Warners singles out titles for doubly fine restoration

4k upgrade for 'Blade,' 'Luke,' others

Plans are in the works for 4k restorations of a number of films from the Warner Bros. vault, including "Blade Runner," "Bonnie and Clyde," "Cool Hand Luke" and the Dirty Harry films "Magnum Force" and "Sudden Impact."

Although launch dates have not been announced, the studio has an eye toward offering the restored titles on the two high-definition DVD formats, Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD, as well as standard-definition DVD. The "Blade Runner" release is being planned for this year, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the film's release.

What 4k resolution offers is more picture information — four times the amount found in today's commonly used 2k resolution.

Chris Cookson, president of Warner Bros. Technical Operations and chief technology officer of the Warner Bros. Entertainment Group, believes 4k is an important goal.

"When you are doing restoration, you want to re-create a new element to support the title for years to come," he said. "It is critical that you retain as much of the original information that the filmmaker created as possible. Unless you are willing to work at 4k, it is inevitable that you will lose a great deal of the information that was created and included in the (original) finished film.

"The 2k master has less information than the original film did," he added. "We really need to push for 4k tools in order to protect what goes into our vault for archiving."

Added Spencer Stephens, vp and GM of motion picture imaging at Warners, "I think the basic notion is (that) we owe future generations the best possible elements in the vault."

"Clyde," "Luke" and the Dirty Harry films are going through the restoration process at Stephens' motion picture imaging unit. That's an extensive operation that relies on rapidly changing technologies and processes, including scanners, film recorders, digital intermediate color grading suites and restoration and quality-control services.

The color-grading suites used for the restoration work center on Filmlight's Baselight color-correction system. The prime restoration tool in the facility is MTI's Correct system. A temperature-controlled vault is on site.

For "Blade Runner," Warner Bros. scanned the original negative in 4k.