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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 12:01 pm 
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The successor to Portrait of a Miner and Tales from the Shipyard has been confirmed as an early 2013 release:

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Steel: A Century of Steelmaking on Film – following on from the coal and shipbuilding industries previously examined, the focus turns to Britain’s steel industry with this selection of rare documentaries and shorts. Includes legendary cinematographer Jack Cardiff’s 1945 Technicolor film, Steel.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 12:13 pm 

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Kickstarter project to restore Jack Cardiff's Steel


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:30 pm 
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Image


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:36 pm 
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Calvin wrote:
The campaign is more than halfway over and they've raised less than 2% of the goal. I wonder why so few are stepping up. I realize it's an extremely little-known film (there doesn't even seem to be an IMDb listing).
I don't know all the ins and outs of Technicolor restoration but it seems maybe a little unrealistic to fund something as involved as this via Kickstarter, even for a short film.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:49 pm 
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I suspect it was an experiment to see if Kickstarter was a viable fundraising medium for a project like this. The BFI has very limited funds for full-scale restorations, especially if they involve things like separate Technicolor elements, so I can see why they're trying various angles - the Hitchcock silents restorations were largely funded by public appeal, though they're obviously a much easier sell.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 2:06 pm 
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Gregory wrote:
Calvin wrote:
The campaign is more than halfway over and they've raised less than 2% of the goal. I wonder why so few are stepping up. I realize it's an extremely little-known film (there doesn't even seem to be an IMDb listing).
I don't know all the ins and outs of Technicolor restoration but it seems maybe a little unrealistic to fund something as involved as this via Kickstarter, even for a short film.

The rewards for the pledges look remarkably shit too, in comparison to most for Kickstarter projects.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 2:09 pm 
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Going by that I suppose charity is dead.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 2:19 pm 
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If charity was what Kickstarter was primarily about, then you may have a point. The whole idea is that you're getting a large amount of people to pay in advance for a project that may not even otherwise get off the ground, while hopefully getting a few very generous benefactors along the way. It's rarely going to work when you're trying to get money for virtually nothing. They're called pledges, and not donations, after all. The rewards for that project are utterly dire.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 1:07 pm 
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Promo clip.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:30 am 
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I haven't been sent the official spec sheet yet, but something very similar was published on the BFI website here:

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This Working Life: Steel
A Century of Steelmaking on Film

Following our box sets covering the history of Britain’s coalmining and shipbuilding industries, we turn our focus on the nation’s steel industry.

Steel provides the backbone of Britain’s industry and society. It was a driving force behind the Second Industrial Revolution and shaped many regions of the UK. In its heyday over 450,000 people were working in the steel industry and while much of the employment it generated is now gone, its influence still lives on, as was spectacularly illustrated in Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics.

This comprehensive double DVD set features 23 rare documentaries, animations and short films which span the twentieth century. Highlights include footage of the building of the New Tyne bridge in 1928 and the rare 1945 film Steel which was shot by award-winning cameraman Jack Cardiff.

Disc one

Parkgate Iron and Steel Co., Rotherham (1901)
His Majesty’s Visit to the Clyde (1917)
The Building of the New Tyne Bridge (1928)
Steel (Civics and Commerce series) (1933)
Mastery of Steel (1933)
British Steel (1939)
Teeth of Steel (1942)
Steel (1945)
The Ten Year Plan (1945)
Common Sense about Steel (1948)
Mrs Worth Goes to Westminster (1949)
Steel in South Wales (1950)

Disc two

River of Steel (1951)
Ingot Pictorial No 27 (1956)
Steel Town (1958)
Men of Consett (1959)
The Big Mill (1963)
Steel for the Seventies (1970)
Women of Steel (1984)
Northern Newsreel No 7 (extract - Consett item) (1987)


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:41 am 
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The Big Mill is also included on Panamint Cinema's Faces of Scotland Blu-ray. Essentially it's steel's equivalent to Seawards the Great Ships - once again produced by Templar Films, narrated by Bryden Murdoch and shot in lovely Technicolor.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 9:14 am 
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Generous extracts from both were included in the 1972 Hitchcock on Grierson programme, which pops up regularly on Sky Arts - though as they're in black and white and sourced from analogue videotape they're clearly no match for a decent DVD, let alone a Blu-ray!


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:31 pm 
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TMDaines wrote:
If charity was what Kickstarter was primarily about, then you may have a point. The whole idea is that you're getting a large amount of people to pay in advance for a project that may not even otherwise get off the ground, while hopefully getting a few very generous benefactors along the way. It's rarely going to work when you're trying to get money for virtually nothing. They're called pledges, and not donations, after all. The rewards for that project are utterly dire.


I have to agree. I remember finding that Kickstarter campaign and thinking that almost nothing that was being offered was worth it. In the first place, the goal was US $94,000, which is absolutely ridiculous, as we're talking about a 35 minute short film shot on film stock. Now, people who are backing a project want to see the fruit of their labor (money) so all you really need to do is scan the film elements, perhaps clean it up a bit and slap it on a Blu-ray with some other shorts you have in HD. It's not as if the short needed an 8K resolution scan at Technicolor, is it? I'd like to know where he got that goal figure from, as he makes no mention of exactly what would happen with the film if he met it.

And instead of offering downloads and trinkets, he should have offered more film based (or even object-based) rewards, like a copy of the Blu-ray for $35, or that and a choice of two BFI Blu-rays for $100, and so on and so forth.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:56 pm 
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No-one was even going to get a DVD, yet alone a Blu-ray, of the restoration they would have been backing, even if they had pledged several hundreds of dollars. It was doomed to fail. From observing other Kickstarter projects in my other interests, I've come to the conclusion that you have to come up with something really crap in order to fall that short. In the age of the Internet there's thousands of people who will pledge money to these projects rather freely.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:53 pm 
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Exactly, the goal should be as you said--many people pledge a little and get something in return, and a few people pledge a lot, and get more.

Still, $94,000 seems fishy to me, and I think that has a lot to do with it. As a perspective backer, another thing that puts me off is when people ask for large sums without giving details. If he'd asked for $10,000, he might have gotten more support.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:52 am 
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McCrutchy wrote:
I have to agree. I remember finding that Kickstarter campaign and thinking that almost nothing that was being offered was worth it. In the first place, the goal was US $94,000, which is absolutely ridiculous, as we're talking about a 35 minute short film shot on film stock. Now, people who are backing a project want to see the fruit of their labor (money) so all you really need to do is scan the film elements, perhaps clean it up a bit and slap it on a Blu-ray with some other shorts you have in HD. It's not as if the short needed an 8K resolution scan at Technicolor, is it?

I'm assuming that the goal was long-term archival preservation as well as restoration, so it would involve a teensy bit more than just "scan the film elements, perhaps clean it up a bit and slap it on a Blu-ray".

And if Technicolor separation elements are involved (which I assume would be the case here), the amount of work more than trebles, because you don't only have to scan and clean all three individual elements, but you have to match them up - which can be no small challenge if they've been shrinking at different rates (highly possible given their age and the film's likely preservation history).

Bearing in mind that The Red Shoes cost a reported $500K to restore, and that we're dealing with a film of a similar vintage presumably facing similar restoration challenges, $94K doesn't seem at all unrealistic as a total project cost. (I can't speak for the wisdom of the Kickstarter promotion).


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:52 am 
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Full specs announced:

Quote:
This Working Life
Steel
A Century of Steelmaking on Film

This double DVD box set of 20 films, released on 18 February 2013, is the third and final release in the BFI's This Working Life series which showcases rarely seen films which explore Britain's rich industrial heritage. Alongside the DVD is a season of films at BFI Southbank (5-28 Feb) and cinemas in Sheffield, Glasgow, Newcastle and Cardiff.

Steelmaking is at the heart of British industry and has provided evocative and poetic subject matter for filmmakers throughout the twentieth century. Drawn from the BFI National Archive and those of partner archives, including Scottish Screen Archive and the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales, the films on this set bring alive the stories of the communities shaped by the steel industry, offering revelations about its highly skilled workforce and some of the breathtaking feats which the industry routinely achieved.

The recent decline of the steel industry is brought into sharp focus through this richly fascinating and often surprising view of a largely vanished way of life. The 20 rare documentaries, short subject and animated works date from 1901 to 1987 and chart the extraordinary story of steel. Highlights include silent footage of intrepid construction in The Building of the New Tyne Bridge (1928) - with a newly commissioned music by Newcastle-based band Jazzfinger- and the great rediscovery of the 1945 film Steel, shot in Technicolor by the Oscar-winning cinematographer Jack Cardiff. Newly restored, Steel chronicles the visually spectacular process of making steel, from iron ore to the steelworks.

Other films include the witty animation River of Steel (1951), which shows how we all depend on steel, Men of Consett (1959), a wonderfully odd film directed by explorer, cameraman and food writer Tom Stobart, who ventures into the steel community in Consett, County Durham, and Women of Steel (dir Jenny Woodley, 1984) which gives a rare insight into women's role in the steel industry in wartime Sheffield.

Disc one
Parkgate Iron and Steel Co., Rotherham (1901)
His Majesty's Visit to the Clyde (1917)
The Building of the New Tyne Bridge (1928)
Steel (Civics and Commerce series) (1933)
Mastery of Steel (1933)
British Steel (1939)
Teeth of Steel (1942)
Steel (1945)
The Ten Year Plan (1945)
Common Sense about Steel (1948)
Mrs Worth Goes to Westminster (1949)

Disc two
Steel in South Wales (1950)
River of Steel (1951)
Ingot Pictorial No 27 (1956)
Steel Town (1958)
Men of Consett (1959)
The Big Mill (1963)
Steel for the Seventies (1970)
Women of Steel (1984)
Northern Newsreel No 7 (extract) (1987)

The set includes a comprehensive illustrated booklet with film notes and essays by BFI curators and a foreword by Professor Mark Miodownik.

Product details
RRP: £24.99 | cat. no. BFIVD868 | Cert E
UK, 1901-1987 | English language, silent with music | black and white and colour | 348 mins
2 x DVD-9 | Original aspect ratios 1.33:1 | Dolby Digital mono audio (320 kbps)


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:20 pm 
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MichaelB wrote:
Bearing in mind that The Red Shoes cost a reported $500K to restore, and that we're dealing with a film of a similar vintage presumably facing similar restoration challenges, $94K doesn't seem at all unrealistic as a total project cost. (I can't speak for the wisdom of the Kickstarter promotion).


Indeed, it doesn't, if that was the situation. Unfortunately, all he saw fit to mention was that he was trying to get the film a "detailed and highly skilled restoration", which can now mean any number of things, from the most minimal HD upgrade (as I mentioned) to a pull-out-all-the-stops restoration like The Red Shoes. You and I might assume one thing, but the thousands of visitors to that page might have assumed something else. You can blame home video marketing for that, I suppose.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 7:26 am 
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Well, it seems that the restoration of Steel went ahead, funded by the Erik-Anker Petersen Charity.

The booklet has a two-page feature on what was required: essentially, it was a very similar situation to The Red Shoes in that the BFI held all three original separation negatives, which all had to be cleaned (physically), scanned (in 4K) and cleaned again (digitally) prior to combining - a process that can be carried out much more precisely today than in 1945, but with the downside that the negs have sometimes shrunk at different rates, so matching them up in the first place is more of a challenge. In other words, it's a massive job!

They also completely redid the titles from scratch, because they only survived as a composite, whose poorer visual quality would have been glaringly obvious if they'd simply scanned that footage and cut it into the restoration (not least because the background footage would have dropped a generation when the titles were superimposed). So instead, they scanned a frame of each title, created new high-definition title cards from that, and reshot them on film (to prevent them from looking unnaturally stable), after which they were digitally combined with background footage sourced from the original negs (so it now retains its first-generation quality). It's always tricky from an ethical perspective dealing with issues like that, because the end result undoubtedly looks better than the title sequence on the reference print - but in cases like this, it's beyond any serious doubt that it's what the filmmakers would have wanted.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 1:07 am 
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MichaelB wrote:
Well, it seems that the restoration of Steel went ahead, funded by the Erik-Anker Petersen Charity.


And was that just started, or will it be on this DVD set?


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:49 am 
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It would be a bit pointless (not to say frustrating) if they included a two-page feature in the booklet and left the restoration off the actual disc!

Yes, it's on there and looks fabulous.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:50 pm 
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MichaelB wrote:
It would be a bit pointless (not to say frustrating) if they included a two-page feature in the booklet and left the restoration off the actual disc!

Yes, it's on there and looks fabulous.


Ah, okay, I just wasn't clear on if this restored version was part of this release or not.

Hopefully, the next time they release a related Blu-ray, they can put Steel on there as an extra in 1080p.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:17 pm 
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An introduction to This Working Life: Steel.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:57 pm 
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How Steel Got its Gleam Back - the booklet essay on restoring Jack Cardiff's Steel.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:53 am 
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Graeme Hobbs' latest MovieMail podcast (which also touches on a number of other BFI compilations, especially some of the titles included in the Shadows of Progress set).


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