Twenty-five years after it debuted to wide critical and popular acclaim, the award-winning documentary Everest is back in giant-screen theatres. MacGillivray Freeman Films, producers of Everest, spent months completing an all-new 16K restoration of the film for a special digitally remastered release.
Benefitting from groundbreaking film scanning technology and the innovative use of MTI Film’s digital restoration software DRS Nova, the filmmakers say the restored film looks better than ever, allowing a new generation of fans to get swept up in its heart-pounding story.
Narrated by Liam Neeson, Everest follows a group of mountaineers as they attempt to climb the world’s tallest mountain just days after other climbers, including friends, perished during a catastrophic storm. Produced and directed by Greg MacGillivray, with co-directors Stephen Judson and David Breashears, the film broke box office records for large-format films when it was released in 1998 while captivating audiences with its stunning imagery, riveting plot, and searing emotions.
The new restoration was conducted using original 65mm inter-positive elements as source material. Scanning was accomplished via Final Frame Post’s Lunar Scanner, a custom-built system capable of digitizing film at 16K (22Kx16K for 15-65mm film), four times the resolution of most commercial scanners. The 16K files were down converted in the scanner system to a more manageable 8K (200MB/frame as opposed to 1.5GB/frame), allowing over-sampling and amazing 8K detail. While that process resulted in imagery stunning in its sharpness (something readily apparent when projected in a large screen), it presented several technical hurdles.
Most notably, the scanned imagery had some minor stability issues. MacGillivray Freeman Films vice president of technology and digital post Terry Brown said that’s because the Lunar Scanner is not pin registered. “No pin-registered scanner is capable of that resolution,” he said. “Lunar is a line array scanner, so the film is constantly moving, leading to some instability and warping effects caused by micro speed changes within a frame.”
MacGillivray Freeman Films used DRS Nova to fix instability problems such as jitter, gate weave and distortion. The software addresses those issues and more, allowing the work to be done reliably and quickly. DRS Nova was also used on Everest to eliminate dust and dirt and address a host of other issues, common to a film that is 25 years old. “The stabilization and dewarping tools in DRS Nova were amazing,” Brown said. “We used the software on 90-percent of the film, maybe 95 percent. When you project images onto a giant screen, every little jiggle is immediately apparent. DRS Nova made the fact that the scan was not pin registered, a non-issue.”
Impressed by the results with Everest, Brown expects to use DRS Nova a lot in the future. “MacGillivray Freeman Films has been making large format documentaries for 40 years,” he said. “We have nearly a million feet of 65mm film in our vaults. We can use this same scanning and restoration process to repurpose much of that film as stock footage. It gives us a way to remonetize all that content.”
The newly restored digitally remastered version of Everest recently screened at the Giant Screen Cinema Association 2022 Film Expo in Los Angeles and is now being scheduled for showings in IMAX theatres around the world.
Learn more at https://everestfilm.com/.
MTI Film www.mtifilm.com.