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4K "Lawrence of Arabia"


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#1 Chris Keth

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 03:53 PM

The academy is hosting a screening next week of "Lawrence of Arabia" and I was disappointed to read that it's not a 70mm film print. It's described as "a newly created 4K Digital Cinema Package."


Has anybody seen this particular scan? 4K seems awfully low for a 65mm camera negative and I'm afraid it just won't do the film's massive vistas justice.Posted Image
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#2 Brian Rose

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 01:25 PM

I have it on good authority from the MAN himself, Robert Harris, who restored the film, and knows more about large format than just about anyone on the planet, that the 4K is marvelous. Utterly marvelous.

Consider this: if you're seeing a 70mm print, you are seeing something that is several generations away from the original, derived from an internegative, from an interpositive, from the restoration negative and myriad separation masters. In some instances 7 or 8 generations away from the original!

With the new 4K transfer, you'll be seeing the restoration straight from the camera neg. Harris has stated there are two ways to see this film: in 70mm or in 4K.

What I'd be more concerned about is that the screen is the proper size. 70mmm or 4K makes no difference if the screen is too small to really show off the clarity of the form. But considering that this is the ACADEMY we're talking about, I wouldn't worry about that either.

Trust me. It'll be magnificent. Everyone I've heard from who's seen the 4K says it's marvelous, the new standard for the form. You should go, and consider yourself very fortunate; most of us will have to wait for the blu-ray, and even that is really a second rate experience to what you'll have.
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#3 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 09:04 PM

Is this restored version going to be traveling? I would love to see it!
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#4 Brian Rose

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 10:16 AM

Is this restored version going to be traveling? I would love to see it!


Though few details have come out yet, all indications from my sources are yes there will be some kind of limited theatrical run to venues with 4K. Of course, we're dealing with a 4 hour movie including intermission, so the screenings will likely be one night only. If you have a 4K theater near you, I'd suggest lobbying them to show the film.

I also have heard from reliable sources that, between now and the July 19 Academy screening, you can probably expect some kind of announcement from Sony/Columbia regarding the theatrical re-release, as well as blu-ray release date and specs.
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#5 Eric Maddison fsf

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 08:15 PM

I was lucky enough to attend that screening at the academy, and I must say that it looks absolutely amazing!

I have never seen Lawrence in 70mm, but I have seen "Far and away" "Hamlet" and the "Dark knight" in 70mm or IMAX. I am a convinced that the technology we have nowadays can "find" information in the original source material that was not even possible to see in the answer print in 1962. This film is 50 years old so yes it's grainy at times, in todays standard similar to 35mm.

Before the movie Crover Crisp (exec. producer Film restoration, Sony pictures) showed untreated clips from the movie letting you know the dire state of the original negative. And the incredible work they have put in to remove scratches and dirt but still not affecting the grain structure. Allegedly it took over a year to do the whole restoration. It was actually scanned at 8K and then down converted to 4K for cleanup and restoration. I'm very excited about 4K projection and if they can just up the light levels we finally have a projection system that is truly invisible and wont degrade the source in any way!

But more then just image quality it's just such a masterpiece! I so wish more filmmakers would be brave enough to compose shots like this and play scenes in wide master shots instead of just talking heads. Slightly off topic but from all talk from Nolan about shooting in IMAX I'm not that impressed with his choice of composition. It's so cutty and shallow focus it ends up like a mess of motion blur.

It is amazing that a 50 year old move looks this good! And I'm sure that if Sir David Lean and Freddie Young would have attended they would have had tears in there eyes...

/Eric
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#6 georg lamshöft

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 03:20 AM

I have seen it on 70mm at the Berlinale Retrospektive - if I remember correctly it was a restored print from 1989?
IQ was impressive, especially considering the age of the movie itself, can't wait to see "the Master" shot with better lenses and film stock. 70mm is the way to go!

The movie itself was underwhelming, it was the director's cut. I could see how it influenced many later epic movies - but it was simply too long and tiresome.
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#7 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 11:50 AM

I could see how it influenced many later epic movies - but it was simply too long and tiresome.


Good grief!!
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#8 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 12:28 PM

I think there are films that take you into worlds and Lawrence takes you into covering long journeys in a hot desert on a camel, Das Boat unto the boredom and terror of life on a U boat, not forgetting the endless distances and silence of space in 2001.
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#9 Pat Murray

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 10:37 AM

I have it on good authority from the MAN himself, Robert Harris, who restored the film, and knows more about large format than just about anyone on the planet, that the 4K is marvelous. Utterly marvelous.

Consider this: if you're seeing a 70mm print, you are seeing something that is several generations away from the original, derived from an internegative, from an interpositive, from the restoration negative and myriad separation masters. In some instances 7 or 8 generations away from the original!

With the new 4K transfer, you'll be seeing the restoration straight from the camera neg. Harris has stated there are two ways to see this film: in 70mm or in 4K.

What I'd be more concerned about is that the screen is the proper size. 70mmm or 4K makes no difference if the screen is too small to really show off the clarity of the form. But considering that this is the ACADEMY we're talking about, I wouldn't worry about that either.

Trust me. It'll be magnificent. Everyone I've heard from who's seen the 4K says it's marvelous, the new standard for the form. You should go, and consider yourself very fortunate; most of us will have to wait for the blu-ray, and even that is really a second rate experience to what you'll have.


Robert Harris attended a 70mm festival here a couple of years ago. He was definitely 100% pro digital by then and what you've written pretty much echoes what he said that night. I'm sure it looks great, I've seen digital prints of Renoir that looked marvelous too.
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#10 Pat Murray

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 10:47 AM

****please delete the previous post, technical error****

Robert Harris attended a 70mm festival here a couple of years ago. He was definitely 100% pro digital by then and what you've written pretty much echoes what he said that night. I'm sure it looks great, I've seen digital prints of Renoir that looked marvelous too.


I have it on good authority from the MAN himself, Robert Harris, who restored the film, and knows more about large format than just about anyone on the planet, that the 4K is marvelous. Utterly marvelous.

Consider this: if you're seeing a 70mm print, you are seeing something that is several generations away from the original, derived from an internegative, from an interpositive, from the restoration negative and myriad separation masters. In some instances 7 or 8 generations away from the original!

With the new 4K transfer, you'll be seeing the restoration straight from the camera neg. Harris has stated there are two ways to see this film: in 70mm or in 4K.

What I'd be more concerned about is that the screen is the proper size. 70mmm or 4K makes no difference if the screen is too small to really show off the clarity of the form. But considering that this is the ACADEMY we're talking about, I wouldn't worry about that either.

Trust me. It'll be magnificent. Everyone I've heard from who's seen the 4K says it's marvelous, the new standard for the form. You should go, and consider yourself very fortunate; most of us will have to wait for the blu-ray, and even that is really a second rate experience to what you'll have.


Robert Harris attended a 70mm festival here a couple of years ago. He was definitely 100% pro digital by then and what you've written pretty much echoes what he said that night. I'm sure it looks great, I've seen digital prints of Renoir that looked marvelous too. But If I'm being charged a premium, I still want to see it in the medium the artist intended. Same applies for Lawrence of Arabia. Granted, I'm not going to have a lot of choice soon, but that's ok, I understand the economics just don't justify it.

As for the look of the film from the original, I'm fine with that based on what I saw at the film festival. I am happy that there is also a digital version that can show me how it is supposed to look. Although doesn't it depend on if the original camera neg was properly stored and not abused or tossed in the dumpster? I seem to recall Mr. Harris lamenting that the reason why he couldn't restore films like Vertigo and Lawrence to exactly their original look (ie grey suits should be blue) was due to missing original camera negs and other elements.
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#11 Paco Sweetman

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 04:28 AM

I've got tickets for the screening at the London Film Fesitval 2012.

It's showing off a 4k DCP. I'm quite excited. I know it's not a print, but the BFI Southbank take projection of there films seriously so
I don't think anyone will be disappointed.

That and RYANS DAUGHTER are my favourites of his big screen epics.
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#12 Brian Rose

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 01:10 PM

I've got tickets for the screening at the London Film Fesitval 2012.

It's showing off a 4k DCP. I'm quite excited. I know it's not a print, but the BFI Southbank take projection of there films seriously so
I don't think anyone will be disappointed.

That and RYANS DAUGHTER are my favourites of his big screen epics.


Ryan's Daughter is marvelous. I think it's Lean's best film after LoA.

As for 4K, it has it's plusses. It's not a 70mm print, but you're getting something much closer to the original, whereas the print is likely 3 or 4 generations away from the oneg. However, in one instance, I was audience to a print of Baraka newly struck from the camera negative. It was a revelation!
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#13 M Joel W

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 06:47 PM

I have seen it on 70mm at the Berlinale Retrospektive - if I remember correctly it was a restored print from 1989?
IQ was impressive, especially considering the age of the movie itself, can't wait to see "the Master" shot with better lenses and film stock. 70mm is the way to go!

The movie itself was underwhelming, it was the director's cut. I could see how it influenced many later epic movies - but it was simply too long and tiresome.


How long is the director's cut and how long is the current release?

It seems there are 216, 222, 227, and 228 minute versions. I've seen this movie twice in 70mm (likely from the same print) but I forget how long it was. If I saw a truncated print I'd like to see the full version.

It looked sharper than modern 35mm to me, fwiw, but it was grainy.

Edited by M Joel W, 23 September 2012 - 06:48 PM.

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#14 Brian Rose

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 09:41 AM

Okay, I just came from a screening of "Lawrence of Arabia," last night and here are my thoughts.

First, I must begin with the good: I am now sold completely on 4K as a means of exhibiting films. The quality was outstanding. The brightness, the rock-steady image, as well as the retained film texture. It had everything I love about film, it's dynamic range, it's tactile grace, it's GRAIN, without the flaws of celluloid that results from sadly frequent substandard handling - scratches, shake, dim picture.

The sound was marvelous as well, and I truly HEARD "Lawrence of Arabia" for the first time. Heard and SAW. I truly felt I was getting an experience as good as 70mm.

Lawrence of Arabia restored is a resounding success, and if not a game-changer in the world of film to digital exhibition, then a prover that we are marching steadily closer to a more perfect format, which will allow these classic films to be seen with greater frequency, since we are dealing with hard drives and not fragile celluloid.

Now the bad: if digital has a flaw, it is that classic flaw written of by Greeks and Shakespeare: it is within ourselves. The HUMAN factor.

The presentation of Lawrence of Arabia was incompetent, and demonstrated why film nor digital matters a sausage when in the hands of idiots without training.

As many of you know, this Fathom event (as well as others) is preceded by several shorts. It is one thing if the goal is to recreate a movie going experience, with newsreel, short and cartoon. Instead, we are forced to watch various features which no doubt will be on the DVD/Blu-ray. And when you're dealing with a nearly four hour film plus intermission, it is none too pleasing to have to endure added run-time of superfluous content, some of which (as has been mentioned previously) contains SPOILERS for those who've never seen the film!

But the theater has no control over this, and I don't blame them. I do blame them for the rest of the evening. To begin, this bonus content began to play with audio only, no picture! After frequent complaints, the visuals started...I guess someone forgot to take the lens cap off the projector...who knows.

So the remainder of the special features plays out, followed by the Overture. It is almost completed when...

it stops, the lights come up, and the special features begin to play all over again!!!!!

More complains from the audience. We are forced to endure the special features again, because apparently there is no capability to skip ahead in the playlist?????

Again the overture starts to play, and near the same point as before, it does not stop, but the audio comes down, and the lights come up, and the manager comes out to apologize for the delay, and offer free passes.

I might have been ameliorated by this token gesture, except for two reasons: 1) the passes, he handed out were stamped to expire Aug 31st 2012!
2) He hands out the passes, going up and down the isles, AS THE OVERTURE ENDS, AND THE MAIN FEATURE AND CREDITS BEGINS. The houselights remains lit as he does this, and I truly fought the urge to yell, "Forget the goddamn passes, dim the lights and get the hell out you moron!" Why he did not simply wait until intermission to do this, I do not know. Maybe he was due to clock out in a half an hour. I don't know.

It was a botched attempt as a facile gesture of apology, and showed intense disrespect for the film, and the film going experience. It was a masterpiece in the expert handling of mediocrities. So much money and craft goes into the making of, and the restoration of these works of cinema. Why, then, do theaters and distributors not concerns themselves with ensuring the presentation matches the same quality of excellence? This is truly what happens when you push out unionized, skilled artisans (and projectionist ARE artists), and replace them with low paid button pushing, mouth breathing teenagers under the supervision slightly-less-low paid, mouth breathing managers.

What saved the day was the film itself, and the restoration work done by Grover Crisp, with the trail blazed by Robert Harris.

Lawrence of Arabia Final Grade
Film: A+
Image Quality: A+
Audio Quality: A+
Presentation: F

And for those to whom this may be relevant, the theater in question was the Cinemark 20, in Merriam, Kansas. If you should ever visit this theater, you will never cross paths with me, because I will never go back there.
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#15 Francisco Martins

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 11:03 PM

Although it was fantastic to see it on the big screen for the first time, and it may have just been my theater, but the picture was only a little better than other films shown there. It was not crystal sharp like I was expecting, which very much disappointed me.
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#16 Brian Rose

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 10:01 AM

Although it was fantastic to see it on the big screen for the first time, and it may have just been my theater, but the picture was only a little better than other films shown there. It was not crystal sharp like I was expecting, which very much disappointed me.


Do you know your theater's specs? You may have been watching a 2K projection, which is for all intents and purposes the same resolution as 1080p high def, and depending on the size of the screen, the limited resolution could be apparent.

My presentation WAS in 4K and it was marvelous.
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#17 Francisco Martins

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 11:13 PM

Do you know your theater's specs? You may have been watching a 2K projection, which is for all intents and purposes the same resolution as 1080p high def, and depending on the size of the screen, the limited resolution could be apparent.

My presentation WAS in 4K and it was marvelous.


It was a Cinemark theater, and one of the rear theaters that Ive been told by the projectionist is actually 3K and better looking than the larger ones in the front of the building. All of the projectors are supposedly 4K. *Shrug*
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#18 Derek Stettler

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 02:52 AM

I saw it and it was absolutely spectacular, especially since I grew up watching it on VHS and then DVD. Vivid, sparklingly clear picture quality and Maurice's score resonating throughout the theatre... this was an experience I'll always cherish.

I should also note that I saw it in the same theatre where I saw Samsara earlier this year. In case some of you don't know, Samsara is a new film that was shot entirely on Panavision 65mm, and like Lawrence, it was digitally scanned at 8K and projected at 4K. Without a doubt, Samsara had the highest visual quality of any film I've ever seen, and to see Lawrence in the same theatre after going through a similar digital workflow, I naturally compared them... and it was fantastic to see how the image quality held up so well, especially considering that Lawrence was made 50 years ago.

I'm convinced that 4K is the future of exhibition, there's no need to go any higher except in acquisition.
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#19 Brian Rose

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 05:23 PM

I'm convinced that 4K is the future of exhibition, there's no need to go any higher except in acquisition.


Assuming the trend towards small to medium size screens remains the norm, I would agree. 4K is truly outstanding, and having seen several 70mm prints projected in the past, I felt the 4K presentation of Lawrence of Arabia ranked among them.

Where 4K as a projection medium might be limiting is if one desires to show on larger, Imax sized screens. There, even 4K can have its limits before you start getting artifacts.

If it were me, personally, I'd like to see 8K become the standard. 8K is the resolution necessary for 65mm scanning, and so to be able to project at that native resolution, you would then truly be exploiting the full image potential of the 65mm negative.
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#20 Derek Stettler

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 01:34 AM

Where 4K as a projection medium might be limiting is if one desires to show on larger, Imax sized screens. There, even 4K can have its limits before you start getting artifacts.

If it were me, personally, I'd like to see 8K become the standard. 8K is the resolution necessary for 65mm scanning, and so to be able to project at that native resolution, you would then truly be exploiting the full image potential of the 65mm negative.


I absolutely agree on that one. Curious though: does anyone know the current resolution of digital IMAX projection?
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