Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bringing Film Gems Into 21st Century TV

Back in the so-called golden era of Hollywood, long before anyone dreamed up video tape and desktop editing, the process of filmmaking was relatively simple. Movies were shot on 35mm film, edited on 35mm film, and shown in theatres on 35mm film. In some cases, of

When faced with the challenge of getting a bunch of pristine old film prints to High Definition (HD) television, the Matinee at the Bijou team figured we were up to the task. The task might seem easy at first glance: Just put the old films on a projector and transfer them to tape, right? Well, not exactly.

The process starts with carefully seeking out the best quality film prints available, screening them with a filmmaker’s eye for color, clarity, jump-cuts, scratches, damages and any other quality issues. When the right print is selected, the show’s producers take it to a high-end film transfer facility in Los Angeles for meticulous audio and video transfer to HDCAM video tape, tweaking and color-correcting along the way to ensure a first-rate HD master. The HDCAM tape is then brought to Matinee’s post production house, where it is put on high density BluRay DVD cartridges and loaded onto a sophisticated non-linear editing and finishing system for the final program edit, resulting in the Matinee at the Bijou audience seeing the finished show in glorious widescreen HD format. We think the original filmmakers would be pleased.

A wonderful by-product of this process is that many of these old film gems find new and enduring life. It’s sad but true that film isn’t forever; old films eventually succumb to age, decay and chemical breakdown. Getting these treasures onto immaculate HD media means they have the prospect of surviving for an indefinite period of time. These old films have already survived longer than almost all of their creators; now they have hope of enduring long past the rest of us as well, enabling future generations to enjoy them.


Sorcerer Mickey said...

I loved this series in the 1980s, and can't wait to see the rest of the episodes of "Let's Go To The Movies!", particularly the one about the Cinema Exhibitor!
Welcome back!

Jon Ted Wynne said...

It is with great delight and anticipation that I heard about the resurrection of the great, the inimitable series MATINEE AT THE BIJOU. I can hardly wait for the finished product and the resultant fruit which will, I hope, lead to many more years of this kind of superb programming.

It has been said we have much to learn from the past. Well that is equally true when it comes to entertainment, film in particular. The classics, the not-so-classics, and the downright awful (though somehow still charming) have continued to entertain and enlighten many, many movies fans world-wide who are tired and frustrated of the same old Hollywood product. When stars were truly stars and filmmaking wasn't either pretentious or crass-- that is the promise of this great series. I can hardly wait.

Anonymous said...

Will this be strictly public domain films, or will there be other material as well??

Anonymous said...

Hazaa! I'm glad to hear that someone is working to preserve films like these. I love old movies, so I'm lookin forward to seeing them with an enhanced quality.