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Forums Adobe Premiere Pro Color restoration project on Regular 16mm film transfer

  • Color restoration project on Regular 16mm film transfer

     Neil Block updated 3 months, 1 week ago 3 Members · 21 Posts
  • Tim Leonard

    May 21, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Short version:
    I am trying different methods, primarily in PrePro and experimenting with AE, and Speedgrade to restore some color home movies from the 1930’s (Kodacolor I believe). Some of the footage has faded and lost most of the Cyan and Yellow dye layers. The look is a magenta tinted movie. I’m posting this message as both a way to ask people for ideas or methods on how to restore the missing color, and to give people the benefit of what I’ve discovered along the way that can help someone in a similar situation. So any ideas would be welcomed.

    Long version:
    I’ve been working on this project off and on since I was in my early teens. This means well before the digital era. My first crack at this was rotoscoping some of the footage and doing a Super 8 transfer by shooting frame by frame off the projected image from the rotoscope. The result wasn’t great by itself, but it gave me today a bit of a “full color” life raft since the color hadn’t faded as much in those days.

    Second transfer was probably ten years later when I was working as a video engineer at a TV station and was able to do a transfer with the telecine they had to Betamax video tape. I did some crude color correction and the resulting video is just OK, but again does freeze the state of color to better than it is today.

    Finally I had all footage scanned professionally to HDAVI files 1080p and from a detail and quality level this is the footage that is the ‘Master” transfer and the one I’m trying to restore the color to.

    Standard color grading with Speedgrade and PrePro’s native tools works OK with the footage that is reasonably normal (i.e. isn’t skewed to one color), but it doesn’t work (at least in my limited experience level) to fix the magenta tinted footage. The best I can do is neutralize the magenta and come up with almost grayscale footage.

    Therefore, one technique which seems to be beneficial is to blend the color from one or more of my crude analog transfers and only blend with the color mode. I have to manipulate the scaling and positioning frame by frame on the source footage but it works OK. This is a laborious process which if anyone has a better way of doing, would be welcomed. Nevertheless the work goes far in bringing back some green to the grass and red to the roses. (It’s actually pretty magical to see a rose suddenly appear since it used to blend into the background).

    I prefer this to hand tinting or colorizing which is not only laborious but never looks quite right to my eye.

    I have tried rotoscoping sections in AE to bring blue back to a sky etc., but I really am trying to stay authentic and guessing what color something was isn’t my preferred method.

    I’ve read some interesting articles regarding algorithms that can do an educated guess of what color gray values represent, with the help of reference frames and other materials, but that’s a concept at the moment.

    I have thought about using color reference photos of the landscape depicted in the film (sugar cane fields in Cuba and Havana skylines, New England summer scenes and Florida all in the 1930’s). However I’m not really sure how to pull the color from, for example, the sugar cane and water from the sample photo and use it to “Colorize” my movie. I’m imagining a clone brush tool that has a color blend mode. Of course that’s fine for one frame, but what about the rest in that scene? Perhaps some combo of the cloning brush with auto-rotoscoping? Hopefully some of these ideas spark the interest of experts and/or coders who can perhaps create an add-on for PrePro or AE that will help. Does this spark anyone’s interest or am I continuing my solo quest for success?

  • Chris Wright

    May 21, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    a screenshot and details of effects
    used would help as i can recover stuff magenta tinted up to 80% to original color with just the fast color corrector. if in fact, the scanner didn’t sample at least 4:2:2, then rescan with better hardware.

  • Tim Leonard

    May 21, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    Here’s a screen shot of my layout:

    1. The super 8 rotoscope version transferred to HDAVI

    2. The 16mm HDAVI transfer showing the loss of cyan and yellow

    3. The result of the color blending of 1 & 2.

    4. The effect applied to 1.

    Here’s a link to a full size frame of 1. solo

    Here’s a link to a full size frame of 2. solo

    Here’s a link to a full size from of 1. color blended onto 2.

  • Chris Wright

    May 22, 2016 at 1:40 am

    i see, you’re using what you got. one’s blown out with color and the other has luma info but not chroma so you colorized it. Can you rescan? lol?

    nice job lining things up though!

    if you ever need to deflicker- try re deflicker or my free AE template’

    “if you enable the text layer and scroll Gamma Clamp at gamma*10 so that the text box reads 25, it will
    fix timelapse and old movie’s flicker.”

  • Tim Leonard

    May 22, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    You mentioned earlier how you could recover 80% from magenta tinted footage. Would this work for me and if so would you describe how to do it?

  • Chris Wright

    May 22, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    ok well, this is 90% magenta so you will lose some data because its 8 bit 4:2:0. this is what I got nonetheless.
    I only used the 16mm HDAVI transfer.

    how does this look for you?
    i neutralized in premiere with fast color corrector, color punched in AE, re-hue’d, then vibranced and blurred chroma.

    png magenta test image

  • Tim Leonard

    May 23, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Wow that’s pretty good, as a start. Would you detail the steps to arrive at the result? My skills in AE are pretty weak so I’m not sure exactly what settings you’re referring to. If its easier, just send me the PrePro/AE files and I’ll dissect them. Thanks.

  • Chris Wright

    May 24, 2016 at 1:43 am

    here ya go.

    premiere cc 2015 magenta test rendered out as EXR

    after effects cc 2015 color punch and final output from premiere

  • Tim Leonard

    May 24, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Thanks a billion (a million adjusted for today’s dollars).

    Are you using EXR for any other reason other than as a lossless format?

    In the AE file there’s a jpg called “which is better” is that just a before AE effects applied still?

    Do you, or anyone else reading this, have any ideas regarding techniques or software that can “interpolate” the missing color channels using algorithms or example footage (i.e. my Super8 transfer)?

    Food for thought. Perhaps teaching a plugin/utility what gray values in the original are which hue it could artificially add at least the right range of color. These “guesses” could be treated as layers and then further manually manipulated by the user ending up with a “recipe” for each scene.

    I’ve been looking at Re: Match and it seems like it might be useful. Has anyone had any experience with that plug-in?

  • Chris Wright

    May 25, 2016 at 5:03 am

    EXR supports 32bpc overbrights
    “which is better” was your corrected sample. I was comparing them. It’s not needed.
    this video will give the basic idea how to colorize b/w.
    its photoshop and you can do it in there or use AE’s rotoscope feature setting colors to transfer mode color or overlay.

    also, here’s a small list of professional solutions for damaged film which you should use first to get a clean shot before
    color correcting to remove hair, dirt etc. It is possible to do some of it in AE, just more timeconsuming.

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