TCM film festval King Kong restoration?

Technically-oriented discussion of classic films on everything from 35mm to Blu-Ray
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louie

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PostThu Apr 29, 2010 1:44 pm

are all restorations now done digitally? what are we losing and or gaining by doing it this way? restoration seems to be a vague term today.
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Jack Theakston

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PostThu Apr 29, 2010 2:25 pm

From what I've seen, I'd say many but not most of the projects at labs these days are digital, but most of the ones that do are also high-ticket films where the extra cost of digital clean-up is necessary and justified. More obscure titles tend to be in better condition because they weren't printed up as much and have less wear to them.
J. Theakston
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Richard P. May

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PostThu Apr 29, 2010 3:34 pm

Let's turn Jack's comment around. Most of the restoration/preservation work done in the labs is photo-chemical. Digital is used for high-profile or extremely difficult movies (RED SHOES, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, DOCTOR STRANGELOVE, LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN, etc.). Digital is extremely expensive compared to traditional film work.
Almost all of the digital restoration work I've seen is superb!
Dick May
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Jack Theakston

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PostThu Apr 29, 2010 3:43 pm

I must also add, however, that I've seen some absolutely STUNNING photochemical restorations in the past several years.
J. Theakston
"You get more out of life when you go out to a movie!"
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louie

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PostThu Apr 29, 2010 3:55 pm

it just seems like photochemical restoration would actually restore rather than make things look spiffy artificially. i know nothing. this is just what comes to my uneducated mind when i try grasping the concept of restoration.
are there pre digital era restorations that are still considered untouchable?
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Marr&Colton

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PostThu Apr 29, 2010 6:33 pm

The entire argument makes little difference because the reality is:

1. After over 100 years, film is slowly being phased out, due to cost of making prints. It was the same reason in 1975 when dye transfer Technicolor was phased out as too expensive compared to cheaper alternatives.

2. Digital projection and film transfer is getting better all the time, and a far cry from what we had even 10 years ago.

Whether film or digital, what matters is the best possible quality on the screen, without worrying about what's up in the booth projecting the movie.

The same controversy has gone on for years about tube amplifiers vs. transistor, pipe organs vs. electronic organs, colorization vs. original black and white,

ad infinitem...
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missdupont

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PostFri Apr 30, 2010 1:07 am

And there was a discussion about a month ago on the AMIA list serve that digital media has been found to be the fastest to become extinct, in 10-20 years. That means if it's not transferred quickly to the "new" digital, it's lost, whereas film is over 115 years old and still going strong.
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Harold Aherne

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PostFri Apr 30, 2010 1:35 am

What exactly does digital projection originate from? A disc or some kind of electronic file? (Sounds horribly ignorant, I know, but my world is one of 78s from 1924!). :wink:

I'm not opposed to digital projection if the picture looks wonderful and if it improves archival access (i.e. less worry about expensive film reels getting lost or damaged in transit and projection). But like missdupont, I have concerns about longevity, particularly the technological kind. At a recent literary conference I attended, one of the speakers who worked extensively with digital media noted that some of her 1993 work was virtually inaccessible today because of how much computer technology has advanced and how we often don't maintain the equipment to retrieve data from obsolete formats. Digital projection will probably advance even more in the future--and still more after that--and whether films can or should be preserved in these new formats will doubtless continue to be a topic of debate.

-Harold
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Marr&Colton

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PostFri Apr 30, 2010 5:28 am

Commercial theatrical digital projection is usually either via satellite feed similar to your Direct TV dish on the roof--or from a large capacity digital drive. Now that HD Blu-Ray is on the scene, we can get a good idea of how high bit-rate quality appears on a theatre screen.

I agree that film has a much better survival rate than any other media, so that's why it's so important to back up all digital or chemical restorations with as many original elements as possible.

I do wonder when the day comes that most original film elements of the 30s, 40s and 50s will be over 100 years old--even in safety film backups....

Perhaps the only hope to save our movie heritage in perpetuity is to continue backing up in new media systems as they come along.
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