News about the digitisation of Czech films

PRESS RELEASE GOLDEN CAMERA 300 FOR JAROMÍR ŠOFR – MANAKI BROTHERS FILM FESTIVAL

Added on: 28 September 2015

On 27 September 2015, the Czech cinematographer, Jaromír Šofr, was awarded the prestigious Award for Lifetime Achievement, “Golden Camera 300 for Lifetime Achievement”, at the Manaki Brothers International Film Festival in Bitola, Macedonia. He accepted the award from the President of the European Federation of Associations of Cinematographers, IMAGO, Mr. Nigel Walters. The Manaki Brothers Festival is the oldest film festival focused on cinematography. The Manaki brothers were pioneers of cinematography in Macedonia in its very beginnings, similar to the personality of Jan Kříženecký in our country, who owned the first camera purchased from the Lumière Brothers in Paris. Together with CameraImage festival in Poland and the Camera EYE festival in the Czech Republic, they form a trio of acclaimed festivals where cinematographers and directors can compare the results of their creative work with regard to the creation of the visual part of the film. So far, this prestigious award was awarded at the Manaki Brothers festival only to the Czech cinematographer, Miroslav Ondříček, in 2001. Jaromir Šofr is the second Czech cinematographer enjoying this great professional recognition.

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Part of the visit of the film festival was also a workshop on the of Czech Cinematography School which was supplemented by a presentation of the results of the NAKI research project carried out at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague by prof. Marek Jícha. In the presence of the IMAGO President, Mr. Nigel Walters, who hosted them, Jícha, together with Šofr, made a presentation on the DRA – Digitally Restored Autorizate method in Bitola. It is a newly established method of digitisation of films belonging to the national film fund with the participation of experts nominated by professional associations. The method leading to the digitisation of films of good quality, under control of the authors of the film image, sound and direction, eliminates the ethical problem associated with generation of new, unsolicited versions of films created by people who are not experts without the knowledge of the authors which versions damage the good name of films and violate the Copyright Act. Part of this festival was also the world première screening of a digitally restored film The Stone Bridge by the director Tomáš Vorel. The restoration of this film was carried out in the production of Vorelfilm with the support provided by the České Bijáky Foundation, using the knowledge and results of sampling under the NAKI research programme. Thus the DRA method which is the subject of research at AMU and which has just been completed and is ready for certification proceedings was verified. The Academy of Performing Arts opens right now a pilot operation of a specialised digital workplace for consultancy and analysis of old archived films: CPA Laboratory – Centre of Consultancy and Analytical Services at the Cabinet of Film and Video Technology of the Cinematography Department of FAMU.

Cinematographers thus perform a task that they were commissioned to perform by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic which funds this research project by the amount of 52 million crowns.

Jaromír Šofr: “Work is work, but the interest demonstrated here in our methodology of restoration which is able to preserve the work in spite of the time in a visually unchanged form was, for me, an added value to the achieved recognition.”

Marek Jícha: “It is my great honour to be so close to the great success of Czech cinematography and personal appreciation of my friend and professional colleague. Jaromír Šofr is one of the greatest personalities of Czech film. It is only abroad that one fully realizes it. Respect for and appreciation of the contribution Czech cinematographers gave to the world cinematography is present all around us which is very obliging and brings a sense of immense responsibility.”

Nigel Walters: “IMAGO looks forward to the Czechs bringing the DRA presentation to the next meeting of our organization in Jerusalem. That’s what we agreed at the meeting Delphi, in Greece where the General Meeting of IMAGO gave the Czechs a task to work on the DRA at home and to bring the results to be assessed.”

CZECH PREMIÈRE OF A FILM RESTORED USING THE DRA METHOD

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MINISTRY OF CULTURE    bar.ces.poz

ASSOCIATION OF CZECH CINEMATOGRAPHERS    AČK

On 1 October 2015, a press conference of the Ostrava Camera Eye International Film Festival, a presentation of the methods of digitisation of the national film fund, DRA (Digitally Restored Authorizate), and the Czech première of the first film digitally restored using the DRA, The Stone Bridge by director Tomáš Vorel, took place in the small and the large halls of the Lucerna cinema in Prague.

The programme director of the festival, Anna Kopecká, introduced the winners of the 7th year of Camera EYE to those who were present.

What followed, was a PowerPoint presentation supplemented by examples of DRA sampling under the NAKI research project carried out at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. Speakers Jaromir Šofr and Marek Jícha, both researchers of the NAKI project, introduced the DRA method, its benefits resulting from the supervision of authors over digitisation and significant cost savings associated with this method. They also pointed out the fact that unauthorized digitisation leads to appalling results that are degrading for the authors of films and represent a fraud on spectators and result in an overall financial loss. An example of unauthorized digitisation of the film Capricious Summer was provided which was carried out by the NFA without the participation and knowledge of the authors of the film and projected in cinemas using DCP carriers. After spectators complained, these digitised film copies were withdrawn from distribution, creating a financial loss both to the NFA and to the authors of the film themselves.

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Examples of proper digitisation and cooperation of digital restorers with expert groups on sampling films The White Dove by František Vláčil, Radúz and Mahulena by Petr Weigl, Love, Defiance and Death by Eva Bergerová and Capricious Summer by Jiří Menzel were shown. Evidence of validity of the method was also presented by comparing the work of three independent restorers and their expert groups which, in a common projection, showed up to 85% mutual compliance in the final appearance of the image confirmed and approved by the cinematographer of the film, Jaromír Šofr, who was not present during restoration.

After the world première of the film The Stone Bridge, restored using the DRA method, at the International Film Festival Manaki Brothers in Macedonia on 26 September 2015 in the presence of the President of IMAGO, Mr. Nigel Walters, and after presenting this film in its Czech première on 1 October 2015 in the Lucerna cinema in Prague, DRA is reality which has to be taken into account as an effective method addressing ethical, copyright, legal and financial issues associated with the digitisation of Czech films belonging to the Golden Film Fund.