“Tennis That Counts” Restored for DVD

Tennis That Counts, a remarkable tennis instruction series featuring seasoned teaching professional Adrian Stonebridge, made its debut on Channel 4 in 1983. Distinguished by its unique format, the programme diverges from the conventional show-and-tell tuition videos by incorporating weekly challenges with a diverse group of pupils. The programme has a broad appeal, designed to help everyone from the absolute beginner to experienced enthusiasts.

Recognising the significance of Tennis That Counts, Reminiscence Media was entrusted with the task of preparing the show for an exclusive DVD release. However, an unforeseen challenge arose during the transfer of the original 1″ tapes, as tape damage had affected three episodes, persisting for a duration of 2-5 minutes in each occurrence. The decision was made to rely on off-air lowband U-Matic transfers for the affected sections, which were subsequently entrusted to Reminiscence Media for restoration.

A meticulous examination of all the U-Matic footage was undertaken to identify the affected sections, and the best footage from each recording was carefully selected for the restoration project. The restoration process involved approximately two weeks of diligent effort to clean the affected sections of tape, amounting to approximately 12 minutes of footage. Given that the video signal is interlaced and equivalent to 50 frames per second, twice the normal frame rate, the total runtime accounted for approximately 24 minutes of footage when taking conventional framerates into account.

The U-Matic footage exhibited various video streaks that required meticulous manual cleaning. In fact, the substituted footage for the second part alone necessitated over 28,000 fixes.

Once the U-Matic footage was successfully restored, the next crucial step was to seamlessly blend it with the 1″ footage. This was achieved through the implementation of carefully managed noise reduction techniques, followed by a meticulous grading process. To ensure the utmost fidelity to the original material, numerous reference points from the series were utilised during the grading process.

Another challenge that presented itself was the series’ original music, the costs for licensing as part of a DVD release being deemed unfeasible.  Using the latest commercially available software, we successfully employed advanced audio isolation techniques to extract the voiceover segment from the opening titles sequence. This careful process allowed us to delicately replace the original music with a captivating composition by Jim Hall, fittingly named “Changes.”

Alongside the music alterations, further licensing issues necessitated the creation of a fresh opening titles sequence. Visual design artist, Niamh Cassidy, was entrusted with this task. Her primary objective was to replicate the typeface used in the original titles sequence, ensuring a faithful homage to the initial aesthetic.  Appropriate footage from the main programme was selected to serve as a new backdrop for the titles. Following the successful completion of the titles sequence, she then proceeded to apply a meticulous colour grading process, elevating the overall visual quality of the programme to meet contemporary standards.

Presenter Adrian Stonebridge, series producer Christopher Toyne, and Pebble Bay Entertainment, all expressed great satisfaction with the restoration work carried out on the U-Matic footage. As a result, it was agreed to remaster another production by Adrian, titled “See & Play Tennis with Adrian Stonebridge,” which only existed on VHS, with the production masters believed lost.

Once again, a number of sources were inspected, and the best sections from each source were utilised, prioritising sections free from jumps and streaks. The production, originally recorded on Video8 in 1985 and subsequently released on VHS, carried certain tape-related artifacts, such as occasional picture bouncing, wobbling, and streaks. Following the comprehensive cleaning process, the feature was sent to the post-production stage for noise reduction before its final grading. The whole process took three weeks to complete.

“Tennis That Counts” and “See & Play Tennis with Adrian Stonebridge,” will be showcased in an upcoming two-disc DVD set, courtesy of Kaleidoscope Publishing. This DVD set will mark the first time “Tennis That Counts” has been released on home video and will feature additional previously unseen extra features. This two-disc DVD set will be released on August 5th 2023.

“Tennis That Counts” two-disc DVD set is available to order direct from Kaleidoscope DVD.