Film Restoration School Asia

– By Richard Falkner, NZFA Film Handler

National Museum of Singapore.
National Museum of Singapore.

In late November my colleague Hepi Mita and I were lucky enough to attend the first Film Restoration School Asia, hosted by the National Museum of Singapore and tutored by staff from L’Immagine Ritrovata.  The program was based on a longer school run by L’Immagine Ritrovata, in their native Bologna, Italy, and included workshops on film comparison, film repair, scanning, digital restoration, colour correction, sounds restoration and history, and film mastering. Also lectures and presentations were made on the subjects of restoration workflow, film identification, film scanning strategies, and restoration strategies for 16mm film, among others.

Sound scanning.
Sound scanning.

The opportunity to learn and reinforce best practice for physical handling and repair of film elements was great. In addition, the focus on digital technologies such as scanning, data management, network design, sound scanning and digital restoration was fantastic. These new technologies are clearly the only way forward, especially given the lack of access to traditional photochemical processes. It was quite a barrage of information, but as long as notes and photographs were taken it was possible to keep up.

ARRISCAN.
ARRISCAN.

Of particular interest were lectures on the restoration of 16mm films, as this was a widely used format in New Zealand. Also getting a walk through the entire digital process – from scanning, through restoration, colour correction and final mastering – was great. A new technology that was presented was a sound scanner, with supporting software. Once attached to an existing sound follower, this device photographically scans the sound track as an image (at 2k resolution), allowing the sort of restoration you might achieve on film pictures. Also it can help improve image spread and modulation distortion automatically. It has been also been a necessary expense in the past to print a pos sound track before you can digitise, and this device removes that need.

Colour correction.
Colour correction.

The workshop described a typical timeline for film preservation, giving case examples with locally restored films such as Indonesia’s Lewat Djam Malam (1953), and then screening the films in their entireity in the evenings.

Apart from the purely educational aspect it was also fantastic to be able to meet and discuss the experiences of other archivists and restoration workers from around the region.

The workshop was a fantastic learning experience, and very inspirational. We thank the Film Archive for allowing us to attend, and the organisers for putting on. With any luck the program will run again in a year or two. If you get a chance, go along!