Ultra restoration, also known as ultra resolution restoration, is a new process designed to clean up old films. Ultra restoration is similar to taking an old painting that has been subjected to dirt and dust over the years and restoring it to its former glory. The sheen is restored, scratches are removed and the result is sometimes said to be better than the original.
In the past, there has been much criticism over the techniques used to restore old films. The colorization process used on films such as The Wizard of Oz was not considered very successful. Ultra restoration uses a more sophisticated technological process involving computers.
Film is made using silver nitrate. Over the years, this material begins to deteriorate, but some copies of original films were placed into storage. From these originals, copies of the film were made on safety stock. It is these film copies that are used in the ultra restoration process.
The frames from these films are scanned and placed on a computer. The images are scanned at a line resolution of 2,000. It is the difference in the line resolution that places ultra restoration technology ahead of the older methods. High definition resolution uses around 1,080 lines, and regular television is around 525 lines.
This high amount of lines is necessary in order to be able to place the restored images back onto 35mm film. This process was not previously available. Now, films that have been cleaned up using ultra restoration can be shown in theaters and on digital versatile disc (DVD).
The first testing process for ultra restoration took about a year. Only small portions of the films were restored during the testing process. Once the process was found to be successful, it took another year to complete the ultra restoration process on the rest of the film stock.
Once the ultra restoration process is complete, the film is copied back onto 35mm film and DVD. The new process is thought to be great news for deteriorating film stock. It means that the originals of old films are no longer necessary in order for the cleaned up films to be viewed. The films can be now be shown as they were originally intended by the filmmaker.