The 3 year BFI project required many months of technical and curatorial research from the BFI Archive team and thousands of hours from Deluxe 142 who undertook the challenging process of handling the irreplaceable and delicate original source material to restore Hitchcock's silent films. The second of these very special gala events is the World Premiere of the new BFI restoration of "Blackmail" on July 6th at The British Museum, the first feature film to ever be screened at the venue.
Accompanied by a specially arranged score by composer Neil Brand, and presented in the majestic surroundings of the British Museum's forecourt it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the film in the iconic setting of its thrilling denouement. "Blackmail's" deceptively simple plot unfolds when a young woman accepts an invitation to visit an artist's studio. Lively, but engaged to a rather stuffy policeman, her curiosity draws her into a murky world of violence and criminality.
Deluxe 142, a subsidiary of Deluxe Entertainment Services Group Inc., has been working in collaboration on this BFI project to digitally restore nine of the great director's earliest works, of which Blackmail is included. Paul Collard, who is leading Deluxe 142's involvement with the BFI's on-going three year national restoration project for the BFI, said: "As would be expected with films that were made nearly nine decades ago they have seen a fair amount of wear and tear. The celluloid degrades and parts of the film get lost or become unusable."
"The key to our work is not to try to improve or enhance the original in any way but to present it authentically, in the way it would have been seen by our grandparents and great-grandparents."
Stephen Bearman, Colourist adds: "We were fortunate in the case of 'Blackmail' to receive digital scans from the BFI National Archive which came from the original nitrate negatives. The images were mainly first generation quality, with optimum sharpness, tone scale and contrast for grading. This quality was preserved through the restoration process, producing stunning results for a 1920's film."
Charles Fairall, Head of Conservation at the BFI National Archive, explains, "We chose to work with Deluxe on this ambitious and technically challenging project, assured of their expertise in restoration techniques and confident that their impressive investment in technology, coupled with a deep understanding of archival processes, would produce the finest quality results. The whole project, which culminates thousands of hours of historic research and technical expertise by the BFI restoration team, has been a wonderful example of co-operation and the beautiful, digitally-preserved images certainly prove the value of this collaboration."
Although "Blackmail" was scanned from the original nitrate negatives and of excellent quality, some shots suffered from severe instability, optical film distortions, multiple scratches, stains and dirt. These defects were digitally restored both by hand and semi -automatically using a range of the latest bespoke, restoration software, each individually selected as the most efficient and effective tool to correct the damage.
Digital Restoration Artist Dana O'Reilly elaborates: "Damaged frames, often in succession, presented a particular challenge to repair. A variety of techniques, including manual drawings, were used to reconstruct the damaged sections. This process was very time consuming as elements from surrounding frames had to be taken and manipulated to preserve fluidity of motion."
The beautiful, digitally restored images are now once more available to view, as they would have been appreciated by audiences nearly 90 years ago. There will be further screenings of both the silent and sound versions of "Blackmail" at BFI Southbank as part of the Genius of Hitchcock Retrospective (which also includes a full retrospective of Hitchcock's films at BFI Southbank from August to October.
Deluxe 142 is delighted to be working together with the BFI to restore, preserve and present the Hitchcock 9 for generations to come.
Deluxe Entertainment Services Group Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc., is the leading provider of a broad range of entertainment industry services and technologies to the worldwide entertainment industry including the Hollywood studios, broadcast/cable/satellite providers, digital distribution, gaming as well as content owners and creators. Services for content creation in features, television and commercials are offered in production, post production, digital distribution, marketing services and asset management. They include EFILM® and Company 3® digital intermediates; post production and subtitling services; titles design and digital VFX; DVD compression, encoding and authoring; advertising distribution and syndication services; digital cinema services, motion picture film processing and printing; and 2D to 3D conversion. Deluxe has facilities in North America, Europe, India, Australia and Hong Kong. For more information, please visit www.bydeluxe.com
About Deluxe 142
Deluxe 142 is a leading provider of Restoration, Digital Media and Post Production Services in the UK. The restoration department team uses cutting edge technologies and techniques with highly skilled technicians to provide restoration and preservation solutions for some of the world's most prestigious archives.
About the BFI
The BFI is the lead body for film in the UK with the ambition to create a flourishing film environment in which innovation, opportunity and creativity can thrive by:
• Connecting audiences to the widest choice of British and World cinema
• Preserving and restoring the most significant film collection in the world for today and future generations
• Investing in creative, distinctive and entertaining work
• Promoting British film and talent to the world
• Growing the next generation of film makers and audience
About the BFI National Archive
The BFI National Archive was founded in 1935 and has grown to become the largest collection of film and television in the world with over 180,000 films and 750,000 television programmes. Expert teams undertake the time consuming and complex task of restoring films. With specialist storage facilities in Warwickshire and Hertfordshire the archive also boasts significant collections of stills, posters and designs along with original scripts, press books and related ephemera. The BFI are funded partly by OfCom as the official archive for ITV, Channel Four and Channel Five. The BFI record a representative sample of television across Britain's terrestrial channels and are the official archive of moving image records of Parliament