So for those who might listen to our New York Cine Radio podcast this is something we’ve been talking about for a few weeks. I’ve been working on re-mastering one of my first 16mm feature length film Everything Moves Alone, that technically came out in 2001 and screened in New York for a few weeks. The film as I recall was shot in 1999 and then later we did some pick-up in 2000. I had to re-watch EMA after some years and now that I’m in my late 30’s I can see these films with a bit more distance, I was twenty when I was shooting the film (and twenty three when I was shooting other film Land of College Prophets which I’ll talk about in a bit).
Everything Moves Alone to me now looks like my friends Mike Aransky, Phil Guerette, Tim Kulig and I were just trying to figure out adult life and I think that’s pretty much what the film is, wrapped up into a Dramedy that was debatably effective. Though it would go on to make the top ten Indie film of the year on film Threat and we won “Auteur of the Year” at Bare Bones International Film festival. The New York Post called it “Earnest film-making against all odds.” and I think that’s something I’ll always be proud of.
It was a $9,000, ninety minute feature film which was difficult to pull off at that time. We didn’t even have a deck to capture the footage, so we elected to have the post house dump our raw footage in High-8 tape to edit and capture from a camcorder. This I’m sure seems like a strange solution but you have to understand, even if we could have had it dumped to Beta SP, we would have to rent a deck to capture the footage but the computer had a handful of 9 gig SCSI drives. We had to capture in batches, edit the first reel, delete the raw footage, capture the second batch, delete the raw and so on. We spent a year cutting the film, three of us, Mike, Phil and I.
My brother Bruce built us a P.C. and we were able to cut the film in an early version of Adobe Premiere. Hard Drives were very expensive back then and actually would only capture the takes we were using not the whole tape. So the budget was spend on film stock, development and transfer and then building a computer. We laid the film to tape on Beta SP, at first we made VHS copies of the film, I still have a few laying around I think. We couldn’t make a DVD copy because at the time the post houses were making very expensive Glass Master DVDs and it would have cost thousands of dollars. But as a few years went by we were finally able to make a DVD copy from the Beta Master and after everything that happened with the film, when it came time to remaster the film, an old DVD was what I was working with. Now I had made a copy of a copy of the Beta Master on DVD-Pro tape at the CBS News station i used to work at. I got a quote to have it digitized and it was pretty high and so I decided to have a go and working with the DVD master made directly from the Beta. I tried noise reduction filters in After Effects and then some color correction and up-scaling but the film just looked trashed.
I spoke with Ken Powell (Co-director of VHS Massacre and Co-host of New York Cine Radio) H tried an Adobe After Effects plug in called Neat Video and it was actually able to remove a lot of grain, I was then also able to sharpen the visuals just a bit but to be honest, because we could never spend a ton of money of the transfer the color quality wasn’t that great and at times the colors would bleed. We decided to actually re-master it black and white. This allowed us to boost the contrast a bit and make the overall viewing experience more consistent. So what we have is pretty decent looking HD Master of the film and to me the Black and White is in the spirit of Clerks, or the short film version of Bottle Rocket.
Next I worked on the Land of College Prophets which actually won 8 independent film awards (B-movie FF,Bare Bones, EOFFTV) and was distributed in 9 different countries of the years. I was able to find the original AVI master of the film. We had shot the movie on the Panasonic DVX100 and for those who know the first year it came out, there as actually no “Squeeze mode” true widescreen ability. So we ended up shooting in a letterbox format. so if you think about it, It’s 720×480- square with the letterbox within it. So if you dropped it into an HD timeline it was look like a tiny rectangle in the middle of a larger one. The point is, there’s not a lot of resolution there. I was able to upscale it to HD, tweak the white and black levels, color and saturation and tweak a few edits on the film. Noise reduction or neat video didn’t seem to have much effect but still we have the nicest looking version of Land of College Prophets (or Fountain of Death they called it in Russia). When the film was released in Movie Galley and Hollywood Video, they released in as full screen, so they actually blew up and cropped into the film even more! It’s actually never been released in it’s wide screen format. So for the first time, the films are available for rental on VHX for just a dollar or two bucks own them both in HD Right here!