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Lawrence of Arabia, Richard III digitally restored with MTI Film Correct DRS

12 March 2013
Lawrence of Arabia, Richard III digitally restored with MTI Film Correct DRS

Two classic films have undergone digital film restoration processing at MTI Film. Lawrence of Arabia and Richard III were both restored under the direction of Sony Pictures Entertainment EVP of asset management, film restoration and digital mastering, Grover Crisp.

Prior to its 50th anniversary release by Sony Pictures last year, David Lean’s 1962 masterpiece, Lawrence of Arabia, went through a meticulous restoration and re-mastering in 4K. Throughout the film were sections where camera rolls had suffered exposure to the desert heat that caused the emulsion to dry and crack. This resulted in hundreds of small, vertical fissures in each frame. Although the problem, which appeared as white columns or streaks of light in release prints, had always existed, it had clearly grown worse over the decades. The cracks were thin, irregular lines one to three pixels wide separated by as little as one pixel in a 4K frame. It was initially thought that the problem was confined to second unit footage, but thorough investigation revealed that almost every reel of film was affected.

Moreover, each defect was unique so that one solution would not work for all. Over months of restoration, MTI Film developed new algorithms, creating and modifying existing software, to address the problem. Considerable manual intervention was also needed. In some instances, scratches ran through multiple shots. These needed to be removed with great care to avoid affecting underlying imagery and grain structure. This was particularly challenging when faces were involved. Scott Ostrowsky of Colorworks did colour correction. Restored under the aegis of The Film Foundation, working from original Vistavision negative, Richard III was scanned and restored in 4K, resulting in dramatic improvements to picture and sound. Again, MTI Film and its Correct DRSTM system where enlisted to repair a wide variety of problems resulting from age and maltreatment.

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