Lawrence of Arabia

Sony Pictures Entertainment   |   USA

One of the screen's grandest epics, this monumental story recounts the true life experiences of T.E. Lawrence, better known to the world as Lawrence of Arabia. A young, idealistic British officer in WWI, Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) is assigned to the camp of Prince Feisal (Alec Guinness), an Arab tribal chieftain and leader in a revolt against the Turks. In a series of brilliant tactical maneuvers, Lawrence leads fifty of Feisal's men in a tortured three week crossing of the Nefud Desert to attack the strategic Turkish held port of Aqaba. And following his successful raids against Turkish troops and trains, Lawrence's triumphant leadership and unyielding courage gain him nearly god-like status among his Arab brothers. Lean's masterpiece from 1962, stands not only as one of the great films in the Columbia Pictures library, but one of the greatest films ever made. In preparation for its 50th anniversary release on Blu-ray Disc and in theaters, the film has undergone an extensive, fully 4K digital restoration. Further Information 1. Describe the element/s used for restoration, stating gauge and nature and specific problems associated with them (up to 100 words): The work to create a newly restored Lawrence of Arabia for 2012 came about because we wanted to present the film in the best way possible for its anniversary. The plan was to fix the damage to the film that couldn't be fixed during the 1988 restoration simply because the technology to do so did not exist at the time. This version of the film, as it exists in the restored 65mm original negative, was the basis of the new restoration work. 2. State the original aspect ratio and format (up to 100 words): The original 65mm negative has an aspect ratio of 2:2:1 and was intended for 70mm projection. For it's original release the film was also made available in "reduction" 'scope 2.35:1 35mm prints. 3. Outline the restored aspect ratio and format (up to 100 words): The restoration will preserve the original 2:2:1 aspect ratio in all available formats. 4. Explain where the work was carried out for each title (including labs and facility houses) and broken down where there are multiple titles in an entry (up to 100 words): The film was scanned on two large format 65mm Imagica XE scanners at FotoKem laboratory in Burbank. The files were then reduced to a 4K file size and moved to digital image restoration facility Colorworks at Sony Pictures Studios, where all the restoration work came together. Based on the type of work that needed to be done, reels were sent to Prasad Corporation in India for general image cleanup, while other particularly distressed frames were sent to MTI Film in Los Angeles. The 6-channel stereo masters created during the 1988 restoration were the source of additional restoration and re-mastering at Chace Audio in Burbank. 5. What methodology was used? (up to 100 words): The 65mm original picture negative was scanned at 8k (the equivalent resolution of the 65mm negative), generating a file size of 8192 x 3584 pixels. The files were then reduced to a 4K file size for the restoration process. Two things were striking about the 4K images when we first viewed them. One was how sharp and detailed the images were and, two, how much damage and wear and tear was evident on the film. The negative itself manifested many of the kinds of issues one would expect from a film of this vintage, including slight color fading and the wear and tear of many original prints having been struck from it. The negative was warped, dried out, with chemical stains in many places. Throughout the film there were sections, which we thought were mostly in the 2nd unit footage, where the camera rolls had suffered an exposure that resulted in the emulsion drying and cracking, resulting in hundreds of small vertical fissures in each frame. Although this problem had always existed, looking a bit like white columns of light or streaks on release prints, the problem had clearly gotten worse over the decades. These cracks are thin, irregular lines 1 to 3 pixels wide separated by as little as 1 pixel in a 4K frame. We found this particular problem to be evident in almost every reel of the film, so it was not relegated to the 2nd unit footage. Each defect was unique and one solution would not work for all. MTI Film developed new algorithms as the months went by modifying existing software to help repair this problem and with much manual intervention. Some scratches running through multiple shots in certain scenes proved especially difficult to remove while being careful not to alter the underlying imagery and grain structure, particularly with faces of characters. 6. What preservation elements have been generated and where will they be stored? (up to 100 words): Unrestored 8K files, restored 4K files, new 65mm DI, new 4K and 2K DCP, new HD masters.