Steven Spielberg in the 'Jaws' of a great white shark

If you’re like me, you’ve heard and read about film restoration a thousand times but never really explored what it means or how it done. As a LA-based film reporter for the Los Angeles Times in the late-1990s, I spent lots of time interviewing visual effects artists, editors, sound mixers, directors, actors, costume and set directors and cinematographers, but not once did I ever talk to a film restorer.

The video is the perfect primer. It’s about the restoration of Jaws, which comes out today in a new, restored Blu-Ray edition. Of course, Universal has a promotional reason for releasing this featurette, but I found it fascinating in its own right.

JAWS BLU-RAYIt does into some detail, explaining what goes into restoring a movie. We’re shown how, in many cases, flaws are removed digitally, by hand, from scans of the frames. A technician discuses how some flaws are corrected by creating composites of the perfect frames immediately before and immediately after the damaged frame.

“You can spend three to four hours on a single frame,” he says.

The sound also was greatly improved. Steven Spielberg, the director, says he inserted a dinosaur-like sound at the end of the movie when the shark is killed. In the restored movie, people are more likely to hear it though care was taken, he says, to make sure nothing is overwhelming.

“Nothing materially was changed about the film,” Spielberg says. But someone watching the movie today on a good hi-definition television screen will see a movie that “looks better than the film looked when it was first projected in 1975,” he says.

More information about the new Jaws Blu-Ray.

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  • About Eric Harrison

    Eric Harrison reviewed movies and covered film for a decade for the Los Angeles Times and Houston Chronicle. His movie coverage continues here on InsideMovies.net. You also can read Eric's movie coverage geared to Houston, the nation's fourth largest city, on MovieHouston.com. Find out more at EricHarrison.org.
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