“The 12th Film Restoration and Preservation Workshop”Report

The Second Event in Tokyo – Aiming for Interregional Information Sharing

The Film Restoration and Preservation Workshop is held to deepen understanding of the significance, latest information, and future challenges related to restoring and preserving movies and other images, as well as to strengthen exchanges and networks between participants. From its inception in 2006 until its 10th implementation in 2015, the workshop was held in Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe, but with interest in video archiving on the rise, the workshop was hosted in Tokyo for the first time in 2016 for its 11th implementation to allow more people to join and to promote interregional information sharing. This year, in 2017, facility tours, hands-on training, speeches, lectures, and sessions were held at the National Film Center at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Kamakura City Kawakita Film Museum, Tokyo KOON, Tokyo Laboratory Ltd., Toho Studios, and the IMAGICA Tokyo Imaging Center, and was a big success with many people, including moderators and presenters, participating.

Two Hands-On Practical Training Events Conducted at a Time
~ IMAGICA Tokyo Imaging Center

Among these events, those held on the first day of the event that focused on tours and practical training were “Preservation and Restoration of Non-Film Materials” at the National Film Center of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; “Facility Tour & ‘Kamakura Movie Map’ Hunt” at the Kamakura City Kawakita Film Museum; “Practical Training to Prevent Vinegar Syndrome” at Tokyo KOON;
“Film Work Hands-On Experience” at Tokyo Laboratory; and “Tour of Toho Studios, Birthplace of ‘Godzilla’ and ‘Seven Samurai’” at Toho Studios. Two workshops were held at the IMAGICA Tokyo Imaging Center, “Practical Training on Digital Restoration of Film” and “Turn Your Video into Film! – With Hands-On Developing and Coloring by Hand”. With many participants voicing a desire for hands-on practical training, IMAGICA wanted them to interact with the materials and the work more concretely to understand the joy and wonder of actual film work, and thus held its first ever practical workshop.

“Practical Training on Digital Restoration of Film” was structured as a film restoration and preservation hands-on experience, with participants observing digital restoration work and then trying it for themselves. Every film, no matter how famous, experiences fading, scratches, and flickering due to age-related deterioration. The workshop was set up so that participants could not only see or hear the restoration methods used to fix these issues once it was digitalized, but could also learn through touching and interacting with them.
Then, in “Turn Your Video into Film! – With Hands-On Developing and Coloring by Hand”, participants learned how to turn video taken with smartphones or digital cameras into film using what is known as the Film Recording Method. Furthermore, the workshop had hands-on training for simple hand development and prewar techniques for coloring black and white film, and was structured to deepen understanding about film itself, with film director Kei Shichiri joining in as a special lecturer.


Morio Takahashi


Shinichi Noguchi

On that day, participants in both events gathered in the IMAGICA Tokyo Imaging Center No. 2 Viewing Room, where they participated in “Film: An Explanation of Workflow in Digital Restoration” and a screening of films that would be part of their digital restoration practice. There was a total of 28 participants that day, with 15 in digital restoration practice and 13 in film recording and hand development and coloring practice. The participants, some from as far away as Tohoku or even overseas, included museum curators collecting and storing film, librarians, archivists, researchers, companies and organizations involved in movies both old and new, as well as people in the media and students interested in the restoration and preservation of film. An overwhelming number of applications were received during the sign-up period, and the event itself was a big success as well. First, participants listened to greetings from Shinichi Noguchi, division director of movie production, about the establishment of IMAGICA as a film laboratory and the significance of the workshop, then heard an explanation of the history of film, the digital restoration workflow, and the unique system and efforts of IMAGICA from Morio Takahashi, a member of production department archiving & restoration group, who has been involved in color correction in such films as Always Sunset on Third Street (2005), Tennen kokekkô (2007), and Umizaru (2004) and is currently in charge of scanning.
On this day, the film screened as the subject of digital restoration practice was Nagisa Oshima’s masterpiece Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983). Nagisa Oshima Productions had the generosity to entrust us with prints from the original negative films for a screening. The screening will show the original tones of the film and the dark scratches and dust on the print from running it through the projectors as well as the white dust on the negatives. Our aim is to have our audience experience that before going into the workshop and then comparing it to the results of digital reconstruction to see how much has changed.

“Digital Restoration of Film” Edition

After this, the digital restoration team split into three groups and went to observe the work site. This was designed so that participants would first go to the film checking site and work with inspecting the film itself. Participants asked questions such as, “Is this the original film?” and actively took notes, paying attention to the details and showing interest and enthusiasm toward film restoration. Furthermore, in the scanning room, participants observed the work and process involved in digitally scanning film. Using the Scanity at IMAGICA Tokyo Imaging Center, participants watched up close as the test film was scanned by hand, turning from film into image data. Also, in digital restoration, individual participants were given explanations on the kinds of work involved in digital restoration such as stabilizing, deflickering, erasing dust and scratches, and frame interpolation to get an experience in erasing scratches and dusts. Using the scene in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence where British Major Jack Celliers, played by David Bowie, flashes back to his student days, participants learned a series of work methods, first by erasing dust and scratches by hand, then trying out processors which automatically recognizes dust.

Then, participants went to “Hokusai,” IMAGICA’s first digital color grading room. Here, under the guidance of Yoshiaki Abe of production department data imaging group, they got to try color grading scanned data hands-on. Participants themselves used the grading tool Baselight to adjust contrast and color, and practiced restoring Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence from the rich tones of the negatives to a natural tone. Participants then chose their favorite cuts and watched as the contrast of highlights, dark, and intermediate tones and colors appeared visually on the waveform monitor, all while handling the ring and trackball. Each participant put his or her own personality and preferences into the work, and many spoke with excitement of this valuable experience, stating that, “It was difficult, but fun.”

“Turn Your Video into Film! – With Hands-On Developing and Coloring by Hand”

Meanwhile, the film recording/ hand development and coloring team, which conducted practical training on hand development and coloring of prints, was also having fun. Through observation of the film recording process, in which data is recorded onto negative film, at the outset of the training, students were provided with a place to deepen their understanding not only of film preservation, but of film as a new method of expression. Wearing raincoats and rubber gloves, the team developed monochrome positives from recording negatives using chemicals and performed coloring work themselves. Since the color and texture change according to soaking and drying time as well as to the combination of tones and colors used, this work is a sophisticated blend of scientific experiment and art production. Participants experienced the quality and joy that comes from film itself, seasoned with the novelty of the digital era, through this work.

Practical Training Conclusions ~

At the end of the training, both teams regrouped in the No. 2 Viewing Room, where the video taken in advance and turned into a film by the film recording/ hand development and coloring team and the digitally restored version of Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence were screened.
The film recording/hand development and coloring training team’s video was created from data converted from moving files about one minute in length, which participants had sent beforehand, recorded in 4K and turned into a film. In addition to videos of fireworks or children, some participants, bearing in mind that this would be turned into film, had taken videos akin to silent short films, and some used the latest digital video finishing, so that the viewing room was not a mere screening, but rather just like a film festival. At the end, each participant was presented with prints and negatives of the film they had shown.

Also, the video of Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence was now completely different from the aging film seen in the morning, clearer and with color restored to its former glory. Along with the work itself being clearer, the video footage cut by the director and cameramen at the time of shooting were shown more vividly.
Both teams reaffirmed the wonder of a film, which has been demonstrated as being able to be stored for over 100 years, as well as the wonder of digital, which can bring out the qualities of old film, and were satisfied as they left the viewing room.

IMAGICA will continue to contribute to the development and prosperity of film culture through the Film Restoration and Preservation Workshop and other activities.

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