For Immediate Release
April 16, 2004
Screen Time Images Restores Six Samurai Films That Inspired Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” Series.
Schaumburg, IL – After having worked with AnimEigo on the immensely successful, nine DVD box set restoration of the classic Japanese anime series “S.D.F. Macross”, AnimEigo has once again looked to Screen Time Images Inc., one of the only American facilities focusing on restoration, for their expertise. This time around, although AnimEigo is known for their Japanese anime product line, the job involved six classic, live-action samurai films from the 60s and 70s, four from the popular “Zatoichi – The Blind Swordsman” series, and the two films from the “Lady Snowblood” series. AnimEigo’s Operations Manager, , said “Our DVD Producer, Bobby Engelmann, has worked so well with the team at Screen Time on past projects, that they were our first choice when looking for a facility to work on our Samurai discs.”
Of special interest to fans of Quentin Tarantino and of the samurai genre, both the Lady Snowblood and Zatoichi series are known to be an inspiration for the Quentin Tarantino films, “Kill Bill, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2”. So much so, that the theme song from “Lady Snowblood”, entitled “Shura no Hana” (The Flower of Hell), was licensed for use by Tarantino in “Kill Bill”.
Wet gated inter-positives were made from the original 35mm negatives, and were transferred and color corrected scene-by-scene at Screen Time Images on a da Vinci by colorist Frank Sparano. “Fortunately for this project”, says Screen Time’s President, Sean McKee, “the original elements were stored properly, so they didn’t have very much dye fading, which gave us a lot of latitude to bring out the rich, vibrant colors the films contained”.
“The restoration was fairly involved”, says McKee, “and for most of the job, we used one of our da Vinci Revival Digital film restoration systems, that works in conjunction with the Discreet Smoke system. Revival was able to handle anything we could throw at it”. For each film, a scene cut detection was performed, which allowed, among other things, grain reduction to be performed on a scene-by-scene basis. According to McKee, “Too many times you see old movies that have one grain reduction setting applied to them that doesn’t work well for every scene, and many times that setting is too heavy, causing artifacts such as smearing, pasty looking skin and soft images. Our clients are very particular, as are we, so we only used grain reduction as necessary, which allowed the natural beauty and clarity of the image to come through. This was preferable to using edge enhancement to make up for grain reduction softness, which is commonly looked down upon by critics, and causes the dreaded “mosquitoing” effect on DVDs.”
The films contained some flicker and other color anomalies, which were easily solved by Revival’s deflicker tools and the new color restoration module recently introduced. Each scene cut also contained large, visible splice tape marks, a common issue made simple to fix with Revival’s semi-automated, advanced motion-estimated “morph” algorithms. Automatic dirt removal and manual, “hand-painted” removal of large debris was also performed to allow the viewer to immerse themselves in the movie, and not be distracted by random bits of debris.
“One of the difficulties faced by anybody performing a digital restoration is the potential for artifacts created by automated dirt removal algorithms during fast-motion scenes”, says McKee. “Due to the nature of the action in a samurai film, it is possible to cause blockiness, or even lose limbs for a few frames, and not because a sword cut somebody’s head off, but because some algorithms have a hard time keeping up with the speed of the movement, while trying to remove as much dirt as possible. Revival did an admirable job in this area, and for the few inevitable times this occurred, it was quite painless to touch it up by going back to the original footage to paint details back in with one click of a button. The key is to keep your eyes open and know what to expect from any system based on the content.” McKee finishes with praise, “We’ve been using Revival since it’s commercial inception in 1999, and there are no surprises anymore, except how good it makes everything look”.
Upon completion of the restoration, a new anamorphic widescreen master was created. Audio was restored using a Neve Libra console, Cedar Audio hardware and Pro Tools. Motion graphics for the DVDs were created in-house, and some of the titles required creating 3D blowing fields of wheat, smoke and water. Screen Time Images authored all the DVDs, which contained many extras, including trailers for other movies in the series, character bios, detailed program notes, and English subtitles. The Japanese-English translations were prepared by AnimEigo. Multiple colors were utilized on the subtitles to better identify each character as they spoke. AnimEigo even went as far as to have the signs within the program translated and subtitled. A feature that many discs don’t carry.
Screen Time Images has restored thousands of classics films and television programs for DVD release and theatrical rerelease. Services and pricing are designed to accommodate every type of project and budget range, from clients with public domain material looking to perform a low-cost automatic dirt removal, to clients with rights to A-list movies wanting to bring the film to perfection through frame-by-frame restoration.
Screen Time Images Inc. is located at 974 Estes
Court, Schaumburg, IL 60193. They can be reached at 847-534-9000. Web site is