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Robert Harris on The Bits: The Alamo


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#1 of 421 Bill Hunt

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Posted March 20 2009 - 10:30 AM

Afternoon, everyone! I just wanted to let you all know that Robert Harris has just completed a new Yellow Layer Failure column on The Digital Bits, in which he officially announces his new and long-awaited effort to restore MGM's The Alamo, starring John Wayne. Enjoy the column, and please be sure to come back here to discuss the effort with Robert and others, and to learn how you might be able to help support the project.

Here's the link:

Yellow Layer Failure, Vinegar Syndrome and Miscellaneous Musings by Robert A. Harris

All the best, and have a great weekend!


Bill Hunt, Editor
The Digital Bits
http://www.thedigitalbits.com
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com

#2 of 421 Robert Crawford

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Posted March 20 2009 - 10:31 AM

Yeah boy, I've been waiting on this news.






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#3 of 421 Robert Crawford

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Posted March 20 2009 - 10:40 AM

RAH,
I don't quite understand your meaning with this excerpt.

The work involved will take about 10 to 12 months. The final result will be two versions of the film – The original Roadshow and the General Release, both with Overture, Intermission, Entr'acte and Exit Music.

The most important would be the theatrical event projected fully restored in 70mm or Digital Cinema in 2K or 4K. The running time would be approximately 172 minutes, replicating the visual and aural splendor of The Alamo as it originally premiered in San Antonio on October 31, 1960, albeit in the General Release cut of the film. While the General Release cut would be available for DVD and Blu-ray, the Roadshow version of the film is intended solely for the DVD and Blu-ray home video audience.
Are you saying the Roadshow version will definitely be available for DVD and Blu-ray while the General Release cut might not be right away?

Also, let us know how to contribute to this effort because even small amounts of contributions will help in this endeavor.





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#4 of 421 Robert Harris

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Posted March 20 2009 - 11:02 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Crawford
RAH,
I don't quite understand your meaning with this excerpt.

The work involved will take about 10 to 12 months. The final result will be two versions of the film – The original Roadshow and the General Release, both with Overture, Intermission, Entr'acte and Exit Music.

The most important would be the theatrical event projected fully restored in 70mm or Digital Cinema in 2K or 4K. The running time would be approximately 172 minutes, replicating the visual and aural splendor of The Alamo as it originally premiered in San Antonio on October 31, 1960, albeit in the General Release cut of the film. While the General Release cut would be available for DVD and Blu-ray, the Roadshow version of the film is intended solely for the DVD and Blu-ray home video audience.
Are you saying the Roadshow version will definitely be available for DVD and Blu-ray while the General Release cut might not be right away?

Also, let us know how to contribute to this effort because even small amounts of contributions will help in this endeavor.

Crawdaddy

Both versions will be available for DVD and Blu-ray. The new theatrical version would be the shorter of the two but with Roadshow music, based upon the need for perfection of image, which will not be totally attainable for the additional footage with the exception of about a five minute sequence. As I'm certain you're aware, projecting an image on a 50-70 foot screen necessitates superb quality.

As far as contributions, we're working out the final points toward tying in with the proper charity organization to hold and disperse funds. An announcement will probably be made late next week.

Perhaps there can be an HTF trip to San Antonio, Dallas and Houston next year.

RAH

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#5 of 421 DavidBY

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Posted March 20 2009 - 12:12 PM

Robert,

I hope you will setup a paypal account were we can send our donations.

Bing Bailey

#6 of 421 Jo_C

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Posted March 20 2009 - 12:14 PM

This is a public response to Robert Harris. I can tell you that Robert and I have spoken privately via E-mail and IM, and on this occasion I want to make this conversation public as well. I wholeheartedly applaud Robert's efforts to revive this film. I can tell you that I did happen to catch a TCM showing of the longer roadshow version some years back, and recorded this for myself on DVD-R (obviously, the quality of it can't compare to today's high definition telecasts). Right now, we are lucky to have the roadshow version exist at all in any version, but of course, not in a version that can be currently exhibited in theatres.

I contribute to Wikipedia from time to time, and I did an update on the Wikipedia site on the Alamo film. I urge Robert to look at this at http://en.wikipedia....lamo_(1960_film) , especially in the section where it talks about the different versions. If there is anything inaccurate about it and want me to do truthful updates, I invite Robert to please do so. Some time back on another blog site I did something about "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World", and Robert requested I correct some info on it and I politely obliged. Since we can't do everything at the same time, the main focus right now is "The Alamo".

I too want to see this film restored to its full glory. If all else, I'd like to see both versions restored for theatrical, digital projection theatrical, and disc release.

Since technically MGM owns the film (sister company UA originally produced it and in a way owns the film), a lot of co-operation is needed. Get as much help as we can involved. Tom Cruise (who is a partner in UA) should be contacted as well.

Even if I end up contributing little money, it will go a long way. But we need the most help we can get if we're to get this film revived ASAP. It will do John Wayne's family proud. I'm sure if Wayne were physically here, he would be pleased too.

One question remains...if I end up doing a blog on "The Alamo", what would I be allowed to say that will satisfy you, Robert, and all movie fans?

I wish you (and fans around the world) the best of luck in getting "The Alamo" restored.

#7 of 421 MatthewA

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Posted March 20 2009 - 12:31 PM

I'll throw in anything I can. But the picture you paint is a sad one. I've never even seen the film but any opportunity to rescue an important film from oblivion should be taken.

Enough is enough, Disney. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray.

 

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#8 of 421 DavidJ

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Posted March 20 2009 - 12:31 PM

It was quite interesting to read about the problems with "The Alamo" and the effort to preserve it. Please keep us informed of the effort.

#9 of 421 Robert Harris

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Posted March 20 2009 - 02:10 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidBY
Robert,

I hope you will setup a paypal account were we can send our donations.

Bing Bailey

We looked into setting up something on Paypal, but apparently they take something like .60 per transaction, which would negate giving people who wish to contribute a dollar or two that ability.

Also, any funds must go to an unimpeachable venue.

RAH

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#10 of 421 darkrock17

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Posted March 20 2009 - 02:32 PM

I Know this is off topic, but if MGM is putting up the money for restoring The Alamo!, does this mean that there is hope of seeing a restored version of It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World sometime in the near future?

#11 of 421 Robert Harris

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Posted March 20 2009 - 02:54 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by darkrock17
I Know this is off topic, but if MGM is putting up the money for restoring The Alamo!, does this mean that there is hope of seeing a restored version of It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World sometime in the near future?

The Alamo and Mad World are in many ways technically tethered and sharing similar problems. We are creating technology for The Alamo that is necessary for Mad World in precisely the same way.

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#12 of 421 oscar_merkx

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Posted March 20 2009 - 08:42 PM

Hi Robert

I think this is a fantastic thing that you are doing.

Let us know if we can help out in any way ?
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#13 of 421 John Hodson

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Posted March 20 2009 - 09:31 PM

This is simply marvellous, marvellous news. Robert; you have been a prime mover in all the efforts to get this greenlit and for that many thanks, I cannot wait to see the results.
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#14 of 421 Mark Anthony

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Posted March 20 2009 - 10:25 PM

Excellent news Mr Harris.

I'm sure you've explored this avenue, but as the John Wayne estate/family has profited from the film over the years, and presumably will continue to do so when the new master's are shown on TV and on Home Video etc, couldn't they part-fund the missing money (assuming they haven't already contributed)?

Regards

M

#15 of 421 marcuslaw

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Posted March 20 2009 - 10:34 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Harris
We looked into setting up something on Paypal, but apparently they take something like .60 per transaction, which would negate giving people who wish to contribute a dollar or two that ability.

Also, any funds must go to an unimpeachable venue.

RAH

That is ridiculous. Is that Paypal's general transaction fee or for non-profit/charitable contributions? If the latter, I'd hate to see what they charge online retailers!

#16 of 421 Douglas R

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Posted March 21 2009 - 12:07 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Harris
We looked into setting up something on Paypal, but apparently they take something like .60 per transaction, which would negate giving people who wish to contribute a dollar or two that ability.

Also, any funds must go to an unimpeachable venue.

RAH

I use PayPal a lot and I'm not charged anything to pay or to receive money. I believe charges only apply if people do not have a PayPal account credit balance, linked to their bank account - PayPal only charge if a credit or debit card is used for payment.

#17 of 421 Robert Harris

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Posted March 21 2009 - 12:48 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas R
I use PayPal a lot and I'm not charged anything to pay or to receive money. I believe charges only apply if people do not have a PayPal account credit balance, linked to their bank account - PayPal only charge if a credit or debit card is used for payment.

Someone in my office came up with the info. We'll recheck next week. Thank you.

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#18 of 421 Simon Howson

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Posted March 21 2009 - 01:39 AM

I think there is information regarding PayPal accounts for non-profit organisations here. I suspect there would be a process to prove you are a non-profit, which may require significant administration.

Mr Harris, can you explain why the original negative hasn't suffered vinegar sydnrome, but that last existing 70mm print has? Do negatives also turn to vinegar eventually?

Are the separation masters useable at all (can they be scanned and then digitally corrected)?

Will the plan be to mainly use the negative through extensive computer correction, but then use either of the 35mm elements for sections that can't be fixed?

#19 of 421 Robert Harris

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Posted March 21 2009 - 03:41 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Howson
can you explain why the original negative hasn't suffered vinegar sydnrome, but that last existing 70mm print has? Do negatives also turn to vinegar eventually?

The 70mm print was chemically rejuvenated to hide scratches before transfer. The chemicals used in that process exacerbate the process.

Anything printed on acetate can fall victim to vinegar syndrome. This is not a problem with nitrate stock.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Howson
Are the separation masters useable at all (can they be scanned and then digitally corrected)?

The masters, which are also 65mm were created with an optical focus imperfection, which can be at least partially alleviated with digital tools that exist partially at this time. They are extremely important for color, if not resolution, and MGM has archived and stored them perfectly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Howson
Will the plan be to mainly use the negative through extensive computer correction, but then use either of the 35mm elements for sections that can't be fixed?

We are unaware of any 35mm elements that would be helpful. The OCN has an extremely faded yellow layer, plus additional damage to not only the Y, but to the M dye layer just beneath due to contact with chemicals not fully washed from the black leader created in 1960. The C layer (which controls red), closest to the film base may be helpful in some respects, especially resolution. This is currently being tested.

Everything would be performed using 65mm pre-print and / or 70mm print. In the end, we would expect that over 800,000 65mm frames would be scanned at 8k resolution, plus another 45,00 frame of VistaVision.

The sections of the surviving 70mm print necessary to reconstruct the Roadshow version would be optically printed to Eastman 5272 in the VistaVision format, and then scanned in 6k for further attention.

MGM performed preservation work on the Roadshow audio several years ago as part of their ongoing asset protection program, so fortunately one problem is solved.

Keep in mind that these elements are now fifty years old.

RAH

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#20 of 421 WadeM

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Posted March 21 2009 - 03:47 AM

Glad this finally got the green light!! Excellent news!


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