- Feb 8, 1999
- Real Name
- Robert Harris
There is a single shot in My Fair Lady, that is the only element in the new restoration that I feel isn't totally perfect.
It's 33 feet, 12 frames long, and it has just the very slightest quality of what might be considered leaning toward a slightly "gritty" look.
The shot is from 65mm black & white separation masters, as are another 1,967 feet, or 22 minutes of the film, as original negative had been destroyed during the intervening decades.
The trick, if there is one, is to move absolutely transparently from original negative, be it faded, damaged, torn, whatever -- to black & white separation masters, so that no one is the wiser.
David Lean had a theory about film restoration. His take was that it should be considered much like a Native American hand-woven blanket, and that at least a single flaw should show.
Will any viewers notice the flaw? We'll see.
Other than that, thanks to a superb band of men and women, who inspected (Pro-Tek) and repaired the film elements, scanned, stabilized, colored, cleaned, and did digital repairs, My Fair Lady now looks much as it did in 1964.
Overall, the original Eastman Kodak 5251 65mm negative was slightly faded, but more problematic had differential fade, especially at heads and tails of shots. Color correction (by Fotokem's Mark Griffith) would begin at the center of affected shots, and then correct the heads and tails, dissolving into the body of the shot, and occasionally color correcting a frame at a time.
An hour or more on a shot? Not unusual.
We calculated that over twelve million fixes were performed for dirt, detritus, tears, scratches, and a myriad of other anomalies, inclusive of mold that had grown on the separation masters.
The fact that the original negative was just worn out, doesn't begin to tell the story.
As to audio, Nicholas Bergh, of Endpoint Audio Labs, was able to achieve an audio image from the original 1964 6-track full coats, and Audio Mechanics' John Polito was able to take the 96k tracks, clean them, and create new re-recorded media for both theatrical as well as 7.1 home video.
We felt that the audio was so incredibly and clean, that we chose to give up a bit of real estate on the Blu-ray, and run the tracks at full 96k, a rarity, in Dolby True HD.
Achieving pure black and white, especially from faded elements is always fun, and all involved are thrilled with the final results. Pure blacks, at multiple levels, along with enough air to separate wool suits from satin collars. Gray scale is miraculous. Color superb.
The ability to use the 65mm masters, and have them perfectly fit together, which was something impossible to do in 1994, adds measurably to the final result.
Happy camper here.
By the way, compare the shot of Ms Hepburn coming down the stairs in her ball gown to the surrounding shots. That one shot is derived from black & white elements.
If you feel the desire to thank CBS, for their foresight, respect of their library, and willingness to make a huge investment, you'd be on the right track.
Your purchase of My Fair Lady, not only aids film restoration, but sends a message that properly restored and released classics, will not be overlooked.
And keep in mind, that the discs you'll be playing are running at 1/4 resolution.
That's the miracle of Blu-ray.
Is this a Perfect restoration?
There's one tiny little flaw.
And Sir David would be happy.
Image - 5*
Audio - 5*
4k Up-rez - 5
Pass / Fail - Pass
Very Highly Recommended