As part of Universal’s 100th anniversary, a team of restoration experts took on the task of digitally remastering the classic film “Jaws.” The fully restored feature required intense labor from colorists, digital artists, audio engineers, preservation experts, and everyone in between. In this fascinating documentary, we get a look at all the various complex efforts taken in order to bring the ‘70s blockbuster in to the digital age.
Director Steven Spielberg comments in the video, “It’s the movie that people remember, [now] it’s just really crystal clear and vivid.” Adding no material changes to such an iconic film should be very important to any restoration effort. Throughout the documentary, we are reiterated with the principle that this restoration is purely about clarity in visuals and sound.
According to the restoration documentary, “Jaws” had 2,700 pieces of material stored out of the 3,000,000 pieces that Universal vaults archive worldwide. These pieces, such as negatives and analog audio magazines, needed to be captured digitally before any remastering work could be done. A wet-transfer film gate was used for patching up scratched negative film as they digitized the film reels. The wet gate submerges the film in a liquid bath right before being digitally captured, a method that hides imperfections.
Once captured, the digital files were then be manipulated in ways that many of us are familiar with. The video shows various digital manipulations, compositing, painting, and color grading processes that took two to three hours per frame. In addition to the visuals, sound mixers brought in the original analog 35mm magazines and up-mixed them to 7.1 audio surround.
It’s been a couple years since this fully restored digital remaster came out. Have you had the chance to see this version? If so, were you impressed with the upgraded quality?