The Amsterdam Program

Posted on Apr 17, 2017 | Comments Off on The Amsterdam Program

Restoring Ula Stöckl’s Neun Leben Hat Die Katze (The Cat Has Nine Lives)
Julia Wallmüller, Deutsche Kinemathek

NEUN LEBEN HAT DIE KATZE (THE CAT HAS NINE LIVES) is Ula Stöckl’s first film, shot in Techniscope and printed in Technicolor. The film was restored in 1996 from a contemporary Technicolor print. The original Kodak negative could not be used as a source for the restoration back then, since it was impossible to recreate the Technicolor look in the analogue workflow. In 2014 Deutsche Kinemathek digitized the film from its original Techniscope negative. The challenge was to transfer the Kodak negative image into an authentic Technicolor look. This could be achieved during an intensive grading process, applying primary and secondary correction methods of digital colour grading technique. The approach within this colour reconstruction was not a scientific one but based on pure colour perception and the typical look of a Technicolor print from the late 1960s.

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Recovering Early Optical Sound

Simon Lund, Cineric, Inc.

Cineric will be presenting work it has done recently in handling motion picture sound tracks including removing cross modulation distortion in motion picture sound tracks through post processing audio files, wetgate scanning of optical soundtrack and dealing with non-standard tracks. As a case study, Joshua Harris, head of the Media Preservation Unit at the University of Illinois, will present the results of a recent grant funded project to fully preserve and decode audio from the first successful public demonstration of composite sound on film system. UI Professor Joseph Tykociner’s 1922 demonstration had only been attempted to be reproduced once in the 1950s and was unsuccessful due to many of the same challenges Cineric encountered recently such as non-standard track placement and frame-rates.  Tykociner’s films presented a variety of challenges in capturing, preserving and reproducing these artifacts of early motion picture technological innovation.

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The Restoration of Le fer à cheval (1909) by Camille de Morlhon
Marcello Seregni, Fondazione Cineteca Italiana
Alice Rispoli, Cultural Hommelette of Trieste

The restoration was carried out by Associatione Culturale Hommelette and Foundation Jerome-Seydoux Pathé. The film was screened at last year’s Il Cinema Ritrovato 2016.  After a first analysis of the 2K scan of the film, the film was digitally restored and recorded out onto new 35mm negative.  Considered lost, the film was accidentally discovered in a large number of nitrate films by Associazione Culturale Hommelette and was eventually bought on Ebay in the Spring of 2011.  Thus, once again living under another endless filmography of Camille Morlhon, among the most prolific of French directors of the period, but still among the least studied. The film, in Italian edition/version, has been beautifully colored with the Pathécolor system, which improves the realistic features of the natural landscape.

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Dick Higgins’ For the Dead: The Challenges of Preserving a Moebius Strip Loop Film
Kristof Efferenn, Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln
Arnaud Obermann, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

This presentation looks at the work of Dick Higgins, a student of John Cage at the New School for Social Research, an early Fluxus artist and founder of the Something Else Press, and creator of several astonishing 16 mm films in the 1960s.  Most famously known for participating in the Fluxfilm Anthology (1962-1970), compiled by George Maciunas, Higgins also coined the term ‘Intermedia’ in an essay in 1966. A year before writing this influential essay about fusing the boundaries of art forms with new media, he completed “For the Dead” (1965). There, Higgins demonstrably experimented with the immanent characteristics of photochemical film.

“For the Dead” and two other films by the artist have resided in the collection of the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany since 1981. Given to the collector Hanns Sohm as a gift from Higgins in 1969, the films weren’t verifiably presented for nearly 35 years. The presentation will focus on the challenges of preservation and the obstacles that must be dealt with in regard to an authentic representation, thereby retracing the research experience. Based on the presumption that “For the Dead” is a regular, chronological 16 mm film, persons involved were surprised to read in Higgin’s notes about his artwork: “One film which was missing […] is my second film loop film, For the Dead (1965) […] It was photographed on Kodachrome at Provincetown, and is a very long Moebius Strip.”

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The REMI Project – Handmade Emulsion Primitive Colour
Esther Urlus, WORM Filmwerkplaats

RE MI (Re-engineering the Moving Image) is a two-year European cooperation project run by Mire (Nantes, FR), WORM.Filmwerkplaats (Rotterdam, NL) and LaborBerlin (Berlin, DE), focused on the creation, preservation and circulation of the technical knowledge of analogue film in order to support its use as a creative medium. The project has so far involved several film labs across the world, cinemas, art schools and other cultural organizations, as well as a broad international audience of film enthusiasts.

This presentation will focus on the Handmade Emulsion Primitive Colour Seminar, which took place in our facilities in Rotterdam and consisted of a week of research in the lab of WORM Filmwerkplaats during which international artists, working on film emulsion and primitive colour film exchanged knowledge, conducted practical experiments and tested new formulas in order to develop this research.

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Preservation and Accessibility of Digital Born and Digitized Film
Jeroen De Mol, EYE Filmmuseum
Ernst van Velzen, EYE Filmmuseum
Annegien Schrier, EYE Filmmuseum

It is a well-known fact that in recent years film preservation has taken a dramatic turn from not only safeguarding analogue material, but also conserving digital born and digitized film. Although there seems to be some consensus on what formats to store in and on, much is left to the imagination as to how to streamline the preservation process and how to make this “easy digital format” accessible and re-usable. EYE has implemented software doing just that: EYE-D.

We would like to share the challenges we’ve faced during the development process and how we solved them. This includes the chosen technologies such as an LTFS LTO system and the way we’ve integrated EYE-D with our existing setups so information can be communicated between them ensuring no file becomes orphaned or gets lost.  A live demonstration will be given of this self-regulated system, which will include its automatic metadata extraction, the exchange with our catalogue Collection EYE, the use of the MediaInfo library, the naming convention, and the data mining of DCP XML files. Additionally, via the back-end, we will show how every piece of the puzzle falls into place and how a ProRes, a DCP, a DCDM, is ingested onto LTO 6, added to the catalogue and prepared for access.

The second half would consist of presenting the front-end of EYE-D. Our player allows users to view and order films in virtually every desirable format using the FFmpeg library. Footage can be instantly shared with third parties and collections can be made. These features allow curators, programmers, researchers and students to gather assets belonging to a certain topic, program, director or any imaginable criteria.

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HDR Grading Applied to Film Heritage
Audrey Birrien, Éclair

This presentation will discuss the possibilities that can be offered through HDR (High Dynamic Range) grading, and in order to anticipate and support our customers’ requests concerning theses deliveries, Éclair has conducted tests on this new procedure and its impact on film heritage.  HDR brings up various technical, artistic and ethical questions, all the current process is in the balance whether we are talking about films made in color or black and white, but also hand-painted, stencil, tinted, etc.

We suggest reviewing the key steps of a restoration and examining critical questions, such as: calibration and technical specifications of the scanned frame, texture management with a new color space grading, problems of digital restoration and especially the possibilities of grading.

How to be respectful of the artistic achievement and which limits to put in a wider workspace? What’s the point of view of the DOP and the director?  One more time for film heritage there is a gap between conservation and distribution.

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Preservation Metadata for DPX
Marjolein Steeman, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Josefien Schuurman, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision

In this presentation we discuss a preservation case of DPX: a gap analysis between requirements for DPX (technical) metadata and the actual metadata on our digitized film collection / DPX-files available in our systems. The gap analyses is performed via a Preservation Metadata Dictionary. On a case by case basis we continuously analyze the gap between the information objects in our archive and the requirements for a sustainable archive based on the standards OAIS and PREMIS.

This Preservation Metadata Dictionary combines multiple object levels and perspectives, including technical metadata on the file and bitstream level, event metadata on the object and file level, and rights metadata. The dictionary plays an important role in operational decision making, for instance on designing a new workflow on digitization or on implementing an new ingest workflow of a particular format and source.

The results of the gap analyses are used to identify new requirements and to optimize data and quality management. What are our next challenges? How can we plan our processes even better? It will be interesting to discuss our approach and choices with the audience. The aim of our presentation is to discuss a multidisciplinary, agile approach to optimizing data management practices for sustainable preservation.

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Restoring Fritz Lang’s DER MUDE TODD (Destiny)
Anke Wilkening, Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung

DER MÜDE TOD is one of Fritz Lang’s masterpieces from the Weimar period. And yet it is a lost film in some respect. Unlike the storyline, the aesthetic concept of the film did not survive: The colours are missing as all existent prints are black and white. In 1921, defining the scenes as day or night was a post-production, a film laboratory task. Most outdoor night scenes were filmed during the day and thus appear as bright as day in the positives made from the negatives. Tinting the black-and-white positives blue turned them into night scenes. The black and white prints provide a distorted view of the movie, because the night scenes are not recognizable as such in them.

Because no vintage print from the 1920s has survived, the colours were simulated based on films produced by Decla during the same period. Already in the 1990s when Desmet Colour became a virtual solution for film archives to use their black-and-white duplications for printing colour prints, the idea to create a colour map for DER MÜDE TOD came up. It was never done. Probably the necessary trial-and-error printing in the course of creating a colour map from scratch let such a project appear unattainable. Digital colour correction in contrast provided an ideal technical background for experimenting with different colour maps as well as reproducing chemical tints` specific characteristic of a colour tonality which is independent from the photographic image.

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Preserving Imperfection – Ethics and Pragmatism in Digital Preservation
Tone Føreland, National Library of Norway

A Norwegian state office, Statens opplysningskontor for husstell, made 41 films for informational, educational and instructional use for housekeeping from 1940-1970. How to bake and cook different kinds of food and get an efficient and modern kitchen was more important than perfect takes, lighting and sound. The message was the main purpose. Technical perfection was not.   We are currently working on ten of these titles doing analog preservation from the original negatives. In this work we are also preserving the imperfections as they are already in the negatives. To give access to these titles they will have to be digitized. In the digital post production the possibilities to “clean up” the films are nearly limitless. So how can the digital tools be a challenge in regards to keeping the ethics in preservation – especially when the technical quality of a film is poor?  I will give examples from our work with these films to show how important it is to be conscious about ethics when it comes to digital preservation compared to analog preservation.

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Traditional Photochemical Printing – Sharing Laboratory Techiques
Tiago Ganhão, Cinemateca Portuguesa
Paolo Bernardini, Cinemateca Portuguesa

It’s commonly accepted that nowadays we are facing a major risk of losing photochemical knowledge associated with film restoration. We believe that labs still engaged with photochemical restoration and preservation, especially the ones within film archives, should have a proactive attitude regarding this issue, building and sharing knowledge to the best of their abilities.

The presentation will detail our collaboration with Udine University, Italy (Facolta degli Studi di Udine-Corso DAMS-Discipline delle Arti Musica e Spettacolo – Sede di Gorizia) which occurred last year when we invited some students to attend the first Lisbon Spring School, a one week intensive workshop, focused on the production of a new Desmetcolor print starting from an original nitrate.  The Project: Original Positive tinted Nitrate. Creation of new elements: Optical wet-gate Duplicate Negative. Contact print using Desmetcolor method.

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Innovating Analogue Lab Techniques for use in the Digital Age
Gerard de Haan, Haghefilm Digitaal

A discussion of three methods that can be used for restoration in the digital domain as well as with analogue printing techniques.

  1. Achieving correct colour by analogue printing Stencil Colour in early Nitrate Film is impossible, due to the fact that the die-colours cannot be represented by the existing chromogenic film materials. We have developed a Lookup Table (LUT) to simulate close to correct die-colours in our digital method.
  1. In order to provide archives with ethically correct digital assets of their analogue Original Cut Negative film (OCN), we at Haghefilm Digitaal have developed a digital emulation of the analogue printing process as it is used on a film printing machine.  The OCN is scanned at 2K or 4K. Then the Punched Paper Tape with Printer Lights for colour correcting the negative in the printing process is read and translated to an EDL with Digital Colour Corrections. So the Digital Intermediate Machine (Nucoda Filmmaster) is effectively used as an Analogue Film Printer. This results both in superior quality and completely ethical colour correction for the digital result (DCP and video) and a significant cost savings at the same time.
  1. An extension of the technique in No. 2 is applied in our unique method to do the same for the Desmet Method, a very popular method for printing early Die-tinted and Chemically Toned Nitrate 35mm film. As the Desmet Method is emulated, the digital result looks exactly like the original analogue Desmet print. Again this is a cost effective method to produce correct digital assets from existing Desmet prints.

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Film Restoration Using Classical Conservation/Restoration Tools and Techniques
Ulrich Ruedel, University of Applied Science, Berlin
Anke Mebold, Deutsches Filminstitut, Wiesbaden

At the University of Applied Sciences (HTW Berlin), moving image restoration is taught and pursued alongside more ‘classical’ fields such as the conservation of photographies and the broad general fields of conservation/restoration of archeological objects, modern materials and industrial heritage.  Approaches employing and transferring both hands-on and analytical-chemical approaches of conservation and restoration into the moving image field will be discussed.

In a joint project between  DIF and HTW towards treatment of an original nitrate print of the silent film Der Kampf ums Matterhorn (1928), chemical investigations of misguided retouching layers on a vintage nitrate print were employed in support of its painstaking, frame-by-frame manual removal with solvents in an approach more akin to painting or photography restoration.  In doing so, infrared spectroscopy provided clues as to the possible material nature of the retouching material.

Also, X Ray Fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) and classical visual microscopy allow visualizing and elucidating the chemistries used in early applied colors, and in unusual natural color systems such as the Sirius process.  The techniques will be discussed along with the exemplary cases pursued by archivists, teachers and HTW students.

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Building a Flexible High Resolution Scanner for Legacy Film Capture
Daniel Borenstein, Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée
Chris Hall, Filmlight Ltd, UK

The CNC vaults contain roughly 1 million film cans, representing approximately 110,000 titles, from the early days of cinema in the 1880’s to the present. The plan to digitize all these films, whether for restoration or for projection purposes, presents a unique problem considering all of the various film gauges found within the inventory.  These films account for more than 50 different film gauges or formats, some of them obsolete(9.5mm, 28mm, etc.), most of them experimental or unsuccessful attempts for new standards(15mm, 75mm).  The presentation will first take a broad look at the wide variety of film formats in the CNC collections. The discussion then moves to the challenge of handling these formats and describe a scanner built to accommodate our needs. Finally, we will project some amazing footage shot by the Lumière brothers for the Exposition Universelle held in Paris in 1900, in 75mm gauge, which was the first large format in the history of the movie industry.

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Acoustics for Small Rooms
Gilles Barberis, l’Immagine Ritrovata
Lorenzo Rattini, DAS – DecoAcousticSolution

Restoration labs and archives have traditionally been hampered by the limited space in which to fulfill their work, none more so than the relatively small rooms the audio engineers usually work in.  This presents many acoustical challenges.  The strong geometrical restrictions of such rooms entail the treatment and the resolution of some design issues which are negligible in the case of large rooms, such as concert halls or auditoria. Small rooms are recording and mastering studios, music chambers or home theaters, where the reverberation is strongly reduced compared to the normal acoustic situation in a medium-sized room.

This presentation is specifically addressed to those restoration labs, archives, digitization facilities that do not have space for a large mixing stage.  The aim is to provide guidelines on how to achieve a good listening environment with effective and relatively cheap solutions. The topic will be introduced by an overview of the characteristics of optical soundtracks. Such peculiarities underline crucial our listening environment is to achieving any projects goals.

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The Digital release of Napoleon vu par Abel Gance (1927)
Ben Thompson, BFI National Archive
Paul Wright MIET – Dragon Digital Ltd. 

Of all the previously unimaginable events that took place in 2016, the UK release of Napoleon is probably the greatest. Abel Gance’s heroic depiction of the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte is an undisputed cinema landmark. Famed for its ground-breaking innovations – including its famous triptych finale – and a running time of 5 ½ hours, Gance’s epic traverses many of the formative experiences that shaped Napoleon’s rapid advancement in an incredible feat of photography, editing and technical ingenuity.

This mythical work was first seen in a cut-down 9.5mm version by Kevin Brownlow as a schoolboy in 1954. Fifty years later, his full restoration is available in the cinema and, for home viewing once again, on Blu-ray. Kevin Brownlow’s reconstruction of Napoleon is legendary and represents the greatest example of a film’s rescue from misunderstanding and unavailability, pioneering the widespread theatrical revival of silent cinema.

Compiled across five decades by the Academy award-winning film-maker, archivist and historian, working with his colleagues at Photoplay, initially the late David Gill, and then Patrick Stanbury, and the BFI National Archive on a series of reconstructions, November’s premiere at London’s Royal Festival Hall, with Carl Davis conducting his indelible score, marked the start of forty cinema screenings in two months. In this presentation, the team will describe and illustrate the challenges – and pleasures – of making this astounding work available in digital formats.

The variety and vibrancy of toning and tinting is a crucial aspect of Napoleon, and the digital mastering of the restored 35mm negative required a complete digital recreation of the film’s complex colour scheme. Colours were referenced against original examples and generated within a separate layer, so using a digital tinting process.

Napoleon’s triptych finale on 35mm film stands as a kind of exhilarating challenge to the bounds of cinema. Presentation of the triptych digitally was given extremely careful consideration in order to reproduce it for a variety of theatrical circumstances, while respecting the original production methods. Similarly, the Blu-ray allowed audiences to view the three panels separately – or even to create their own three-screen version!  All the digital masters had of course to be put in sync with Carl Davis’ score, now mixed in 7.1, and the release has now been screened in forty UK cinemas.

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