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Published on June 25th, 2010 | by Andrew Reynolds

Reconstructing Power

It’s a travesty now but back in the day the BBC just needed the space. One hundred and eight episodes of Doctor Who remain missing after the BBC culled its archives from the 1960’s to the late 70’s.

For years fans around the world have slowly been piecing together some of the episodes from home-video, transported 16mm copies from countries such as Dubai, audio recordings (all of the twenty seven episodes exists in fan recorded audio format) and ‘telesnaps’- the off screen photos collected by independent photographer John Cura.

These smatterings have lead many down a long obsessive path of recreating precious moments thought lost forever.

Jon Brunton, a CG animator, is a cottage industry; he’s self taught and uses just a regular home computer to create some of the most startling and faithful recreations of Doctor Who.

Using CGI animation and the existing material Jon has made it his life’s work to recreate  the ‘very important’ The Power of the Daleks the 1966 serial which was the first for the Second Doctor Patrick Troughton.

Here’s a snippet at what can be found on Jon’s YouTube channel:

Intrigued by these astonishing clips, I contacted Jon directly for more information…

What first got you  interested in reconstructing Who?

“I suppose you could say this project of mine is an ongoing obsession, and I think you have to be obsessed with something like this to keep going. I’ve always been a Doctor Who fan, and love the old as much as the new series.

“Patrick Troughton was a great actor, and his portrayal of the Doctor is vastly underrated I think. Perhaps this is because so much of his era is missing. So if my animations spur a little more interest in his portrayal of the Doctor, so much the better.”

Why computer graphics?

“Well, I applaud and love other 2D animated works but to me there is still a great contrast from watching, say remaining material, then going into an episode of 2D animation such as The Invasion (the 2006 Cosgrove Hall production of two of the missing episodes of the Second Doctor adventure), then back to live action. I personally think if its 2D, then keep it all 2D.

“However, and this is just my own personal view, 3D CGI has a closer look to real footage, so when the viewer watches live action, then CGI, its not so much of a stark contrast to the feel of the story, as long as its done well.”

How long does it take to complete a piece?

“The way I do it, I decide what scene I want to reconstruct, I then research all remaining still images from that story,  from books and the internet and the Telesnaps on the BBC site. Sometimes it can be very difficult to work out all the props in the scene, due to the poor quality of photographs, so sometimes some Artistic license is required. Next I begin constructing the set in CGI, then once I have the scene created I check the Telesnaps for camera angles, and begin running some test shots.”

How do you recreate that 60’s feel?

“To get that 60′s TV feel is a combination of trying to reproduce the lighting as it was then in the studio, and also some little post production tricks I have created,  delayed blur or ghosting effect, and also the contrast and brightness. The camera’s back then didn’t handle contrasts very well, and if you look at footage of this period you will notice sometimes that a very bright light such as a candle flame for instance, would cause a halo effect and often go black instead of white on screen. There are lots of things like that, if recreated in the animation, can make it feel that much more authentic.

“From start to finish of construction to animation can take weeks or months depending on how long and how complex the shot will be. Remember, this is just one persons efforts, so measuring it in those terms its quite a short space of time.”

How do you approach animating a character like the second Doctor?

“By banging my head on the table and tearing my hair out! Yes, it can be that bad sometimes. Well, I try to get as many images as I can of the expressions and body movement, and I would say that this is one of the most time consuming things to work on and to get right.

“I don’t expect at this stage to get perfection with the characters , remember, this is done on a home computer, no render farm, just old fashioned hard work and lots of time. Also, everybody sees people in a different way, so one person may say, ‘Thats just like him,’ where as another will see it differently.

“Its a case of, you can’t please everyone, but the feedback I am receiving from Doctor Who fans on the web, has been incredibly good and inspires me to carry on further.”

For more information and a shed load of videos and images head over to the Whovisions website. whovisions.weebly.com (don’t forget to sign the guest book!)

Jon has also launched an appeal to find actors who look-like those who appeared in this serial click here to see if you recognise someone you know in these faces whovisions.weebly.com/look-alike.html

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About the Author

Everyone has a favourite Doctor and mine - just for his honesty, his fairness and his ability to not notice the Master's awful, awful disguises/anagrams (Sir Gilles Estram!?!) - has to be the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. The stories didn’t serve him as well as his acting served those stories.




4 Responses to Reconstructing Power

  1. Rick714 says:

    I give praise to anyone who pours their heart out into reconstructing Doctor Who but I’d have to cast my vote for the 2D animation style shown in The Invasion. CGI is sometimes thought of as being the “next best thing” but it still looks too artificial and falls far short of the mark. In my view, the Invasion was a rousing success as it went in a different direction and depended on a style which worked very nicely. A shame that the BBC didn’t invest some extra time and money in extending the project to include the last episode of Tenth Planet.

    And there are 108 episodes missing from the vault (not sure where 27 came from). 45 from Hartnell’s run and 63 from Troughton’s era. That is truly a shame.

  2. Andrew Reynolds says:

    Ah, It should be 27 ‘serials’ not ‘episodes’. My bad!

  3. Carn says:

    I’m surprised they didn’t commission more animated recons like The Invasion as that worked very well. Is it odd that my memory recalls those animated episodes as live action ones? Also I seem to remember black and white stories in colour.

  4. Steve says:

    Although I enjoyed The Invasion on DVD with the 2D animation I would have much prefered CGI. Look what was done with the original Star Trek. Some of the early effects of Dr Who could be replaced with CGI and definately the missing footage should be CGI. Both those clips are great, but seeing Daleks moving about rooms and corridors re-created in CGI is far superior and the next best thing compared to the original footage.

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