November 4, 2006

Cineric Restores 1964's Dr. Strangelove in First 4K Black-and-White Digital Restoration Project

New York City -- Cineric Inc. has completed restoration of the classic 1964 Stanley Kubrick film Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The first screening of this pristine black-and-white print premiered at the London Film Festival on October 29.
“Cineric is pioneering the use of 4K film restoration technology because we believe that is what it takes to faithfully preserve classic films for posterity the way they were meant to be seen,” says Cineric president Balazs Nyari. “The artists who created these films as well as future audiences deserve nothing less.”

Nyari says that every frame of the film that was provided by Sony Pictures was scanned at 4,000 lines of resolution and converted to digital files. The master file was digitally manipulated in full 4K space to correct densities, remove dirt, repair scratches and restore the film to its original condition. The corrected digital master file was subsequently recorded onto an extremely fine-grained, high resolution, low contrast 35 mm black-and-white film that was used to generate new 35 mm black-and-white prints. Additionally, the 4K data can be converted to new HD masters as well as prepared for digital cinema presentations.

Dr. Strangelove is a biting satire that spoofed the Cold War paranoia that gripped the world during the early 1960s. It features Peter Sellers in multiple roles, along with Sterling Hayden, George C. Scott, Slim Pickens, and James Earl Jones. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards. It was among the first 25 motion pictures chosen for the National Film Preservation Board National Registry.

Grover Crisp, vice president of Asset Management and Film Restoration at Sony Pictures Entertainment, oversaw the completion of the restoration. Crisp has worked with Cineric on restoring many titles from the Columbia Pictures library.

In 2004, the Digital Cinema Initiatives, a cooperative of the major Hollywood studios, recommended that 4K digital projection was necessary to faithfully emulate 35mm film print picture quality. Their research included evaluation of a test film produced by the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC).

Nyari says that Cineric spent roughly six months working on the restoration of Dr. Strangelove. They used a specially adapted Oxberry scanner to convert the film images from several different elements to a 4K file. Cineric’s digital director and restoration specialist Dan DeVincent created look up tables (LUTs) designed to optimize the scanner for each type of element. Cineric also developed a wet gate scanning technique that eliminated flaws. Automated software tools provided by Autodesk and daVinci were also used.

During a second pass, the Cineric team physically corrected more dirt and scratches, as well as such anomalies as flicker and unsteadiness by hand, utilizing other software tools. Density fluctuations were addressed in a final color-correction pass.

Cineric used a Lasergraphics Producer 2 film recorder to produce elements used for the restoration project. Nyari notes that proprietary LUTs will ensure that the HD copies of the film retain the exact look of the restored film master.