Today FedEx delivered the hard drive from Colorlab containing the 2K digital scan of the promotional trailer for The Last Edition. Earlier we were thrilled to learn that a copy of the trailer survived in the collection of the Library of Congress, and even more thrilled when Mike Mashon, Head of Moving Images for the Library of Congress Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division agreed to allow access to the print. In short order Mike had the trailer shipped to Colorlab in Maryland, where the film was scanned at 2K resolution and delivered to us on the aforementioned hard drive. Ultimately the trailer will undergo the same restoration process as the feature, including creating of a new 35mm preservation negative, two positive prints, and a digital master, all of which will be deposited back to the library for archival safekeeping.
It was a productive two days at Overamstel in Amsterdam, home of both the restoration team at EYE Film Instituut Nederland as well the Haghefilm film laboratory. At EYE, project leader Rob Byrne met with film restorer Annike Kross and silent film specialist Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi to discus schedules and finalize project plans. However, Rob spent the bulk of the time reviewing the seven reels of the original nitrate print that that had been retrieved from EYE’s storage bunker. The inspection served not only to get Rob reacquainted with the original material, but more importantly, provided Rob with the opportunity to catalog the film’s color scheme on a shot-by-shot basis. The film is almost entirely colored using the techniques of tinting and toning, all of which will be reproduced in the final restoration.
While in Overamstel, Rob also met with Simon Manton Milne, 2013 Silent Film Festival Fellowship awardee, and discussed plans for permanently documenting the restoration with a dedicated website.
San Francisco Silent Film Festival announced Simon Manton Milne as the winner of the 2013 Silent Film Festival Fellowship. Inaugurated in 2008, the fellowship is awarded annually to an advanced student in the field of film preservation, restoration, or archive studies selected by the institution’s staff in consultation with the festival.
The intent of the project-based fellowship is to provide an upcoming graduate with the opportunity to cultivate relationships with leading international archives and gain experience in the organization and presentation of archive material in a festival setting. The program is an ideal opportunity for a talented, motivated, and committed individual to do important non-technical research that will support the preservation field and further his or her own career.
Simon’s fellowship project will be to develop a website documenting the restoration of the 1925 feature The Last Edition, a collaborative project currently underway between the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and EYE Film Instituut Nederland.
Today Lotte Belice Baltussen and Oliver Gee wrapped up the work of translating the Dutch titles in our film print back into English. Because the only surviving print of The Last Edition was last exhibited in Netherlands, all of the original titles were replaced with Dutch translations by the distributor. In an ideal situation we would create new titles based on production documentation (scripts, continuity, etc.) but no such material has survived, leaving re-translation as our option.
Lotte and Oliver’s task was no small achievement. The Dutch language has evolved considerably since the 1920s, so much so that the language of the era is distinctly identified in Netherlands as “Old Dutch.” The differences between Old Dutch and the contemporary language are significant, particularly in regards to vocabulary and punctuation.
The translation was completed in two steps. First they performed a literal word-for-word translation from Old Dutch back into English. In the second step, they then worked to massage the language back into 1920s American English. Fortunate for us, it is apparent that the Dutch titles were often literal translations from English as evidenced by the presence of numerous of American colloquialisms.
The final step in the translation process will be to check the language against the original titles Emory Johnson’s other films from the era. This final step is not to validate the content, but to ensure that we get as close to the “sound” of Johnson’s titles as possible. Like any other written medium, title writers typically display a consistent style (sentence length, use of commas, use of contractions, verbal style, use of vernacular, etc.) and we want to be sure to get as close as possible to re-creating what Johnson’s titles would have looked and sounded like.