by Lukasz Janik, National Film Archive – Audiovisual Institute
The project was based on six negative and screening positive 35mm acetate prints held at the FINA archive, affected by different and specific types of damage caused by incorrect use of storage or due to errors in the original analogue copying process in 1980s, that resulted in a very darkened image. The only digital version available was a low definition TV file, digitized on a telecine from the screening copy. Eventually, a duplicate negative, affected by quite intense over-exposure on the right-hand side of the image, was used for the digital restoration of the image and the missing frames were supplemented with the positive material. No nitrate elements of the film have survived.
The condition of the sound was equally bad, with continuous scratches and distortions. As the sound negative turned out to be highly damaged, the same dupnegative with a multi-soundtrack and lacks of sound and image synchronization, became the sound source for the restoration. The film crew used a new, at the time, sound system, called Aga Baltic, that introduced the use of dubbing technique and re-recording technique for audio postproduction, particularly useful in combining layers of dialogue and music mixing. Unluckily, the new sound technologies in combination with laboratory tape processing caused many technical problems, thus the sound restoration was a very demanding task. There is still a clear difference in the timbre of the sound of dialogues recorded on spot and the dubbed ones, which could also be easily recognized in some parts of the film as still being out of sync.
The restoration brought the film back for audience in an fully accessible, 4K resolution digital format, with clear images and pure, audible dialogues. In previous versions, both analogue and digital, a few particularly important dialogues – indispensable to follow the plot – were completely inaudible. Moreover, film researches were able to identify 11 actors, unrecognizable in the first digitised version, due to unclear, unfocused, and darkened image.
The restoration work of both the image and sound commenced in July 2019 and was held by FINA’s team of 25 specialists from the archive’s Digital Restoration Laboratory located in Warsaw, under the guidance of TOR Film Production, which today exists under the name of Documentary and Feature Film Studio (WFDiF). The project was funded by the European Regional Development and the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.