The archive restoration and digital re-mastering in HD of some of Ireland’s first TV documentaries has now been completed. The first 15 programmes from the TV series Radharc have been preserved in an archiving project that also digitised the paper and photographic material associated with the content.
The Radharc Archive Project, with the assistance of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s Archiving Scheme, set out to digitally preserve and restore in high definition some of the most endangered materials in the Radharc Collection. The project was undertaken in collaboration with the Irish Film Institute and with the cooperation of RTÉ.
“We are very grateful to the BAI for its initiative with the Archive Scheme,” said Peter Dunn, chairman of the Radharc Trust. “It wouldn’t have been possible to attempt such a restoration project without that help. I’m satisfied we have used the funding well and that a whole new audience can now enjoy the early Radharc programmes at a technical standard never seen before.”
The 16mm black and white films were retrieved and prepared by the technicians at the Irish Film Institute before undergoing telecine scan in high definition at Dublin’s Screen Scene. Digital grading, cleaning and re-mastering was also undertaken at the post production facility, and Cinelab in London also tackled the telecine scan of some of the films showing early signs of decay.
“We encountered a lot of issues in finding the best available film copies and then having to re-assemble elements to re-create the programmes as originally broadcast. But in the process, we learned a lot about 16mm digital archive restoration,” said Peter Kelly, who managed the Archive Project and coordinated the efforts of all the stakeholders. “I think we broke new ground in both the collaborations and the technical workflow that emerged.”
Radharc was Ireland’s first independent TV production unit and the first Radharc programmes were broadcast on Telefís Éireann in January 1962, the first month of television broadcasting in Ireland. The first 15 programmes made by the Radharc team were a priority for archival preservation and restoration due to their age, vulnerable condition and historic value. Radharc was a religious affairs programme, originally made by priests, which addressed topics of faith, spirituality and social issues. Over 400 television documentaries were produced by Radharc all over the world between 1962 and 1996.