Restoring The World At War


Originally broadcast in 1973 by ITV, the sweeping documentary “The World at War” focuses on the events immediately before, during, and after World War II. The British-produced television series is presented in 26 hour-long episodes and provides one of the most penetrating views into the war ever put to film. Narrated by Sir Lawrence Olivier, “The World at War” featured rare color film footage and interviews with major figures of the Alllied and Axis campaigns, including the adjutant to notorious German commander Heimlich Himmler. And now, a stunning new high-definition Blu-ray edition of the series will bring the war to life for the next generation of viewers.
Dubbs, and its restoration and digital media division, Eyeframe, were contracted by FremantleMedia Enterprises to oversee the complete restoration process for the series, including telecine, re-grading, and restoration, and to create a full set of HD broadcast masters as well as a complete Blu-ray box set and DVD box set. The project presented numerous challenges – not the least of which was working with 37-year-old material and original source footage that was almost 70 years old. In addition to the original 26 episodes, the Blu-ray edition would include several additional features with never-before-seen footage, which meant we would be working through many hours of very old and fragile film. And, obviously, an expensive Blu-ray edition of a popular and well-known title meant that the quality of the restoration had to be top-notch. We needed an automated solution that would enable us to maintain the original production values while delivering new experiences to the viewer. At the same time, we needed to find a way to balance the enormous quantity of material with our very tight delivery schedule.
We found the ideal solution for this project in Snell’s new Archangel real-time video restoration system. Coincidentally, we began testing for “The World at War” at about the same time that we were recruited as a Snell Beta partner for Archangel, so we recognized early on that the system would meet FremantelMedia Enterprises’ exacting requirements for the restoration in a cost-effective, highly efficient manner. As it turns out, timing could not have been better – as we encountered problem areas with the film, we would show them to the Snell engineers to help them develop functionality that, in many cases, turned out to be the exact solution for that particular area of footage.
Ideal for documentaries, historical series, natural history, travel, biography, music, and other genres that regularly incorporate archive footage, Archangel’s restoration eliminates any sudden drops in quality that could adversely affect the overall impact of the program. In fact, Archangel is the most complete restoration system I’ve ever encountered, with a complete set of tools in a single box for tasks such as stabilization, de-flicker, dust and dirt removal, and tramline filters. Because Archangel operates in real-time, we were able to continuously monitor the output to ensure the highest quality and guard against damage to the film. Plus, the system gives our skilled operators plenty of control and fine-tuning abilities so that they can deliver an effective restoration that still maintains the look of the period. The system completed the Archangel restoration in just three to four times the program’s total length, and reduced the amount of frame-by-frame work by 60-70%. Without Archangel, we might not have met our deadlines for this project.
We are long-time users of Snell products, and Archangel definitely lives up to the Snell reputation for processing performance, image quality, and reliability. Plus, the level of support we received from Snell through the beta process was outstanding. As a growing number of films, features, and drama series are being remastered for sale on DVD and Blu-ray, Archangel offers the comprehensive restoration necessary for these productions to meet the high quality expectations of consumers watching on large-screen HDTVs and displays. In our role as beta partners, Eyeframe and Dubbs appreciated the opportunity to provide critical input into the development of this new product and we look forward to using it on complex projects in the future.
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Simon Marbrook is head of restoration for Eyeframe, a premier provider of specialized post-production, compression, and restoration services to the television and motion picture industries based in London. www.eyeframe.co.uk

Tags: the world at war | restoration | dubbs | iss044 | freemantlemedia enterprises | eyeframe | telecine | snell | archangel | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

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