Archival Film Remastering

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Vidiot, Nov 15, 2023.

  1. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR! Thread Starter

    Hollywood, USA
    I did a few projects recently for a new video label, Film Masters, and they were nice enough to do a big social media announcement this week and praise my work, which was a surprise to me:

    You can hide anything in a Swiss bank except... murder! Here's a little sneak peak for those anticipating our February 2024 release. We were fortunate to work with a great colorist on this project and we think the extra TLC really shows...

    If nothing else, it gives you an idea of what the before/after comparison looks like. A 45-year-old film like this is tougher to work on than you might think: the years have not been kind to the film elements, so it requires a lot of care and effort to pull our as much as we can from what we have to work with. It's not perfect, but as I always like to say... "it's the best the film has ever looked!"
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  2. alanhed

    alanhed Forum Resident

    WA state
    Looks Great! Never seen that film.
    Must see it.
    longdist01 likes this.
  3. crispi

    crispi Vinyl Archaeologist

    Great job, especially on the colour grade. It looks great without being too “modern”.

    However, if you allow me to be picky, I do see a loss of detail in the midtones. Like the traits in the faces are a bit muddier than on the unrestored image. Is that a casualty of the grain removal? (And by the way, I would never advocate for digital edge sharpening to seemingly get those details back, that would be a fallacy.)
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  4. 64FALCON

    64FALCON Forum Resident

    I remember this movie was all over VHS "back in the day" (in the '80s and '90s) on VCI/United Home Video.

    It's one of those utilitarian type movies used to fill out a programming slot on a Sunday afternoon from 2 to 4 PM [with commercials, of course].

    When VCI issued "The Swiss Conspiracy" (1976) in the early 1980s in one of their 'Command Performance' boxes they just used any ol' film print to run copies of and put on the tape. Some pops, hisses, scratches, you get the idea. VCI didn't use a pristine film print, in any case. (Of course, lots of companies didn't use the best film prints at their disposal back then; wasn't a priority. The first homevideo release of JAWS from 1980 wasn't a transfer from a great print. Just a serviceable theatrical print with scratches here 'n' there throughout).

    I'm not surprised the film elements weren't in particularly good shape. It's like so many other movies where there's no special motivation to preserve it for all-time and store the elements in as safe a place as possible. It's been issued on VHS and DVD in the past so it'll be around in watchable condition no matter how degraded the elements became. But at least the film elements were 'salvage-able' (is that the right word?) so Vidiot could work on it and make it look better. THE SWISS CONSPIRACY LIVES!

    (I think about the Roadshow Version of THE ALAMO (1960) occasionally that has degraded so much it's likely not use-able anymore to create a new Hi•Definition transfer. The Roadshow Version was released on tape by MGM but it doesn't appear it's going to go any further than that unless MGM simply copies the Roadshow tape release to disc and tries to spruce it up that way).
  5. ky658

    ky658 Senior Member

    Ft Myers, Florida
    Looks great, especially the shadows and black levels, it has much more depth. And like another poster mentioned, without the high luminance/chrominance domination that is prevalent in today’s films.
  6. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR! Thread Starter

    Hollywood, USA
    Did the best we could with a print -- the only surviving element in the world.
  7. Thwacko

    Thwacko Forum Resident

    Peacham, Vermont
    Looks great! I love that you respected the original color palette.
  8. crispi

    crispi Vinyl Archaeologist

    Only now did I realise I was actually talking to the legendary @Vidiot:hide: carry on! :wiggle:
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  9. Stratoblaster

    Stratoblaster A skeptical believer....

    Ontario, Canada
    Thanks for posting this; I find film restoration absolutely fascinating and love what you, and the team, have done here. The restoration is sharper, vibrant, and has much better contrast...great job.

    It looks like the original has an overall magenta-ish color cast to it; is that an 'artifact' of old film stock that's aged with chemical degradation?
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  10. Dansk

    Dansk rational romantic mystic cynical idealist

    Ontario, Canada
    Amazing work! The greens were almost entirely lost in the original, the difference is quite striking. Was image stabilization used here, or is the less-jittery picture simply a result of better scanning?
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  11. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR! Thread Starter

    Hollywood, USA
    We did stabilize quite a bit of it.

    I'm in the unique position of being a fan as well as being a mastering engineer -- but I tell you, we sweat blood over this stuff, even the small films. I was just telling the owner the other day, "we're very aware that these are pretty much "lost films," and so when we're remastering a 50-year-old movie in 2023, chances are this is it: it's the last time it'll ever be mastered for streaming, so this will be it from now on.
  12. 64FALCON

    64FALCON Forum Resident

    I can't help but wonder how many '60s and '70s movies -- my favorite two decades of film -- don't have a single film print extant. Or at least the surviving elements are so degraded they're not in use-able condition to make a new transfer of.

    I reckon I'll pick up a 'Swiss' disc when it comes out in February.
  13. The Beave

    The Beave My Wife Is My Life! And don’t I forget it!

    EXCELLENT WORK Vidiot! Seriously. I also find Film restoration very fascinating and this clip hit the nail on the head.
    Keep it up!!
  14. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR! Thread Starter

    Hollywood, USA
    It's quite a detective process. I know of a few films where they found 3/4 of the existing reels (or maybe 5 out of 6), but not the complete film, which is very frustrating. For all we know, it's been missing for 30-35 years. Tough business.
  15. 64FALCON

    64FALCON Forum Resident

    That's rough finding all the reels save one. :shake:

    Where'd that last reel go . . . :shrug:
  16. Strong work, Vid! David Janssen was so cool...
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  17. 64FALCON

    64FALCON Forum Resident

    DAVID JANSSEN was a work-a-holic; the man was always busy.

    It was said upon his passing in February 1980 at age 48 that he'd basically worked himself to death. And when you look at his filmography on the IMDb or Wikipedia you can see he never stopped working.
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  18. McLover

    McLover Senior Member

    Vidiot is the Steve Hoffman/Kevin Gray/MLutthans of video transfers. He knows when to say when and is discerning to insist on the best.
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  19. The Beave

    The Beave My Wife Is My Life! And don’t I forget it!

    And again, the trick for a mastering engineer is to know when to say when.
    It's easy for an enthusiastic person to go too far with 'cleaning' up either film or audio.
    But the good ones stand out because your watching the film and not watching the Restoration.
    McLover likes this.
  20. MIKEPR

    MIKEPR Forum Resident


    I think I've seen these with older TV shows.

    While most I've see were either made before I was born and I wouldn't know what these shows looked like when they 1st aired but it's possible I might have seen them in a different condition and figure the picture quality was updated unless it has more to do with how TV's are made or how shows are broadcast.

    However if they're going out of their way to improve the quality and they really don't need to I think they should leave them alone.

    Older films and TV shows are meant to be enjoyed they way are or as they looked at the time they were produced.
    Dyland likes this.
  21. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR! Thread Starter

    Hollywood, USA
    Eh, we still try to make them look good. We try not to change them too much. My like is always, "this is the best this film has ever looked!" And that's actually important.
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  22. The Beave

    The Beave My Wife Is My Life! And don’t I forget it!

    Your right. But I understand the poster's gist, He likes the 'vintage' look of an older time period, much like people who have nostalgia for listening to music on AM radio. And it's Valid for them, if that's what floats your boat.
    What He's missing imo is that When those films/shows first came out, they DID look, or close to, what you've achieved here.
    The 'pinking' out of the colors is NOT what was shown when this first came out.
    So I'm with you, Your restoration did not CHANGE anything, you just made it look like it did when it first was fresh, and that's is exactly what I would want in a restoration.

    But different strokes for different folks.
    I'm sure SSmith would agree with me.
    But he's feeding his Lizards right about now.
    Just sayin
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  23. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer

    The West
    The only remaining print?! That’s bonkers. Yikes. Beautiful restoration work. Was that an Eastman print or a Technicolor dye transfer? I assume it’s the former because of the magenta shift. How do you decide on tone and exposure when there’s no director or cinematographer to consult?

    dan c
    64FALCON likes this.
  24. PH416156

    PH416156 Alea Iacta Est

    Fantastic. I saw this film many years ago on TV, and Senta Berger was, as usual, stunning. I'll gladly purchase the reissue.

    Great job on this one, Marc.
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  25. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR! Thread Starter

    Hollywood, USA
    No, after 45 years, everybody involved was dead. I did try to remove as much of the magenta as I could out of the print, but when the yellow and cyan layers fade this badly, it's a struggle even to make white. My biggest success was putting a little blue back in the skies, so that was one positive point.

    Yeah, we're not artificially putting back anything that wasn't already there. We're just bringing out what was photographed in the original negative (or in this case, in a print from the negative). The trick in mastering is always to use good taste and good judgement so it doesn't look wacky.
    supermd, Dillydipper, Shawn and 7 others like this.

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