2013 Program Abstracts

Posted on Aug 14, 2013 | Comments Off on 2013 Program Abstracts

TRT Abstracts


Thursday .  August 22, 2012

9:15am – 10:00am
Fully-Automated Film Preservation and Restoration for B&W films
Michael Wilder, Image Trends, Inc.

Image Trends’ presentation will introduce to the audience of film archivists attending The REEL Thing to “Black ICE”™, a technology that automatically restores the underlying image content where surface defects, scratches, and dust has obscured the pixels. We will present an overview of the technology, the workflow, and hardware & software processes and results. Still images and clips showing the Before-After and results of this capability will be included in the presentation.

The technology to be discussed has been implemented on a manufacturer’s variation of the Lasergraphics’ Director Scanner.  At 2k, the scanner can scan approximately 10 black and white frames per second.  4K scans can be generated at approximately 5 frames per second.  The output of the scanner is processed images where the defects have been corrected or reduced significantly along with a defect map used in subsequent advanced software processing.

The images can be further processed using the multiple channels created using different illuminations to remove the remaining residual.  This is computationally intensive and complex.  It is implemented in C++ and can be done as a post process or in parallel to the scanning in a multi-processor environment.

The additional processing creates an image that is free of surface defects by removing the image content (leakage).  Similar to Digital ICE® which uses an IR channel to find the defects, the illumination used to find the defects for Black ICE will create a defect map image with some image content and edges.  Creating a clean defect image with precise location and intensity information is essential.  Determining what is image leakage is a multi-step process.  All of these essential elements of the technology are required to solve the difficult problem of surface defect correction in black and white negative and positive films.


10:00am – 11:00am
Update on DOTS Archival Media, and A Solution for the Digital Dilemma
Rob Hummel, Group 47, Inc.
Dan Rosen, Group 47, Inc.

In conversations with the National Archives (NARA) and the Library of Congress, archivists are firm in their conviction that the only successful archival methods over the centuries have involved mediums where you can “see” the information, and that the method to see the information is not complex.   With visual technologies such as photographic prints or negatives and paper text documents, one can look directly at the medium to access the information.  With all magnetic media and complex optical storage, a machine and software are required to read and translate the data into a human-observable and comprehensible form.  If the machine or software is obsolete or lost, the data is likely to be lost as well. DOTS™ is designed to ensure both those preservation and comprehension demands can be met.

DOTS™ is the only digital storage designed to be read with any imaging system employing standard image processing techniques.  Data is recorded visually on patented phase-change metal alloy tape at a microscopic density that rivals the capacity of current magnetic tapes.  DOTS™ can record data, visible text, and imagery on the same media.  Using a visible method to represent the data ensures, as long as cameras and imaging devices are available, the information will always be recoverable.

DOTS™ is archival for no less than 100 years.  It is non-magnetic, chemically inert, immune to electromagnetic fields (including EMP), and can be stored in normal office environments or extremes ranging from -9º to 66º C (16º to 150º F) removing significant challenges and costs found in magnetic media.  DOTS™ is Write-Once Read Many storage, and supports the same external compression and data encryption as magnetic tapes. DOTS™ is supported by NARA and the US intelligence community as a robust, archival solution for the storage of both unclassified and classified US government data.

DOTS™ eliminates the need for the current practice of making new copies of magnetic tapes every 3 to 5 years in order to preserve 100% of targeted digital assets.

This update from Group 47 will include progress made in the methodology for reading and writing to DOTS Visual Metal Alloy storage media.  A detailed presentation will be made of a unique method for storing images to the DOTS media which is robust to the challenges of read/write bit errors and “bit rot” faced by magnetic storage media.


11:30am – 12:30pm
Miniman, the Early Television Foundation and Color Receiver Prototype #3  (Part 2)
, the Impact of the Immediate Post-World War 2 Television Receivers
Ralph Sargent, Film Technology Company

When last we left “Miniman, the ETF and Color Receiver Prototype #3,” Nick Williams (Miniman) and Steve McVoy (founder of the Early Television Foundation) faced disaster when the last working prototype color picture tube cracked and became inoperable. Find out how this heart-breaking soap-opera came to a happy ending. Did the chassis ever work? What was CPA and what did it look like? How did it figure in the development of NTSC and the first mass-produced color television set, The Merrill? Tune in tomorrow….

The second portion of this talk will include a quick discussion of the immediate post-World War 2 television sets on display in the lobby of the Dunn Theater and how their introduction changed the face of world-wide news, education and entertainment forever.


2:00pm – 2:45pm
ALL THAT JAZZ: A Restoration in Three Acts
Schawn Belston, Twentieth Century Fox
Mike Pogorzelski, Academy Film Archive

This presentation is a case study not only about the preservation process around one film, Bob Fosse’s 1979 musical ALL THAT JAZZ, it’s also about the process of restoration in the photochemical era, the digital era, the evolving relationships between studios and archives over the last fifteen years, and a cautionary tale about how restorationists can get it wrong. (But given time, can get it right)


2:45pm – 3:45pm
The Timeline of Historical Film Colors & Report on DIASTOR
Barbara Flueckiger, Institute of Film Studies, University of Zurich

More than a year ago the database Timeline of Historical Film Colors was published online as a result of Barbara Flueckiger’s studies in the framework of her research project “Film History Re-mastered” funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. This free online resource aims at providing comprehensive information about several hundred color processes that were invented during the course of film history. In addition to an overview with basic information consisting of a bibliography and scans from original film prints, the database offers detailed information on most of these processes including a short description, a great variety of scans and original illustrations, original technical papers, secondary sources, a filmography, links and downloads. At the end of May 2013 a new version was published which allows authors, film historians, restoration experts and archivists to contribute directly.

Very recently we started the applied research project DIASTOR in collaboration with Disney Research Zurich, the ETH Zurich and several partners from the private sector including the Cinémathèque Suisse. In this project we will work directly with the knowledge gathered in this resource and we will develop it further based on several restoration and digitization case studies with a variety of color film stock. As a result DIASTOR is involved in the restoration of “Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari” by the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung in Wiesbaden, currently under way under the supervision of Anke Wilkening at L`Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna. The DIASTOR research team investigates differently tinted and toned nitrate prints regarding their color schemes and the application of the various tints and tones.

Timeline of Historical Film Colors: http://zauberklang.ch/filmcolors/ Abstract “Film History Re-mastered”, research database of the University of Zurich:http://www.research-projects.uzh.ch/p15584.htm Research Project DIASTOR: http://www.diastor.ch


4:15pm – 4:45pm
When Camp Turned Technicolor:  Scopitone in Hollywood
Jayson Wall, The Walt Disney Company

The history of Scopitones in America is a twisted tale full of strippers, sex, the music industry, “C” list entertainers, bad business decisions and Miss Burbank of 1948, Debbie Reynolds.  Nothing more than a short-lived fad in the states, Scopitones have fallen into obscurity, largely unknown to the general public, yet the 800 plus films produced have a strong cult like following today.

Only 73 Scopitones produced by Harman-EE Productions were made between1965 –1966. Amazingly, these were all shot in 35mm on Kodak 5251 stock, and 68 were printed in 16mm dye transfer Technicolor.  Over the years the original camera negatives, master tracks and printing elements of the Harman-EE produced Scopitones have been misplaced or lost. Today we are only left with as a record of this craze the surviving 16mm prints in the hands of collectors and archives.

The Reel Thing XXXI is happy to present a rare screening of 9 of the very best (or worst) Harman-EE produced Scopitones in 16mm dye transfer Technicolor and mono magnetic sound.  They are cheesy, campy, sexist, and outlandish, but they are truly a slice of pop culture Americana which we will never see the likes of again.


4:45pm – 5:45pm
The Wet and the Dry – The Case for Immersion Scanning
Davide Pozzi, L’Immagine Ritrovata
Simon Lund, Cineric, Inc.

Liquid gate is a process where film is immersed in a liquid that has the same refractive index as the base of the film. What does this mean? All materials have an optical density and if two materials have distinct density, when light passes from one to the other, it bends. Glass, air and water all have distinct density, so when you look in a fish tank, things you see in the tank are magnified and distorted because of this effect. Likewise, film base has a different index of refraction than air, so if the base or the surface of the emulsion has been abraded, pitted or scratched, these damages scatter light and are then captured in the reproduction process. If you fill these damages with a fluid with the same optical density as the base, they stop scattering light and don´t show up in the copy you make of the film, be it digital or analog.

Since the advent of photography, this process has been applied in various forms to make cleaner reproductions. From the silent era through the 1950´s, film was lacquered to fill in scratches and damage and when the lacquer itself suffered damaged, it was taken off with a solvent and re-applied to be able to continue printing the film. Laboratories also used a process where the base of the film was dipped in acetone which melted the surface of the support and then dried it against a flat glass wheel that essentially formed a new surface but also reduced the thickness of the film.  So, in the archival world, this was not a good idea.

This presentation will provide an illustrated history of liquid gate printing and scanning, including before and after samples of 4K scanning dry vs. 4K scanning with full liquid immersion.


Friday .  August 23, 2012

9:15am – 10:00am
Preserving Walt Disney’s Animated Short Films
Theodore Gluck, The Walt Disney Studios

From 1928 to 1978 the Walt Disney Studios produced over 450 animated short films showcasing artistic achievements as well as technical excellence.  While perhaps overshadowed the popularity of the feature length films, the Studio garnered 15 Academy Awards for their animated shorts, and today’s program will feature full restorations of three of those winners, each with a unique place not only in the Studio’s history, but they also mark important milestones in annals of American cinema.   The presentation will dicuss not only the preservation and restoration of the shorts, but will also explore the need for reconstruction as well.

  • FLOWERS AND TREES (1932) – The first animated short to be awarded an Oscar, (and hence it is the Disney Studio’s first Oscar).  This was also the Studio’s first color animated short, and the first commercial use and public exhibition of three-strip Technicolor.
  • THE OLD MILL (1937) – The first animated subject to use the famed multi-plane camera apparatus.  Also seen as a test subject for both SNOW WHITE and BAMBI
  • TOOT, WHISTLE , PLUNK, AND BOOM (1953)  The first CinemaScope animated short – restored in its original 2.55 aspect ratio –  and was the last animated short to win an Oscar during Walt’s lifetime.


10:00am – 11:00am
Restoring the 1957 Academy Award-winning documentary “Albert Schweitzer”
Plus, A New Threat to Our Film Heritage:  Economic Elimination

Thomas Bakels, Alpha-Omega Digital

The restoration of the documentary Albert Schweitzer required the development of a complex series of scans and mattes to extract and reconstruct the image. Through multiple, individually optimized scans, a large amount of latent image data was captured, processed and registered. Using some of this data, missing color was regenerated and integrated into the overall picture files, to yield a full color reproduction of the original image substantially free of the defects of aging and incorrect processing.

Plus – The effects of the collapse of the infrastructure of the film industry combined with the aftershocks of the recent global financial crisis has led to an extremely difficult situation with respect to access to film elements for restoration, migration and redistribution. This phenomenon is related to the problem of ‘orphan’ films, but in fact affects a much larger number of works, especially those that fall outside of the major studio system.


11:30am – 12:15pm
Roots and Stems:  Superior Practice in Remastering Stereophonic Cinema
Ellis Burman, Audio Mechanics

A demonstration of the benefits of using master mag stems instead of an LtRt printmaster for remastering Dolby stereo titles.  The presentation will focus on fidelity benefits as well as long-term preservation benefits and make convincing analogy to picture restorations that use the original picture negative instead of an IP.  Examples will be played from titles recently worked on, and workflow requirements will also be discussed.  Ellis Burman would be presenting as I, unfortunately, will be out of town.


12:15pm – 12:45pm
Self Service Preservation
Steve Kochak, Deluxe Media Services

There are many options when it comes to choosing a long-term digital asset preservation system.  However, as studios increase their digital inventory of assets, some content owners are asking themselves, “What if I don’t want to place my elements in an in-house or third party system?”  A semi-automatic migration strategy will be explored for both “Hero” and “Second Class” element categories after initial data normalization has been completed.  Finally, a new theory attempting to explain “LTO Infant Mortality” will be described relating to impact damage of archival elements.


2:15pm – 3:15pm
Reconstructing Bruce Conner’s “Crossroads:” The Exploding Digital Inevitable
Ross Lipman, UCLA Film and Television Archive

In 1976 groundbreaking artist and filmmaker Bruce Conner released what was to be his magnum opus, a 36 minute assemblage of atomic bomb test footage shot at the Bikini Atoll on July 25, 1946.  The film was accompanied by a brilliant dual score by legendary composer Terry Riley and synthesizer pioneer Patrick Gleeson, which, in tandem with a surreal beauty latent in the devastating images, comprised one of the most profound meditations on the nuclear era extant.

Twenty years later, in 1996, the Pacific Film Archive in collaboration with the Academy Film Archive embarked on a then-authoritative preservation of the film in consultation with Conner, under the directorship of Michael Friend.  Now the UCLA Film & Television Archive, in a joint project with the Conner Family Trust and the Michael Kohn Gallery, has created a unique edition that seeks to faithfully interpret the film in digital presentation while simultaneously honoring the previous work and addressing traditional archival imperatives to respect medium specificity.  This undertaking involved a multi-tiered strategy of versioning, with different iterations intentionally created for different media forms and exhibition contexts.

Of particular importance to the interpretive process was a 2003 standard definition video re-mastering conducted under the direct supervision of Conner.  This version not only included slight editorial changes, but, critically, went back to the original 1/4″ audio recordings made at Patrick Gleeson’s Different Fur Studios.  Terry Riley’s composition had been recorded in stereo, but the film was released in mono in 1976 as the industry had not yet widely integrated the Dolby Stereo format.    The current project closely examined the 2003 re-mastering, the 1996 preservation, and the original 1976 production in generating its versions.  This presentation discusses CROSSROADS’ unique production history, as well as the archival issues surrounding the broad industrial changes that led to a significant new re-mastering and reconstruction of the film.


3:15pm – 4:15pm
What Dilemma?  A Realistic Approach to Digital Archiving
Larry Blake, Swelltone Labs

This paper will try to re-direct concerns regarding digital archiving–speaking both of picture and sound–from the sole concern of longevity of media to what he feels is the crucial issue: how material is organized and documented. Although received wisdom often states, in effect, that “‘digital archiving’ is an oxymoron,” the paper will instead present an argument for the elimination of all “analog” elements–photochemical film and magnetic sound recordings–in the archiving of moving images today. This specifically includes items such as YCM separations that have been often put forth as the ne plus ultra of image preservation.

It is believed that much of the issues involved with the bad reputation that digital archiving has gotten is a result of a “perfect storm” of badly written delivery specifications–asking for items that are not needed, and not asking for essential elements; bad or non-existent “rosetta stone” documentation; the “ghetto-izing” of digital specs as “lesser, and less desirable” than their analog counterparts; and, finally, lack of delivery standards.

To the latter, drawing on over 25 years of personal experience in feature film sound editing and mixing and post-production supervision, the author will outline detailed specifications of delivery specifications for moving images that cover projects from small documentaries to the largest feature films.


4:45pm – 5:45pm
4K: Image Quality and the Cinematographer
Curtis Clark, ASC
John Bailey, ASC

Motion picture production is rapidly evolving from film and hybrid film/digital models to all-digital capture and workflow. Join two of our most prominent cinematographers as they discuss issues such as the loss of film stocks, the demise of laboratories, and the resurrection of legacy images through 4k workflows. 4K scanning is capable extracting more data than ever before from film elements, revealing aspects of images that haven’t been visible before. Processing techniques eliminate previously intractable faults and deterioration, but also may produce effects that are decidedly un-filmic. Curtis Clark and John Bailey have been shooting with both film and digital cameras for years.  Recently, both have been involved with 4K digital restorations of their early film work, and will be sharing some of those experiences and opinions in what is sure to be a wide-ranging and informed discussion with the audience. Come prepared with questions and be sure to catch the screening of Alamo Bay, a 4K restoration of Louis Malle’s film shot by Curtis Clark and the first film to be restored using the ACES workflow.