Film Restoration; Bringing Classics Back to Life
We’ve all grown used to bingeing on TV series and films thanks to streaming services. We’re not just watching the latest titles though—the streaming revolution has made it much easier to for us to revisit old favorites or discover classic movies and series for the first time. As a result, according to industry bible the Hollywood Reporter, there has been an explosion in demand for library titles.
This, in turn, has led to an increasing demand for films and TV series to be restored so that they look and sound as good to today’s viewers as they did when they were first released. Many classic films and series are being remastered in 4K and high dynamic range (HDR) to be enjoyed by viewers at home on the latest consumer displays.
Among well-known titles to be restored are films like A Woman of Paris from 1923, directed by Charlie Chaplin; Top Gun from 1986; and Toy Story from 1995. Last year, India announced the world’s largest film restoration project with plans to restore 2,200 films.
The Film Restoration Process
Film restoration is a complex process that should be overseen by experienced technicians working with advanced digital technologies. The original camera negative or print of a feature shot on film may have deteriorated significantly over time or have been damaged. The quality of TV series created on video would be no match for the demands of today’s viewers.
The first step in any restoration project is to gather as much information as possible about a film or series along with the context in which they were produced. This will provide clues as to exactly how the restored version should look. If possible, filmmakers and members of the original production staff should be consulted at the start and throughout the process.
The restoration itself begins with checking every single frame of film by hand and repairing any damaged perforations or splices that could come apart in a scanner. If they are available, more than one print might be scanned. The best quality sections from each print can then be used to form the best final digital version.
Each frame is then scanned at a high resolution before being painstakingly digitally cleaned, stabilized, restored, and color corrected. Dirt and scratches are erased digitally. Missing frames can be recreated by using information from adjacent frames. Faded colors can be enhanced and controlled so that a film looks remarkably consistent from shot to shot. Sound is also corrected so that it appears as crisp and clear as it was first heard. In a final step, the original as well as the restored scans are preserved digitally and can also be transferred on a new film negative.
Factors in the Film Restoration Process
There are important factors to consider when restoring a film or series. A successful restoration needs to be mindful of the original film and the intentions of the filmmakers. It’s vital not to lose sight of the art of the original filmmakers. Restorers need to judge what is damage or dirt and what is part of the original film, and how just far washed-out images should be color corrected. The idea is to restore a film so that it looks and sounds like it did when it was first shown to audiences, whatever the era.
Why Do We Call Them Classics?
Film restoration can also be known as Classics, as many film restorations are of classic films that are considered to be masterpieces of the art form. These films have stood the test of time and continue to be celebrated for their innovative storytelling, technical achievements, and cultural impact. By restoring these films, we are able to ensure that they will continue to be appreciated by audiences for generations to come, preserving our cultural heritage, providing us with a glimpse into the past, and allowing us to continue to appreciate classic films that have stood the test of time.
Need Help Restoring Audiovisual Assets?
If you are looking for advice or support in restoring audiovisual assets, TransPerfect is well placed to support you. Hiventy, a global leader in restoration, became part of the TransPerfect family in October 2022. Hiventy runs a historical French film lab and has worked with the world’s top film libraries and many copyright holders, producers, broadcasters, and distributors to preserve and restore audiovisual assets. Thanks to its technicians’ expertise and investment in the latest digital technology, Hiventy is trusted to work on the most demanding and high-profile restorations. These include movies such as Basic Instinct and Total Recall by Paul Verhoeven, La règle du jeu by Jean Renoir, Le dernier métro by François Truffaut, and the pioneering films of Georges Méliès from the 1890s.
To learn more about how TransPerfect can deliver top-quality restorations in the best possible timeframe, contact our team today at transperfect.com/media.