It's regularly hailed as the best TV show ever to grace our screens, but The Wire's standard definition, 4:3 formatting looks a bit ropey by today's standards. David Simon's crime drama is getting a HD, widescreen remake, set to air next year, but the show's production team has had to get a bit creative filling in the blanks either side of the original shots. CGI additions are coming to The Wire.
As Simon explains on his blog, "additions" is perhaps the wrong way to describe the computer generated components of the remaster. The original show footage had originally been shot in widescreen, but had been framed for the 4:3 format. So while the widescreen footage already exists, it can be peppered with things we as viewers were never meant to see -- members of the crew, lighting rigs, bemused members of the public and the like. The CGI efforts employed in the makeover sound more like a Photoshop touch-up in this respect, removing elements to maintain the illusion of reality.
As well as the CGI elements, Simon admitted that some shots may have had to be re-cropped from the original footage, as the widescreen format means that some scenes lose the intended intimacy they once had at the 4:3 size.
The decision to stick with 4:3 as the show first aired in 2002 (when so many other shows were already using 16:9 as the standard) was an easy one to make, according to Simon -- it was simply cheaper. Having lost The Wire's late co-creator and producer Bob Colesberry, responsible for defining the show's look before HBO eventually offered to foot the bill for HD/16:9 episodes, for continuity's sake the team continued with Colesberry's original vision.
If you're looking to watch the remastered episodes of The Wire, they will air on the US HBO Signature channel from Boxing Day. It'll also be available on the network's HBO Go streaming platform, so get your VPN prepped accordingly. [DavidSimon.com]