Scanning Cinerama Films
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The 70mm Newsletter
and photographed by: Tom
John Sittig, director of Cinerama Inc. at Arclight Cinemas has authorized
the Restoration of four Cinerama films as part of a 60th anniversary
Cinerama preservation project. These films are "Cinerama Holiday" (1955),
"Seven Wonders of the World" (1956), "Search for Paradise" (1957) and
Adventure" (1958). John has been working closely with Michael Forman from
Pacific Theatres, the owners of Cinerama. Michael, a long time board member
of the American Film Institute, is very concerned about film preservation,
and has funded the digital scanning of these 3-strip Cinerama travelogue
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The Cinerama page
Image Trends, Inc. is an innovative digital
software products developer and high-quality film scanning service in
Austin, Texas. It has partnered with Cinerama Inc. to participate in this
massive Cinerama three-strip travelogue digital restoration project. The
Image Trends scientists and engineers who invented the computerized process
called Digital ICE™ have now begun the lengthy digital scanning task. It is
notable that only Image Trends’ Digital ICE has the capability of restoring
original filmed images from beneath all the dirt and scratches that
accumulate over time and it is accomplished in a completely automated and
transparent way. Dan Sullivan, Image Trends’ CEO, commenting on the
opportunity to restore these priceless and irreplaceable films, said, “Image
Trends is proud to be a part of this historic effort.”
Dave Strohmaier and Dan Sullivan, CEO
& President of Image Trends at Airport
Now that the digital scanning of the negatives
has begun, Dave Strohmaier and I were invited to the Image Trends Lab to
observe the progress of the restoration work. We took a flight early
Wednesday, September 7th, from LAX and planned to return the following day.
Upon arrival in Austin, Dan Sullivan was there to meet us at the airport.
guided tour of Austin conducted by Dan Sullivan
The first item on the agenda was lunch. Dan
took the scenic route and we were treated to a guided tour of downtown
Austin. He pointed out that the normally clear blue sky was shrouded by
smoke from nearby wildfires that day.
at the Hula Hut. Dan, Dave, Tom
The restaurant of choice was The Hula Hut, a
Tahitian-style outdoor dining experience in keeping with the current
Cinerama film being scanned – South Seas Adventure. Hula Hut is located
right on Lake Austin.
Arrival at Image Trends. Dave Strohmaier,
After lunch it was a short drive to visit
Image Trends. Their offices are at One Bridgepoint Tower overlooking Lake
Austin in the heart of Austin’s 'Silicon Hills,' home to the development
centers for many technology corporations.
The Big Meeting. Dan Sullivan, Dave
Strohmaier, Martin Potucek-Senior Hardware Engineer, Michael Wilder-Senior
Engineer, Wayne Galella-VP of Engineering
In the board room, Dan Sullivan and the project engineers reported on the
stages of progress in the various phases of the restoration – the scanning,
the color normalization, the dirt and scratch removal and the combining of
the three image panels. There were numerous problems encountered due to the
unusual “Cinerama” filming process and the age of the original negatives.
Evaluating a reel of
"South Seas Adventure" negative under a
A recurring problem with all four travelogues being scanned is that they
were lacquer coated many years ago to protect the emulsion. This coating,
over the years, has deteriorated and is streaked in various places on the
negatives. In an attempt to deal with this problem and find the best
scanning solution, the negatives have been studied under a microscope in the
Dave Strohmaier with Dr. Edgar (CTO).
Dr. Albert Edgar (CTO) applied his imaging skills in the joining of the
three image panels, shaping the panels and blending of the join lines to
produce a near perfect result. Dr. Edgar, the holder of over 100 patents is
deeply involved in the science of imaging. It was interesting to see framed
copies of his patents lining the hallways and corridors at Image Trends.
Dave and Marty observing the ScanMaster
4000 as it scans SSA.
The heart of the scanning operation is Image Trends’ ScanMaster 4000™ with
Digital ICE. The Digital ICE automatic defect detection and correction
technology ensures dust and dirt-free images. Marty Potucek, Senior Hardware
Engineer, points out that Image Trends had to develop a special 6-perf gate
to scan the unique Cinerama frames.
Negative being scanned in 6-perf gate and photographed with Hi-Res camera on
A “state of the art” film transport system moves the Cinerama negative
through at about one frame per second. An advanced 16 megapixel Princeton
Instruments industrial CCD camera produces archival quality digital images
with a high dynamic range equal to the image quality of the film. The camera
is mounted on a large granite slab to ensure it is vibration-free.
Server Room, Michael Wilder DSC01475a.jpg
A single 35mm Cinerama frame when scanned at 3K is saved as a 72MB file in
the server. The scanning of these large files results in massive data
accumulation. A Cinerama movie consists of more than 500,000 frames so the
total data being stored in the server is over 40TB.
Combined Frame from South Seas Adventure,
The Te Vega at Port.
All this effort ensures that the Cinerama travelogues will be presented
again in their best light in 2012. "South Seas Adventure" will be the first
film to complete the scanning process and will be featured at the 18th
Bradford International Film Festival in March. We were shown movie clips and
sample frames from SSA during our visit. The images look wonderfully
First Archive LTO-4 Tape and First 2TB Hard
Drive delivered by Image Trends both loaded with Cinerama scanned images.
We left Austin the following morning and carried back the first lot of
restored images from "South Seas Adventure". Dave Strohmaier will continue with the restoration
completing any additional touch-ups to the images and finally assembling
them into the complete roadshow presentation with surround sound and all the
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