Innovative approach to restoring old film developed by EUREKA project

January 24, 2003

   Brussels, 23 Jan 2003

A EUREKA project, PICASSO, has developed a software approach to restoring old film, some of which is faded, jerky, scratched or ingrained with dirt or biological growth.

The explosion of broadcasting via television, DVD and the Internet has created a hunger for content, both new and old. Material created up to a century ago is, however, often damaged.

'No matter how film is stored, its quality deteriorates over time. Reinstating the image quality is a very time-consuming process that very few clients have the budget for. We think that PICASSO will provide a fast alternative,' says Stuart Gall, administrator at PPV, one of the project partners. The project involves three partners, from the UK, Greece and Ireland.

Project leader Pandora from the UK has developed a solution using algorithms to first analyse and then fix faults frame by frame, thus allowing real time film restoration. This is significantly more efficient that traditional techniques, which took at least 30 seconds for every frame and led to costs of over a million euro for the restoration of an entire film.

The technique can also be used to repair scratches and imperfections on new films, cutting down the number of days required to shoot a film. This application will extend the potential market for the PICASSO system.

'Filming on location is very expensive. If the film is damaged in any way - in the camera or during development or editing - a client will do almost anything to avoid the need for a re-shoot of the scene,' says Mr Gall.

The basic system works by examining every pixel for each picture element of a film. Any damage will be picked up and the system can restore the picture by taking the average shade of the four neighbouring pixels. The PICASSO algorithms are, however, more complex as they copy original film before analysing the problems and producing high quality results.

Tests are currently being conducted on material from the Greek national film archive. Once these have been completed, the consortium will produce a marketable hardware solution. It is predicted that global revenue will exceed 750 million euro over the next three years.

EUREKA is a pan-European network for market-oriented, industrial research and development. It supports the competitiveness of European companies through international collaboration by creating links and innovation networks. The objective is to bring the results of high quality research and development to the market and to use the multiplying effects of cooperation.

For further information on the project, please
click here

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities    

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