American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 75

1994, and Criterion President Peter Becker
recalls "looking on jealously. I admired these
films unbelievably and I always hoped
Criterion would be able to work on them.
We didn't have a licensing arrangement
with Sony, so that wasn't a possibility. And I
had no idea what happened with the
negatives."
Then, about 10 years ago, Criterion
began exploring the status of the films'
rights. "The films were not actively in distribution," says Becker. "The Ray films were all
independently produced, and the rights had
gone back to their rights holders. So we
began the laborious process of tracking
down who owned the films and convincing
them to license them to us." With the
National Film Development Corporation in
India serving as an intermediary between
Criterion and the rights holders, the first
contracts were signed seven years ago.
"From the beginning, we knew it
was going to be challenging and timeconsuming," says Becker. "We tried to do
it in a way that was responsible and
cost-effective, but it wasn't cheap. Criterion
has its own 4K restoration facility in-house;
if we'd had to do this work in third-party
labs, we wouldn't have been able to afford
to do it."
When Criterion began the restoration, they didn't know that some film cans
had been salvaged from the Henderson fire.
"We assumed all three negatives were gone
and we'd have to find the best secondary
elements that existed anywhere on the
planet," says Becker. "And we did." They
came by some of the elements - such as
those in a long-warehoused catalogue from
Audio-Brandon Films - serendipitously.
Criterion also turned to the holdings of the
Academy. "We went through all the finegrain prints and dupes," Becker recalls. "But
Lee Kline, who was in charge of the restoration, wasn't 100-percent happy that we had
the best elements. Then the Academy let us
know that there were some other Apu Trilogy materials in their vault that hadn't been
listed because they weren't considered
capable of being reproduced."
Kline remembers opening up the
first can of negative that came from the
Henderson fire. "It was shocking," he says.
"The sides were burned; it was fragile and
flaking. The film was like a Möbius strip that

had melted in different degrees on different
sides, shrunk in some ways and twisted
depending on how close to the fire it was in
the can."
After the cans were opened, Kline
asked a technician to put some film on the
scanner. "We got one minute scanned and
it knocked our socks off," he says. "It was a
major revelation. We realized it could be
usable." There were 11 cans for Pather
Panchali, nine for Aparajito and two for
Apur Sansar. The cans were hand-carried to
Cineteca di Bologna's L'Immagine Ritrovata
film-restoration laboratory in Italy.
"We asked every lab we could think
of, and there weren't any experts who
could deal with it," says Kline. "The lab in
Bologna knew exactly what they would do.
They've actually dealt with film that's been
through fire." At Cineteca di Bologna, technicians rehydrated the film to the point
where it could be unspooled safely, and also
re-created all the perforations. "It was
nearly 1,000 hours of razor blades and tape
and hand-work before we could even
scan," says Kline. "Even so, it wasn't all
usable. Some of it was warped in this odd
way that couldn't be fixed."
Then came the accounting of all the
elements. First the Criterion team went
through the negative to figure out what
could be used, and then determined the
best alternative film elements for all the
sections for which there was no usable
negative. "Wherever we could, we used
original negative," says Kline. In the end,
about 40 percent of Pather Panchali and 60
percent of Aparajito was restored from the
original negative. Nothing in the two cans
of Apur Sansar was salvageable; its restoration relied wholly on alternative film
elements.
After doing some tests, Kline
explains, it was clear that the film needed a
pin-registered scan to make sure it was
running as flatly as possible. L'Immagine
Ritrovata scanned the salvaged negative at
4K on an Arriscan. Simultaneously, Criterion
used Arriscan and Digital Film Technology's
Scanity to scan the alternative film
elements. The result was 24TB for each of
the first two films and 16TB for the last,
with careful recordkeeping to keep track of
all of the assets.
The restoration at Criterion went
www.theasc.com

Before (top) and after (bottom) frame grabs illustrate
the challenges faced during the restoration process.

through several steps. After each movie was
assembled, it went through an automated,
real-time process to address flicker, dirt and
scratches. "Digital Vision's Phoenix is our
workhorse for the automated processes,"
says Kline. The next step was very hands-on.
"We have five MTI Film DRS Nova systems,
which ran around the clock," Kline continues. "An operator looks at each frame to
address all the artifacts not resolved in the
automated process. The last step was to use
Digital Vision's Nucoda to color correct, shot
by shot, with a reference print."
"This whole project has been a
triumph of the heroic efforts to preserve
things that needed to be preserved, even if
they didn't appear to have any commercial
value," says Becker. "You have to have a
certain appetite for risk to do this sort of
work. For us, the issue was whether we
wanted to allocate this many resources to
these three films, and the answer was,
'Absolutely, yes.' These are major works of
global cinema history, and the chance to
recover them literally from the ashes of the
fire was irresistible."
●

July 2015

75


http://www.theasc.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - July 2015

Contents
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 1
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 2
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - Contents
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 4
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 5
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 6
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 7
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 8
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 9
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 10
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 11
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 12
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 13
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 14
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 15
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 16
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 17
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 18
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 19
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 20
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 21
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 22
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 23
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 24
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 25
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 26
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 27
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 28
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 29
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 30
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 31
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 32
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 33
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 34
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 35
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 36
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 37
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 38
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 39
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 40
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 41
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 42
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 43
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 44
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 45
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 46
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 47
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 48
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 49
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 50
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 51
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 52
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 53
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 54
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 55
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 56
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 57
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 58
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 59
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 60
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 61
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 62
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 63
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 64
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 65
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 66
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 67
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 68
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 69
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 70
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 71
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 72
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 73
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 74
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 75
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 76
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 77
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 78
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 79
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 80
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 81
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 82
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 83
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 84
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 85
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 86
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 87
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 88
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - July 2015 - Cover4
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1219
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1119
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1019
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0919
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0819
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0719
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0619
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0519
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0419
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0319
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0219_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0219
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0119_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0119
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1218
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1118
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1018
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0918
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0818
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0718
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0618
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0518
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0418
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0318
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0218
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0118
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1217
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1117
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1017
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0917
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0817
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0717
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0617
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0517
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0417
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0317
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0217
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0117
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1216
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1116
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1016
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0916
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0816
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0716
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0616
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0516
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0416
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0316
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0216
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0116
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1215
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1115
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1015
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0915
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0815
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0715
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0615
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0515
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0415
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0315
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0215
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0115
http://www.nxtbookMEDIA.com