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A Bits Extra:
A Few Notes on Lawrence of
About a month ago I spent a rather long day - 13 hours to be exact
- making near final color and density changes on the High Definition
master of Lawrence of Arabia.
It was no secret that the previous release was problematic, but with
new faces within Columbia's home video area, and a Herculean effort
from Columbia's Asset Protection guru, Grover Crisp, who had been
instrumental in the re-timing and creation of the new batch of 70mm
release prints, Lawrence as a
video project was taken back to the drawing board.
The main effort took us all the way back to the "uncorrected"
high definition transfer created several years ago, which was
derived from a restored 65mm interpositive.
Earlier audio anomalies were eliminated as Mr. Crisp came forth with
the original 6 track masters created in 1988 for the restoration.
The starting point removed layers of color and density correction as
well as additional (and unnecessary) electronic sharpening added
along the way.
New digital processes added secondary color controls, which were not
available to a HiDef large format transfer at the time that the
earlier work was created.
After having spent weeks making certain that the new 70mm prints
were properly corrected, Grover was very aware of the proper look of
A great deal of time was put in doing the first pass at color and
density for the new release, overseen by Sony mastering supervisor
Jim Ward at Complete Post in Hollywood, literally starting from a
fully uncorrected master.
After this pass, the studio shipped the master east where we spent
our day at a new mastering facility in Manhattan, further correcting
and honing the image on a shot by shot basis.
At the thirteen-hour mark, my eyes began to go, and with that
caveat, the master and its clone were shipped back to the studio for
further work, especially on the final reels.
Now in compression and authoring, the release should be a version on
video as close as possible to that which we created for the
restoration fifteen years ago with David Lean and cinematographer
Freddie Young overseeing the final production process.
It has been confirmed that there will be no new electronic
Although there is some question as to whether the final compression
will allow the first half of the film to run to completion on disc
one, the overriding factor must be one of quality and not quantity.
The image of the transfer as viewed on a 32" high definition
monitor is like looking through an open window to the desert; a
testament to both the pin-registered transfer device via which it
was mastered to video and to those who oversaw the actual film to
Sony Pictures and Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment have given
their full support and cooperation to this project. Enough cannot be
said of the extremely diligent efforts of Crisp and his team,
without which the production of this DVD would not have been
I fully expect this to be an awesome release.
The new Superbit DVD release. Right: Lawrence cinematographer Freddy
Young (holding lens) and Robert A. Harris.
For more on the original film restoration of Lawrence
of Arabia, be sure to visit
link at The Widescreen Museum.
Don't forget - you can
HERE to discuss this article with Robert and other home
theater enthusiasts online right now at The
Home Theater Forum. And speaking of that, thanks to the
HTF's Ron Epstein for the
picture of Robert seen in the column graphic above.
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