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JFK Film Gets Cleaned Up

It is a grainy, washed-out reel of history that we have seen countless times: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. Acquired by UPI at the time, that film footage taken by Marie Muchmore has received a facelift courtesy of its inheritors, Associated Press Television News. APTN undertook the project in anticipation of the 40th anniversary next year.

"APTN's library starts in 1963," says Christopher O'Hearn, head of content development at APTN. "This defining moment coincides with our 40th anniversary."

The film is one of three major films of the JFK assassination. The others are the well-known Zapruder footage and Orville Nix Jr.'s film. The new version will debut at NATPE in January.

The restoration effort is based on Archangel, a digital technology developed by London-based Snell & Wilcox, which created it for post-production houses whose clients were seeking a lower-cost way to preserve enormous archives of degrading film. Saving those film stocks typically requires a painstaking, frame-by-frame process, which drives up costs considerably. Archangel takes advantage of Snell & Wilcox's phase-correlation motion estimation (ph.C) to speed up (and lessen the cost) of the process.

"Ph.C enabled us to restore and correct all of the original artifacts in a single pass," explains Snell & Wilcox Director of Product Marketing David Tasker. "The operator sets the machine up and lets it run."

In addition to its speed (it restores in real time) and cost, Archangel corrects the usual dirt, scratches and tape drop-outs as well as camera unsteadiness and the flicker that occurs during film processing.

APTN, happy with the results of the restoration, is looking through its archives for other footage to restore.