A new version of Bob Fosse’s 1979 musical in 4K resolution had its premiere Wednesday at the Association of Moving Image Archivist's "Reel Thing" Conference. In the restoration process, the original negative was scanned in 4K and was digitally color graded in 4K at Sony's Colorworks facility. Here's a look at that work, as described by Fox senior vp library and technical services Shawn Belston and colorist John Persichetti.
“I had the sophisticated [digital color grading] tools, if we wanted to make them look nice and match,” colorist Persichetti said of the images that show a rough cut of Joe Gideon’s (RoyScheider) movie. “But we didn’t because It is supposed to look like a rough cut, so the colors wouldn’t match.” Color grading was accomplished using FilmLight's Baselight system at Colorworks.
Persichetti noted that they key goal was to stay true to the filmmakers' intent. To do this, he matched his digital color grade to a print of a previously-restored version that was timed under the supervision of All That Jazz's Oscar-nominated cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno. “In the background we don’t need to see the details of the walls. The light is the light reflected from the screen.”
“The economics work out that it is not extremely more expensive to do things in 4K, so why not try to get the highest possible resolution,” Belston said.
When the team was working on the audio restoration, they found that the stereo release was mixed in mono in the early part of the film and switches to stereo toward the end—this was repeated in the restoration. “It was a creative choice. You have to do the research and understand the details,” Belston said.
'Everything Old Is New Again'
All That Jazz has had restoration work done—both photochemical and digital—over the course of the past 15 years. “The optical sections were done with Kodak CRI, a reversal negative that was very chic in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Depending on how they were processed, they could fade very quickly,” Belston explained, noting that the decision to do this restoration was a Fox collaboration with Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation and AMPAS' Film Archive.
“In this shot, Victoria is hit by the neon lights on the wall in Joe's apartment. It is intentionally red. This was a balance, making it creative as it was intended but don’t got crazy,” said colorist Persichetti.
Of this shot of Joe (Scheider) and Victoria (DeborahGeffner) in Joe’s apartment, Persichetti said, “It’s night, and they have some lights on, not many. It was important to see the actors’ eyes and expressions. It’s a balance to see the detail in the face while keeping the mood of the room. That was a little challenging.”
The 4K restoration of All the Jazz will be used as the master for a new Blu-Ray release of the film, and to create 4K Digital Cinema Packages (the digital equivalent of a film print) for repertory cinemas. Additional information about the restoration can be found here.