A new film by Nulight Studios provides a behind-the-scenes look into the digital remastering of Oscar nominated animated classic The Sandman. The short film is a collaboration between Nulight Studios and partner, Films at 59, and follows each step of the remastering process from preparing the film reels to colour grading the restored digital copy.
Head of Operations at Nulight Studios, Sam Livingstone, explained the reasoning behind making the film saying,
“Most clients we work with only have a vague idea of what it takes to remaster a film from original negatives which can sometimes put them off considering it as an option. We wanted to make a simple film that would demystify the process while also show how dramatic the transformation can be.”
Although it has been over 25 years since the stop motion short film The Sandman was produced, it’s still regularly screened at festivals around the world. The few original film prints that the filmmakers could afford have now degraded to such an extent that they are no longer viewable, and the majority of recent screenings have used a projection of a relatively low quality TV transfer file.
In 2017, Mackinnon & Saunders decided it was time to restore the film. Co-founder, Ian Mackinnon described the moment, saying,
“After researching facilities, costs and recommendations within the industry, we approached Bristol-based restoration specialists Nulight Digital. From our first enquiry, their helpful approach guided us through all the processes and options, enabling us to find the most creatively appropriate and cost-effective route to the restoration.”
The original 16mm negative was scanned at just 2 frames per second to maximise detail in the shadows along with the audio captured from separate magnetic audio tape. Following weeks of meticulous restoration work, a new high resolution 4K version was created.