Körkarlen AKA The Phantom Carriage (1921) ADDED

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Re: Körkarlen AKA The Phantom Carriage (1921) ADDED

Postby James-Masaki_Ryan » 09 Feb 2019 13:33

Done, for real this time
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Re: Körkarlen AKA The Phantom Carriage (1921) ADDED

Postby Markus_Lang » 09 Feb 2019 15:00

James-Masaki_Ryan wrote:Where does it say that the Criterion’s restoration was done in 2011?
Well, the Criterion booklet refers to a 1975 restoration by the Swedish Film Institute where a 35 mm B&W duplicate negative was created from two source elements: an incomplete B&W nitrate print with Swedish intertitles, and an incomplete colour-tinted nitrate print with English intertitles.

This 35 mm negative was used for the new digital transfer (in 2K resolution), which was made by Chimney Pot in Stockholm. No date indicated, however (perhaps 2008–2011?).

As far as I can understand, there is only a 1975 restoration of this movie, assumed complete, on 35 mm duplicate negative. This duplicate negative has, since then, been used for new 35 mm polyester viewing prints and, later, for a 2K digital transfer, but it is not a new restoration — simply the 1975 restored 35 mm version scanned digitally this time.

When the backcover states, “New digital restoration”, it is advertisement talk.

EDIT: La cinémathèque française mentions on its Web site that there is a 2015 digital transfer (2K) based on the 1970s restored duplicate negative: “Restauré en 2K en 2015 par le Svenska Filminstitutet à partir d'un négatif noir et blanc tiré dans les années 1970 d'après deux copies nitrate.”
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Re: Körkarlen AKA The Phantom Carriage (1921) ADDED

Postby Brent_Reid » 10 Feb 2019 08:08

Nice find on the link, Markus: it's good to know someone else here is playing detective, re all the different versions of silent films!

Obviously, La cinémathèque française is not in the habit of bandying around the word "restoration" as "advertisement talk." Their page says "Restored in 2K in 2015 by the Svenska Filminstitutet from a black and white negative struck in the 1970s from two nitrate copies."

Firstly, it seems likely they're mistaken with the year, as without better materials coming to light, there's no way the SFI reworked the film just four years or so after the last acknowledged digital makeover. That aside, this brings us down to a question of semantics, which is one for which there is no definitive answer. If someone takes a 'complete' restored B&W analogue print, years after it was reconstructed, scans it in high definition, digitally stabilises the image, performs a semi-automated or even frame-by-frame digital clean-up and regrading, and finally adds digital tinting, does it earn the right to be called a new restoration? I think so, and so do many experts and archives other than LCF. The image has been utterly transformed and far removed from its source material. What's more, international copyright law recognises such work to be sufficiently transformative for the results to be copywritable as a new entity.

For a striking example, look at this video of the latest restored print of Nosferatu, before and after its digital makeover. Of course, as all the analogue and digital work was done as part of the same project and not released separately, both parts are collectively referred to as the 2006 Berriatúa restoration, but the same principle applies.
It's certainly not enough to refer to similar examples, such as Körkarlen, simply as a "new digital transfer" or "advertisement talk."

The important thing is although this site doesn't generally distinguish between different transfers of sound films, when it comes to silents the differences are much greater and need to be labelled appropriately.
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Re: Körkarlen AKA The Phantom Carriage (1921) ADDED

Postby Ulrich_Christensen » 10 Feb 2019 14:04

I've contacted Svenska Filminstitutet. I'll report back if I get a helpful response.
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Re: Körkarlen AKA The Phantom Carriage (1921) ADDED

Postby Ulrich_Christensen » 15 Feb 2019 11:43

I have received the following response from Svenska Filminstitutet:

Dear Ulrich,

Thanks for your mail.

Your information about the 1975 restoration of Körkarlen (Victor Sjöström, 1921) is correct, which was carried out by the Swedish Film Institute at the FilmTeknik lab in Stockholm. From this negative, colour prints were made, using the colours in one of the positive nitrate prints (used as the source for the negative) as reference. This colour process from b/w negative was done by filters. In 1998, new 35mm print was made from the same negative, at Nordisk Film Post Production lab in Stockholm (ex FilmTeknik) using the so called Desmet method to recreate the colours.

I'm afraid I have no information on the 1998 transfer, but rights holder AB Svensk Filmindustri / SF Studios have over the years at various times had access to the negative.

Regarding the digital transfers made from this negative, I can confirm that the rights holder AB Svensk Filmindustri / SF Studios again had access to this negative in 2011, when a digital transfer was made at Chimney Pot, used for the Criterion release.

In 2015, the duplicate negative was digitized by the Swedish Film Institute's in-house digital lab in 2K resolution, from which the DCP screened at the Toute la mémoire du monde festival at la Cinémathéque française was made.

Kind regards,

Jon
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Re: Körkarlen AKA The Phantom Carriage (1921) ADDED

Postby James-Masaki_Ryan » 16 Feb 2019 07:09

Updated the Criterion as 2011.
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Re: Körkarlen AKA The Phantom Carriage (1921) ADDED

Postby Brent_Reid » 16 Feb 2019 10:34

Great email, Ulrich! Could you possibly ask him exactly what additional digital work was carried out on the transfers in 2011 and 2015? Also, why was it scanned and transferred twice in such a short space of time?
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Re: Körkarlen AKA The Phantom Carriage (1921) ADDED

Postby Ulrich_Christensen » 16 Feb 2019 21:06

Brent_Reid wrote:Great email, Ulrich! Could you possibly ask him exactly what additional digital work was carried out on the transfers in 2011 and 2015?

This question would best be leveraged at Chimney Pot and AB Svensk Filmindustri / SF Studios for the 2011. I don't know how much willingness they would have to share information about this though.
It seems there hasn't been recorded data on why SF have consulted the negative several times over the years.
As for the 2015 transfer, I could possibly ask what choices they made, but this might not be recorded. In all likelihood, the question will be redirected at someone who has worked or is working at the institute's lab.

Brent_Reid wrote:Also, why was it scanned and transferred twice in such a short space of time?

I think I can answer that without asking him.

I believe it partly has to do with rights and licensing; partly preservation and intent of use.

AB Svensk Filmindustri founded in 1919 (which has subsidiaries with shortened names, like SF Film A/S in Denmark, and recently itself took the name SF Studios) is the legal rights holder of the film for commercial use. Any home media and licensing for commercial ventures would go through them. I speculate that any current and future releases would be from the 2011 2K digital master and other clean-ups done by them.

Svenska Filminstitutet is a (I believe) non-commercial entity sponsored by the Swedish state for the preservation of Swedish film. Governments in Nordic countries have these past years been going through multiple efforts of digitally preservation our cultural heritage. Some of these internal efforts have been done in addition to earlier ones by commercially interested parties in order to avoid legal entanglements that could be stopping blocks for preservation and availability of cultural treasures.
If Svenska Filminstitutet were to use the commercial digital transfer, it would have to be donated to them by AB Svensk Filmindustri / SF Studios for all future study, cultural and non-commercial use. I doubt they would get that or accept that as good enough.
There may have been other reasons for doing their own scanning, which may have to do with intent of use and which decisions were made during the restoration process. Decisions that would make the film look better on home media may not be the same as the ones done for historical investigation and preservation.
It may not be likely that you will see this digital master used for any future home media, but it would be the one you see at public showings in Sweden and festivals.
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Re: Körkarlen AKA The Phantom Carriage (1921) ADDED

Postby Brent_Reid » 16 Feb 2019 23:41

Thanks for such a detailed reply, Ulrich. I agree with you, and figured it would have to be for rights issues rather than technical reasons. It just goes to show the importance of not blithely assuming that all transfers of older films are the same, or even that they don't usually have detailed, complicated copyrights in place. It's otherwise too easy to assume that most bootlegs and pirates are virtually legitimate anyway.

I guess there won't be a world of difference between the two most recent transfers. The Svenska Filminstitutet offers their DCP with or without Matti Bye's recorded score, which seems to synch up with all restored versions and transfers to date.
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