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STILL GAME: reinstating the original music
#1
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reinstating the original music


For those of us who watched it at the time, one of the most iconic elements of the Scottish TV comedy STILL GAME was the lovably naff theme tune:



As Tom Urie quite rightly says at the start of the documentary STILL GAME: The Story So Far, that theme was a big part of the experience of living in Scotland while that programme aired (the documentary is something else I'd like to preserve somehow, since so far I can only find it on YouTube in crap quality with a bit cut off the start).

... So you can imagine how annoyed I was to fairly recently discover that on both the current run of DVDs and on Netflix (which presumably is made from the same masters), they replaced that iconic theme tune with some dodgy library music that sounds vaguely like a knockoff of the theme from Terry Gilliam's BRAZIL:



It goes further than this, too. Some specific episodes also used licenced music, but for the DVD/Neftlix have had it removed and replaced with library music (e.g. Green Onions in one episode has been replaced by a dodgy but legally distinct knockoff). Presumably, then, this is all to avoid paying those who wrote the music that was originally used for broadcast. Notably, the theme tune is not fully original: it heavily features sampling from an existing piece of music. It wasn't until the show came back after an almost decade-long hiatus in 2016 that the theme was restored to Netflix versions of the episodes, courtesy of a re-recording (that therefore doesn't use any sampling) by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (as discussed here: https://www.glasgowlive.co.uk/news/tv/st...e-11926005). Even then, the new theme only applies to the new episodes (series 7 onwards), not any of the old ones... which are still stuck with the library music.

This has been bugging me so I looked into it and found that the original Scottish DVD releases (pressed in Glasgow) actually *did* have the original music, not just for the theme, but for the other music that was replaced later as well e.g. Green Onions. They're also in the original UK TV PAL format at 25 fps (like all the Scottish/UK DVDs), whereas it looks like Netflix has NTSC conversions.

You'd perhaps assume that this would mean that you could just get the old DVDs and watch them as-is, which is mostly what my intention is moving forward, except that...

1. Series 1 is all on one single-layer disc, so the video quality is lower than series 2 onwards and the separate disc of Hogmanay and Christmas Specials (it's 6 approximately 30-minute episodes on a single ~4.38 GB DVD5 disc, so that's not hugely surprising). This is theoretically easily fixed though because the newer DVD version with the incorrect music is on a dual-layer DVD9, which presumably means it's also been encoded at quality more similar to the later DVD releases of the rest of the series.

2. Only the first 3 series (and, bizarrely, the fourth and final special on the Hogmanay/Christmas disc) have the original music on their first DVD pressings. From series 4 onwards, the programme started to gain some recognition outside of Scotland with limited broadcasts and a wider DVD release for the rest of the UK, which was when they started replacing everything with the library music (they also changed the format of the episode titles, making them less Scottish so that it wouldn't put non-Scots off, or something... which is daft for a show that's entirely centred around foul-mouthed Scottish pensioners). For the remaining 6 series and 3 specials, as far as I am aware, there is no available source for the original music unless they re-run them on iPlayer, and even then I don't have the means to capture audio unless it's done through my sound card (which will sound like crap and necessitate recording lossy encoded audio to PCM, significantly increasing file sizes). For series 1-3 and that one final 2007 special, the old DVDs have the original audio albeit only in 192 kbps Dolby AC-3 (stereo, it being from the days of SD TV).

3. I would have simply edited the original theme on to the beginning and end of the episodes for series 4 onwards that didn't get the original theme on DVD, but that wouldn't work because the music overlaps with other audio in every episode (it fades out as the episode starts and sound effects / dialogue become audible as the music is still playing; similar thing at the end credits).

4. I've just discovered that at least one episode (specifically series 6, episode 6/7) also has missing dialogue, at least on the Netflix version. Around 2 mins and 25 seconds in, Tam lifts some change out of the pub puggy and says something to two other characters, except that there is no audio whatsoever despite his lips moving and the characters reacting to what he said. Thus far, I don't know if the iPlayer version would have been the same or not, or if there's any DVD that fixes it. It's certainly the same on this one from YouTube, which I'm guessing is probably from a DVD:



In other words, all I can really do for the time being is restore the audio from the old series 1 DVD to the newer series 1 DVD in order to preserve a half-decent video encode alongside the original music. Series 4-6 and 3/4 of the specials will need to continue to exist with the library music for now. To do anything more than that, I'd need to find a viable source for the original audio, which would most likely require figuring out how the hell to extract audio from iPlayer (think "WEB-DL" rather than "WEBrip")... and they're not even on iPlayer right now anyway. Annoyingly, I think I just missed them as well: I recently noticed that some of the old episodes were back on iPlayer but most of them had already expired. Now, it's only series 7-9 that's still there.

If anybody thinks they might be in a position to help with this in any way, please PM me!

P.S. Just for good measure, by the way, the Netflix episodes are also in the wrong order and incomplete: most of the specials are missing, and the one that actually is included is put in completely the wrong place (far earlier than it aired) which causes a huge spoiler for later developments if you haven't seen it before!
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Thanks given by: HippieDalek
#2
Good luck with this one! I didn't see much of the show but what I did see I loved. I was never a huge fan of Chewing the Fat (the sketch show by the same duo) but this series was brilliant, I really need to get around to seeing more of it.

It's going to be tough tracking down original all the original music. The BBC have been getting better at releasing series with all the licensed music lately, so if there's ever a future home release there's the possibility we'll get the original soundtrack, but I wouldn't count on it.
Program material is recorded on the other side of this disc...
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#3
(2020-06-12, 05:55 PM)HippieDalek Wrote: Good luck with this one! I didn't see much of the show but what I did see I loved. I was never a huge fan of Chewing the Fat (the sketch show by the same duo) but this series was brilliant, I really need to get around to seeing more of it.

It's going to be tough tracking down original all the original music. The BBC have been getting better at releasing series with all the licensed music lately, so if there's ever a future home release there's the possibility we'll get the original soundtrack, but I wouldn't count on it.

There is a recent-ish DVD box set with every single episode in it but it appears that from looking at photos of the discs it's exactly the same discs (same art printed on them etc.) as the older box sets and separates, which all have the library music instead. I don't really want to spend 40 quid just to find out and have to return it if I'm wrong (plus I don't think I'm fussed about having the newer episodes in my collection frankly). I reckon I'd have to find out how to decrypt iPlayer stuff to do this properly, and I wouldn't know where to start. Plus, they're not even on there right now, so I'd have to wait until they are. It would however be really frustrating if they do go back up there and I have absolutely no idea how to extract the audio from them, so I'd like to be able to do that beforehand if at all possible. I know there was an open source tool made a while back to download from iPlayer servers but when I tried that just to test it with something else, it completely failed to work (timed out on every channel).

Chewin' the Fat is probably a bit less consistent than Still Game, I'll give you that. With the latter, even then, I feel like the balance between comedy and genuinely emotional resonance started to disappear around the same time they tried to broaden the audience beyond Scotland (again, around the start of series 4) but it's still frequently hilarious despite that. When it tries to do the emotional stuff again toward the end of series 6 it really didn't land right imo, which is a shame... and I didn't watch it when it came back again for series 7, mostly because I had no TV licence nor any desire to watch anything that was on at the time.

If I can at the very least sort series 1 so that it has half decent video (from a later DVD) and the original audio from the original DVD, that'll be something. But I'd like to get the original audio back into series 4-6 and the 3 specials that don't have it as well!
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#4
Well, I reckon this one's a write-off for now, because I just got the newer DVDs and checked Series 1 and it turns out that my assumption that it would have better encodes was wrong. How silly of me to expect that a dual-layer DVD release from 2008 would have better encoding than single-layer one from 2002!

Honestly, man...
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