2014 Program Abstracts

Posted on Aug 14, 2014 | Comments Off on 2014 Program Abstracts

Thursday . August 22

Friday .  9:15am
Large Format Scanning and Recording: Archiving 65mm Restoration Titles on Film
Andrew Oran, FotoKem

Although 65/70mm production was historically limited, films created in large format are often significant economically and artistically, and are in need of restoration. Today, film-to-film restoration of large-format celluloid media is considered inadequate because analogue replication methods do not address many of the problems of film negative. It has become the customary to scan 65mm negative at high resolution in order to digitally restore the image, and then to record the restored data back to film to create an archival film element.

Archiving restored 65mm data on film poses unique challenges. There is no 65mm black-and- white archival film stock, and no active 65mm black and white film processor, so the traditional YCM color separations are not an option. There is only one 65mm film recorder in the world dedicated to 65mm/5perf film recording, and its CRT technology is distinctly “old school.” Still, it is possible, with proper calibration, preparation, and some judiciously placed rubber bands, to create truly archive- worthy 65mm film records of new 65mm sourced 4K film restorations. This presentation will touch on resolution and color space issues relating to the process, and will include 4K DCP, 70mm original negative and 70mm digital negative print representations of the same content, to compare and contrast the imaging realities of the various formats when reproducing the same content. Recent work on Lawrence of Arabia and My Fair Lady will be discussed.

Friday . 10:00am
A Holistic Approach to Digital Preservation – Data on Film
Rune Bjerkestrand, Bjorn Brudeli, Piql AS

An EU-funded industrial consortium (“Archivator”) was set up in mid-2009 with the aim of developing a reliable, secure, cost-effective long-term digital preservation solution using photosensitive polyester film, a very stable material that remains unchanged for centuries in optimal conservation conditions.

After years of research, the project has resulted in a unique solution for digital preservation, offered to the market as Preservation Services. As a result, two new industrial consortiums were set up; one focusing on developing a high-resolution photosensitive film, processing equipment and primary packaging with the longevity properties and other special requirements of long-term preservation. The other consortium focuses on developing an automated storage system for preservation purposes, with longevity-tested secondary packaging. The result of these three consortia is a turnkey solution designed specifically with the requirements of digital preservation in mind. All elements will have undergone extensive testing to ensure longevity is sustained under normal storage conditions (temperature and humidity requirements). The technology is flexible and open, but has the potential of offering a fully integrated and future-proof solution. The solution converts photosensitive film into a digital storage medium and this presentation will detail the technological requirements and innovations required for this process.

Friday . 11:00am
Audio Restoration in a 4K World — A Fundamental Divergence?
Moderator: Robert Heiber, Deluxe Media-Chace Audio
Jim Houston, Starwatcher Digital
Andrea Kalas, Paramount Pictures
Michael Pogorzelski, Academy Film Archive
John Polito, Audio Mechanics
Chris Reynolds, Deluxe Media Chace Audio

The development and adoption of imaging and visual restoration tools at 4k resolution is revealing a fundamental disparity between image and audio capture technologies for legacy media.  This problem is often compounded by audio elements of less than optimal quality.  The superior image results now achieved by mastering in 4k for exhibition in Ultra High-Definition (UHD), digital cinema (DCP) and other high resolution formats, are in some cases simply able to “outshine” the results achieved by audio restoration for these motion pictures.

To develop this discussion, examples will be shown that illustrate the fundamental limitations of legacy audio elements and how these technical constraints play into the restoration results achieved by engineers, archivists and restoration professionals.  Discussion will also cover the current state-of-the-art for high resolution scanning techniques, workflows and software that support 4k and UHD-level image restoration. This will be compared with workflows and technologies currently used in audio restoration to explore whether there are solutions that might yield further improvement in audio processing.

Friday . 2:00pm
The Exile (1915, Hungary) – Case Study Restoration of a Silent Film
Seth Berkowitz, Cineric, Inc.

In 2011, EYE Film Institute and the Hungarian National Film Archive enlisted Cineric to perform a test restoration of a reel of a silent Hungarian film from 1915 entitled A Tolonc (The Exile). The young director of this film, Mihály Kertész, would have a successful career in Europe and then emigrate to Hollywood where, as Michael Curtiz, he became one of the most successful film artists of his generation, directing Academy Award-winning classics including Casablana and Mildred Pierce.

The source material for the restoration was a tinted nitrate print that proved a challenge both to scan and restore, with wandering frame lines and a constantly warped and smearing image. The methods used to capture and then rehabilitate the picture will be demonstrated, and the restored reel of A Tolonc (The Exhile) will be screened with piano accompaniment by Michael Mortilla.

Friday . 2:30pm
Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari – The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari  (1920)
Screening of The Murnau-Stiftung’s new tinted restoration – 4K DCP provided by Anke Wilkening
Musical accompaniment by Michael Mortilla

The presence of European motion pictures on U.S. screens waned during World War I, but in 1921, the sensational Caligari signaled the resurgence of German cinema. Caligari displayed a new and unseen kind of visual creativity – Expressionismus –  supported by a rapidly evolving technical capability on the part of German film technicians.  This meticulous new restoration, an initiative of Murnau Stiftung, originated with a nitrate negative and took full advantage of the possibilities of digital restoration.

Friday . 4:15pm
Colorspaces – Why We Need Them and How They are Used in Cinema Today
Bill Baggelaar, Sony Pictures Entertainment
The first modern, mathematically defined color spaces – RGB and XYZ – were defined by the International Commission on Illumination (CIE) in 1931. A color space maps a range of physically produced colors to an objective description of color sensations registered in the eye, typically in terms of tri-stimulus values. The  tri-stimulus values associated with a color can be understood as the amounts of three primary colors in a tri-chromatic additive color model.

With digital cameras becoming more prevalent in cinema, we are now dealing with original source data that is being captured in a variety of color spaces, but all have to be finished and delivered to a small set of colorspaces for distribution. We will describe some of the more common ones and explain how the mastering process is changing the way that we archive our content for future use.

Friday . 4:45pm
Color Fidelity & Extended Dynamic Range in Color Separations
Alex Hernandez, Colorworks

Color Fidelity & Extended Dynamic Range in Color Separations will examine the evolutionary steps that are taking place in the production of three- strip film separations. With the rise of digital camera in the feature production regime, a significant new set of issues arise.  Multiple camera resolutions and color workflows need to be conformed to a single data resource with consistent resolution and bit depth. The grain of the separation element must be reconciled with the grain-less image from the digital camera. And increasingly, whether the separation data comes from a scan of a legacy film negative or from a high dynamic range digital production, the separations must be able to capture an extended gamut of color with unprecedented accuracy. Today, three-strip color separation provides a superior alternative to single strip negative, and offers a long-term, high quality system for retention of moving images that can supplement the digital archive. This presentation will detail the digital separation work flow and compare examples of various recombined images, from digital and film-originated productions in the visual context of the original media.

Friday . 5:15pm
Capture Restore and Save:  Using MXF and SQL for Analogue Video Archives
Bruno George

In the course of developing a format-agnostic, independent magnetic tape reader project, it became evident that the ability to capture voltages, massively oversampled at the heads, was now within reach.  Based on that realization, a format-dependent, measurement-based archive was developed in which data are captured in real time and stored in an SQL database. The outcomes of the process are voltages read directly from the video tape.  For monitoring and QC, a software “check video” from the database is created to verify color quality, audio fidelity, and sharpness.

The archiving of analogue video images has always been limited by the compromises inherent in how the platform (tape deck) is used as a playback device. Thus, this new process is focused on a solution to address compromises inherent in image-based video archiving.  The process faithfully preserves and archives data from video tape using established industry and legacy standards.  The workflow and interface provides ease of access and extensibility resulting in maximized asset utility.  The archives are built in SQL, using a schema derived from the SMPTE Standard 377M, Material Exchange File Format. This combination was chosen for two reasons.  First, maintaining an ANSI compliant SQL database is the most stable way to preserve the accessibility of the archive in the future, and second, using well-established, industry standard schema provides a base that is easily appended as requirements change or additional materials become available for archive, such as scripts, edit lists, source reels, and sound elements.

The preliminary results of this process have been very encouraging, and the focus of the work has shifted towards providing deployable versions of the prototype.

Saturday . August 23

Saturday. 9:15am
Restoration of the Apu Trilogy
Michael Pogorzelski, Academy Film Archive
Lee Kline, Criterion
Chris Zembower, Criterion
Davide Pozzi, L’Immagine Ritrovata

The Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray is considered to be among the most important achievements in the very rich and diverse tradition of Indian cinema. But when Criterion set out to remaster the three films of the trilogy  – Pather Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar, there was no indication of how difficult the task would be.  The films were beautifully shot in black-and-white by Subrata Mitra, Ray’s great cinematographer, but have long been available only in low quality video editions and rare 35mm prints.

This presentation will talk about the preservation program for these films conducted in the 1990’s by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which included the devastating fire at a film laboratory in 1993 that damaged or destroyed a number of negatives.  There were no technologies available in 1993 capable of restoring the deeply damaged film elements.  When this current Ray remastering project was initiated, these materials were revisited. Many portions were indeed burned to ash.  Nevertheless, some of the negative had survived, and after further inspection and consultation with the Academy Film Archive, the fragments were consigned to Bologna’s Immagine Ritrovata, where technicians rehydrated the film, painstakingly fixed the sprockets and other physical damage, and made 4k wet gate scans of  the remaining reels for all three films. This work required hundreds of hours of exacting and meticulous hand labor by expert film preparators. Using fine grain masters and duplicate negatives from Janus Films, the Academy and the BFI, suitable replacements were made for the non-usable or missing sections of the original negatives. To control costs, a workflow developed for a previous project (A Hard Day’s Night) was deployed.

The presentation will be in four sections: outlining the importance of the films, the 1994 preservation project, the phase of detailed film repair and scanning, and the 4k workflow that made this project economically feasible.

Saturday . 10:30am
Stormy Weather (1943) – A Case Study in Sound Restoration
John Polito, Audio Mechanics

Considered one of the best Hollywood musicals, Stormy Weather (1943) is a showcase of some of the top performers of the time. The all-African-American cast (including Lena Horne, Bill Robinson, Cab Calloway, Katherine Dunham, Fats Waller, the Nicholas Brothers and many others) delivers one show-stopping performance after another in a retrospective look at the career of dancer Bill Williamson, played by Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.  One of many highlights is the famous Nicholas Brothers’ “Jumpin’ Jive” dance number at the end of the movie that was shot in one take.

Existing soundtracks for Stormy Weather exhibited low fidelity and distortion during the musical numbers atypical of a well-made 1940’s optical track.  Fortunately, 20th Century – Fox had preserved the push-pull optical tracks containing the original music recording sessions and they proved to be a substantially superior audio resource.  However, this material proved to be challenging insofar as they were in the form of individual tracks that had to be re-edited and re-mixed to match the film.  The music cue sheets containing the “roadmap” of which takes were used in the film were lost.  What at first appeared to be a simple remixing project quickly escalated in complexity. This presentation will outline  the workflow and challenges to restoring this  classic American musical, and will include before-and-after clips demonstrating the fidelity improvements that were achieved.

Saturday . 11:30am
Restoration of Dictabelt Recordings  –  The Bing Crosby Project
Allan Falk, Post Haste Sound
Eric Dosch, Post Haste Sound
Robert Bader, Bing Crosby Enterprises

Many of the most significant audio recordings were made on Dictabelt machines. A Dictabelt machine recorded the police department radio channels in Dallas during the John F. Kennedy assassination, and when Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as President of the United States aboard Air Force One on the tarmac at the Dallas airport, the only available recording device was a Dictabelt machine Kennedy had used in the aircraft. Nelson Mandela’s historic “… for these principles I am prepared to die!” speech was also recorded on a Dictabelt, used by the South African judicial system as court transcription recorders.

Bing Crosby was an avid early adopter of technology. He began using the Dictabelt method to record spoken voice in 1945, two years before the machine became commercially available. Over the years, Bing dictated thousands of letters and memos, in addition to documenting conversations. A group of recordings made between Bing Crosby and an official biographer came to the attention of the PBS series American Masters. Letters dictated to various celebrities, artists, and luminaries of the time also became a focus of interest. The decision was made by Bing Crosby Enterprises to transfer and restore these one-of–a-kind recordings, which have been unplayable for decades, and this was the genesis the Dictabelt restoration project conducted at Post Haste Sound.  This presentation will detail the technical hurdles involved in this project.

Saturday . 12:15pm
The Speed of Cinema I – The Digital Projection of Silent Films
Jonathan Erland, Composite Components

Even before the advent of digital projection, the presentation of silent era films entailed substantial difficulty. Conversion to the conventional sound speed of twenty-four frames per second produced woefully inadequate results. Simply speeding the projection from the teens to sound speed distorted the cadence or “temporal ambiance” of the scene (though this was sometimes precisely what was intended for the original production!). Optical step-printing, while correcting the “pace,” introduced visual artifacts, which were accentuated when films intended for 16, 18, or 22 frames per second were projected at standard sound speed (there is an additional problem introduced when silent film is transferred to video at 24, 25 or 30 frames per second). None of the available options, from frame interpolation to virtual scene reconstruction yield acceptable results. Although some 16mm and 35mm projectors are capable of projecting 18 frames per second, the end of the film era is upon us, and film projection will generally not be an option. It is certain that most viewing of silent film will be in digital media. In addition to these critical weaknesses in the display of fixed-frame rate films, we understand the speed of capture and projection sometimes varied within a single film, and none of the available techniques address that factor. Therefore, The Digital Projection of Archival Films Project was created as an ad hoc special interest group with the goal of facilitating the digital projection of archive films in their original frame-rates and with the inclusion of projector shutter periods as appropriate in each case. “The Speed of Cinema I” will demonstrate the current progress of this consortium towards the adaptation of digital cinema projection to the full range of speeds necessary to display silent films of every era at their correct speed.

Saturday . 2:15pm
The Speed of Cinema II: Creative Frame Rates: the Past, Present and Future of Cinema
Jonathan Erland, Composite Components

The second part of the presentation builds upon the concepts and demonstrations of the silent film projection research.  While closely related (we’re exploiting similar attributes of new technology), “Speed of Cinema II” addresses the larger question of the creative importance of frame rate variations as well as other aspects of manipulations of the image display. It follows up on the issues we introduced at The Reel Thing two years ago and makes extensive use of our growing library of demonstration material. While the first section addresses the mechanics of variable frame rates in digital projection, the second explores how we perceive moving images, and confronts received notions such as “persistence of vision” with recent discoveries. It challenges the notion that we need a single, standard frame rate –  i.e. 24, 36, 48, 60, frames per second – for all films, or even across a single film, and invokes evolving technology that will permit much greater flexibility and freedom with respect to frame rate, reminiscent of our early film heritage.

“Speed of Cinema II” reviews technical methods and aesthetic effects of frame rate manipulations of the past and present, and reveals options made possible by the advances in digital imaging for future production. . If different frame rates are superior for different types of scenography, why shouldn’t the director be able to deploy frame rate as an aesthetic choice, rather than accept a fixed standard for all scenes, all films? This presentation makes the case for the restoration of some of the lost palette of the silent-era cinematographer, augmented by today’s technology.

Saturday. 4:15pm
Scanners, Scanning and the Future of Legacy Film in the Digital Era
Moderated by Bill Baggelaar, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Stefan Demetrescu, Lasergraphics
Sean Coughlin, Deluxe
Simon Lund, Cineric
Paul Korver, Cinelicious
Craig Nichols, Prasad – DFT
Jim Houston, Starwatcher Digital
A significant part of asset management and archival work today consists of adapting to a world where film emulsions, printing and processing are increasingly scarce and costly. Many predict the complete disappearance of film in the next few years. But even if film survives, the primary modes of access to our historical motion picture legacy will be through digital devices, whether in theaters, mobile devices or the home. The pathway to digital from film depends on a very specific device: the scanner. Today’s scanners are highly evolved, mission-specific instruments that are approaching the ability to extract all of the significant data in a frame of film. The importance of this equipment and its continued development for the future of archives and film libraries, whether from a business perspective or for cultural or academic reasons, cannot be underestimated. This year, we have convened a panel of experts including manufacturers and users to discuss the state of scanning. Issues such as throughput and productivity, workflow decisions for image processing, the emergence of ACES, high-dynamic range (extended gamut) color and the coming 8k resolution requirement will all be on the table. Panelists representing different technical approaches to image acquisition will describe some of the theoretical limits of current technology, and look to future solutions that may emerge to address these challenges