Boris FX announced that David Strohmaier, restoration producer for Cinerama, is using Boris Continuum Complete’s Flicker Fixer in Adobe After Effects to remove flicker, emulsion blotching and artifacting during the film restoration process.
Cinerama was the first of a number of novel processes introduced during the 1950s, when the movie industry was reacting to competition from television. Cinerama was presented to the public as a theatrical event, with reserved seating and printed programs, and audience members often dressed in best attire for the evening.
But much of the original negative material was poorly stored, often in warehouses and vaults that were not temperature or humidity controlled. Strohmaier inspects the reels by hand and often finds that they are faded and damaged. The films are then sent off for scanning on a Scanmaster 4000 at Image Trends in Austin, Texas. At Image Trends, as the scanning happens, Kodak’s Digital Ice process is applied to remove the surface dirt from each frame. The scans for each portion of the triptych are composited as one complete widescreen image and the files are then turned over to Philip Hodgetts, the project’s postproduction consultant. Hodgetts converts the files to a 2K QuickTime for Final Cut Pro. Strohmaier then reconstructs the film, supervising final clean up and color work as well as the syncing of the seven-channel 26 fps soundtrack.
Strohmaier has found that some of the individual panels have a flicker between them – a result of the way old negatives fade over the years. In the past, Strohmaier manually corrected the flickers, which took hours of painstaking keyframing. It was after doing three such restorations that he discovered Boris Continuum Complete’s Flicker Fixer. He downloaded the trial version and gave it a try in Adobe After Effects.
“I was very much surprised by the results,” Strohmaier said. “BCC Flicker Fixer was quite fast and did more than just cure the flicker. The filter also succeeded in removing the emulsion blotching that occurred due to the age of the film – as well as the artifacting in the scanned negative.”
“By setting the Temporal Smoothing value to one, BCC Flicker Fixer removed all of the flicker as well as the emulsion blotching that appeared in different panels of the three-way scan,” Strohmaier continued. “The process was so successful that I have gone back into two productions that were finished and applied BCC Flicker Fixer to several previously un-fixable shots.”
“Another benefit of BCC Flicker Fixer is that it appears to have removed perceived image weaving that was a result of the poor negative,” Strohmaier also noted. “Before using the filter, I had never been able to fix this weaving.”