We're humbled by the overwhelming response to our recently posted restoration of a 1975 WDW press film (retrodisneyworld.com/imageworks/films/vintage-walt-disney-world-16mm-1975-press-film-restored-in-hd). Many of you shared our pages and rewteeted us thousands of times - we thank you for the wonderful exposure!
With that said, many people questioned why there was no sound and why the color seemed to be less than perfect. First for the sound, the simple answer is that there was no sound. This film was meant to be distributed to newspapers and television studios for reporters to view so they had a visual of what WDW was all about...much cheaper than making a trip down to Florida. We can only assume that some sort of paperwork accompanied this film to help provide a narrative. Some suggested we add a musical soundtrack, but in the end we try to preserve how the films were meant to be originally viewed.
So where does this leave us in the restoration? First the restoration has many steps - color is just part of it. We digitally "clean" the film by removing the dirt; accomplished by software comparing one frame of the film to the previous and next frame. If there is a speck of dust on the current frame, but not on the frames surrounding it, the software then averages the information on the previous and next frames to "erase" the dirt on the current frame. Crazy isn't it? On top of that the system is also busy decreasing the amount of film grain and comparing the relative position of each frame to each other and then averaging the position of all the frames to stabilize it. Of course we crop the film as well to get rid of the nasty edges and sprocket holes.
Now for the color...When screening was done the films were often discarded with no appreciation for the content within. Additionally these films, as well as the 8mm souvenir films sold in the theme parks, used very inexpensive emulsion, dye and processing chemicals. The upside was they were cheap to produce, the downside is that they were not meant for any type of archival purposes. With out proper storage the dyes in the films, even with out exposure to light, would eventually fade over time. The cyan fades first, followed by yellow, red pretty much hangs around for a very long time - so most of the time you are left with a very red/pink looking picture.
The color was nothing short of horrid which you will see as you watch the comparison film. We've done our best to gently balance the color as best as possible across the entire film; while this isn't the best method, it take the shortest period of time. Understand that the Disney Company mashed many different sources into this film - you'll see footage from Disneyland (PoC), the Worlds Fair (Small World) and film shot specifically for WDW. Each type of shot has a different exposure and a different color balance - you'll see this as the scenes change. To restore this film to 100% perfection would require each individual scene to be painstakingly adjusted separately and then joined back together - manually. Something made even more complicated by the fact that each scene fades into each other. Can it be done? Yes, but it would be extremely time consuming. Possibly as software improves the man hours to do such a task will be greatly reduced. The important part is that we will retain the original HD scan of the film, so as software improves we can go back and make an even more accurate restoration.
Another item to note is that computer monitors have gone through a change in color temperature over the years. Many LCD screens in the past were backlit by CFLs which produce somewhat of a warm color on the screen. Recently more and more screens are designed to be backlit by LEDs which often give the screen a cool blue cast. Your perception of the color of the film may vary as you move from computer to computer...we use a balance between warm/cool but of course there is no telling what the end viewer's screen is like. If you prefer a warmer tone, I highly suggest Flux (justgetflux.com/) - software that not only saves your eyes (the cool blue color is strangely annoying to your eyes and brain) but will give almost any computer screen a warmer more natural tone of colors.
I'm sure this is more than most of you wanted to read! We again send a hearty thank you to all of our followers for their sincere interest in the films we restore; we have many more coming! We also look forward to any that you may be willing to share - please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you do!
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