TR1 FMVs 20th Anniversary HD Remaster
Download the remastered FMVs
For the 20th anniversary of Tomb Raider LeonDeka remastered every single FMV from the game to 4K and down-sampled to 1080p. You can see them below and discover an interview of him too :
Hi LeonDeka. Thank you very much for taking the time to reply to these questions.
Q: What was your first introduction to the Tomb Raider franchise?
Well, when the first game came out I was still in Primary (Grade) School. At the time there was no Internet, I didn’t have access to many gaming magazines and I didn’t get my PS1 until my 9th birthday in February ’97. I had heard rumblings around the playground about Tomb Raider and how “Everyone” was playing it. How you explored Tomb’s and shot mummies. In my mind, I envisioned the game like a 3rd-Person Time Crisis-like game with cartoony mummies as enemies (I had a vivid imagination). My parents at the time were very strict and didn’t want me even looking at anything that had a 15 Certificate, so plans to get the game for a Christmas or a birthday were squashed for a number of years. My first real introduction to the series probably came a number of years later, towards late 98/ early 99. I was out shopping and I saw a magazine called “PlayStation Essentials” which had a Demo Disc containing the best games you can buy right now. And on that disc were demos of Tomb Raider 1 and 2. I bought that Magazine and played those demos for hours and hours! I was totally in love with the scenery, the music, the gameplay. Of course I could nitpick about certain things, but my glasses were Rose-tinted and I was just enjoying the moment. I finally managed to pick up the games around late ‘99 and played them to death. I was very, very bad at them to begin with but I grasped the more complex puzzles as I grew older!
Q: What was your motivation in remastering the FMVs?
I usually play through Tomb Raider at least once a year, and several years back I managed to pick up the Digital versions on GOG.com. The first thing I noticed was the terribad quality of the CGI in the PC port with Scanlines and heavy compression. Switching back to my PS! Version, I noticed the FMV on that version was a bit more smother, more sharper and better looking than the PC version. I wondered why they couldn’t use the same quality (obviously technical restrictions at the time, but hey ho). The idea of remastering was initially just an act of curiosity, just to see if I could get any further definition out of them and to make the scenes look less pixelated. Another reason was that Square-Enix wasn’t going to be doing anything about them. They had no plans to bring back the series roots as they were completely focused on moving forward with the franchise, not willing to do a collection of sorts. I never thought it would lead to where I am right now, but I was none-the-less a bit more curious as to what I could do with them.
Q: Was it a challenging process in remastering the FMVs?
Understatement of the year! Haha! Oh god, you have no idea how much trial-and-error went into this process. I tried a lot of methods to try and bring the quality up. But since I was working from such a low-resolution, it was going to be a challenge. Most video editors have a “rescale to HD” option in them, but it’s hard-coded to work from more common resolutions like 640x480. I had video files at around 320x240, so when I ran them through a rescale they would often come out with more noise or the hard pixels would look more obvious. It was just the same effect as taking the videos into your favourite media player and going full-screen. There was no quality improvement whatsoever. It actually made the video’s look considerably worse! The next method I tried was running each individual frame through Photoshop, upscaling them there, fixing colour, sharpening, cropping where needed and then re-exporting to a video file. I got some success out of that, but the results were still not much better. I then tried running them through dedicated photo upscaling tools and I got some success out of that, but some scenes didn’t work very well (like when the characters were far from the camera, they would look like squares because of the upscaling method). Eventually, I did find a method which got the best possible quality out of the video files. I won’t go into too much detail here, but it involves 4 programs, a lot of time and a steady hand in photoshop. Oh, and I should mention that I always try to preserve the original frame-rate of the video file. I have experimented in increasing the FPS from 15 to 30 or 60, but it creates too-many on-screen artefacts and glitches which result in a poorer-quality video. My main goal with the remasters is image-quality first!
Q: What do you find is the most enjoyable part of remastering the FMV sequences?
I would say it’s actually seeing the final product in motion. It’s the satisfaction of seeing that hard work pay off into the final product. There is also the part’s where I put a large series of files onto batch render and leave it overnight which I find enjoyable, but there is the worry that the resulting files won’t be up to standard and I may have to run them through again. But yeah, seeing everything looking sharper, colourful and vivid is definitely a personal payoff!
Q: Did you hit any significant setbacks during the process?
A few times, yes. I’ve been trying to upscale these in a way that did the video justice for a while now, and I have ran through many methods that didn’t really provide great results. That kind of set-back, when you spend a few days leaving files to render out only to come back and see them not up to standard is a real kick in the teeth. There was a memorable setback in October when I was rendering out an uncompressed version of the Intro and I had a power-cut. The file I had spent 3 days slaving over was completely corrupted and the masters had already been deleted for hard-drive space. So, I had to start again from the start. That was kind of annoying.
Q: Do you have a favourite FMV sequence in the Tomb Raider franchise?
There are a lot I love! The Opera house scene in Chronicles is hilarious (even if the animation is kinda janky and the lip-syncing is off). But I would say my all-time favourite is the “Vision” cut-scene from Tomb Raider 1. It had great music, very well animated and had a mix of particle effects, hand-drawn stills and great lighting techniques that make it look like a comic-book scene! In fact, I used that scene as a great test-bed for my upscale method as I could see how the process would affect different types of visual information.
Q: What is your favourite entry in the Tomb Raider franchise and why?
Can I have several? Hehe! I would have to say the original from 1996 is my all-time favourite. It has the perfect Balance of puzzle, story and exploration that made the formula work. 2 and 3 turned into more action games and I am mixed on them as they were a bit more difficult and a bit more frustrating for me. But the first game is my favourite, and Legend comes in at a close Second. Whilst more Linear, it did have a lovely fleshed out story and made Lara into a more Human character which I liked. Oh, and the Tokyo Level was nuts!
Q: Do you plan on remastering all of the FMV sequences from Core Design's Tomb Raider games?
Absolutely! I’m going to work on Tomb Raider 2 in a few months and hopefully 3 as well. I would like to investigate the FMV quality on the Dreamcast versions of 4 and 5 too. I am curious to see if they have any gain over the PS1 versions of the files. I might look at Angel of Darkness too, but I think somebody else has done work on them already? I am also tempted to go back over my Tomb Raider 1 FMV’s and see if I can extract more detail out too. I know that some details are a bit smudged out due to the process I use, but I want to just double check and update if necessary. But I do want to provide back to the community. I think people deserve these FMV’s!
Q: What other games released on the original PlayStation do you particularly like, apart from Tomb Raider?
I’m a huge JRPG nut, so I loved the old Final Fantasy games that came out on PS1! There was also Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon which I loved as well. I think Crash Bandicoot was the first PS1 game I played actually, so I’m pretty hyped for the 2017 remaster/remake. Metal Gear Solid was a big game for me too, Silent Hill, Ape Escape and Resident Evil were awesome games too! It’s a real mix of stuff I like. Basically, if it doesn’t have a Football in it, I will play it! Haha!
Q: Have you or do you intend on remastering FMV sequences for other titles?
Very possibly. I’ve been looking at trying to remaster cinematics from Parasite Eve and Medievil on PS1. I have also been looking into remastering some PS2 and Dreamcast games as well, but the file-formats and extraction process is a lot more complex on PS1. If anyone could help me in that field I would be very grateful! But yes, I am not just looking squarely at Tomb Raider, I want to do other games and other franchises too.
Core-Design.com Special Mention :
LeonDeka did an astounding work on remastering these FMVs. They never looked so good ! Fabulous job there ! Also thanks to him for accepting to be interviewed, it's an interesting read.
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