Take a look at the classic movie “Seven Samurai”, redone gloriously in 4K resolution!

by on February 28, 2016

Stephan Jukic – February 28, 2016

Akira Kurosawa’s famous masterpiece movie Seven Samurai is now older than many people’s grandparents, having passed its 60th birthday a while ago. However, this doesn’t stop the film from both being a serious classic and still dearly loved by many fans, both young and old.

For this reason and a few technical ones, the movie studio Toho is now going to take Seven Samurai and give it a heavy duty revamp, in razor sharp 4K UHD resolution, leaving the movie more beautiful for posterity than ever before and adding it as a fine new specimen for the growing collection of ultra HD movie content available to 4K TV owners..

Both NHK and AV Watch have reported that Toho studios are converting the movies 30,000 frames of content into a digital data format and then going through each of those frames one at a time to give them an image quality restoration and augment them to 4K resolution.

a sample of restored footage and original film copy

a sample of restored footage and original film copy

The goal of this project is partly to turn the restored version of the movie into something that comes as close as possible to a perfect version of the original film, with scratches, defects and dirt completely removed from the film prints wherever possible. Furthermore, irreparably damaged parts of the frames are being replaced with clean sections from other better frames.

However, one little hiccup in the project has been the fact that the actual negative reels for Seven Samurai have disappeared. This is why the restoration is being done from original film print instead of celluloid reels. Nobody at Toho has been able to find the original reels for the movie and it’s possible that they were even destroyed due to their flammable nature.

Even with the new film prints, deterioration in many of them had reached a point where some scenes are severely damaged with fade and only now will they regain their rich black and white tones. Restoration to the movie’s sound and voice tracks is also being done in tandem with the film print renovation.

In any case, whether we’re talking about film reels or film print, the good thing about this and many other restorations of its kind is the fact that both film reels and the prints which are made from them have a high degree of smooth scalability to 4K and even 8K resolutions in some cases. Film reel, when digitized produces sharp resolutions of up to 8K in many cases and is thus particularly friendly towards 4K restoration, in contrast to many movies from the mid-2000’s that were filmed in 1080p digital cameras and are now essentially stuck at their original resolution.

Now, take a peek at some of the restored scenes from Seven Samurai. They clearly show the labor of love being given to this iconic and influential old movie.



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  • CG
    February 29, 2016 at 7:09 am

    Outstanding. I learned quite a while back, when I first set up my projector, that ESPECIALLY with B&W titles they become much more compelling when they are good source materials watched on a good system. From the look of the samples, the improved quality will pull the viewer straight in (and past the “barriers” of subtitles and B&W).

    This is a must buy for me.


  • Sehn
    March 8, 2016 at 4:49 am

    So clipping the black level is considered restoration?


  • Kevin
    March 11, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    “film reels and the prints which are made from them have a high degree of smooth scalability to 4K and even 8K resolutions in some cases.” WRONG. It is not true that “the prints which are made from them” have 4K worth of resolution. Testing shows that a high-quality modern 35mm film combined with the best lenses yields all of its potential information when scanned at a resolution of 6K. Older, low-budget films like Seven Samurai will not produce this level of resolution. Beside that, the most important issue is that in order to get the maximum 6K resolution, you must scan the original negatives. The process for making traditional film involves multiple analog transfers; each one reducing the resolution dramatically. Seven Samurai is being scanned from the release prints, which will have no more than 800 lines of resolution. A 4K scan in this case will show no more detail than a 2K scan.
    Here is what Philip J. Cianci says in his book High Definition Television: The Creation, Development and Implementation of HDTV Technology:
    …the process for producing copies for theatrical release has
    four stages: negative, inter positive, inter negative, and release
    print; with each step there is a loss of resolution. When the test
    film was displayed with the best projectors in New York, at the
    Museam of Modern Art on a 12-ft.-high non-directive screen, light
    meter measurments indicated that a release print had approximately
    750-800 lines of resolution at the center and about 700 at the edges…


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