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The Machine Room Helps Kick off FIFA Centenary Celebrations

1 May 2004

Soho facility restores never seen before footage from the first ever World Cup

London post facility, The Machine Room, has brought to life previously undiscovered 16mm archive footage dating back to football's first ever World Cup in 1930. The new colourised footage of the 1930 final between Uruguay and Argentina will be shown on a giant screen at the Stade de France on May 20th to help kick off the 100-year anniversary celebrations of FIFA.

The idea came about when football historian, Guy Oliver, discovered the archive footage in Uruguay while producing a programme called The History of Football. He pitched the idea to FIFA to produce a 15-minute programme to kick-start the FIFA centenary celebrations (1904-2004) at the FIFA congress before the France and Brazil showpiece game.

Oliver takes up the story: "I was delighted that FIFA had the foresight to want to commission this project, and it was great to have their support and commitment from the start. This footage is a vital part of our football history, and will go into archive as the first official film of the World Cup."

"The film was in a terrible state when it was found, existing in a number of 10 to 20 second clips, riddled with scratches, tape joins and emulsion problems," says Oliver. "At first we thought it would not be possible to salvage it but having seen The Machine Room's work on the IoC's (International Olympic Committee) footage, we thought that if anyone could do something with it, those guys could."

The first task was to stitch together, wash and treat all the 16mm footage in The Machine Room's specialist Film Treatment Centre. It was then transferred to the companys Shadow telecine to HDD5, before moving into the company's new Teranex imageRestore system to remove any remaining scratches and blemishes. smoke then came into play to replace damaged frames, stabilise and enhance the picture, with smoke editor John McLaren also seamlessly merging other source material with the newly restored archive film footage. Oliver says it was vital to make this footage accessible to the masses.

"As the contrast was so poor in the original black and white footage, we needed to add colour to help the viewer work out what was going on."

The Machine Room used its combustion effects system to create mattes for over 4000 frames. combustion artist, Stephen Miller, adds: "We had to draw individual mattes of each player to introduce colour to the players' shirts, the crowd and the pitch. Otherwise, it would not have made much of a spectacle as it would have been impossible to tell which team was which!"

Finally, the company's linear suite was used to produce inter-titles in the form of a silent movie and to sync up the specially commissioned South American soundtrack created by Miguel Mera. "As there was no commentary," says Oliver, "we used the inter-titles and the upbeat soundtrack to add more life to the footage."

Linear editor, Rob Schofield, then completed the picture by re-versioning the piece into French, German, Italian and Spanish.

The final word goes to Oliver: "Everyone was absolutely delighted with the results - it's fantastic to see all the original footage repaired and enhanced to such a high quality, in colour and all in one programme. For the first time everyone can now partake in the first ever World Cup Final. Having this valuable archive footage all in HD means that is preserved for future generations, and accessible in any format."

About The Machine Room

The Machine Room has over 12 years' experience of providing professional services to the film, television and video markets. It offers clients - including the BFI, IWM, TWI, Path, Paramount, Shed, MGM, HIT Entertainment, MTV and BBC Worldwide - highly experienced operators with cutting edge technology to provide non-linear editing facilities, HD post-production, DVD authoring and encoding and film mastering and treatment services. For more information visit www.themachineroom.co.uk