A Close-Up Look at Quality

10 Jan 2014 - By TW Staff

(Above: Scenes from The Wizard of Oz and Pacific Rim.)

Since its initial theatrical release 75 years ago, The Wizard of Oz has remained one of the most revered movies in Hollywood history. From its iconic characters to Dorothy’s signature phrase, "There’s no place like home," the picture has more than stood the test of time as it continues to serve as a significant part of American pop culture to this day. But the decades have taken a toll on the film itself, with even the richest of colors—like those famous ruby red slippers—fading considerably over the years.

Fortunately for both current and future fans, Dorothy, her friends and even her slippers (seen above) now look better than ever, courtesy of the restoration work done by the Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging group.

Led by Chief Preservation Officer Ned Price, the MPI team recently breathed new life into The Wizard of Oz, meticulously restoring the film’s original color for a special home entertainment release celebrating both the film’s 75th anniversary and the Studio’s 90th. The movie was also converted into 3D and IMAX formats in preparation for a one-week theatrical re-release. Audiences were provided the unique opportunity to view the classic film during the week-long engagement in September 2013 at 300 locations across North America, including the newly remodeled and restored TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s Chinese Theatre), which hosted the film’s original Hollywood premiere in 1939.

Overseen by Warner Bros. Technical Operations, MPI operates one of the entertainment industry’s foremost state-of-the-art digital post-production and restoration facilities, providing such services as digital intermediate, scanning, color correction, dirt and scratch removal and film recording for both Studio projects and outside clients. The group has revitalized numerous classics, including Gone with the Wind, Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest and its most recent project, a 4K digital restoration of Rebel Without a Cause, released on Blu-ray November 5, 2013.

In addition to restoring classic titles, MPI also contributes a key component of the post-production process: color correction. From Warner Bros. Television’s hit drama The Mentalist to Warner Bros. Pictures’ 2012 comedy The Campaign, MPI’s colorists work tirelessly to enhance the picture and texture of the content in order to achieve the desired look for the final product.

This work was crucial to the completion of Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi/action movie Pacific Rim, released by Warner Bros. Pictures to global audiences this past July. In order to effectively convey the bold, saturated look of the larger-than-life monsters, robots and the futuristic world around them, MPI colorist Maxine Gervais collaborated closely with filmmaker and cinematographer Guillermo Navarro, both on-set during production and throughout the post-production process.

Gervais spent nearly a year working on the film, including two months dedicated solely to coloring both the 2D and 3D versions. Her efforts did not go unnoticed by the industry, as she received a nomination for the 2013 Hollywood Post Alliance Awards for Outstanding Color Grading – Feature Film.