Program Abstracts

Posted on Aug 12, 2015 | Comments Off on Program Abstracts


The Dawn of Technicolor
David Pierce, Media History Digital Library
James Layton, Museum of Modern Art

At its peak during the golden age of Hollywood, Technicolor gave filmmakers the ability to create a heightened world of color that could exist only in the movies. From its founding 100 years ago, Technicolor had to convince producers that the addition of color was worth the extra difficulty and cost, and prove its process could enhance the industry’s most important productions, despite countless technical challenges.

“The Dawn of Technicolor, 1915-1935,” by James Layton and David Pierce, is the first detailed history of the company’s formative years, published by George Eastman House in February 2015. Layton and Pierce’s presentations on the early history of Technicolor use rare photographs and internal documentation from the Technicolor corporate archive alongside 35mm and digital video clips from rarely-seen films held by archives and studios. Prints and clips courtesy of the Library of Congress, the British Film Institute, NBCUniversal, Warner Bros. and UCLA Film and Television Archive.

The Origins of Technicolor – Engineering Color for Hollywood
David Pierce, Media History Digital Library
James Layton, Museum of Modern Art

The Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation incorporated in 1915, with the goal of developing a commercially viable two-color process. Technicolor’s engineers first approach was used for the in-house production The Gulf Between, produced in Florida in 1917, and given a limited release. Following this, Technicolor’s co-founder Herbert T. Kalmus, focused on servicing the commercial film industry by convincing the studios of color’s creative and box office potential, as well as fostering relationships with prominent filmmakers, including Cecil B. DeMille and Douglas Fairbanks. Highlights include behind-the-scenes production accounts of the Technicolor photography on Ben-Hur (1925), The Black Pirate (1926), and The Mysterious Island (1929).

Technicolor and Early Musicals
James Layton, Museum of Modern Art
David Pierce, Media History Digital Library

Many early musicals were produced in Technicolor during a burst of creativity in 1929 and 1930, following the highly popular Warner Bros. hits On With the Show (1929) and Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929). The market for color musicals crashed in 1930, but not before the very production of several excellent films—King of Jazz (1930), Whoopee! (1930) and Follow Thru (1930)—and the unreleased The March of Time (1930). This presentation focuses on the technical challenges of producing films in color so soon after the industry adopted sound, and the role that Technicolor’s technical limitations played in the failure of color during the short-lived musicals boom.

DIASTOR’s Approach to Restoring Film Colors
Barbara Flueckiger, University of Zurich

Funded by the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI), the Swiss research project DIASTOR is an applied interdisciplinary project. It combines film-historical knowledge and restoration ethics with advanced research in IT provided by Disney Research Zurich and the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich and connects it to the technological expertise of Swiss service providers and engineering companies. The goal is to offer custom-tailored solutions that bridge the gap between analog film history and digital technology.

During the two year funding period 2013-2015, DIASTOR developed non-destructive, scalable solutions for a variety of film materials in different conditions and for diverse color processes, with a special focus on improving the scanning and rendition of film colors such as Technicolor, Dufaycolor, Agfacolor—and faded chromogenic colors in general, as well as early applied colors such as tinting and toning. DIASTOR created and applied a variety of interdisciplinary approaches to not only establish scientifically based work-flows, but also to investigate a wide range of methods for color analysis and documentation.

Very recently, Barbara Flueckiger has received the highly prestigious “Advanced Grant” from the European Research Council for further research on film colors, including their digitization and restoration. This project aims at a systematic investigation of the relationship between the technology and aesthetics of film colors. In this talk she will also give an outlook into the planned research activities of this project.  Research Project DIASTOR;  Timeline of Historical Film Colors; ERC Advanced Grant FilmColors.

ACES 1.0: Is your archive ready?
Alex Forsythe, AMPAS Science and Technology Council

The Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) is a becoming the industry standard for digital image interchange, color management and long-term archiving. In development for over ten years, ACES has been successfully used on many motion pictures and television shows. ACES 1.0, the first production-ready release of the system, was finalized in December, 2014, and is being integrated into products from over 20 manufacturers. Key components of the system are specified in five SMPTE standards, with more on the way.

This presentation will describe foundational ACES concepts and technologies, SMPTE standards, and new standardization work on ACES profiles for MXF (Material eXchange Format) and IMF (Interoperable Master Format) that will enable long-term preservation of moving image content created using ACES.

Titel: Using a Film Annotation Tool as Part of the Film Restoration Process
Pawel Smietanka – Filmoteka Narodowa
Franz Höller – HS-ART Digital

In the NITROFILM project, carried out by the Filmoteka Narodowa in Poland, 42 feature films have been fully annotated using the DIAMANT-Film Annotator. Background information about the whole annotation process and the resulting reports and documentations will be shown. A defect annotation vocabulary has been created and is available as annotation profile. We will also show in detail the tool support of the annotation work and how to create metadata reports. The use of the documented film conditions and metadata in the restoration process will be demonstrated. Additionally to the user annotation possibilities of “automatic” annotation of the digital restoration process will be shown.

2-color Technicolor Restoration at YCM Laboratories
Richard Dayton, YCM Laboratories
Eric Aijala, YCM Laboratories

This will be a special screening of two films shot in the early 2-Color Technicolor process.  The first will be of the three 2-color insert sequences from RKO’s 1930 Wheeler & Woolsey comedy “The Cuckoos”, print courtesy of Warner Bros.  The second screening will be a portion of reel 9 from Universal’s 1930 “King of Jazz” (“Happy Feet”), print courtesy NBCUniversal.

For these earlier restoration projects, the original 2-color Technicolor camera negative was used to create two separation positives and from those, dupe negatives.  Composite prints were then struck from the dupe negatives.  For “King of Jazz”, an original Imbibition (“IB”) 2-color print was also used to fill in some sections.

25th Anniversary Tribute to The Film Foundation
Margaret Bodde, Executive Director
Jennifer Ahn, Managing Director

The Film Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1990 dedicated to protecting and preserving motion picture history. By working in partnership with archives and studios, the foundation has helped to restore nearly 700 films, which are made accessible to the public through programming at festivals, museums, and educational institutions around the world. The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project has restored 25 films from 19 different countries representing the rich diversity of world cinema. The foundation’s free educational curriculum, The Story of Movies, teaches young people – over 10 million to date – about film language and history. Join us for a conversation about The Film Foundation with Maragaret Bodde and Jennifer Ahn, which will include clips and a sneak preview of a new restoration.

25th Anniversary Tribute to The Film Foundation:
Restoring Marcel Ophul’s The Memory of Justice
Michael Pogorzelski, AMPAS Film Archive
Heather Linville, AMPAS Film Archive
Jennifer Ahn, The Film Foundation
Kristen Merola, The Film Foundation

The Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation recently completed the digital restoration of the 1976 Marcel Ophul’s documentary The Memory of Justice. This presentation will focus on several aspects of the film and its restoration, including: The production of The Memory of Justice, its acquisition by Paramount Pictures, limited distribution, and slide into obscurity; The genesis of the restoration: photochemical tests in 2005 from the only preprint elements known to exist at that time – a 35mm and 16mm CRI;  The problem of music rights and clip rights – the film is filled with sourced music and clips and the clearance for nearly all of them was unknown and created several practical and ethical dilemmas;  The technical challenges posing the team on the image side (once the original 16mm A/B/C/D rolls were found at Paramount);  The technical (and ethical) challenges on the audio side; the original release featured actors overdubbing non-English speaking interviewees; the restoration returned the original recordings of each interviewee; The resulting challenges of creating new sets of subtitles for the 4 ½ hour film.

The presentation will include clips of the original photochemical tests (on 35mm film), short video clips and some before/after as well as complete clips from the restoration projected digitally.

TELECASTLAND – The History, Production and Restoration of “Dateline Disneyland”
Jayson Wall, The Walt Disney Studios

The largest and most ambitious live coast-to-coast television broadcast to date happened on Sunday, July 17th, 1955 when ABC presented to the American public the Grand Opening of Disneyland. Ninety million people watched as 29 cameras covered the unveiling of the 17 million dollar Magic Kingdom built by Walt and Roy Disney in a small town 26 miles south of Los Angeles. Like the building of the park itself, producing a telecast of this size posed huge physical and technical challenges to ABC and their West Coast production team who oversaw the project. The team had to plan and execute this broadcast in less than three months, at a location which was still being constructed up to 90 minutes before airtime.  Once on the air, the program suffered from its share of difficulties, from miscues, sound problems, cameras shutting off due to the high temperatures, and segments that ran longer than expected. At the same time, the park itself was experiencing its own share of opening day drama.

With all the problems on display that Sunday afternoon, both televised and in person, the press gave Disneyland six months before it would close.  Yet within the first month the operational bugs were worked out, and Disneyland welcomed its one millionth guest eight weeks later. Once again, Walt proved the naysayers wrong.  By 1959, Disney and ABC produced another live telecast from Disneyland to promote the opening of three new attractions. All of the technical issues experienced in 1955 were corrected on this broadcast…yet it didn’t capture the magic or excitement a waiting nation had experienced four years before for “Dateline Disneyland.”

This presentation will explore the history of the 1955 broadcast (with rare behind the scenes footage from the Disney vaults), ABC’s involvement and part ownership of the park, the origins of Disneyland, and the 4k restoration of the recently discovered 35mm kinescope negative of this telecast.  Clips courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.

One Button Restoration – Big Data Meets Media Archives
Mike Inchalik, PurePix Images
Alexander Petukhov, University of Georgia
Inna Kozlov, Algosoft Tech USA

In our presentation we will describe a new image processing technology developed for the digital restoration of deteriorated motion picture film and display our resulting images.  After years of research, we have found a way to apply and extend state-of-the-art algorithms used in “big data” analysis into a unique solution for the automatic digital restoration of motion pictures.

This new technology is very important to motion picture archives because up until now, digital restoration has only been practical for a relatively small number of films.  There are massive quantities of content in archives around the world, and without high levels of automation and efficient processing, restoration is beyond the practical timescales and budgets of many.

We will show how new “adaptive” mathematical algorithms avoid the time-consuming cycles of manual fine-tuning and re-processing required by the digital restoration tools we all use today.  These new algorithms do the fine-tuning themselves, and completely automatically.  The algorithms do this very accurately, measuring the levels of grain, flicker, and imperfections for every frame and every color channel before automatically calculating nearly 50 parameters precisely for each shot.  In most cases, this reduces most of today’s complicated digital film restoration processes to a simple click of a single button.

No digital restoration technology is practical if the final levels of grain and other aspects of the “look” are not under the direct control of the archivist who knows the aesthetics that must guide each restoration.  These new algorithms allow just such control, and “after the fact” so that the final appearance of the project can be fine-tuned quickly and easily, after the unwanted artifacts have been removed automatically.

The bulk of our tests to date show that this new technology makes highly automated, high-quality image improvement possible for a very wide spectrum of motion picture footage – from the earliest cinematographic paper prints to footage shot with the latest digital professional and consumer cameras.  These new algorithms are fast too- with processing speeds approaching real-time at 2K when running on powerful NVidia GPUs.

The presentation will provide an overview of the technology, the workflow and share before-after results.

Polyester Mag Deterioration… really?
John Polito, Audio Mechanics

In recent years, Audio Mechanics and Endpoint Audio have been experiencing physical deterioration in full-coat polyester based magnetic film.  This type of deterioration can be very difficult to spot, but very noticeable during audio playback.  John Polito from Audio Mechanics will discuss the issue and demonstrate examples of this potentially problematic condition.

50 and Still Fabulous! Standing For the Future of Analog With Super 8 Film
Rhonda Vigeant, Pro8mm

Since its introduction in 1965, the Super 8 film format has been in continuous use by a wide variety of end users in various applications.  Originally brought to the public as a consumer friendly home movie format, it has evolved significantly over 5 decades as a result of new film stocks, camera modifications and workflows.  Once an integral part of the Film School curriculum to teach students the basics of shooting on film, these students facilitated the format into making its’ way into independent and professional production work for motion pictures, television, commercials, music videos, and new media. Every year many projects continue to be shot on Super 8 film.  Additionally, archival Super 8 footage has a significant place in numerous documentaries, as it represents historic and organic elements of story telling that cannot be duplicated, and this will undoubtedly continue.

In this presentation we will take a look at why the Super 8 Film Format may be the crucial link to the survival of a future of analog filmmaking. We will review the technological milestones that have kept pushing the format to its maximum potential, including the unique cartridge load, the introduction of super 8 sync sound double system in 1972, super 8 negative film introduced in 1993, the Max 8 camera modification for 16 x 9 framing in 2000, and the new LOGMAR Super 8 digi-chanical camera introduced in 2015.  We will also look at the advances in `scanning technology and workflows that make super 8 relevant in production work today.

Who is standing for the future of analog film and why are they using Super 8 film as their vehicle?  Who is willing to pay if forward to preserve the art and technology of motion picture film? If there is to be film the future, we have to commit to teaching new Media Makers entering the industry the basics. Our young clients say they are starving for analog film education that is no longer available in school. They are searching for reliable information and mentors, and are confused by conflicting information that is being perpetuated in film forums on line.  Many understand that some of the most prolific careers in Hollywood were launched from 8mm film cameras. There is awareness that film is the only proven archival medium.  There is an emotional technology to the super 8 format that is at the very heart center of filmmakers and consumers alike.

While there has been much publicity this year surrounding a group of Hollywood Filmmakers making an urgent plea to save film, we will share examples of unknown individuals standing for film in powerful and significant ways, and why we should stand with them to preserve the future of film now.

Special Screening: Road Closed by Robert Frank and Finley Fryer
Laurence Cook, metacirque

This is one of the Super 8mm films shot on an early 1970s cross-country road trip by Finley Fryer and Robert Frank. The films were surreal edits of staged and spontaneous activities, jumping back & forth in time & space. The films are owned by Finley Fryer, who also did the edit. Finley is a painter and sculptor from Northern California, best known for his monumental sculptures at “Burning Man” between 1998 and 2002. He met Robert Frank when Frank was teaching at the University of California at Davis. The two men eventually traveled together across the United States in a pickup truck with a Super 8mm camera. Fryer & Frank switched between shooting and appearing in the films. Road Closed run six and a half minutes and will be projected from a recent digital transfer of the print.

How We Did What We Did With What We Had: An Innovative Approach to Restoring an Incomplete Film
Taylor Whitney, Preserving the Past, LLC
Susan Patrick, Falcon Films

The Prisoner of New Glasgow is a new Falcon Films/Home-Movie-Classics movie shot in 1971 and edited, restored and produced in 2014. From Stephen Spielberg to Rob Lowe to our own Bob Harris, many teenagers “produced” scripted home movies. Preserving The Past has found a niche in making youthful dreams come true for many adults who once dreamed of being filmmakers but went on to other careers—choosing “the sensible route.” For instance, Curt Markham, now a software programmer, has thousands of feet of film that he produced as a teenager and as a film student at NYU and Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Curt shot a feature length animated film on Super 8 film when he was just 15 years old. As a student at Monroe Community College, (Rochester, NY) Oletha Clifton, now a Business Development Manager, produced a short film depicting stages of life from birth to the grim reaper. This 1978 find features an African-American filmmaker and actors. Ted Hoffman’s 16mm film “Finny Fable” won a home movie contest sponsored by American Cinematographer in 1934; Mr. Hoffman was a sound engineer on Stage 2 at MGM under Douglas Shearer from the 1929-1954 and is credited for inventing the looping process. (Short clips of these films will be screened.) Ryerson University Library, Archives and Special Collections Librarian, Susan Patrick, approached Preserving The Past, LLC in 2006 with approximately 850’ of Super 8 film that she had shot in 1971. Inspired by the 1952 Classics Illustrated Comic “The Prisoner of Zenda” by Anthony Hope, the teenage filmmaker wrote a script, created a storyboard, enlisted family and friends to make costumes, gather props, attend rehearsals and act in the period piece set in 1910 and shot in the Laurentian Mountains just north of Montreal using her K714H Keystone Super 8 movie camera. Initial physical inspection revealed that although the 50’ reels of MOS Kodachrome film had languished in a garage for nearly 40 years, it was in good condition. We contracted Film Technology in Hollywood, California to perform a best-light film transfer after which we were faced with many challenges:   After photographic inspection, consulting with the filmmaker and comparing the digitized footage with the storyboard, it was clear that the film was incomplete—key scenes had never been shot;   Of the scenes that had been shot, many were extremely underexposed, especially those shot in the root cellar that doubled as “the prison cell ” and were so dark it was nearly impossible to see the action;  Susan’s initial intention was to have the film narrated by the main character and record music to accompany the action. However, because the film was never finished, narration and music were never recorded.

Despite these challenges, Susan was determined to complete the film and screen it for family, friends and colleagues. With the completion of the movie in mind and to fill gaps, we shot the main character, now in his 60s, dressed in 1935 attire writing in his diary about his adventures in 1910. This video session was shot in 2006 on Hi-8 video. From 2006 through 2014, the filmmaker shot additional SD video throughout Canada, Europe and the US during her travels. Preserving The Past, LLC supplied newly shot HD footage. A family member supplied additional Super 8 footage that had been poorly transferred to VHS. We also used other 1960s home movie footage featuring the same actors. And fortunately, Susan had over 80 production stills, which we restored and inserted into the timeline to set the scenes. To subtly create a “home movie look” for the new video footage, we scratched, dirtied and digitized clear 35mm leader on the Spirit Datacine using DaVinci color-correction software.

We used this new footage to supplement the story, which is set in the fictitious Balkan country of Arunia. In 2014, the main character (mentioned above) narrated the movie which was recorded in two separate sessions, one on HD-Video and one using an iPhone 6, creating obvious issues with quality and ambient noise. Enlisting artistic license we hired voiceover talent, whose works were recorded using different technology and in four varying locations, and applied sound effects gathered from a variety of sources, presenting their own set of problems. Subsequently, inspired by a 1927 silent short, we decided to use title cards as well as narration, voiceover and sound effects for an innovative approach to silent movies. Preserving The Past, LLC captured the original footage, now on Betacam SP and the various source footage using appropriate legacy video decks and Final Cut Pro. Working together the team began editing the film according to the script, storyboard and the filmmaker’s new vision (realizing the magic of digital editing.) In order to view the dark scenes, we applied color-correction filters, which made them extremely grainy. We knew we would be challenged as to how these scenes would be conveyed to future audiences. Once picture locked, a professional score composed by John Centrone of Rochester, NY solidified the pace, emotion and mood of the film. The team will discuss the challenges of completing an incomplete movie by incorporating 35mm footage, Super 8, Hi-8, VHS, SD Mini-DV, HD Mini-DV, low-resolution digital footage, iPhone footage, and still photography on one timeline. Using Final Cut Pro’s 3-way color-correction and other video filters to manipulate the look and feel of these various formats and perform color-correction on the original film, the end result is a congruent viewing experience. The restoration creates a synergistic film that cohesively tells a story and makes a teenage filmmaker’s dream come true, albeit 40 years later.  This presentation will demonstrate the methodology and workflow and feature before and after video and audio clips.

Content Identification for Audiovisual Archives
Richard W. Kroon, Entertainment Identifier Registry Association

Digital archives exist within a complex global web of interests and agencies with ever-increasing – and often conflicting – demands placed on their limited resources. Issues with work identification confront them during acquisition, reconciliation, and de-duplication of assets obtained from multiple sources. Furthermore, they must accommodate manual workflows and the resulting process delays, volume constraints, and costs of error correction. A curated system of unique, global identification for audiovisual works, their derivative versions, and physical and digital manifestations as provided by the Entertainment Identifier Registry Association (EIDR) can directly address many of these issues and enable the provision of systems and services that address many more. We identify several use case examples, including a federated system for archive search and retrieval, the collection of off-air television broadcasts, and addressing intellectual property rights assertions. Authors of the paper include Richard W. Kroon, Director of Engineering, Entertainment Identifier Registry Association; Raymond Drewry, Principal Scientist, Motion Picture Laboratories; Andrea Leigh, Moving Image Processing Unit Head, Library of Congress; Stephen McConnachie, Head of Data, British Film Institute.

A Case Study Comparing Restoration of Mainstream and Independent Films: Andrzej Wajda’s The Ashes and the Made in Texas shorts presented by Jonathan Demme
Wojtek Janio, Fixafilm

This presentation will explore the similarities and differences between the restoration of mainstream and independent films by comparing the restoration of The Ashes (from Original Camera Negative and Inter-Positive) with the restoration of three Made in Texas short independent films (from release print.)  The presentation will explore many of the often overlooked “reconstruction” efforts that have to be undertaken even before the image restoration can begin on any project.  It will also explore the kinds of imaging problems encountered during this work and the specific tools and inventions that were required to overcome them.  The format of the presentation will be a short case study of each project followed by a recap of the principal similarities and differences.

The Ashes  (“Popioły”)  – directed by Andrzej Wajda (recipient of an honorary Oscar) was originally 234 minutes long, but the film was cut down to 160 minutes for international release, and entered into the Cannes Film Festival in 1966. The restoration also involved another, wider-reaching challenge, as the censors cut the original camera negative in1966 for that re-edit, so the movie had to be reconstructed from remaining low-quality Inter-positive ORWO stock prints. The film had been stored in less than ideal conditions in the Polish National Film Archive. The source material included a lot of flicker, damaged inter-positives and several scenes that had been printed from daily rushes.  Fixafilm meticulously restored and matched the image structure of this challenging range of sources, allowing 150 minutes of the original camera negative footage to be saved, using only 85 minutes from the inter-positive print. To restore and preserve the image quality, Fixafilm had to create new processes and use a huge number of restoration tools and techniques to seamlessly blend the footage, bringing it back to its original 234 minute version. The restoration and color grading process was supervised by the director, Andrzej Wajda and his friend and cameraman of this feature, Andrzej Kostenko, allowing the restoration to remain true to the original release.

Jonathan Demme presents Made in Texas shorts – In October 1981, director Jonathan Demme presented the “Made in Texas – New Films From Austin” series at the Collective for Living Cinema in New York City. He, along with Austin Film Society co-founder, South by South West co-founder and Austin Chronicle co-founder Louis Black, assembled six 16mm and 8mm short films made in and around Austin, Texas, in 1980. Those six films were “Invasion of the Aluminum People” by David Boone, “Speed of Light” by Brian Hansen, “Fair Sisters” by Louis Black, Missy Boswell, and Ed Lowry, “Leonardo, Jr.” by Lorrie Oshatz, “The Death of Jim Morrison” by Tom Huckabee, and “Mask of Sarnath” by Neil Ruttenberg. Last year, Louis Black and Fixafilm’s collaborator Mark Rance asked Fixafilm to restore the 3 most damaged of the six movies. Typical of many independent films, the three hadn’t been properly stored, archived and preserved, so the only copies available were terribly worn out release prints that were labeled “beyond saving”. The time and money were scarce, there were no references as those movies had never been released on TV or home video, and it wasn’t possible to fly the directors and DPs to Poland to supervise the restorations as there was neither the time nor the budget for doing so. The Fixafilm team was able to restore the films to an almost pristine state. This process required very intensive digital restoration techniques that were designed especially for these films. The filmmakers loved the restoration and were delighted to be able to watch and present their films again, fully restored to their former glory.