When color television struck the airwaves like lightning, Doctor Who's production was changed forever. Once the bodies were cleared away, the new order began: Doctor Who would be recorded on both Video and Film.
Wait, what? Why?Edit
The BBC film cameras were small, light, and didn't have very good quality, so they were strictly used in locations the much larger, fancier video cameras couldn't go. One episode was shot entirely on film as a way of getting around a picket line, but aside from that, Doctor Who was basically always shot with interior scenes on video and exterior scenes on film, until the 80s came and ruined everything forever.
Of course, from our point of view it's video that's evil. Video records discrete pixels, so when you try to blow it up to HD standards, you get shit. Film, meanwhile, records... well, onto film, so when you blow it up, you get blurry out of focus images and film grain. As a result, The Spearhead from Splink is the only classic Who story available in HD, for all the good it'll do ya.
Much like the arrow in the Fed Ex logo, once you see the difference between video and film you'll never un-see it. Video is marked by weird lines, color streaks, image ghosting, unpleasant fps, and harsh, unflattering light, whereas film is marked by grainy, out of focus images with spotty dubbing and washed out colors. Happy viewing!
NOTE: This isn't to say that the two mediums can't be done well, its just the fact the BBC spent all its money on cocaine and keeping Uncle Jimmy out of jail. Film can look stunning in HD, but the beeb most likely got its cameras from an amateur film club or the fucking skip. Video is good for soap operas aimed at old women, as its smooth fps and steady movement meant it did not strain their delicate, fragile eyes. But since any special effect in Classic Who shouldn't be looked at for more than two seconds, video is fucking useless. Not to mention the majority of the show was filmed on video, so instead of beautiful 1080p Blu Ray releases that some old shows like Batman and Star Trek can get, we're stuck with DVD's where the Restoration Team (god bless them) have to go hand over foot in making it look somewhat presentable. British TV is great.
Eventually, shit changed. Video cameras became lighter, cheaper, and easier to lug around. Film's day on Doctor Who ended, and for the duration of the 1980s the show was in video only. This is why it looks so cheap, along with the sets, the props, the costumes, the direction, the special effects, and the acting and writing.
Video and Film: ReduxEdit
- ... but times change, and so must I.
The past never goes away, it just builds up. In 1996, Doctor Who made its triumphant return to the airwaves, and it was shit. Thankfully, though, this shit was filmed in beautiful downtown Vancouver, on glamorous 35mm film, so it looks exactly like the good seasons of The X-Files. Unfortunately however, the CGI and editing was done on video, so we'll never have a proper HD version of the movie because the BBC/Fox are too cheapskate to pay for a HD transfer and re-rendering the effects. Even so, film-transferred-to-video usually looks better than plain video So, while the substance was unsightly, the style was delightful. Alas, it was not to last.
Just a short decade or so later, in 2005, Doctor Who made its triumphant return to the airwaves, and it was shit. Unfortunately, this time it was shot in Cardiff, on hideous modern digital video processed cheaply to look like film, so it looks exactly like the bad seasons of Eastenders. So, while the substance is delightful, the style is unsightly. And, to make things worse, Davies rubbed "special cream" over the lens.
Eventually, the steel grasp Davies had locked around the program's throat loosened and he was replaced by the Grand Moff. As part of the handoff (and a general change in how TV was broadcast in the late 2000s, early 2010s), Doctor Who is now shot on HD video, which still doesn't look like film but at least has the pixels to justify a jacked up bluray release.
Come the 50th and even wilder changes arrived. The Day of the Doctor was shot in 3D digital video and screened in theaters as part of a worldwide celebration. Of course, if you didn't see it in the theater, than all that nonsense about the paintings being 3D was lost on you.
Much to the shock of anybody who wasn't paying attention, Series 9 apparently went with IMAX Digital Video, of all things. Why? So they could screen it in theaters, like Game of Thrones? BBC, you're crazy.
Because the BBC uses numerous, very cheap brands of cameras when shooting Doctor Who, the series remains strictly non-Canon.