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About 5 years ago Randy Gitsch and I brought to the Widescreen Weekend events at the National Media Museum in Bradford a few of the 70mm short subjects. The 6-track magnetic prints were certainly faded to the usual Eastman color magenta, and we realized that at some point we should do a digital makeover to protect the assets. Tom March and I went to the vaults last January to pull the titles and examine them for overall condition. We could see that the fading was even more severe that when the prints were shown a few years back. Since no negatives were ever located we would have to relay on color recovery techniques to try to rebuild back as much color as possible.
These three titles were, “Shellarama”, “Bridge To Space” and “Concorde”. A similar remastering process was done on the Cinerama version of "Fortress of Peace" last year.
70mm cases pulled from the vaults and labels to go to Fotokem for scanning. Image by Tom March
We shipped the 70mm cases over to Vince Roth at Fotokem for cleaning and the prep for the scanning work.
During the scanning some color was recovered with a one light adjustment to several areas but another more extensive session by Fotokem’s colorist Willie Lawton, on the DaVinci Resolve, would be required to do a full scene-by-scene correction for the final.
Dave Strohmaier examines the Shellarama Eastman color print. Image by Tom March
After scanning I would digitally “dust bust” each frame to clean up the blotches, dirt and minimize any vertical scratches as well as the final color adjustments. Meanwhile at End Point Audio expert sound technician Nick Bergh was transferring the 6-track magnetic sound track directly from the 70mm print onto to digital files for a 5.1 mix. The owner of Audio Mechanics, John Polito personally re mixed the shorts for our new 5.1 print master.
Faded Eastman color main title
While not the ideal situation reasonable color can be often achieved. Some shots come out much better than others but the overall, while not perfect, is very impressive considering the condition of the print source.
The eventual use for these 70mm shorts might well be as bonus extras for any future Cinerama feature blu-ray releases such as "Russian Adventure", "Best Of Cinerama" or perhaps "The Golden Head".
In our earlier research we contacted the archives at NASA to see if they had any record of the title “Bridge to Space”. The archivist at NASA told us he did not know this film existed and he was very interested in getting a digital file for their archives as soon as possible. They now have a digital file of the film.
Final color and Smileboxing
The Digital Reconstruction
Reconstructed and Remasterd by David Strohmaier
Produced by Tom H. March
Scanned at Fotokem Film and Video
Remixed for 5.1 at Audio Mechanics in Burbank, Ca.
70mm Print Source Cinerama Inc.
Shellarama Eastman Color section blow up SHELLARAMA
Cinerama presents a Dimitri de Grunwald production in Super Technirama-70
Written and Directed by: Richard Cawson Produced by: Dimitri De Grunwald Photography by: Stanley Sayer Editing by: Fred Burnley Music by: Johnny Scott
Production: Roger Good Sound editing: Norman Savage Sound mixing: Gordon McCallum Night photography: Eric Willmott
Technicolor - Technirama RCA Westrex Recording
UK - 1965 - 16 minutes
Final color and Smilebox
An aerial scene from “Bridge To Space” in Smilebox BRIDGE TO SPACE
Directed by Robert Gaffney
Produced by Charles R. Trieschmann
Edited by Angeleo Ross, A.C.E.
Cinerama Inc. and Seneca Productions
A scene from “Concorde” CONCORDE
Written and Directed by Pierre Jallaud
Produced by Sylve Jallaud
Photography Georges Barsky
Editing Philippe Gosselet
An Objectifs Production
A montage of clips from each production on YouTube