List of LOWRY DIGITAL IMAGES DVD "restorations?"

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Patrick McCart, Sep 26, 2003.

  1. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I'm trying to compile a list of Lowry Digital Images refurbishings that have been released to DVD.

    So far, I have:

    Warner:
    North By Northwest (2000)
    Gone With The Wind (Region 2 original DVD)
    Citizen Kane (2001)
    Doctor Zhivago (2001)
    Now, Voyager (2001)
    Them! (2002)
    Casablanca: Special Edition (2003)
    Giant (2003)
    The Women (2003)
    Little Women, '33 (2003)
    Mildred Pierce (2003)
    The West Wing (2003 season premeire)
    THX-1138: Director's Cut (2004)
    Dial M For Murder (not confirmed)

    MGM:
    The Ghoul (2003)
    The James Bond Films (first 9 in 4K, the rest just in HD, minus Die Another Day)


    Paramount:
    Sunset Blvd. (2002)
    Roman Holiday (2002)
    Raiders of the Lost Ark (2003)
    Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (2003)
    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (2003)
    Once Upon A Time In The West (2003)
    Wings (TBA, speculated)
    The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (speculated)


    Buena Vista:
    Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (2001)
    Peter Pan: Special Edition (2001)
    Alice in Wonderland: Masterpiece Edition (2004)
    Mary Poppins: SE (2004)
    Bambi (2005)
    Pocahontas: SE (2005)

    Criterion:

    The Importance of Being Earnest

    Fox:

    Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (2004)
    Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (2004)
    Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (2004)

    EDITS:

    King Kong deleted (used HP/Warner process)
    Singin' in the Rain deleted (Ultra-Resolution)
     
  2. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

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    As I mentioned in this thread, which has a lot of Lowry discussion, I think Warner's release of The Women (1939) was a Lowry job too.
     
  3. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Wasn't Little Women (1933) done by Lowry?

    Of course, some of your list is debateable. I haven't heard how much Lowry was involved in Robin Hood, for instance.

    Also, Giant was apparently Lowry's biggest project.
     
  4. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    From comments here and reviews elsewhere, I believe Mildred Pierce was also refurbished/remastered/restored/resomething'd by LDI for Warner Bros. [​IMG]

    Not yet announced, but likely future/current projects (strictly "informed assumptions" at this point, and by no means certain), include King Kong, Gone With the Wind (65th Anniversary Edition), and a myriad of RKO projects (Kong one of them, of course) for WB. John Lowry wasn't entirely clear about whether or not his company would be brought into the loop on the Astaire/Rogers films, but that seems a possibility.

    There was a rumor for a while that they were working on Treasure of the Sierra Madre, but I'm unsure of its source, and advanced reviews of the disc don't seem to indicate this. I'll have a better idea when I've seen it (crystal-clear and rock solid, with steady unwavering brightness and contrast, narry a scratch or poorly placed bit of negative density sparkle to be found ... then it's likely LDI, I reckon). There's been discussion of a digital error on the disc, and if this is the case for all copies, an interesting question would then become -- who is to blame? LDI (as, presumably, with certain problems on Roman Holiday that seem to have morphed from print problems into digital problems, or the "moving hand" I mentioned elsewhere regarding The Ghoul -- have we confirmed that this last is LDI? It bears their hallmarks, but as their sole title for MGM, I'm uncertain) ... or WB? Hmmmm.
     
  5. Alistair_M

    Alistair_M Second Unit

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    Was Giant done by Lowry? I thought the transfer was rather disappointing.
     
  6. Mark_vdH

    Mark_vdH Screenwriter

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    The transfer for the upcoming dvd of Once Upon A Time In The West was done by Lowry.
     
  7. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    I don't think Lowry does transfers at all (although this could be wrong). Lowry simply applies filters for cleanup to digital files which are sent to them.

    So, in the case of Singin' in the Rain, and Giant, there was a great deal of work done to the movies, including digital transfers, before being sent to Lowry.

    I think.

    Giant was apparently a big project for Lowry, because of the poor quality of many of the shots.
     
  8. James L White

    James L White Supporting Actor

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    PS Patrick it's "Indiana Jones and The Raiders Of The Lost Ark" [​IMG]


    hopefully whenever Star Wars is released those will be on this list.
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    In addition to WB's Mildred Pierce, which I mentioned earlier, I just recalled mention of a few MGM films in Lowry's chat, and a check of that transcript yields:

    1. Brief Encounter
    2. Sabotage

    And "six more" unspecified titles. If The Ghoul was one, then there are five more already completed (?) but not yet released (Brief Encounter is still available from Criterion, I believe, and I don't know how long their license will last).

    DeeF: the last time Lowry was discussed here in detail, the idea that they do not do transfers came up, but I'm not sure of the source of this info. I know their restorations of Roman Holiday and Sunset Blvd. were re-scanned to film for their client (Paramount), but whether Paramount created these new preservation elements, or whether LDI did so, I don't know. John Lowry has been working in film restoration since the 60's, according to the lead-in to his chat, so while LDI may be, itself, relatively new (I think North by Northwest was their first project as a company?), he's by no means new to the biz, and I'd assume (strictly an assumption) that if his company isn't working with film elements now, he himself certainly has in the past. I wouldn't want to speculate further, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility that LDI has the capacity to both scan film elements and re-scan to film after they've worked on the digital files. Another chat with Mr. Lowry might clear up this and a few other persistent questions. [​IMG]

    The only instance in which I know already-existing digital files were presented to LDI was when Disney hired them to work on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Disney had already scanned every frame of the film back in the early 90's (this was one of the first full digital film restorations, according to the original laserdisc CAV set; I haven't rechecked that info, so it's possible it was, in fact, the first, but if not it was one of the first times this was done), and according to the now OOP DVD these existing digital files were further processed by LDI for grain removal and additional polish.

    It also bears remembering that while LDI's most obvious function is the removal of debris and scratches from a film frame, their digital technology is very robust and should, so far as I can determine, encompass everything from grain equalization/removal to contrast and brightness regulation to the restoration of missing portions of frames with material from surrounding frames. Stabilizing and equalizing shrunken or otherwise deteriorated elements, clarifying duped elements ... they accomplish quite a bit with their row after row of computers (there's a brief documentary about their work on one of the Paramount discs, either Roman Holiday or Sunset Blvd. -- I think it's the former). I imagine they can do everything and more that Columbia did for their 2K (I believe it was 2K) restoration of The Matinee Idol, and this reportedly included restoring background details lost in the dupey surviving elements (seemingly via some sort of approximation from surrounding frames and other references, and not simply the removal of debris and damage, though I'm not very clear on this from the documentary on that disc).

    There are relatively straightforward "cleaning" tools available to companies, such as MTI's video restoration tools, in use by Criterion. LDI's work is, by all indications, quite a bit more robust than this.

    As to Giant, according to that LA Times article I mentioned on another thread, George Stevens' son worked closely with LDI in restoring the film. Scenes that do not begin or end in fades look outstanding; those that do, which are often scenes of significant duration, are duped elements (the process of creating fades required this at the time), and quality deteriorates in these due to what appears to be a combination of contrast build-up/blooming and edge enhancement; these scenes remind me of the visual presentation I say in a theatre a number of years ago when the film was re-released (prior to digital restoration). The "hard cut" scenes on the disc easily best that theatrical experience. I wish it were 16x9 formatted, and I wish the film were on two DVD-9s, rather than a DVD-18 with the second disc devoted to supplements ... but I still count it as a must own, and freeze framing some of those hard cut scenes reveals images of remarkable clarity and color gradation/saturation (probably looking better here than photochemical Eastmancolor ever did, and certainly better than that theatrical print I had a chance to see; I originally indicated that the disc was about as good as that print, but once I'd adequately separated hard cut from fade scenes in my mind and in watching the disc, the quality of hard cut sequences really shone through).
     
  10. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    I've just located this:

    http://www.sltrib.com/2003/Jun/06292003/arts/70671.asp

    This seems to repeat some of the same material I found in the LA Times article, including the Stanley Donen quote I've mentioned elsewhere, but happily this Salt Lake Tribune piece remains on-line for reference. George Feltenstein's (Senior Vice President of WB's Classic Catalogue) comments later in the article (after the Chaplin material) indicate (it isn't a direct quote, but what other source would the paper use amidst his preceeding and succeeding comments?) that digital restoration work was accomplished for The Adventures of Robin Hood and Treasure of the Sierra Madre, but while LDI is discussed just before this material, it isn't crystal clear that the digital work is theirs. This seems likely, though.

    Patrick: note that a bit earlier in the article Lowry Digital Images is credited with restoring 66 films. Either there are a lot of completed films still in the pipeline, or LDI's been slipping a few in unnoticed. I can't recall any discs not already named that looked specifically as if they'd been through the LDI digital labs, but ... well, I'm guessing there are a few we've missed. Given the digital work claimed for Robin Hood and Sierra Madre, though, another likely contender would of course be Yankee Doodle Dandy.

    UPDATE: Oh wait! I just recalled an outstanding disc I'd guess may well be an early LDI effort: WB's The Time Machine (George Pal). I recall being floored by the clarity and beauty of the image on that disc, but wasn't really aware of LDI as a company when I first viewed it. That's the only additional title that jumps to mind, though.
     
  11. Tim RH

    Tim RH Second Unit

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  12. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    It turns out that one of the season premire episodes of The West Wing was restored by Lowry Digital Images. Someone accidentally put the master through an x-ray machine, which warped the image.

    Also, it's possible that the new Alice in Wonderland: SE, Moulin Rouge (1952 version!), Oliver Twist (1948), Prizi's Honor, The Lady Vanishes, The Love Bug, and the 1956 Moby Dick may have been cleaned up by LDI.
     
  13. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    I guess we're arguing over semantics, here, and Lowry ought to provide a list of the movies they have worked on to settle the debate.

    My sense is that, for most projects, Lowry is only a contributor, not the chief "restorer." I have just watched the documentary on "Roman Holiday" and there are quite a number of Paramount people interviewed there, including the head of DVD mastering. Lowry talks about scanning and cleaning the dirt and scratches off the movie. But surely, much work went into the DVD version before Lowry came in. And the same could be said of "Sunset Boulevard." And I still believe the "ultra-resolution" process of scanning in 3 separate black and white matrices is done by a number of different studios, and in the case of "Singin' in the Rain" was done by Warners in-house group. After the work of scanning and recompositing was complete, these digital files would have been sent to Lowry for cleanup of scratches, etc., similarly to how they cleaned up "Snow White."

    Mr. Harris mentioned of "Robin Hood" that it was made from some original sources and some dupes. Most likely, this pooling together of the best copies of the film is done before Lowry is involved.

    I don't know why I feel some ambivalence toward Lowry and his group, but I do. In many cases, they seem to be heroically rescuing movies from certain death. In other cases, they seem to be overdoing it, and possibly botching up the future of these movies. I wish more movies were completely restored in the film domain before digital cleanup. But perhaps a new negative printed from a 2K file is enough to replace the original, I'm not enough of an expert to know.

    And of course, as per usual with my posts, I could be completely wrong. Maybe all source materials are sent directly to Lowry, which produces a High-Def digital image fit for DVDs, as well as a 35mm print in some cases.
     
  14. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest has a Lowry-look to it. Great transfer.


    Gordy
     
  15. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    DeeF wrote:
     
  16. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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  17. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Just found two more titles:

    All The President's Men
    The Spirit of St. Louis

    (from newsgroups, so take with a grain of salt)
     
  18. MatthewLouwrens

    MatthewLouwrens Producer

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  19. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Lead Actor
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    If I had to venture a guess...

    Most of the West Wing is shot in studios in L.A., sometimes they have to go to Washington D.C. for exteriors and location work. Perhaps some footage was damaged in transit; I'm unclear about whether it was a full episode that needed work, or just certain footage from it.
     
  20. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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