Video Restoration Thread

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Garrett Gilchrist
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Video Restoration Thread

Post: # 7451Post Garrett Gilchrist »

I've been doing film restoration and fanediting as a hobby and professionally since the 90s.

Here are some "restoration comparisons" showing the sort of restoration I do.

[Also check the first few pages of The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut thread for some in-depth discussion.]

I have put out more DVD and web restorations of rare material than I can count or keep track of. This has all been non profit and available for free on the web. I started out in 2005 with Star Wars: Deleted Magic, a documentary about how Star Wars was saved in the editing room, as well as The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band: Talking Pictures, and a Monty Python Youtube channel. I currently run Henson Rarities, a Youtube channel and email list dedicated to restoring the work of Muppet creator Jim Henson.

Of course my biggest restoration has been The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut, which has its own thread here. That edit took seven years of research and over two and a half years of frame by frame restoration work for the HD "Mark 4" version. I believe it is the most complex restoration of any film anyone's ever done, certainly on an independent level. This also involved an associated research project and archive of material dedicated to the animator, Richard Williams.

Richard Williams is the three-time Academy Award-winning animator of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and writer of The Animator's Survival Kit. He is considered by many to be the greatest animator alive today. The Thief and the Cobbler was his dream project, on which he spent nearly thirty years [starting in the early 1960s]. After the success of Roger Rabbit in 1988, Warner Bros decided to fund the film, but after disagreements with Williams, they shut production down with the film still unfinished. The Completion Bond company handed it to another director to finish as quickly and cheaply as possible, and the result is unrecognizable.

In 2000 and then 2006 I created the first "Recobbled Cuts," an attempt to show what Williams had in mind. Hundreds of animators and crew who worked on the film offered their support, and many offered rare materials no one had seen previously. I also had a ton of help from friends and fans of the film. After seven years of work and research, including frame by frame cleanup of the entire film, the transfer of 30 minutes of HD 35mm material, dozens of DVD preservations of Williams' other work and even new art and animation, the "Recobbled Cut Mk 4" was complete in HD as of September 2013.

Personal channel

Personal art gallery

I was a consultant on releases like Skot Sodawood's "Army of Darkness: Primitive Screwhead Edition" and Dennis' "The Darker Crystal," and have created hundreds of restored DVDs from VHS and other sources, including many Muppet projects. Partial list from memory:

The Thief and the Cobbler
Mystery Science Theater 3000 (KTMA era)
Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977)
Evil Dead 2 (Deleted scenes)
The Star Wars Trilogy (and bonus material and documentary Deleted Magic)
Monty Python's Flying Circus (related rarities)
Phantom of the Paradise
Little Muppet Monsters [6 episodes, 3 previously unseen for 30 years]
The Jim Henson Hour
Muppet Specials (John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together, The Muppets at Walt Disney World, The Tale of the Bunny Picnic, The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson, Muppets A Celebration of 30 Years, The Great Santa Claus Switch, and many more)
Muppets Tonight!
The Little Mermaid's Island
Julie Andrews & The Muppets: My Favorite Things, One Step Into Spring, One To One
Night Trap
Animaniacs (Broadcast Nuisance uncut, etc)
The Innes Book of Records
Rutland Weekend Television
Do Not Adjust Your Set (and the Bonzo Dog Band generally)
Bonzo Dog Band in Adventures of Son of Exploding Sausage
The Dark Crystal (unfinished)
Keep Off My Grass! (w/ Micky Dolenz)
The Tournament (bonus for 1984 film Ninja Busters)
Return of the Ewok (1983)
The Rutles: All You Need is Cash (related material)
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Golden Bat (1967 anime)
A Christmas Carol (1972)
The Little Island (1959)
Love Me Love Me Love Me / A Lecture On Man (1962)
Richard Williams animated commercials
The Sailor and the Devil (1967/unfinished)
Rock & Rule (soundtrack)
Army of Darkness (consultant)
Doctor Who (missing episode animations)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (unmade 1982 version)
Beach Boys SMiLE 3971 edit (okay, that's an album, not TV or film)

And so on and so on. I probably shouldn't admit all that, as I often keep my work invisible. It's often a hobby I use to wind down inbetween working on my own artistic projects. [The very popular Star Wars: Deleted Magic came about one weekend when I was too sick to edit my feature of the time.]

I also directed a Marvel superhero feature called Shamelessly She-Hulk back in 2007-8, and wrote and drew a comic called The Chosen Ones. I also had a project called WhoSprites, to animate the lost episodes of Doctor Who. I've written 1.5 novels and fourteen screenplays and am currently working on a videogame project.
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Re: Video Restoration Thread

Post: # 9080Post Garrett Gilchrist »

How do you research, transfer, restore and work with rare, lost and vintage media? What are your tricks and secrets?

Heritage Auctions and Ebay are often good for finding rare photographs and high quality scans. Google Image Search and TinEye feel increasingly limited, I think by design, but can still be useful for finding a larger version of an image.

Archive. org is good for sharing and finding VHS off-airs, as are certain private sites you're probably familiar with.

Topaz AI Gigapixel (paid program) can upscale photographs. I also keep a GUI EXE of Waifu2X Snowshell around for upscaling. It's not as good, but free, and more designed for animation. I can often get better results with a 50% 2X combination of the two, that is then upscaled further.

Remini, used as a mobile app, uses AI to approximate the look of faces in otherwise blurry photographs (and video, although this gets expensive fast). It is revisionist and therefore controversial but can be very useful when used carefully and sparingly, and perhaps combined at 50% opacity with a Topaz upscale.

Sometimes I do the "reducing contrast trick" which I explained here. ... g-contrast

EBSynth is a style transfer program which can take the general appearance of a restored, colorized or otherwise higher-quality keyframe and propagate its appearance over a different or lower quality source (saved as an image sequence).

This is good for patching brief gaps when a video becomes lower quality or switches to a different source for a few frames. It was intended to make video look like "moving Van Gogh paintings" and can still be used for that.

Indeed the video will always look smeary after awhile. I was the first to use it for colorization, which is now a very common thing to do. I also used Deepremaster (in Google Colab) to plug gaps in the colorization, something I now feel is unnecessary.

I explained this in a Youtube video, which I gather was influential and much imitated.

Izotope RX8 (paid program) is useful for removing noise from audio (Spectral noise removal). It can also do vocal removal/isolation to an extent, and lots more. The free option for noise reduction has traditionally been Audacity, which isn't quite as good.

Ultimate Vocal Remover and/or Spleeter (in Google Colab) use AI to remove and isolate vocals from a piece of music, or other background noise.

IsoBuster is a paid program useful for copying damaged or problematic DVDs and ISO files. Worth the money if you have old DVDrs.

PFClean was/is an expensive professional program, useful for processes like removing dirt from a film transfer (using either MOVs or image sequences). I worked with professionals who already had access to this program in 2013 and still make use of it to an extent.

People seem to be using Phoenix processes for digital dirt removal these days, and I'm much more impressed by those results. I don't have access to that and still have to do a lot of my dirt removal by hand in Photoshop (for animation animated on ones for example, and serious damage), but that also gets better results even if it's arduous.

On Mac, in years past, I used ProRes as my editing codec (when not editing MiniDV natively), and used command-line ffmpeg for transcoding footage and deinterlacing with yadif or doing other necessary steps.

I find it annoying and fiddly to come up with a command-line workflow, but once I know it works I can copy it into a text file and keep using it on future projects.

I learned how to edit digitally on Avid Express DV in 2001, and I wonder if it was really as primitive as I remember it being, which is very primitive indeed.

I switched to Adobe Premiere for a few years after that.

I used Final Cut Pro 7 (2009?) as long as I possibly could, having switched to Final Cut around 2005. It does not work on current versions of OSX but I have an older Hackintosh which still runs it.

I switched to PC in 2019, since that Hackintosh had stopped working reliably.

Adobe Premiere CS6 came out in 2012, I think, and is very outdated but also doesn't use the current subscription model and is easy enough to find second-hand. So I use that, along with Adobe AfterEffects CS6 for things like stabilization.

I'm usually using the Lagarith codec which is not very size efficient and certainly doesn't work on Mac, but also doesn't have the issues with gamma/brightness fluctuation that ProRes has especially on PC, due to converting back and forth between AVI and MOV I assume. Lagarith is very color-stable, as long as I'm working on PC only. Premiere does not export ProRes, although VirtualDub2 does.

I use VirtualDub2 for deinterlacing (via yadif) and other file conversion and filtering needs. I also use it to run AviSynth scripts, which are written into text files. I find these very confusing to write and run successfully (and to make sure I have everything I need), but it's the only way to pull off a lot of effects, and quite remarkable things can be done with them. I've been known to ask for help to get it just right.

Joss Marlowe Hoskinson writes:

For research, I turn to to the U.S. Copyright Public Record System, Newspapers(dot)com, primary documents and sources (when available), and googleing as much as I can, making sure to archive everything I want to use as a source. (Learned the hard way, when I lost everything for a topic when Yahoo Groups were shut down.) I also use Wikipedia as a jumping off point and to help flesh out Loose Leaf Celluloid scripts, and I have been used Fandom wikis for basic information for shallow dives.
In terms of audio and video, I view myself more as an archivist and preservationist as opposed to a restorer. I'll do some work when there are very simple problems to fix that help something become more enjoyable -- fixing the speed/pitch of a recording, stabilizing and reconstructing a moment of video distortion, making a piece of black-and-white video footage grayscale to help with clarity, squashing/stretching footage to match another source, maybe a bit of color correction -- but I try to keep my hands off of everything as much as possible.

When dealing with something in a different language, always perform a search using the official title in the language your interested in. (Depending on how well known it is, the Wikipedia article in that language is a good place to find it.)
Also, look for any alternate translated titles, and, if you've been able to pinpoint an trait or party involved, also search using the original, untranslated title. (IE, one of my searches for both "リトル・ショップ・オブ・ホラーズ VHD" and "little shop of horrors VHD".)
Depending, it might be known in that language primarily under one or multiple titles.
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Re: Video Restoration Thread

Post: # 9081Post Dennis196492 »

I like this thread, I'll wager it's to discuss small fan-edit/preservation projects that don't need an entire thread dedicated to them?

I've been playing around with this version of Rock-A-Doodle that was released in Netherlands, it's sourced from a different print from the US DVD and features a 5.1 Soundmix, of which I'm using to stitch together a version of the film without Phil Harris' Narration, not as easy as I anticipated since you can still hear him faintly in the rear channels, something that can be mildly solved if I put in custom foley to drown out the voices. There is however, a German Soundtrack release which aside from featuring the songs in German, it also has bits and pieces of the original Score, I don't have it and can't find it, but it would be useful to have.

I also synched together 3 versions of Pebble and the Penguin to see what was changed for the 2007 DVD release, which added color correction and tracking shots as well as cropping the film to its intended 16:9 ratio (It was never intended to be seen in its open-matte format as even the original VHS release was pan-scan from a 16:9 version of the film), there is also the original theatrical trailer, which features footage that was most likely finished under Don Bluth but was scrapped in favor of the inferior Hungarian hack-job.
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Re: Video Restoration Thread

Post: # 9082Post Garrett Gilchrist »

Sounds good!

Did you help restore Little Shop for Blu-ray or was this an earlier project?
Only Keep Off My Grass and The Tournament were official releases so far. Oh, and a special feature for Spider-Man 3.

Little Shop I was dealing with deleted scenes which didn't make it to the Blu-Ray. Which is a shame. The Blu-Ray is an excellent reconstruction of one of the early edits, as previously released in black and white. But that ignores that the scene progressed farther in the edit after that cut, and that other important material needed to be restored that's not part of the ending. (Notably "The Meek Shall Inherit," extended death scenes which make Seymour's guilt much clearer, Seymour proposing to Audrey ...)

There's a thread about it here, featuring Joss Hoskinson who now restores a lot of Little Shop audio rarities for his Howard Ashman archive.

When the blu ray was coming out, material started leaking -- entirely because it was such a big oversight, especially considering what a good job was done restoring that cut specifically.

It's a good restoration of the wrong edit. But in general, the ending is intended to support a version of the film where Seymour is guilty of murder and pays the price, dearly. A Jewish version of the film where his sins follow him, as opposed to a Christian one where he's forgiven because he repents. The scenes I'm mentioning make it clearer that Seymour is not innocent -- that he makes bad choices. "The Meek Shall Inherit" is actually the moment where he makes that choice. And he's clearly complicit in Mushnik's death in a way that the final cut breezes over.

The rest of the film is untouched -- they "only" restored the ending, and a VERY overlong early edit of it at that. It looks great but minor mistakes were made, and director Frank Oz's preferred cut of the ending was much tighter than what's presented there, with different footage used at that!

And I can't find an explanation for that other than, the people in charge made a decision early on, based only on recreating the old DVDs, and ignored what actually turned up when they were working. I'm glad they did it, but they could have done it better.

A deal with the devil needs a point where he makes that decision specifically. Glossing over all that and softening his character are edit choices made to support the shoddily-done "happy" ending.

I also wish Frank Oz would have done a version where Seymour and Audrey live, but where "Don't Feed the Plants" still happens -- with them singing it! The famous thing here is not so much that they softened the film, but that they threw away a sequence which ate up a huge chunk of the budget and contains some of the most remarkable miniature and puppet work ever set to film.
Ellen Greene's reprise of "Somewhere That's Green" is the heart of the movie for me and she sings it while she's dying, so for me it's the tragic ending or bust.
I don't disagree with that. It's the best bit in the film. And that's the story.

But it is important that we see Seymour decide Mushnik needs to die, and have that moment in The Meek Shall Inherit where he decides not to kill the plant specifically. That's the story too.

There's also the matter of Seymour proposing to Audrey, which was cut only because the happy ending duplicates it.

Ashman and Menken also wrote The Little Mermaid -- another deal with the devil film where, as completed, there are no consequences for that. Hm.
The 480p versions of the original (Star Wars films) were published on a box set, which I picked up just for that reason. The quality was no better than the old videotapes, but watching them over again reminded me how much I loved those films.
Those were the old laserdisc masters. Clean, but not high quality. And definitely a jerk move for Lucas to release them that way.

Harmy's Despecialized version is very good. I did a Classic Edition series of edits around 2006, and kept tabs on fan efforts to actually transfer some 35mm film and do the replaced scenes justice. The most recent Harmy version handles color correction and effects well, under the circumstances, and incorporates a lot of actual 35mm film. Fans were working to recreate more authentic colors for the film, as Lucasfilm had made terrible color correcting choices of late.

My SD version is definitely obsolete now but had some unusual sound editing choices and a unique cast & crew commentary. I also did a popular documentary in 2005 called Star Wars: Deleted Magic. A lot more deleted footage has turned up since then, but for the time it was pretty comprehensive -- and much imitated since.
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Re: Video Restoration Thread

Post: # 9093Post Dennis196492 »

I've finished my Rock-A-Doodle edit, but it was a hassle just to get it rendering, so compromises had to be made, in the process I couldn't polish it here and there, but it's alright, I guess.!TZtAWARB!YR0VAWh_hC3R ... rwmej22p_E
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Re: Video Restoration Thread

Post: # 9096Post Garrett Gilchrist »

I know that feeling -- I've had technical issues derail "small" projects years ago, to the point where it wasn't worth the effort anymore.

What is your Rock A Doodle edit?
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Re: Video Restoration Thread

Post: # 9098Post Dennis196492 »

It's more of an alternate audio track, the film is pretty much the same but without the Narration. When they were making Rock-A-Doodle they would constantly do test screenings which is why the movie is constantly frantic, noisy and afraid it's gonna lose its audience, the Narration was added due to the fact that the film is so chaotic test audiences couldn't understand it anymore so a good deal of the movie is narration explaining things in excruciating detail, often making things more confusing than clearing out.

The Removal of the narration improves the film in the sense that it doesn't make much of a difference either way, it's still hard to figure it out, but at least without it there are some minor pauses in the action, and you get to focus more on the animation, which some of it is Don Bluth's best IMO, shame that there is no Blu-Ray release for this on the horizon, it'd look very pretty.
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Re: Video Restoration Thread

Post: # 9100Post Garrett Gilchrist »

Blu-Ray may get round to it eventually.

If you'd avoided making any picture changes, you could just release the audio track, that's easier!
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Re: Video Restoration Thread

Post: # 9142Post Dennis196492 »

I've made a comparison video for The Pebble and the Penguin, the first part I edited the movie myself shot-by-shot to match the trailer, slowed down to make it easier to give information, the second part being a highlight reel of the more grotesque animation errors the open-matte version shows, as well as showing some of the more noticeable differences between the original release and the 2007 version, like camera movements and color-correction.

Might make in the future a follow-up to this featuring miscellaneous comparisons like comparing original Don Bluth made cels with how the final film looks, as well as Sound differences between the movie and the official Sountrack album
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Re: Video Restoration Thread

Post: # 9149Post Garrett Gilchrist »

Why was it reshot?
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