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Tuesday, 06 May 2014 09:59

Restoration Process

Our Restoration Process

We are fanantics for quality. The reason these haven't been transferred yet is that my dad purposely waited for the right technology to come around. Well the time has come and with a little help from my friendly computer I was able to amass a set of tools that can polish most home video/movies into something of beauty. So just what do we do?

 

Film

Most amateur film was shot on 8mm, Super 8 or 16mm. There are some very rare 9.5mm films out there, but was mostly used in Europe. When transferring and working with film, you have to remember that you are taking one medium and moving it to a display technology, one that it was never meant for.

Transfer - If we have the original film, we will send it out for professional scanning. The film is cleaned, scanned and a general color correction is applied and through computer software the dust is removed. The entire frame of film is then scanned at HD TV resolution - 1080pixels. Each uncompressed frame is then saved in a movie file format for playback on a PC or other devices. High end professional film scanners will scan about 2-3 frames per second; so a 3 minute movie may take nearly an hour to scan and convert. Uncompressed, 3 minutes of film will command a 5 gigabyte file, but this is what we want - full frame scan and uncompressed. In the event we don't have the original film, well there will be a limit to how well the film can be cleaned up.

Clean up - Through special filters we are able to take the uncompressed video and begin our clean up. First we adjust the colors to be more natural if it needs any further tweaking. May films loose over time loose color due to improper storage. Next a computer compares each frame with the previous and next 3 frames; its smart enough to figure out what is dust and/or scratches and automatically clean them from the digital version. As a last step a computer filter removes film grain, smoothing out the picture and making color more accurate.

Stabilize - This is an optional step that we only process on film where it is absolutely necessary. We start by cropping about 20 pixels from all edges of the film, then another filter again compares each frame to its neighbors. By doing this and keeping the frame centered we can essentially remove any film that shakes due to poor photography or just a very unsteady hand. The downside is that you do loose about 20 pixels all around (less for steadier films) but the upside is the film becomes much easier to watch.

Sharpening - A sharpening filter is run a few times in combination with a blur to produce an overall sharper image.

FPS Adjustment - Home movie film runs between 16-18 frames per second; today's television programs are 30 frames per second (29.97 to be exact) and most films are projected at 24 frames per second. If you don't adjust this difference in frame rate you'll get the "Charlie Chaplin" effect, or everyone running around quickly like an old time movie. Purists will wish to keep the 18 frames per second and encode the final video to account for this; the downside is you get a bit of flicker. Some people adjust the file for 30fps, while we prefer a bit of flicker (for nostalgia sake) so we set our videos to play at 24fps. Now if you are astute, you'll ask "wait a minute, if you only have 18 frames where are you getting the other 6 from? The computer software uses interpolation, that is it actually creates those 6 frames by comparing the 18 it already knows about. Confused? Don't be, it works and the end result is great!

Final Output - Output is saved as uncompressed video, and then that file is compressed for playback on DVD, YouTube, etc.

Video

Home video comes in many formats, in order of video quality: VHS, VHS-C, Betamax, 8mm, Hi8, Digital 8,

MicroMV, and MiniDV HDV. We've worked with most of these formats and have tweaked them beyond their original look/feel. We completed the transfer of all of our home movies about 4 years ago. Soon I will embark on cleaning and enhancing the video.

Transfer - The transfer process is very simple, the tape is played back and fed into a device that turns the analog signal into a digital signal - the video is then "recorded" on the computer in a uncompressed movie file. The time to transfer is the exact running time of the video. We do not offer this service but can certainly recommend a service for this.

Clean up - The biggest issue with video is low light, noise, bad video tape, and yes, "tracking". All can produce unwanted effects on the video that greatly degrade the quality. First we adjust the colors to be more natural. Next the computer compares each frame with the previous and next 3 frames; its smart enough to figure out what is video noise, interlacing artifacts, etc and it automatically cleans them from the video. We may crop the edges of the video; especially if there are any playback issues or the overscan area wasn't properly recorded.

Stabilize - This is an optional step that we only process on video where it is absolutely necessary. We start by cropping about 20 pixels from all edges of the film, then another filter again compares each frame to its neighbors. By doing this and keeping the frame centered we can essentially remove any film that shakes due to poor photography or just a very unsteady hand. The downside is that you do loose about 20 pixels all around (less for steadier films) but the upside is the video becomes much easier to watch.

Sharpening - A sharpening filter is run a few times in combination with a blur to produce an overall sharper image.

Final Output - Output is saved as uncompressed video, and then that file is compressed for playback on DVD, YouTube, etc.

 

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You are here: Home ImageWorks Restoration Process