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Film restoration

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Marc Brown
Film restoration
on May 18, 2010 at 1:05:59 pm

There's Red Giant Film Fix. Or, rather, there isn't. And anyway, we're talking about something released so far in the past that I'd probably have to get my hands on After Effects 5.5 just to get it running.

In the several years since, if there have been any AE plugins released which deal with film restoration, the developers have taken care not to announce their products.

So what does one do if they've got a video which was originally a film (for example: digitally transferred 8mm family films), and they wouldn't mind eliminating the usual film artifacts? Maybe it would help to cover each in turn. Terminology is likely to be wrong.

1) Shaky frame. The whole image moves about, unable to stay still. The effect is usually subtle - apparent only when the camera was sitting still, or when text is present, or when the film's edges are part of the digital image. Actually, this problem persists on almost every DVD and Bluray I've seen. It's like the studios don't care. Well, I care. ;p Most of the time, the shaky motion follows a pattern over time, and I would imagine that a film restoration-oriented corrective algorithm would be designed to anticipate this regularity and take full advantage of it when performing corrections.

2) Flashing. Particularly when it comes to lower-quality cameras such as consumer-oriented 8mm, image flashing is a highly characteristic "quality" of film. It's also evidently random in nature. An algorithm would have to be designed specifically to handle such flashing, in order to counter potentially destructive corrections such as crushing blacks or whites.

3) Grit. Scratches, splotches, dust, etc. Anything that's there for only a single frame, and gone the next. (Besides film grain.) It doesn't take too much imagination to envision an algorithm that's designed to detect these anomalies and either remove them automatically via a smart pre- or post-frame cloning or other method, or at least store up candidates and allow the user to selectively remove them one by one.

When considering this problem, I am always put in mind of the almost unbelievable restoration implemented in the case of Disney's True Life Adventures films. (See: Not a TRACE of film grit. No flashing. The image stays perfectly still. Even when compared to movies which were in the theater in 2009 and on Bluray last week, these Disney DVDs shame them.

That about sums it up. I'm aware of exactly one now-discontinued product meant to tackle these problems. Did I miss something?

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Chris Wright
Re: Film restoration
on May 18, 2010 at 4:32:32 pm

1. Shaky frame.
Use AE's motion tracking or virtualdub's deshaker.

2. Flashing
a. Simply apply color correction/auto levels and it will reduce 80% of the flicker by auto adjusting each frame to a standard max range

b. The Foundry Tinderbox 1 deflicker

c. Red Giant Film Fix is..gone.. buy it from someone?

d. a great free msu deflicker virtualdub plugin for pc

e. You could try scripting a deflicker by using time delay luma mattes that average a modifiable ammount.

3. Grit

a. Effect>Keying>CC Simple Wire Removal
b. clone stamp
c. remove grain

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Chris Wright
Re: Film restoration
on May 18, 2010 at 5:07:38 pm

1. I wrote 2 free projects for cs3 that will recover "lost" highlights
and edge soften.

2. also this is an easy way to mask the 6 primary and secondary colors so you can change brightness, saturation, contrast etc.

finally, this project can enhance your colors back to film look if you like

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