North By Northwest Restoration for 2009?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Paul Borges, Mar 4, 2007.

  1. Paul Borges

    Paul Borges Stunt Coordinator

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    In the recent Warner chat, it was mentioned that an HD North By Northwest would be targeted for a 2009 date for its 50th anniversary. I have read that the film sources are in pretty bad shape. What could be done to bring this film back to its former glory? Do separation masters exist so an ultra high resolution can be done like the Searchers? Just curious for any tech discussion as this is one of my favorite films.
     
  2. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    Well, the dvd that came out a few years ago was excellent and I remember it getting alot of terrific reviews about the transfer. Guess the original print or master has not held up...

    Great looking movie btw. [​IMG]
     
  3. GregoryMesh

    GregoryMesh Supporting Actor

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but North by Northwest wasn't shot in 3-strip Technicolor, so there would not be separation masters for ultra high resolution restoration.
     
  4. Paul Borges

    Paul Borges Stunt Coordinator

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    But The Searchers wasn't a 3-strip production, but they used the ultrahigh resolution process. So I'm thinking ultrahigh resolution process may not be limited to 3-strip Technicolor films.

    Edit: Looks Joel answered it better (see below)

    Is North By Northwest in better/worse shape than Vertigo was? Can North By Northwest be brought back to life? What would have to be done?
     
  5. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Cinematographer

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    Ultra Resolution does not strictly apply to films made in 3-Strip Technicolor and can be used on any film where black and white separations exist (case in point The Searchers, to date the only Ultra Resolution restoration made from an Eastman stock film).

    Color separations exist for Vertigo at least (according to Robert A. Harris on the old laserdisc commentary), maybe they do for the rest of Hitchcock's VistaVision epics.
     
  6. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I think it's been said that NxNW's camera negative has lost too much of its yellow layer to be useful. They attempted to correct it on the 2000 DVD, but it has some problems (i.e. the sky in the cornfield sequence is way too red and the dirt is pinkish). The contrast is way too light, too.

    With that being said, The Searchers looks absolutely stunning. If NxNW has separation masters as high-quality, I bet they could make it look just as good as The Searchers and much better than the 2000 DVD. I felt that the current DVD looks a little too soft now. According to WB, the transfer started with an 1080i HD transfer. However, the LDI digital cleanup was only at 525p. It looks alright today, but the more film-like digital restorations for the Indiana Jones and Star Wars films, Casablanca, and Goldfinger look a lot better. NxNW was LDI's first project, anyways.
     
  7. MielR

    MielR Advanced Member

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    From what I've read about Technicolor, film doesn't have to be shot in 3-strip Technicolor for there to be separation masters. I may be wrong, but I think that separation/preservation masters can be made from any color negative (like Eastmancolor, as long as it's not terribly faded).

    I've heard that when the Eastmancolor fading problem was discovered in the 1970s, directors like Martin Scorcese started making 3-strip black and white preservations of their color films so they would have something to use in the future in case the original negatives totally faded.

    I believe the 3-strip cameras stopped being used in 1953 and all Technicolor prints thereafter were made from color negs (instead of the black and white negatives that the 3-strip cameras used).
     
  8. Jack Theakston

    Jack Theakston Supporting Actor

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    Separation masters have been done by the studios since practically day one.

    The problem is that printing off of seps is phenominally expensive, so it is one done for films that studios know will make back the money (if that).

    NORTH BY NORTHWEST was shot on standard Eastman stock, but because prints were by Technicolor, they would have 8-perf separations for sure.
     
  9. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    Great info fellas. [​IMG] Cool stuff indeed.
     
  10. Douglas R

    Douglas R Cinematographer

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    This reminds me that the first time I saw North by Northwest was when it was re-issued in cinemas in the UK in 1965. I remember (and have not forgotten) that it was one of the sharpest and brightest films I had ever seen. VistaVision did, of course, provide very sharp prints and this was certainly one of the best. It's great to have the film on DVD but nothing could match the look of seeing that film in 35mm on a big screen.
     
  11. Mark Anthony

    Mark Anthony Second Unit

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    If the O-neg is indeed trashed beyond current use and the B&W sep's are the best surviving lowest generation element then WB could go down this route a la The Searchers.

    Given the higher res of Vista-Vision, if the Ultra-resolution digital alignment and clean-up can be done at 6-8K, to ensure all detail is preserved, then the results could be output not only to digital but to a new 65mm negative, a la Vertigo - given they have already got a multi-track soundtrack, a limited 70mm release would be an amazing experience!

    M
     
  12. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    Apparently for The Searchers they didn't output the new restoration to film.
    :-(

    But I agree, an ultra resolution restoration of NBNW for HD would be great.
     
  13. Mark Anthony

    Mark Anthony Second Unit

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    I would imagine the reason The Searchers wasn't output to 65mm film was not so much cost but because if Ultra-res is currently limited to less than 4K, which it may or may not be, then it won't hold sufficient detail to adequately convey Vista-V on 65mm, especially as a slight blow-up would be required anyway, highlighting any detail flaws.

    The 50th anniversary gives WB another year at least of development and reducing costs to make Ultra-Res at 6-8K more practical and cost effective. Let's face it once this is achievable it would be one of the ultimate ways to restore a film back to film when photo-chemical techniques are inappropriate or unsuitable due to heavy damage.

    M
     
  14. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    I agree with you, digital technology has reached the point where it can get films back to their original quality on films where photo chemical means alone won't work. I am just interested in the economics, was Ultra Res a cheaper restoration method for The Searchers? It seems to me that the end result is better than what could be acheived photochemically, but was it also a cost concern?

    Could a hybrid restoration process work that uses photo chemical means up to a point, but compliments this with ultra res, say to try to get back the yellow layer in the negative? I have a limited technical understanding of the issues, and I have no idea how much this costs, but it seems to me it is actually in the interests of film restoration. I can remember when many feared that so called video only 'restorations in name only' would result in some films being lost forever. But with Ultra Res at 4K or 6K it seems that digital technology is able to present these films in quality that we never though digital technology would allow.
     
  15. Paul Borges

    Paul Borges Stunt Coordinator

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    Why should Searchers be output to 65 mm? The VistaVision Negative isn't that big anyways, or is it?? I agree they should do a restoration to film.

    Did they do the restorations of Gone With the Wind or Wizard of Oz to film or only digital?
     
  16. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    I wish I knew who to contact at WB about stuff like this. There is a minor (but important) issue regarding a couple of missing frames from the newest GWTW restoration and I want to let them know about it so that future versions can be fixed.
     
  17. Mark Anthony

    Mark Anthony Second Unit

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    Bearing in mind that the photo-chemical restoration with digital clean-up of the 90 min The Black Swan was reputed to be somewhere in the region of $2-5 million, the Universal Vertigo and Rear Window Restorations were about $3.5-4 million combined (p-c with minor digital work), and more recently WB spent a similar amount on Mutiny on the Bounty, thus any digital advances could be cost-beneficial.

    It takes a very talented and expensive specialist to clean and handle a 60 year old camera negative but anybody, properly trained, can use a computer on a scanned file of the above without causing irreperable damage to the original.

    Having said that the combination of necessary photo-chemical work and cutting-edge digital techniques can't be cheap either, hence why WB have only just begun work on Ultra-res rendition of the near 3hr Quo Vadis, I would imagine this is costing them the equivalent of a small countries gnp...

    As to why the Searchers should be output to 65mm, V-Vision is an 8 perf format with much greater resolution and detail than standard 35mm, so if a new neg was made on 35mm it wouldn't resolve all the detail of the VV O-Neg, hence why Vertigo was restored to 65mm from VV elements.

    M
     
  18. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    There's also the fact that the original transfer wasn't correctly framed (see this link at the American Widescreen Museum: http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/widescreen/lbx3.htm. I for one would support an Ultra Resolution output to film, or a full RAH restoration.
     
  19. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    That's a comparison between an old P&S VHS and MGM's letterboxed LD.

    Here's the two compared to Warner's DVD:

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    And here I thought Citizen Kane was LDI's first cleanup, but the dates don't match. Doh! [​IMG]
     

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