Robert Harris on The Bits - 7/1/02 column - OFFICIAL THREAD

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Bill Hunt, Jul 1, 2002.

  1. Bill Hunt

    Bill Hunt Insider
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    Okay, this week Robert Harris begins his regular column on The Digital Bits in its final format, entitled:
    Yellow Layer Failure, Vinegar Syndrome and Miscellaneous Musings by Robert A. Harris
    In this week's column, Robert talks about Eastman color, dye fade, yellow layer failure... and how all that relates to the process of restoration. So click on the links to read Robert's comments this week and come on back here to discuss the topic, provide feedback, ask a question of Robert and basically wax philosophic as your hearts desire.
    Enjoy!
     
  2. Peter Apruzzese

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    Terrific piece, Robert. Now I can finally have something to show to people when they ask me "Why don't they just make up a new print?" when I tell them their favorite film may not have any useable elements for a video transfer anymore.

    Love the tease for the aspect ratio article next time. Having been a projectionist on-and-off for over 23 years, I can tell the readers that Mr. Harris is 100% correct, there is no way to tell what your theater is showing, even if the ratio of the physical screen measures correctly. Modern stadium seating theaters add their own problems of short projection throws, which add focus and hot-spotting problems as well.

    Looking forward to the next article! Thanks, Bill, for posting here and running them on The Bits...
     
  3. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    Another very informative (and also pretty funny) write-up, Robert. Thanks.
    I've been toying with the idea of picking up Pollyanna and now will be able to do so without any hesitation.
     
  4. Henry Carmona

    Henry Carmona Screenwriter

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    Thank you Bill!

    Thank you Robert!
     
  5. MatthewA

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    Great piece, Robert.

    But of the 1959-1960 films you mentioned:

    North by Northwest is a film in this category. Spartacus and The Alamo are others. Can-Can, Porgy and Bess, Exodus, The Nun's Story and hundreds of others should be either in trouble or unprintable.

    Did these not have separation masters (I guess you know about Spartacus).
     
  6. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    More superb work from Bill Hunt and Robert Harris!
    Thank you both! [​IMG]
     
  7. gregstaten

    gregstaten Supporting Actor

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    Great article. As I'm moving away from editing and into colorist/finishing work, I found this column particularly interesting. I've been following restoration for years and enjoyed every word. In fact, please let Mr. MacQueen know that I just ordered POLLYANNA specifically for the restoration section. (I didn't preorder it and hadn't planned on adding it to my collection. Incidentally, I think the colorist demonstration on SEVEN is worth the price of the DVD alone. I've used it when trying to show others what color correction is.)

    Without getting too technical, have you ever found that you can mix two surviving separations to produce an approximation of a missing sep? I realize that missing data is missing data, but I've been able to restore some problem areas in faded footage by selectively mixing the available color data and a careful application of secondaries.

    Thanks again for the great article.

    -greg
     
  8. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Re: Greg

    I'm certain that Mr. MacQueen will tune in here, but will forward comments to him.

    In answer to your query regarding the mixing of disparate separations, the answer is "yes."

    We had a very strange situation on Spartacus, which we only finally figured out when we found some files which dated various post-production activities.

    It turns out that the sep masters, which were in Technirama 35/8 format, was in production during the re-cutting of the film, after the censors got their hands on it.

    While some rolls were produced before the cutting and some after -- some were actually produced during the cut.

    One scene in particular which comes to mind is during the slave trek across Italy and the burial of the baby.

    Two color records had been produced on a certain date. Then the neg was re-cut and the third produced. Therefore, we were missing one record. We experimented using the proper filtration with the wrong records and finally were able to come up with a reasonable product.

    Jim and Bob Lawrence (who had cut the film 30 years before) and I would check in with Stanley and keep him abreast of the reconstruction and restoration efforts. He kept quite involved. I recall discussing this particular situation and he immediately and fully understood the problem and agreed with the way it was being handled. We ended up going for a more early evening -- "magic" hour look -- rather than day, as we could not bring out a full day look.

    If you view this scene on the Criterion disc, you'll note that it almost has a two-color look to it.

    As an aside, every time we completed our technical updates with Stanley, he would always change the conversation to something more important.

    Baseball.

    RAH
     
  9. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Great article, along with the other two!

    Since the North By Northwest DVD restoration was made by overlaying the color values of a Technicolor process print over a VistaVision format (8-perf) interpositive, could that be done optically for a film restoration?

    The Lowry Digital Images restoration looks great, but it would be neat if the same results could be done on film.
     
  10. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Re: Patrick McCart:

    I had not heard anything about overlaying the values of a dye transfer print in the digital work done on n x nw.

    Technicolor is too contrasty to be of much use in film restoration. It is specifically a projection element. One might be able to make some use of printing matrices if they survived, but they would create problematic results if an attempt was made to combine them with sep masters as an alternate positive color record element, as they have a totally different grain structure and contrast.

    RAH
     
  11. Adam_S

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    I was thrilled to see the Pollyanna restoration explanation/demonstration when I got my hands on all four of the Vault Disney dvds the day they came out. As I said on a related HTF thread, the demo blew away all the criterion demonstrations I've seen, which although eye opening, only consist of showing repair work that was done, with little to no explanation. I wish they had included a similar featurette on all the vault titles describing the restoration done on each in turn.

    I can't remember the precise year, but is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in danger, or bad shape? is this why we haven't seen it yet on dvd, because it is getting a fabulous, deluxe restoration?
     
  12. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Mr. MacQueen produced a superb restored version of 20KLUTS several years ago in the proper 2.55:1 AR.

    Word has it that this will be coming in the near future as another film in the "Vault" series. With the same talent producing 20K, it should not only be a superb transfer, but a winning disc for value-added material.

    I'm looking forward to it.

    RAH
     
  13. Kenneth Cummings

    Kenneth Cummings Supporting Actor

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    Very good article Robert. It remind me a lot of the piece Ron made a while back about "A Mad Mad Mad World", which a number of it sources have decayed nad it getting work on probably this minute to get it the way it once was (never seem the movie too).
     
  14. Robert Harris

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    One additional factoid regarding the color restoration piece
    on Pollyanna hosted by Scott MacQueen.

    Credit for the demo piece should properly be directed to Eric Young of Sparkhill Productions and his segment producer, Les Perkins.

    I would suggest that if you'd like to see more instructive material of this type that you let Disney know about it. They're finally doing truly great work on DVD.

    RAH
     
  15. Moe Dickstein

    Moe Dickstein Filmmaker

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    Robert -

    Excellent piece, as always, and I look forward to the next one - I particurarly look forward to hearing your thoughts on the new 1776 disc and what has been accomplished with this film...
     
  16. Gary Kellerman

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    The complexities of color restoration on Eastmancolor are somewhat beyond my comprehension but I do remember hearing about the fading aspect of this particular film many years back.

    I saw WILLPENNY in the theater. Its colors were very subtle to my recollection. It received favorable reviews. I thought it was an excellent western. I thought Heston was superb in this film. I believe some years back I heard or read an interview that Mr. Heston considers WILLPENNY his best film.
     
  17. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Screenwriter
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    I'm so thankful that Disney seems to be taking an interest in putting out product geared toward lovers of film. Now if they could just be convinced to release SONG OF THE SOUTH... [​IMG]
     
  18. gregstaten

    gregstaten Supporting Actor

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  19. Brian E

    Brian E Screenwriter

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    Excellent article. I look forward to future installments. The whole topic is quite interesting. I've had all four Vault Disney titles sitting on my shelf since they came out, but have only found time to watch The Parent Trap (which looks great). I'll have to dig out Pollyanna when I get home to check out the restoration piece. Those extras always fascinate me, I wish we'd see them more often.
     
  20. Ken_McAlinden

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    re: Vanilla Sky/Open Your Eyes

    Robert,
    I too am a big fan of John Toll's work. His lighting set-ups and camera movements always seem to have more to do with the requirements of the film than pushing a personal style. If he makes five films, one could easily be convinced that they were made by five different, but equally talented cinematographers.

    I think you will enjoy the camera work in "Open Your Eyes" as well. Like most smart young directors, Amenebar used a DP with a lot of experience (Hans Burman in this case). As evidenced recently in "The Others", Amenebar has an exceptional sense for strong compositions. Even though the "Open Your Eyes" color and lighting palette is not as broad and varied as the remake, the choice of compositions and camera movements results in some striking images that will stay with you long after the credits roll. The club scene is something of a tour-de-force. It's hard to make additional recommendations about particular scenes without straying into spoilerville.

    Regards,
     

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