Restored Lawrence of Arabia Among Finalists for Focal International Award

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Wed, 03/27/2013 - 20:00 -- Nick Dager

Two classic films that recently underwent digital film restoration processing are among the finalists in the 2013 Focal International Awards. Lawrence of Arabia and Richard III both restored under the direction of Sony Pictures Entertainment executive vice president of asset management film restoration and digital mastering Grover Crisp are nominated for Best Archive Restoration. David Lean’s 1962 masterpiece  Lawrence of Arabia is widely considered one of the greatest films of all time. Prior to its 50th anniversary release by Sony Pictures last year the film went through a meticulous restoration and re-mastering in 4K. Throughout the film were sections where camera rolls had suffered exposure to the desert heat that caused the emulsion to dry and crack. This resulted in hundreds of small vertical fissures in each frame. Although the problem which appeared as white columns or streaks of light in release prints had always existed it had clearly grown worse over the decades. The cracks were thin irregular lines one to three pixels wide separated by as little as one pixel in a 4K frame.  It was initially thought that the problem was confined to second unit footage but thorough investigation revealed that almost every reel of film was affected. Moreover each defect was unique so that one solution would not work for all. Over months of restoration MTI Film developed new algorithms creating and modifying existing software to address the problem. Considerable manual intervention was also needed. In some instances scratches ran through multiple shots. These needed to be removed with great care to avoid affecting underlying imagery and grain structure. This was particularly challenging when faces were involved.  Scott Ostrowsky of Colorworks did color correction. Restored under the aegis of The Film Foundation  Richard III stars Laurence Olivier in what has been called the best film adaptation of Shakespeare. The new restoration is the most faithful ever to the original 1955 UK release. Working from original Vistavision negative the film was scanned and restored in 4K resulting in dramatic improvements to picture and sound. Again MTI Film and its Correct DRS system where enlisted to repair a wide variety of problems resulting from age and maltreatment. “MTI Film was honored to contribute to the restoration of these two exceptional films and we extend our congratulations to Grover Crisp and the entire restoration team on their recognition by the Focal International Awards ” said MTI Film CEO Larry Chernoff. “Thanks to their hard work and artistry these films can be enjoyed by a new generation in the form that the filmmakers intended.” The 2013 Focal International Awards will be presented May 2 at the Lancaster London Hotel.