Restoring James Bond Toronto-born film restorer John Lowry on his toughest project yet

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Imagine a
room filled with 600 state-of-the-art computers working around the
clock – that’s the kind of computing power it takes to
digitally restore your favourite films.

Toronto-born
John Lowry, one of the world’s foremost experts in film restoration,
has developed a special process (run by all those computers) to
improve over 100 of Hollywood’s most beloved classics, including
Casablanca,
Citizen
Kane
, and Star
Wars
to name just a few.

When MGM approached
him to restore all 20 James Bond films (minus the latest, Casino
Royale
) for a special DVD collection – all at once
– Lowry knew that he was in for a massive undertaking.

“This
was easily the largest project for digital restoration ever,”
Lowry says during a phone interview with Popjournalism.

Over two-and-a-half
painstaking years, Lowry’s company and MGM worked on restoring
picture and sound quality on Bond films from 1962’s Dr.
No
to 2002’s Die
Another Day
.

While the computers
handled most of the automatic processes like dust removal, more
complex problems like torn film had to be fixed manually, taking
up to 20 minutes per frame – and keep in mind that a two-hour
film has approximately 172,000 frames.

It sounds like
the definition of tedious work.

“Tedious
is the last word I’d use to describe my job,” Lowry says
with a laugh. “I think of the process as puzzle-solving. What
caused this problem? How can we fix it? It’s often a mind-bending
process.”

One of the
most challenging films to restore in the Bond series was the first
film, Dr. No, whose negatives had degraded over the years
due to numerous reprints and lack of care before the franchise had
taken full bloom.

Read
the rest of the article

December
25, 2009

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