The Art of Film Restoration

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ellipsis7
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 1:56 pm
Location: Dublin

The Art of Film Restoration

#1 Post by ellipsis7 » Thu Jun 05, 2008 5:50 am

just a side note - Warners are attempting a 6K resolution restoration on A STAR IS BORN!...
'Star' to be born in new light
Warner Bros. restoring George Cukor's 1954 film
By Carolyn Giardina

Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging is restoring George Cukor's 1954 "A Star Is Born" in 6K resolution.

The film, starring Judy Garland and James Mason, is believed to be the first restoration project where the scanning, restoration work and mastering will be completed at that resolution.

Digital film restoration is most commonly accomplished at 2K, though an increasing number have been using 4K. A 4K file contains four times as much picture information -- measured in pixels -- as a 2K file, and 6K contains 2 1/4 times as much as a 4K file.

Ned Price, vp mastering, Warner Bros. Technical Operations, said that the facility's reason to go to higher resolution was because "The original camera negative contains more information than 2K, though 2K is today's typical display resolution. But we anticipate higher display resolution in the future. So we are attempting to preserve the asset, rather than just create an element for exhibition."

The key goal of the project is preservation, but the restored version of the film will also eventually be released on Blu-ray Disc and standard DVD.

"There has been photochemical work done on this particular title, but with new digital tools we are able to retrieve the original color balance of the faded negative in a way that we could not reproduce photochemically," Price said. "We made film preservation elements since the film had differential fading, meaning ... the edges of the film had more oxygen and deteriorated quicker. By scanning it, we're able to get a completely flat field of color."

Numerous restoration industry leaders share the belief that the community needs to step up to a resolution higher than 2K for restoration and preservation. Still, opinions vary, as more storage and bandwidth is needed to handle these larger files, which along with cost, is a challenge.

"6K is typically a costly proposition, so that's why we are testing the waters on 'A Star is Born,' " Price said. "As the size of data is more easily managed and the tools become more accessible, we will increase our resolution."

Restoration of "A Star Is Born" is expected to take four to six months. Said Price: "Our expectation is that the restoration would live for easily 100 years."

Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging, the studio's digital post and restoration facility, has recently restored such titles as "Bonnie and Clyde," "Dirty Harry," "Cool Hand Luke" and "How the West Was Won."

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HerrSchreck
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

#2 Post by HerrSchreck » Thu Jun 05, 2008 6:50 am

Sure-- fuck the Seastrom Sjostrooms, the Vidors, the Stroeheims; screw Ambersons. Stranger on the Third Floor? Putrid discharge. Chaney TCM box 2, now going on 2 yrs overdue?

You must be clearly this high (EDIT clever photo of melting head unable to tag, never mind) if you think these are "pressing" vintage home video titles.

Far more important at this juncture, a raging emergency even-- upon which hinges (this by a thread) the continued ability among humans to breathe in oxygen and let out carbon dioxide to feed all those plants furchrissakes-- is a 6k edition of A Star Is Born.

Yea Warners! Way to touche' Ford @ Fox and Murnau-Borzage! You sure showed them :roll:
Last edited by HerrSchreck on Thu Jun 05, 2008 7:12 am, edited 2 times in total.

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david hare
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller

#3 Post by david hare » Thu Jun 05, 2008 7:03 am

Ellips - forgive me, but Ned Price (the master of The Searchers, and its totally appalling color timing, etc) is Jetzoning in on "faded prints" etc for the Cukor. ??? What else is he doing for the history?

I am totally sick and tired of this shitty reinvention of old prints and remakes, and the minute their people start talking restoration I wanna walk away Sounds too much like denew religion to me babe.

Not impressed by that spiel at ALL.

This is a movie I've seen more than a dozen times in 35mm Scope in IB and whaddevva. I know this move TOO FUCKING WELL. Who is he trying to kid? I've already made the point about the insert shots from the 83 resto which look great and are indeed original IB printing shots, and the rest of the fucking movie in its currently horrible Eastman print.

Oh Christ this is all too depressing...

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HerrSchreck
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

#4 Post by HerrSchreck » Thu Jun 05, 2008 7:16 am

Orange "I quit DVDs" Crush should be pleased with
Said Price: "Our expectation is that the restoration would live for easily 100 years."
So unless he lives past 118 yrs old, double dipping shouldnt be a threat..

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ellipsis7
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 1:56 pm
Location: Dublin

#5 Post by ellipsis7 » Thu Jun 05, 2008 7:27 am

I get your point, David, it's like CGI, it looks fine now, but give a few years and the technology and resolution has developed further, so all the not-so-old films look crappy in comparison... Same with digital restoration- today's 'state of the art' is tomorrow's 'heritage format' (as the BBC would have it)....

I just hope they're preserving the film elements... Looking at CC's wonderful THIEF OF BAGDAD, and the great optical effects (maybe a few edges on the blue screen work, but so what)... Can't be beaten...

Latest wheeze in Irish film/tv production is Super 35mm - as you know, a production format using larger image area because not leaving room for a soundtrack, meaning you transfer & edit digitally, but whether you then master from that or more traditionally neg cut, it's OK if you want to end on a digital tape or disc format for TV or DVD, but if you're headed into theatres (where you do need space for the soundtrack) you have to go all the extra intermediate stages (optically) with resultant quality loss to get it back on Standard 35mm, or do a digital to standard 35mm transfer... I mean what's the matter with good old standard 35mm...

Nuff said!...

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david hare
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
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#6 Post by david hare » Thu Jun 05, 2008 7:45 am

Dude the perfect example is Ned's The Searchers.

It is basically - umm - hideous. I LOATHE it. (Tippy to Rod Taylor in the Birds, etc)

I have absolutely nothing charitable to say about it, or his work on it.

For all that goddam work on photochem resto they then totally fuck up color timing and balance. As though they were personally fucking insulted by the origanal IB answer prints with their ochres and blues. Also because they perceive "defects" in the layers of their workprint.

OH God I gotta gottagedoudda here. These people are too much.

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MichaelB
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
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James White on digital restoration

#7 Post by MichaelB » Fri Mar 15, 2013 5:18 am

I'm honestly not sure what the best forum would be to post this, but this is a lengthy, fascinating interview with James White (in email conversation with Glenn Kenny), the man responsible for most of the BFI's DVD and BD releases from 2002-11, plus a great many Masters of Cinema and Arrow titles since. He was the technical supervisor of all my own DVD/BD projects as producer, and I'd work with him again in a heartbeat - so to say that I trust his judgement is something of an understatement.

And I doubt anyone here would disagree with his guiding philosophy:
In a nutshell, my criterion is to represent the film in as close an approximation to how it originally appeared on screens as possible. More than being just a technical preference though, I view it as a true responsibility that I wish everyone would take very seriously. Which is why I'm disappointed when Gaumont chooses to apply a headache-inducing level of de-graining to Les Enfants du Paradis. Or when Hammer chooses to replace the original optical effects in The Devil Rides Out with new, "modern-day" digital versions. Or when so many recent restorations of classic films coming out of Italy are digitally sharpened to the point of resembling a Playstation game. Or when Pathe choose to put Le Samourai through so much image processing that each frame of Alain Delon in his raincoat and fedora end up resembling an oil painting more than anything captured on film. These are extreme examples, but there are plenty of others. Given the expense of restoring a film, practices like these should be actively discouraged, as the results will likely be the only means of seeing that particular film title for years to come. Considering the fact that the use of celluloid is quickly vanishing as we speak, and that very soon simply being able to project 35mm will be a thing of the past, it's essential that the tangible, textural look of celluloid is preserved properly and accurately.
And this bit is arguably even more pertinent:
There's no real substitute for having the original talent in the suite with you while you're working on these films. Unfortunately when working on older films this just isn't possible a lot of the time, so it's imperative that one has a real understanding of a film's history and the way it's supposed to look and sound. One of the alarming aspects of the expanse of digital technology is that more and more people entering this industry will have had virtually no hands-on film experience. How is one supposed to accurately restore a film if one doesn't understand the photochemical properties of the medium? Small decisions can have an enormous impact on a way of film is represented, and those decisions need to be informed ones.

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