The Reel Thing XXV: Program Abstracts and Presentations

Posted on Jul 8, 2010 | Comments Off on The Reel Thing XXV: Program Abstracts and Presentations


Program Abstracts and Presentations


Big Screen: Changing Dimensions of the Silver Screen
Jack Theakston, 3-D Film Preservation Foundation
Powerpoint Presentation

As the industry evolves, certain patterns can be traced in the changing technological climate of motion pictures. From stereoscopic photography to stereophonic sound and wide-screen aspect ratios, Mr. Theakston takes a closer look at the way movies have adapted themselves to standards based around audience satisfaction. This begins in the 1910s with the introduction of stereoscopic photography and early wide-screen aspect ratios, and culminates to the early 1950s, as these technologies amalgamated into the format that has shaped the way we see films today. Optical sound, aspect ratios, 3-D, CinemaScope, VistaVision, SuperScope and Stereophonic sound formats are just but a few examples of these technologies that will be covered in the discussion.


Preserve and Access – “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson”
Bob Schumacher, Deluxe Archive Solutions
Powerpoint Presentation

“Heeeeeeere’s Johnny!” Together with Jeff Sotzing, owner of the Carson Entertainment Group which controls the licensing rights to “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson”, we will present a Case Study of the real-life challenges to preserve, digitize, describe and fully transcribe each spoken word spanning 30 years (or about 3,500 hours) of material.

Believed to be one of the largest single television archives in the world, the library has been stored in the Hutchinson, Kansas salt mine on Betacam SP tapes that were transferred from the original 1- and 2-inch video masters. This year, Deluxe Archive Solutions (DAS) was engaged to migrate the library from analog to a series of digital formats including spinning disk, digital betacam and LTO tapes.

The Carson Entertainment group used this migration cycle as an opportunity to create additional access to what had once been a largely inaccessible collection. From a user’s perspective, whether they are a researcher looking for that elusive hidden fact or a documentarian looking for that never before seen clip, content may as well not exist unless it can be found. Searching through content requires multifaceted metadata – descriptions, definitions and tags identifying scenes, stars, ratings, reviews and dialog. The more thorough and accurate the metadata, the more likely the material will be accessed, the more likely the material will be used, the more likely users will return.

Leveraging a domestic distributed workforce, DAS generated comprehensive contextual metadata and transcriptions linked to video timecode and developed a searchable technology platform for enhanced access, research and distribution. Now, by typing in a guest name, phrase or date into the search engine, a user can immediately preview, select and download footage for editing or broadcasting.

Join us for a ride down memory lane with the “King of Late Night”, Johnny Carson and view Carson classics while learning about the workflow, technology platform and a metadata-as-a-service (MaaS) model for enabling access to never-before-released audio and video content.

Carson Entertainment Group (CEG) controls licensing rights to The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, recorded between 1962 thru 1992. CEG has licensed clips for use in numerous television series, movies, specials, and commercials, and the company produces a series of home video products that has set the standard for television programming sold in retail and direct response. For more information about CEG or to browse the clip licensing site, visit, write to, or call 714-626-0196.


Modern Technologies for Handling Legacy Optical Sound Tracks – Developments and Considerations for Photo Chemical Processes and Digital Scanning Techniques
Robert Heiber – Chace Audio by Deluxe
Ralph Sargent – Film Technology Company, Inc.
Powerpoint Presentation

Photochemical processes have historically been the cornerstone technology for motion picture image and sound preservation and restoration. The advantage gained by wet-gate printing when making copies of film images is well known for reducing scratches and other emulsion defects in the image. For sound, the process of making an optical sound track print (OSTP) from the sound negative has been the archival standard for preserving and preparing optical sound negatives (OSTNs) for sound transfer.

As the motion picture industry continues the transition from its pure analog roots into the digital era, motion picture image scanning has been harnessed to address many issues in image restoration that cannot be corrected in the lab. Film tears, camera flicker and image stabilization of deteriorating film images can now be effectively corrected in the digital domain by employing corrective software subsequent to image scanning. So it should not be a surprise that scanning technologies and companion corrective software can also be employed for the recovery of optical sound tracks. In fact sound-scanning technologies can be employed to recover sound directly from the OSTN eliminating the need for the track printing process.

While there can be no argument about the validity and desirability of making positive track prints of negative material, both from the point of view of creating a long-term preservation copy and providing the de-facto standard for future sound transfers, it takes time and costs money. For especially high value film material, track printing is well worth the effort. But for large volumes of content where expeditious turn-around is important and long shelf-life is not essential, alternative methods of capture such as sound-scanning offer a compelling argument for consideration.

This presentation will not promote any specific method, but will discuss the issues that archival labs must consider when printing legacy OSTNs and the processes they use to achieve high quality results and compare those processes with the quality and efficiency that modern technologies can offer for a wide variety of optical track materials.


There’s the Rub: The Restoration of “Bus Stop” (1956)
Seth Berkowitz, Cineric, Inc.
Powerpoint Presentation [PDF format]

From the opening credits raked with thick, red, emulsion-side scratches and rubs, “Bus Stop” (1956, 20th Century Fox) made its intentions clear – this would be no straightforward digital restoration. Difficulties in evaluating the damage level in faded film also came to the fore, as glaring problems initially thought confined to the optical elements of this faded Cinemascope negative were found to be more widespread, post fade-correction.

What followed was an investigation into what alternate film elements still survived, and what the proper way would be to integrate them into the original negative (if at all). Digital tools offered a myriad of choices, but often at a cost. This case study will offer a step-by-step account of digital strategies employed, as well as roads not taken, in rehabilitating a Marilyn Monroe classic.


“We’re Not Just Animation” – Disney Live-Action Restorations
Theo Gluck, Walt Disney Studios
Andrew Brutocao, Walt Disney Studios
Michele Winn, Walt Disney Studios
Jayson Wall, Walt Disney Studios
Powerpoint Presentation

As AMIA attendees have seen in recent years, the Walt Disney Studios have been aggressively preserving and restoring their renowned animated classic features and shorts. Of equal importance, however, is the Studio’s vast library of live-action films that spans almost the entire existence of the Company. With elements as diverse as 60-year-old nitrate YCM camera negatives to VistaVision and 65mm interpositives, members of Disney’s Worldwide Post Production and Operations Group not only encounter myriad restoration challenges, but are also tasked with creating a fully accessible digital library and implementing long-term preservation solutions. Today’s program will showcase some recent restoration accomplishments including examples from TRON, SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON, 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, and TREASURE ISLAND.


Archiving Color Image to Single Strip 35mm B&W Film
Sean McKee, IVC / Point 360
Powerpoint Presentation

Point.360 has developed a patent pending process named Visionary™ Archive. This revolutionary process digitally encodes a full color motion picture frame onto a single reel of 35mm Panchromatic stock using 2/3rd less film stock than traditional color separations. It will eliminate registration, stabilization, warping, luminance and color fading issues. Visionary Archive process and modifications implemented during testing will be demonstrated.


Poto and Cabengo (1980) – a Sound Restoration Case Study
John Polito, Audio Mechanics
Powerpoint Presentation

Poto and Cabengo is a documentary by Jean-Pierre Gorin that investigates twin girls in San Diego that had seemingly developed their own language. Gorin places creative emphasis on the twins’ speech through repetition, freeze frames, and subtitles as he discovers the secret to their language. Sadly, Gorin’s narration exhibited severe distortion which distracted the viewer from his unique approach to the sound. John Polito will play before and after examples of the distortion and explain the approach used to alleviate it and make the listening experience more enjoyable.


Preservation at the Library of Congress Packard Campus:
A Progress Report and Perspectives on the Future
Ken Weissman, Library of Congress
Powerpoint Presentation

In 2007 received the largest individual private sector gift in its history, the Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation. The Packard Campus brings together the 6.3 million collection items that are under the curatorial responsibility of the Library’s Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division (MBRS), that were previously scattered in 7 locations, across 4 States and the District of Columbia. The mission statement for the Packard Campus states: “The Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation develops, preserves and provides broad access to a comprehensive and valued collection of the world’s audiovisual heritage for the benefit of Congress and the nation’s citizens.” This presentation will provide information on the progress that MBRS has made in commissioning and operating within the Packard Campus, as well as some goals and perspectives for the future, especially with regards to digital technologies.


Rebuilding Metropolis: A Report on the New Reconstruction
Thomas Bakels, ALPHA-OMEGA digital GmbH
Powerpoint Presentation

It would be hard to underestimate the importance of Metropolis for historians and film scholars. Created by one of the cinema’s greatest artists and employing the most advanced technology of its day, it has in the eight decades since its release been regarded internationally as a signal achievement.

And Metropolis has also been one of the most restored films in the history of cinema. The film was cut from its original length by UFA in Germany, and by Paramount for its American release. Script material and production photographs revealed that the film was considerably more complex and narratively coherent than the surviving versions, and over the years, archivists, including Enno Patalas and Martin Koerber, did extensive philological and technical work to provide the most complete extant version of the film. Despite the efforts of archivists, it seemed unlikely that no further excised footage would come to light.

In 2001, Thomas Bakels and ALPHA-OMEGA used the best extant film resources to make a digital restoration of Metropolis. which was considered to be definitive. However, in 2008, a 16mm negative made from a heavily used release print surfaced in Argentina, containing roughly thirty minutes of footage unseen since the film’s first run in Berlin. It was clear that the rediscovered material was both significant and also extremely damaged and degraded, making it difficult to integrate with extant 35mm footage.

Using the digital restoration of 2001 as a foundation, ALPHA-OMEGA proceeded to digitize the rediscovered 16mm negative, and then to process the resulting digital files using an array of restoration tools. Undoubtedly the most challenging phase of the process was to match the new files from the 16mm negative with the existing files from 35mm sources. The newly recovered footage was then inserted into the existing preservation work, adding nearly 30 minutes to the restoration. Thomas Bakels, the technical director of this project, will describe the extensive and challenging workflow that culminated in this new vision of Metropolis.


“München 1945”
Thomas Bakels, ALPHA-OMEGA digital GmbH

This footage was filmed right after the end of World War II, when my home city was severely destroyed. Some of the footage had been filmed with a jitter-problem inside the camera, so the sequences were not only dramatically instable, but distorted with double-exposure-effects inside the images. Traditional stabilization algorhythms would not work for this problem, but instead made the problem more visible. These sequences were recently repaired by stabilization and processing with new software “RettMagic”.


A Non-Contact Method for Recovering Information from Magnetic Media
Brian Walker, Applied Pictures
Powerpoint Presentation

Applied Pictures is a company developing an innovative system to read the information from magnetic media without making physical contact with the original tape. This approach allows the development of a system that is not conformed to any specific current formats, and thus may be usable well into the future. Brian Walker, one of the principals of the company, will discuss the process Applied Pictures is using to achieve this result, and the company’s plans for future development.


From Silence to Sound: A Studio’s Transition from Silent Films to Talking Pictures
Rita Belda, Sony Pictures
Powerpoint Presentation

The period of 1926 through 1931 was one of great turmoil for the Hollywood Studios. It’s also one of the most mythologized periods in Hollywood history. It is rare to come across artifacts which further enrich our understanding of the transition period from Silent to Sound. This presentation will explore one studio’s output during the time period 1929- 1931, and demonstrate that the films themselves contain a history that has not been widely documented. The emergence of sound technology at Columbia Pictures was a slower process than at other studios, and a cache of Original Negatives from this time period could help expand our perspective on the production, marketing, and distribution of films from this period.


Special Screening of “So This Is Love” with Live Musical Accompaniment
Alan J. Stark, Musician

So This Is Love, the second feature film directed by Frank Capra for Columbia Pictures, began production on December 21, 1927, and finished production on January 6, 1928. It was released in theaters on February 6. Between January 1, 1928, when his first Columbia feature, That Certain Thing, was released to theaters and November 8, 1928, when Submarine was released, Columbia released seven Frank Capra-directed feature films. The production of each film took about two weeks and was usually released one month later. Not bad for one year.

We are indebted to the Library of Congress for providing the source material in restoring So This Is Love. A 35mm nitrate release print, with French inter-titles, was located at LoC, from which a safety duplicate negative was manufactured. The new dupe was scanned at 4K at Ascent Media in Burbank, followed by digital restoration at 2K at MTI Film in Hollywood, with additional digital restoration completed at Ascent. Color correction at Ascent was by Scott Ostrowsky. Cinetech laboratory recorded out a new negative and print, color timing by Dave Cetra. Inserted into the digital files and incorporated in the new negative are the original English inter-titles created at Level 3 in Burbank from an original dialogue continuity script in the files of Columbia Pictures. The main title credits were also digitally recreated at Level 3. Restoration and digital mastering supervised by Rita Belda.


Paramount Pictures: Preservation Assessment: Digital Content
Andrea Kalas, Paramount Pictures
Christopher Cary, Ascent Media
Steve Kochak, Ascent Media
Powerpoint Presentation

To help build a comprehensive preservation plan for its archive, Paramount Pictures has undertaken a systematic physical condition inspection of its removable media (hard drives and data tapes). Removable media are used by many content owners, Paramount included, as a primary way of providing archival protection for digital assets. Paramount wanted to evaluate, using a clearly defined methodology, the viability of this approach. Using a sampling strategy and inspection process that were designed and implemented by Ascent Media Group, this assessment measured the condition and life expectancy (LE) of these elements to a statistical level of certainty; and, in so doing, gathered information that will inform Paramount’s long-term approach to digital preservation.

This session describes the project methodology, outlines the inspection process, and summarizes the findings. Paramount is pleased to share their findings with the archival community.


Digital Subjectivity: Restoring Barbara Loden’s WANDA
Ross Lipman, UCLA Film & Television Archive
with the generous assistance of Ascent Media
Powerpoint Presentation

In 1971, Barbara Loden released her first and only feature, WANDA. Lauded by the critics but a flop at the box office, this low-budget exploration of a troubled woman’s flight through small town America is now considered a classic, listed as one of the 100 greatest American films of all time by noted critic Jonathan Rosenbaum. Its restoration by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, with funding by the Film Foundation and GUCCI, is set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival in September 2010.

Barbara Loden was best known for her acting roles in films including Elia Kazan’s SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS. Loden later married Kazan and drifted from the public view before directing her own feature, in which she also played the title role. A world away from her husband’s earlier larger-scale works, WANDA was shot in 16mm on location in middle America, using non-actors, and was the epitome of a low-budget independent production.

An important part of restoring WANDA is retaining a sensitivity to its low-budget origins. The original 16mm a/b rolls had suffered damage over the years; damage which was unrepairable using conventional analog methods. Thus its restoration presented an ironic challenge, wherein high-end digital tools were needed to restore a low-cost movie, whose raw production values where a prime characteristic of its unique quality. Digitally restored sequences were integrated into an otherwise photochemical restoration. This presentation integrates a mixture of 35mm film and digital clips, and seeks to demonstrate effective methodologies for utilizing state-of-the-art tools in an aesthetically appropriate restoration of a uniquely analog work.

Wanda (Barbara Loden, (1971): Preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding by the Film Foundation and GUCCI Laboratory work by Cinetech and Ascent Media Sound Restoration by Audio Mechanics Sound Transfers by NT Picture and Sound

Thanks to: Chris Horak, Eddie Richmond, Margaret Bodde, Jennifer Ahn, Jessica Bursi, Allison Neidermeyer, Marco Joachim, Mimi Brody, Nicholas Proferes, James Healy, Dave Osterkamp, Dave Cetra, James Gott, David Block, Robert Jung, Bill Conner, Kim Gott, Joe Olivier, John Polito, Shawn Jones


Adventures in 65mm Restoration
Andrew Oran, FotoKem
Powerpoint Presentation

Handling large format film, from the can through the scan and beyond, and how the latest digital image processing techniques helped polish up a 65mm classic. We’ll discuss some of the challenges associated with 65mm origination and preservation, as well as 65mm’s surprisingly enduring role within the digital revolution. The presentation will feature a rare opportunity to view a split screen of 70mm print from original negative vs. its re-mastered 4K digital cinema counterpart, inviting the audience to draw their own conclusions regarding the relationship between digital technology and 65mm origination. Film case study: The Sound of Music.


A Look at the RCA Color Stabilizer for Early Monochrome Videotape Recorders
AKA: The Heterodyne Color Corrector
Ralph Sargent, Film Technology Company, Inc.
Powerpoint Presentation

In tandem with the Cyd Charisse special restoration presentation, this paper will discuss the RCA design for a color stabilizer for early monochrome VTRs. Specifically, Ampex VRX 1000 prototype machines which NBC used at Burbank until RCA built their own recorders. This design was used for about two years before Ampex and RCA settled on an agreement on the specs for “Low Band” color.


Saving Cyd Charisse – A Second Look
David Crosthwait, DC Video
Dan Wingate, Sony Pictures
Powerpoint Presentation

Except for filmed programming pre-produced for television, the commercial broadcasts of the late 1940s and early 1950s only exist in the form of kinescopes – specially made film records of the television experience. But by 1956, a unique form of capture native to the video world began its ascendancy: 2″ quadruplex videotape. This new, electronic recording medium was used to capture both live and pre-recorded programs, including many spectacular productions that rivaled Broadway and Hollywood for production value and talent. As these 2″ tape machines developed, they evolved from verbal time code and physically edited tape towards the mature medium of television recording that dominated the last quarter of the 20th century. Unfortunately, problems including tape deterioration and equipment obsolescence have made it difficult to recover these high-quality television programs. This presentation will elucidate the process of capture and restoration of “Meet Cyd Charisse” – a Ford Startime special originally broadcast December 29, 1959 – and will touch upon the problems of the VTRs and heads, the capture and manipulation of the original non-standard color recorded signal, and the conservation of these early television images in a way that expresses their original quality and aesthetics.

Dan Wingate will make this presentation from the one prepared and presented in St. Louis in 2009 by David Crosthwait. This will have examples from the program not previously shown.