SpeedGrade DI Anchoring Disney Film Restoration Project

Price Pethel Uses IRIDAS to Bring Academy Award Winner Back to Life

Munich: May 29, 2008 … SpeedGrade DI, the leading GPU-based film finishing system, is at the heart of an ambitious new restoration project for the Disney Company. Along with its well-known commercial films, Disney made a number of critically-acclaimed documentaries and educational films in the 1950’s such as Winston Hibler’s “Men Against the Arctic” which won an Oscar for Best Documentary in 1951. A selection of these films from the Disney archives are now being digitally restored by colorist Price Pethel and West Wing Studios. Color correction, DI and finishing is being done in SpeedGrade DI.


“Men Against the Arctic” tells the story of an icebreaker sent to relieve a military base in the far north. The real adventure begins when the ship becomes stuck in the ice for months. The film was originally shot on anamorphic 16mm film and, like all Disney films at the time, was put through an optical printer to create 35mm RGB color separations, or “seps.” The color negatives (YCM) were put back through the optical printer, making it easy to cut in animations for titling, maps and other illustrative information. “Since the aim of restoration work is to get as close to the original as possible, the first order of business is to analyze the original production to determine what the earliest existing elements are,” explained Price Pethel. “Once we have those materials, we do 4K scans and the work can begin.”


The first step is to create a flat pass preliminary grade in SpeedGrade DI to match shots from various sources and to provide basic orientation for dustbusting and repair. Whatever cannot be repaired with automated tools is then sent to West Wing’s Indian facility for frame-by-frame restoration. Once that is complete the material returns to California for finishing in SpeedGrade DI. “The last stage in our pipeline is like any other DI, except that there is not the same pressure as when you have a release date deadline,” explains Price. Editorial, color correction, conform, and final rendering are all being done in SpeedGrade DI.

“SpeedGrade’s versatility lends itself to the many levels of tasks required for this type of work.” says Price. “As a workstation-based color correction and assembly system, it’s ideal for this project; a conventional DI suite would be cost-prohibitive.” According to Price, the editing functions of SpeedGrade and the ability to “drop pieces in and out of the timeline” were invaluable.

Price Pethel is the subject of a new artist profile on the IRIDAS Spotlight web site. SpeedGrade DI is a part of the SpeedGrade family of non-destructive grading applications. To learn more, contact IRIDAS at +49 89 330 35 142, IRIDAS USA at (818) 951-8927, or visit www.speedgrade.com.

IRIDAS pioneered desktop film-resolution playback in 2001. Its FrameCycler products are now the industry standard for frame-based image review. In 2003 IRIDAS introduced the first non-destructive color correction application. Today SpeedGrade and FrameCycler provide the critical links in an end-to-end pipeline for uncompressed content and color metadata. IRIDAS’ applications are used by filmmakers around the world and most major animation and postproduction houses. IRIDAS is an independent, privately held company headquartered in Munich, Germany. For more information, visit www.iridas.com.