn’t touch the script, then I probably like it.
    Having said that, it would be nice if good effects didn’t throw other aspects of poor production quality into sharper relief: if it all looks a bit poor it’s easier to stop noticing. And, when we are talking actual creatures, much CGI still has a long way to go. For instance, there was something in the way that the centurions in the new Battlestar Galactica walk around that just viscerally screams “unreal” at me: they may look good, but somehow they are still just glaringly wrong in a way that I can’t explain but that is, for me, beaten by what might instead have been done a couple of decades ago without CGI.

  • Hazel

    I wouldn’t mind the effects improved for Neverwhere so that some people can stop moaning about how bad they were and actually enjoy it.

  • I definitely don’t approve where they don’t give an option to view orginal. And similar to above it would be fine if it doesn’t interfere with the overall tenor of the production values.
    Sometimes, even if an effect is awful it can develop an iconic status (viz THAT tank from Robot in DW). What glares more is wher the effect is supposedly modern but dates so badly. I’d almost they left well alone.