Deconstructing Double Switch

Part 2 of this blog: Recreating Double Switch.

Part 3 of this blog: Composing Double Switch.

Part 4 of this blog: Publishing Double Switch.

Related post: Project NEMO And the Unfortunate Demise of FMV Games

Very much in the spirit of Dave Voyles blog Deconstructing Night Trap, I’ve started a similar project for Double Switch. The trials and tribulations of such an endeavour are documented here.

Please note, at this stage I’m merely decoding video clips, and personally have no coding skill whatsoever. I’m certainly no Dave Voyles!

IMG_0028

Sega games were my childhood. The Sega CD was my teens. I can’t tell you how many hours I must have spent playing the game Night Trap. Not only playing it but writing down the times, documenting the storyline and creating sequences for the perfect run. I was eleven years old. Without connecting too many dots, it’s easy to see why I ended up working in TV as a Director. I even work on the reality show Big Brother UK, watching 46 cameras and following the action. The image below shows a one room covered by every angle, and that’s not including the camera crews behind the 60+ two-way mirrors…

Big Brother Reality Gallery Screens

Night Trap, Sewer Shark, Double Switch and Ground Zero Texas were all I ever played. Non stop. Day after day. 23 years later that Night Trap guitar rift still gives me goose bumps. And the scene is still interested in those games. Earlier this year an almost unknown Kickstarter project started, and sadly failed by reaching only 12% of their financial goal. The original team behind Night Trap were looking for funds to port all the original 35mm footage to file and re-release the game in “HD”; Night Trap ReVamped.

I, and many others, got to the project too late. And it feels like those involved took it as a kick in the teeth, despite the love still going for such a thing to happen.

(I should mention at this stage that I collect movie props and production paperwork. I managed to get my hands on an original Digital Pictures baseball cap. And knowing that a copy of the production script and behind the scenes stills for Night Trap existed as a Kickstarter Tier absolutely breaks my heart! They exist, and I can’t get them!!)

I began to dig deeper about the potential re-release and joined the Night Trap Facebook page. This community is very much still alive and kicking, and recently a post appeared to show how Night Trap could potentially be ported and played via a website. And this got me onto the path of Deconstructing Double Switch. IMG_0028 The first thing to be done was get all the footage that’s currently available in the best resolution possible. The game was released on Sega CD, Saturn, PC and allegedly Mac (though I can’t seem to find any evidence of this!). The best footage at this stage should be the Saturn version, 15fps v the Sega CDs 12fps, but there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to access the Saturn video files. Long story short, the only way I can think to get this footage would be to emulate the Saturn and play through the game. The downside to this is that any overlays to the game would be visible, and it wouldn’t be a true copy of the digital files, nor would it be complete clips beginning to end of shot. I’d also need to play the game dozens of times to capture every clip. I’m not going ahead with screen capturing at this stage, but it may happen in the future if necessary.

However, there is a tool which can read Sega CD “.SGA” files and convert them from disc to AVI movies. Annoyingly the Saturn discs contain a similar file structure with .SGA files, but sadly the SCAT tool doesn’t read them. This could be something to do with the increased frame rate, palette or resolution. I’m yet to find an answer.

An issue with using SCAT for the Sega CD files is that the video is ultra poor quality, coming in at a resolution approximately 192 x 138 with a colour palette of only 64. This isn’t the problem of the tool itself, merely the mangled and destroyed footage created by Sega in order for the hardware of the Sega CD to decode (some of the details of which I’ve written about in this blog post: “Project NEMO and the Demise of FMV games“). The other stumbling block I’ve come across is that the SCAT tool saves the AVI files with debug info on the video.

dsegg

The debug info isn’t too much of a problem as this can be cropped off during any future conversion from AVI to MP4. But then the audio seems to slip too. I think this may be to do with frame rates? And there currently isn’t a way to adjust the AVI frame rate when the file is saved via SCAT. The only other way, which is massively inconvenient, is to export every frame separately as a PNG Image Sequence, save the WAV separately, and then re-combine the sequence at 12fps in Quicktime 7.

This is hugely time consuming and not as straight forward as I had hoped. The folder structure for the 155 video clips and all the PNG files required is mind boggling to say the least. But at present, this is what is required. Till someone comes up with a better batch-convert answer…

IMG_0028

Updated:

23rd July 2015 18:00 100% video files converted- 155/155 files

Part 2 of this blog: Recreating Double Switch.

Part 3 of this blog: Composing Double Switch.

Part 4 of this blog: Publishing Double Switch.

Related post: Project NEMO And the Unfortunate Demise of FMV Games

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About Mercian Media

My name is Alex, and I work in the Film and TV industry. I work freelance for various employers on several shows including Big Brother, Celebrity Big Brother, Sky News, Sky Sports, London Live, Bloomberg and QVC. All views are my own.

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