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Brand new 70mm print of 2001 A Space Odyssey


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#1 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 05:42 PM

I must confess, I'm really not that a big fan of 2001, even though Kubrick is my all-time favorite filmmaker by leaps and bounds. I enjoy ALL of his movies, even though 2001 is my least favorite.

With that said, I have extreme interest in the movie technically, not just visually, but also the technology depicted in the film. So when I heard American Cinematheque were paying for a new print of 2001, I was very excited. I was told the print would be made from the same elements used to make the 90's print's, which were all destroyed so watching 2001 on 70mm in recent years has evidently been a bad experience.

The print made it's debut at a Vienna 70mm festival a few months ago, even though it as made here in L.A. by fotokem. Evidently it finished with a standing ovation thanks to it bringing back a quality not seen in over a decade. The print then made it back to the US for a one-off screening in November with the cast of the movie at the Egyptian, which I was told is the first time it played here in the states. The American Cinematheque owns the print, but they also don't want to destroy the print. So they want to keep it alive, which means not playing it much. This weekend was the first open screenings and I had to go.

Of course, I arrive right on time, traffic in Hollywood was a mess as always. The Egyptian has an "open booth" policy, if you know where it is. I'm lucky because I know two of their projectionists and as I sad down to start the screening, I turned back and my buddy Mike was running the show, which meant I could go back and see him at any time.

The film... ohh gosh... the film was stellar. The colors were so vibrant and very 60's looking, much more so then the BluRay. What amazed me was how much detail there was in the image, stuff I had never seen before. Yet, everything looked fantastic, the few issues in the screening were all related to the original source, rather then the projected print. The latter part of the film with all those deep red scenes, were just amazing. The color reproduction is so vibrant and beautiful, with soft tones instead of the harsh tones you get from digital projection. The color separation was also superb, something you rarely see in a modern screening. What surprised me (as did my recent screening of Lawrence of Arabia on 70mm) is how NOISY the film is. The digital releases don't have any of the noise level of the 70mm print. That just shows how much cleanup work they did to make the digital release. It didn't bother me as much as Lawrence because it was less noticeable over-all, but it was still there. Also, many of the process shots were far noisier and there were instances of contrast changes between shots, which leads me to believe maybe some shots were underexposed slightly and were brought up photochemically to compensate. This was most noticeable in the final sequence where the lead goes from young to old.

The projection was also very good, though I did notice some registration issues, they were NOT the projectors. The issues were clearly imbedded in the original source as they came and went based on individual shots. This was really interesting because one would think Kubrick wouldn't have liked those issues and done anything he could to remove them, yet there they were.

During the intermission, I popped into the booth to see Mike and say Hi. I walked straight into a conversation he was having with Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks had just came out of the bathroom. Mike recognized me right away and we shook hands, but I got to spend a few minutes talking with them about the film and the projection booth, since I know quite a bit about the booth. I honestly didn't expect to see anyone in the booth but mike, I wouldn't have gone if I knew he was with people, but alas I interrupted and had a nice 10 minute conversation with them before Mike started up the latter half.

So that's my story and I think if you live in the US, you've gotta make the trek to see this thing before the print is damaged. Something will eventually happen to it and the deal is only 5 years, so there is some limitations on what they can do.

I'm excited that they're thinking about doing the same thing with Lawrence and Vertigo, two of my favorite movies. I'm planning on helping them with their campaign to bring back these 70mm classics.

Visit the American Cinematheque calendar (http://americancinem...uecalendar.com/) to see screening dates.

You can also visit my facebook page https://www.facebook...luloiddreaming/ to see a video clip.
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#2 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 06:05 PM

Is this exclusively an LA thing?

 

Good Fellas or Raging Bull might be something cool to see at that theater. While he might be the best to ever shoot a visual, I can't think of a single Kubrick film I can sit through entirely.


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#3 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 06:11 PM

Yep, the American Cinematheque owns the print (they own two theaters here in LA), so nobody else will be able to project it.
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#4 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 08:35 PM

Hope they do She's All That soon!


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#5 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 09:10 PM

I saw “2001” in the Cinerama dome in 2007, at a 40th anniversary screening honoring Douglas Trumbull. It looked great, and I was mesmerized to an extent that digital copies I had seen fell short of. Since then, I’ve seen it once again at the Museum of the Moving Image. I did notice the grain a bit more, but I think that’s because i was closer up. I also noticed the pinkish Eastmancolor fade. It’s good to know the new prints have been struck from original elements. 

 

The 80s restoration of “Lawrence” looks great – I’ve seen that in 70mm four times – and every time I notice tiny flaws I hadn’t caught before. In the end, there’s only so much that can be fixed without a digital path. I wonder if that will be done for the re-restoration of “Lawrence” – as they had to with the 4K version released in 2012. Though by the looks of the before/after it seems to be more like a beat-up print than OCN. 


Edited by Kenny N Suleimanagich, 11 December 2016 - 09:11 PM.

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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 10:13 PM

I saw a new 70mm print of "2001" several years ago and it had a few grainy shots that didn't exist in earlier 70mm prints, due to sections of the original negative having to be replaced with dupes due to damage to the OCN.  Which tells me that it is time to do a major digital restoration of this film before the negative is damaged any further.


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#7 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 12 December 2016 - 01:10 AM

Interesting, I didn't know some of the OCN was replaced with dupes. So it's in THAT bad of shape eh?
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#8 Phil Connolly

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Posted 12 December 2016 - 09:30 AM

I never really liked 2001 on first viewing - but that maybe because I watched in on letterboxed VHS (at least it wasn't pan and scan) on a 19"CRT in glorious mono. It seemed incredibly boring.

 

I was able to see a brand new 70mm print back in 2001 on the Bradford Cinerama Screen. I sat near the front and suddenly it made sense. I don't remember it being mega sharp the grain was visible - but the print and projection were flawless. First time I'd seen 70mm outside of imax.

 

Actually at the time it was the sound that blew me away. I think the print was Mag-SR with 5 screen channels and sounded epic. Especially since at the time my local cinema still had optical sound in most of the screens.

 

16 years on and I don't think I've had an experience in a cinema that was quite so overwhelming. 


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#9 KH Martin

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Posted 12 December 2016 - 09:55 AM

Shoot, I saw it first-run in LA at age 7-1/2 and I still haven't had an experience as overwhelming since!

 

Saw it more than 20 times projected between 68 and 89, about half those viewing in 70mm. Last theatrical was the 35mm that circulated about 14 years back, and I remember one obvious shot in the last sequence that had to be from a different source, color and everything else was way off, but only that one image leaped out as being a replacement.


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#10 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 12 December 2016 - 09:56 AM

I was told the print would be made from the same elements used to make the 90's print's, which were all destroyed so watching 2001 on 70mm in recent years has evidently been a bad experience.

 

Actually they weren't. I went to a 70mm screening last year here in Boston, and the print we watched was one of the ones from the 90s. I was disappointed because I was led to believe that it would be the new print. Instead it was the same one I saw in the 90's. Some of the reels were good, some were scratched quite a bit, and the presentation at the Somerville Theater (not my favorit) was sub-par. The screen is too damned small for 70mm, but they're one of the few places in town that regularly presents in this format. 

 

Also, the mag audio track had an annoying repetitious click throughout a good chunk of the movie, from someone who screwed it up at some point in the past 20 years. 

 

But prints from the 90s exist and are in active circulation.


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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 December 2016 - 11:14 AM

I once saw an original 70mm print that USC owns -- amazing sharpness and fine grain, but completely faded to pink.


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#12 Mark Dunn

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Posted 12 December 2016 - 01:23 PM

I never really liked 2001 on first viewing - but that maybe because I watched in on letterboxed VHS (at least it wasn't pan and scan) on a 19"CRT in glorious mono. It seemed incredibly boring.

 

I was able to see a brand new 70mm print back in 2001 on the Bradford Cinerama Screen. I sat near the front and suddenly it made sense. I don't remember it being mega sharp the grain was visible - but the print and projection were flawless. First time I'd seen 70mm outside of imax.

 

Actually at the time it was the sound that blew me away. I think the print was Mag-SR with 5 screen channels and sounded epic. Especially since at the time my local cinema still had optical sound in most of the screens.

 

16 years on and I don't think I've had an experience in a cinema that was quite so overwhelming. 

I expect that was the print I saw at the NFT. On the first of January, 2001. With two Kubricks in the audience.

I managed to see it twice more that year, in 35, but it doesn't get any better than that.

I don't expect it ever will either- I haven't been to the cinema in the UK since 2006 because, what's the line, "it's the pictures that got small."


Edited by Mark Dunn, 12 December 2016 - 01:25 PM.

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#13 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 12 December 2016 - 03:36 PM

Actually they weren't.


When I say "elements" I mean lab photochemical elements, as in the internegative.
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#14 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 12 December 2016 - 03:37 PM

I once saw an original 70mm print that USC owns -- amazing sharpness and fine grain, but completely faded to pink.


Correct me, but technicolor only made 35mm machines for their process right?
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#15 Phil Connolly

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Posted 12 December 2016 - 04:19 PM

I expect that was the print I saw at the NFT. On the first of January, 2001. With two Kubricks in the audience.

I managed to see it twice more that year, in 35, but it doesn't get any better than that.

I don't expect it ever will either- I haven't been to the cinema in the UK since 2006 because, what's the line, "it's the pictures that got small."

Yep I think they toured the print after it opened in Bradford. I did hear that it screened a couple of times in Germany prior, in German language and they then over dubbed it in English by re-recording the mag tracks. 

 

It was the first time I'd seen a film that used the full 5 sound channels behind the screen - made a difference when your used to 5.1 - like being hit by a wall of sound


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#16 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 December 2016 - 04:38 PM

Correct me, but technicolor only made 35mm machines for their process right?

 

 

Correct, there were no dye transfer 70mm prints.  Most 70mm prints of 65mm productions were straight contact Eastmancolor prints, so great quality but not so great for protecting the original negative.  And the prints were not archival either.

 

In fact, I saw a screening of the 70mm "preview" print of "Blade Runner -- the movie wasn't released in 70mm except, for some reason, an early edit was blown-up directly from 35mm to 70mm for a preview screening and this print was discovered in a vault in the 1990's and screened in Los Angeles, causing the whole push for a "director's cut".  But this preview cut had temp music (mostly Goldsmith) and temp narration in spots I think.  Anyway, a decade after this, sometime in the mid-2000's, I saw that 1982 70mm print screened one more time and it had faded to pink.


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#17 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 03:33 AM

So they actually struck prints directly off the negative because there were so few that needed to be made or was it a quality thing?

Would they have made an IP then an IN like we do today as well, or would that have not been as widely done with 70mm?

Also, for reduction prints, would an IP have been made directly off the OCN? I assume with a 1968 release of 2001, the 35mm prints were 2.20:1 anamorphic right?
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#18 Doug Palmer

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 05:15 AM

Correct me, but technicolor only made 35mm machines for their process right?

You mean for perhaps making archival black and white separation negatives ?   It would be a crying shame if nothing like this was ever made for a classic like 2001.  Surely though it would still be possible to do multiple black and white printing direct,  contacted from the original.


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#19 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 12:17 PM

I'm sure 65mm b&w separations exist, it's just that that any print made from those will always be grainier than one made from the original negative.  Back in the 1960's, 70mm print orders were small enough that usually they used the original 65mm negative -- big movies were often released in a roadshow version that played in just a few big theaters and moved from town to town.

 

Probably the 35mm scope version was 2.35 so the top & bottom was trimmed from 2.20 : 1, but there were some movies that put black borders top & bottom to keep the 2.20 : 1 aspect ratio in the 35mm scope prints.

 

Usually you'd make a timed 65mm IP from the 65mm o-neg and then use an optical printer to make as many 35mm anamorphic IN's as you needed for 35mm prints.


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#20 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 12:30 PM

Given that they shot the title sequences in several different languages for international release, I would assume that "2001" went through the OCN-IP-IN-RP stage? But then again, I would also not be surprised if the OCN was not damaged over the years by shoddy handling during reprints or restorations. 


Edited by Kenny N Suleimanagich, 13 December 2016 - 12:37 PM.

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