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The Difficulty of Restoration and Preservation in 2K/4K


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#1 of 50 OFFLINE   sampsoninc916

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Posted July 20 2014 - 01:50 PM

A whole boatload of titles have been given a 2K or 4K Blu-ray restoration over the past several years. However, in all honesty, there are few companies out there who can truly pull off a quality restoration of an old movie. My state only has one, and that is Crawford Media Services in Atlanta, GA. They worked on Birth of a Nation, the movie industry's (in America) first blockbuster from 100 years ago. They never scanned it, but they worked with the digital files that they were sent, probably by Kino Classics or whoever scanned the surviving film elements. These days it looks like 4K is starting to become the way of the future, but not all content can make the transition. A lot of content to this day is still in standard definition. The problem when playing it back on a Blu-ray or UHD system is usually resolved due to a special upscaling engine and chip that is integrated into either the player or the TV system itself. Nevertheless, just because a movie sits on a disc or on a streaming site like Netflix or Hulu does not necessarily mean that it is preserved. I'm not sure how many animated cartoons can ever make the transition from SD to HD, often times 2K because older cartoons worked with 16mm, and newer cartoons like my favorite cartoon about technicolor equines living in a place called Equestria take advantage of Flash and Toon Boom and master their content in HD 1080p. iTunes current has the highest quality distribution copies of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, all 4 seasons, in 1080p. Not sure about what the resolution or bitrate that DHX Media (the animation company that makes My Little Pony) stores their masters at, but if you run it with the new UHD Teranex Processor, it will look good at 4K, yet it varies due to the quality of the original image. Just because of the delicacy of old film elements, scanning it is difficult, precisely removing the defects is difficult, and preserving it for generations is expensive. Crawford Media Services restores and archives stock footage from public broadcasting stations. I feel like with all the film attention being lavished upon GA, GA can deserve quality post production facilities, not just film restoration and preservation, but visual effects, animation (2D, 3D, and stop motion), color grading, editing, etc. I really think that GA having a post production facility on the caliber of Hollywood providing digital post services of all kinds is a good idea. It is difficult, but it's worth the risk. Do some of you understand the difficulty of restoring old movies and TV shows?



#2 of 50 OFFLINE   JoeDoakes

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Posted July 20 2014 - 07:46 PM

No.  I also don't understand why we see so many "2K restorations," when it does seem that 4K is preferable.  Is it that much cheaper?



#3 of 50 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted July 21 2014 - 01:07 AM

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A couple of things here.

2k is absolutely cheaper than 4k. 4k gets you more information from a 35mm or larger source. 2k can still get you some great results. (Spy Who Loved Me, etc). If you're talking a 65mm epic like Lawrence, 4k or higher will get you much better results. Just depends how much time, resources and $$$ the company has.

Georgia already has post production facilities, and the amount of local resources is continuing to grow. As a person based in Los Angeles, however, I do have to note that we have plenty of facilities here in California that are no longer getting as many projects. We already have the issue of most of the actual production fleeing California for greater tax incentives elsewhere. Now we're seeing the post facilities starting to flee as well. I understand the incentive expansion in California's state legislature will make it possible for more of both the production and post to stay home for a change starting in 2016. Should the expansion fail, we could well see Hollywood itself leave Hollywood.
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#4 of 50 OFFLINE   Billy Batson

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Posted July 21 2014 - 04:23 AM

That's the way things are going. There's a lot of scanning facilities in London's Soho area, historically the home of post-production, but there's no reason to stay there these days with the very high rents & rates, & companies are starting to locate outside of London at a fraction of the costs. And once scanned nothing physical needs to be moved anymore, so it can go online to India (for instance) for a de-spot, somewhere else for a colour grade. These very expensive areas for all this stuff are going to become a thing of the past (it made sense at one time because clients used to attend - & they don't like to travel, but a lot of the time that's not the case with this stuff), & I notice wages are coming down, & a lot of jobs are on short monthly contracts.

I see a lot of changes coming in Hollywood, but I'm sure that started a few years ago.

#5 of 50 OFFLINE   Paul_Warren

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Posted July 21 2014 - 05:09 AM

Its quite simple to understand actually.

 

If the film elements do not require extensive restoration/repair the studios simply chose to ignore making a better master as the economics do not work for them. The equipment & talented people are there to make this happen @ a price the studios are unwilling to meet even if its Star Wars/Star Trek etc etc they simply are not prepared to pay the going rate to give a pristine as good as it can be consumer experience on BD :rolleyes: This has been proved time & again with inferior sub standard looking HD transfers. If Star Wars/Star Trek cannot secure the funding nothing else can either unless a wealthy film maker wants to sponsor the work its not going to happen.

 

I have read on other websites industry insiders saying some studios are not even prepared to pay $60k for new 2K scan which would make a massive difference to PQ.

 

Consumer end product for a fine looking BD is their last consideration when it should be their first & is a big reason why BD will never be what DVD was financially :rolleyes:

 

The people who have the power to say yes/no are nearly always accountants not film industry creatives so its unlikely to ever change now :(


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#6 of 50 OFFLINE   Dr Griffin

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Posted July 21 2014 - 06:36 AM

Then the push to go to true 4K streaming and possibly a 4K disc format seems hopeless to suceed. If they are not willing to scan now at 4K or better anymore, a slow to grow new format will not push them in that direction, will it? Better watch out for all the 2K stuff upscaled to 4K being touted as 4K that will be coming. Just like now, there is still a lot of broadcasting in 720, because they don't want to commit the bandwidth. Do you think they will advertise scanned at 2K, brought to you at 4K?



#7 of 50 OFFLINE   Worth

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Posted July 21 2014 - 06:50 AM

2K is still the industry standard for new productions, even those shot on 35mm and higher-res digital. Only a handful of films a year are actually finished at 4K.


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#8 of 50 OFFLINE   Billy Batson

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Posted July 21 2014 - 07:05 AM

Oh I dunno, would I notice the difference between 2K & 4K on a blind test on my 47" Plasma. And the public doesn't want the best, they want the most convenient (MP3). I don't know what some of the big studios are up to, esp. MGM, all those ancient HD masters that really are in need of a good de-spot. It seems to me that the bean counters are making the decisions these days, which means short term thinking.

#9 of 50 OFFLINE   FoxyMulder

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Posted July 21 2014 - 07:18 AM

I have read on other websites industry insiders saying some studios are not even prepared to pay $60k for new 2K scan which would make a massive difference to PQ.

 

 

It's just $20K for a 4K film scan, much less for a 2K film scan, the additional money comes from any work needed after the scan.


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#10 of 50 OFFLINE   atfree

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Posted July 21 2014 - 08:03 AM

It's just $20K for a 4K film scan, much less for a 2K film scan, the additional money comes from any work needed after the scan.

I have no technical knowledge, but if a 2k scan costs much less, would $30K be a reasonable number for total costs to bring a BD of a catalog title (with 2k scan that required little to no work after scan plus costs of producing artwork, disc, etc)? If so, then a title in this instance would have to sell 1500 copies at $20 apiece to break even. If the total cost is $40K, it's 2000 copies to break even.

 

While I've yet to see any actual, verified sales numbers for catalog releases, are these releases, on whole, selling enough copies to warrant the expense of scanning and releasing them on BD? I think that's the big question.


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#11 of 50 OFFLINE   Ed Lachmann

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Posted July 21 2014 - 08:12 AM

Since the new professional Apertus Axiom 4K Cinema camera will soon be available for about $3,000, I would guess that that days of $20K 4K scans are  numbered.  In one scenario, it might be possible to recover an old but functioning 35mm film telecine machine and rig it to the Apertus.  Meanwhile, other technologies are sure to come along concurrently.  As for the lifespan of exorbitant prices, I still have my $2,000 one gig drive from the early 90's around here somewhere.  Also, I love Olive's releases but many seem to be a simple transfer without much or any restoration work.  Still, armchair restorers might look into the Algosoft Viva program.



#12 of 50 OFFLINE   Worth

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Posted July 21 2014 - 08:16 AM

I have no technical knowledge, but if a 2k scan costs much less, would $30K be a reasonable number for total costs to bring a BD of a catalog title (with 2k scan that required little to no work after scan plus costs of producing artwork, disc, etc)? If so, then a title in this instance would have to sell 1500 copies at $20 apiece to break even. If the total cost is $40K, it's 2000 copies to break even.

 

While I've yet to see any actual, verified sales numbers for catalog releases, are these releases, on whole, selling enough copies to warrant the expense of scanning and releasing them on BD? I think that's the big question.

 

It's not just for blu-ray, though. If it's a thorough restoration, the resulting master can be used for repertory cinema screenings, TV sales, streaming and/or downloading etc.


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#13 of 50 OFFLINE   JoeDoakes

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Posted July 21 2014 - 08:22 AM

Oh I dunno, would I notice the difference between 2K & 4K on a blind test on my 47" Plasma. And the public doesn't want the best, they want the most convenient (MP3). I don't know what some of the big studios are up to, esp. MGM, all those ancient HD masters that really are in need of a good de-spot. It seems to me that the bean counters are making the decisions these days, which means short term thinking.

Personally, I think of this issue throught the prism of Robert Harris's position that quality archival preservation requires 4K scans.


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#14 of 50 OFFLINE   FoxyMulder

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Posted July 21 2014 - 08:25 AM

I have no technical knowledge, but if a 2k scan costs much less, would $30K be a reasonable number for total costs to bring a BD of a catalog title (with 2k scan that required little to no work after scan plus costs of producing artwork, disc, etc)? If so, then a title in this instance would have to sell 1500 copies at $20 apiece to break even. If the total cost is $40K, it's 2000 copies to break even.

 

I have read there are places where you can get a quality 2K scan for around $5K, but it also depends on the length of the movie and i would think for a modern film it should be well under $30K in total if not much work is required, if they want to leave some of the blemishes in which i am okay with, i guess you can ask Mr Harris, he will know more.


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#15 of 50 OFFLINE   moovtune

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Posted July 21 2014 - 08:29 AM

The studios not doing the best they can for restoration of their titles are being extremely short-sighted IMO. They should be going through their libraries and doing 4K scans of all their titles just to preserve their library resources - not just for us collectors. The longer they wait for some of those titles, the further toward non recovery some of them go... fading more, drying out more. And as far as restoration costs, don't forget the sound elements - that can involve a considerable expense in addition to picture restoration.



#16 of 50 OFFLINE   FoxyMulder

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Posted July 21 2014 - 08:31 AM

 

Since the new professional Apertus Axiom 4K Cinema camera will soon be available for about $3,000, I would guess that that days of $20K 4K scans are  numbered.  In one scenario, it might be possible to recover an old but functioning 35mm film telecine machine and rig it to the Apertus.  Meanwhile, other technologies are sure to come along concurrently.  As for the lifespan of exorbitant prices, I still have my $2,000 one gig drive from the early 90's around here somewhere.  Also, I love Olive's releases but many seem to be a simple transfer without much or any restoration work.  Still, armchair restorers might look into the Algosoft Viva program.

 

 

Here is one place doing it much cheaper than the Hollywood studio's charge, or so they say.

 

http://www.imagine-i...mm-2k-scan.html

 

I wouldn't want their auto dust busting process being used on a film, major no-no from me, so if a film is 110 minutes long that's about 10,000 feet of film, you can work out the cost using that site above.  $7900 i think.


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     :Fun Movie Quotes:

"A good body with a dull brain is as cheap as life itself"   

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#17 of 50 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted July 21 2014 - 08:46 AM

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More than a bit of misinformation here. As far as Georgia, great state, but I'd not consider having scanning done there at any price, unless the elements are already in state. Unless no alternative, I do not ship original elements. I scan where the film is. Think The Best Years of Our Lives, Cabaret et al.

The main difference, besides quality, in scanning 35mm original elements at anything less than 4k, is that a 2k scan does nothing more than create the basis of an HD file. I'm against scanning original feature negatives at less than 4k. Won't even open the cans, as all that would occur is wear and potential damage to an original elements with no preservation function occurring.

As far as proper scanning resolutions for original film elements. 35mm - 4k or higher. 65mm - 8k, which is equal to 4.

RAH
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#18 of 50 OFFLINE   FoxyMulder

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Posted July 21 2014 - 08:52 AM

More than a bit of misinformation here. As far as Georgia, great state, but I'd not consider having scanning done there at any price, unless the elements are already in state. Unless no alternative, I do not ship original elements. I scan where the film is. Think The Best Years of Our Lives, Cabaret et al.

The main difference, besides quality, in scanning 35mm original elements at anything less than 4k, is that a 2k scan does nothing more than create the basis of an HD file. I'm against scanning original feature negatives at less than 4k. Won't even open the cans, as all that would occur is wear and potential damage to an original elements with no preservation function occurring.

As far as proper scanning resolutions for original film elements. 35mm - 4k or higher. 65mm - 8k, which is equal to 4.

RAH

 

I'd say that would be great but you know the studio's go cheap sometimes, do you think new 2K scans of for example the Star Trek films would yield better results than we currently have, specifically for a blu ray release, i know it's no use for preservation.


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     :Fun Movie Quotes:

"A good body with a dull brain is as cheap as life itself"   

"Maybe it's a sheep dog... let's keep going" 

"Please doctor, I've got to ask this. It sounds like, well, just as though you're describing some form of super carrot"

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#19 of 50 OFFLINE   bgart13

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Posted July 21 2014 - 08:56 AM

Quick basic HD question: if a release says it's a HD transfer, does that automatically denote 2k or is it in fact actually 1080? I see a lot of releases that simply say HD without 2k being mentioned. Does a release need to specifically state 2k to mean 2k, or do some studios just not care about putting that detail on the info?

#20 of 50 OFFLINE   Hfuy

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Posted July 21 2014 - 09:04 AM

Effectively all domestic distribution is 1080p, but 2000 is so close to 1920 that the difference is moot. In a postproduction context things might be handled at 2K and then blown down (very slightly) for release, but it's a vanishingly small difference.

 

I work in the film industry and, years ago as something of a beginner to postproduction, I was involved in test and development for a colour grading system, as part of which I helped build two colour grading systems and install them at a studio you'd have heard of in Los Angeles. The new gear was intended for use in their remastering section. On the day we were there, they were putting together a cinerama movie, using the grading gear to remove the visible evidence of the join lines. The three 35mm scans formed an image more than 6K wide and of course, it looked absolutely spectacular as an uncompressed DPX sequence. I don't remember what the film was, unfortunately, other than that it was a western.

 

Fun anecdotes aside, 4K has been possible for some time. 2K is more popular not because of the difficulty scanning it - things like Filmlight's Northlight scanner has been able to do up to 6K at a small speed penalty for a long time, and the more recent upgrades make that penalty moot. Some scanners do this routinely and scale down the output, for better overall performance. The issue, unfortunately, is storing and processing it. 4K grading is expensive, and while it's easy to buy huge hard disks cheaply, building a facility that can quickly and reliably handle 4K movies is not that easy.

 

It's getting easier, of course, and we can reasonably expect all this to change, so it's entirely possible that "4K" will be the next thing they try to sell us, as if it isn't already. Whether 4K is actually useful, on the other hand, is almost a religious debate...

 

Bear in mind that a four-generation 35mm photochemical postproduction and projection process was never really capable even of 2K, at least not reliably.

 

HF


Edited by Hfuy, July 21 2014 - 09:07 AM.

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