Meeting Report - Feb 12, 2002
Joint meeting with the ASC
THE ROLE OF THE CINEMATOGRAPHER IN FILM PRESERVATION
The program was opened by Chair Alan Masson, followed by a clip from the 1930 feature Half Shot at Sunrise, demonstrating that a 72 year old film can still be printed and projected on today’s standard equipment.
The meeting was a successful example of the Hollywood Section of SMPTE to build bridges linking the creative and technology communities by creating a two-way dialogue. Owen Roizman, ASC, and Allen Daviau, ASC, have both earned five Oscar nominations. the third cinematographer, John Hora, ASC, also has a notable body of work, and the American Society of Cinematogrpahers has designated him as the organization’s liasion to the Hollywood section. The main thrust of the discussion focussed on the importance of engaging the participation of cinematographers in the supervision of restoration projects. Roizma cited as one example, The Electric Horseman, a film he shot with Sydney Pollack. A restored print was shown at an event honoring the director. where a day-for-night scene was printed as day, because neither the cinematographer or director was present during the original effort at restoration. Roizman said that unintentional flaw significantly interrupted the flow of the story. The problem was subsequently repaired when Roizman was invited to supervise a corrected restoration.
The next presentation involved E.T, the Extra-terrestrial, which was photographed by Daviau, who is personally supervising the restoration effort prior to an upcoming national reissue. Another panelist, Bob Raring, color-timer at Technicolor Labs, worked with Daviau on both the oriignal release and the restoration effort. Both noted that the original negative was in very good shape because it was stored in proper environmental conditions. Daviau noted that one of the challenges was the difficulty of emulating the original look because of changes in the intermediate and print films during the past 20 years. That fostered much discussion about whether old films could be "improved" by new technology.
Film clips of both of these features were used to illustrate their comments.
In general, the three cinematographers agreed that there is an ethical responsibility by content owners to both the original "authors of the film" and the public to retain the artistic intentions of the filmmakers during restoration. Hora explained that nuances in shades of contrast and colors are essential components of the language of film. Part of his presentation was accompanied by a clip from a Technicolor print of the 1952 feature, Ivanhoe. There was some debate at the end between a member of the audience who seemed to be insisting that "new technology" makes it possibile to ‘improve" on old stories, and the three cinematogaphers who insisted that it would be ethically wrong for third parties to "re-interpret" other people’s films. The majority of the audience seemed to enjoy the discussion and found it enlightening.
Following the ASC members, Section Secretary/Treasurer Richard May introduced two of the major archive restorationists. Bob Gitt, of the UCLA Film Archive, presented a film clip from The Man on the Eiffel Tower and discussed the difficulty of restoration when the original movie was photographed on now obsolete Ansco film stock. He followed this with scenes from the black and white film The Night of the Hunter, talking about how restoration decisions are made when the film makers are no longer living. Both of these films were photographed by Stanley Cortez, ASC.
Michael Pogorzelski, Director of the Academy Film Archive, showed a before and after clip from All That Jazz, and described working with Giuseppe Rotunno to properly reprint this negative, which remains in very good condition.
The program closed with about 20 minutes of discussion between the panelists and the audience.
Richard P. May Section Officer
Title: Manager, Hollywood Section Education Chair
Company Affiliation & Contact Tel. No.: Warner Bros. 818 977-2323
Bob Fisher, ASC Public Relations-Publicity