Turner Classic Movies
Walt Disney's new Diamond Collection
Written by Diana Saenger   

snowwhite-with_animals_245.jpgThe first of what is called the new Diamond Collection, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Diamond Edition is thoroughly restored to the highest level of picture and sound, feature groundbreaking, state-of-the-art immersive bonus content, and include unprecedented levels of interactivity, personalization and customization only made possible by Blu-ray technology.

"Walt Disney's gift of telling captivating and engaging stories was matched only by his passion for presenting them in the most spectacular way," said Walt Disney Studios' Chairman Dick Cook. "We are proud to continue his pursuit of excellence with The Diamond Collection, which brings the films that are the foundation of our Company to audiences of all ages across the globe."

The Diamond Collection will continue with releases of Beauty and the Beast; Fantasia and Fantasia 2000; The Lion King; Bambi; Cinderella; Lady and the Tramp; The Little Mermaid; Peter Pan; The Jungle Book; 101 Dalmatians; Sleeping Beauty; and Pinocchio.

snowwhiteprince_kiss.jpgSnow White was a year long project. The negative is 75 years old. Experts cleaned 120,354 frames after having scanned 361,062 frames and then did the digital combination. Several Disney experts and executives participated in an interview about the new Snow White release and provided an inside look into the historical past of the film and the newest technology that helped create this newest treasure.

"Disney has been making films since the €˜30's and many of these films from other studios and ours are at high risk and are beginning to disappear, due to several things that happen," said Sara Duran Singer, Senior VP in charge of post production at the Walt Disney Studios and Executive Director of the Restoration Committee. "Some of the things that we're suffering from include Vinegar Syndrome. Basically the film is beginning to dissolve and eventually it will become this gooey mess."

Restorers made significant discoveries when they started doing their first restoration, which was on the black and white cartoon, Steamboat Willie that was beginning to become destroyed. "We realized that we need to preserve this, because it's the first Mickey showing this iconic image for the Walt Disney Studio, so we actually went in and preserved it," Singer said. "We had to find a dupe section and replace that nine feet of the original negative to make the movie whole. It was a really interesting effort by all of us, because there's this stylistic thing that makes you see a little jittery, sort of a little flickery image. And if you clean it up too much, it doesn't seem like Steamboat Willie anymore.

"So we went back and forth on it with our team members over at Lowry Digital Restoration. We ended up with, I think, a lovely restoration. We were able to preserve the negative and actually that restoration has now become part of the new Disney Feature Animation logo.   So it's really nice to kind of see this new life come out of preservation and restoration of Steamboat Willie."

Singer explained they found problems with Snow White when they retrieved the original negative. "Splices were basically beginning to fall apart; so the handling of the film had to be done very carefully. We worked very closely with Kodak Pro Tec and Technicolor Preservationists, who go through the film and fix all the splice damages so we can use that original negative. Not only do we restore, but we also preserve them."

Dave Bosser, the Creative Director of Walt Disney's Animation Studio Special Projects and the Artistic Supervisor of the restoration and preservation efforts at the Disney studios explained animated films are shot on successive exposure film. "This is essentially a black and white negative and each frame of film is represented by three color records on that black and white negative," he said. "What's really interesting and exciting about the combining of the three color records now, is that we're doing that combination digitally so it's a lot more accurate, and we wind up getting a much crisper image than if it was done mechanically at the Technicolor lab."

snowwhite-kissing_dopey245.jpgOne interesting fact about Snow White involves early animation techniques. "Snow White herself, they put rouge on top of the cells to give Snow White rosy cheeks," Bosser said. "And those are actually put on by, what was called at the time, special effects painters and they used to put that on using Q-tips, right on top of the cells. And some of that got lost over the years just in not having the best quality images to look at we've been able to bring that back and you can see that in its glory on this restoration."

The restoration team and Disney animators say over and over again the work is a labor of love. Except for one person, everyone who worked on the Snow White restoration had other day jobs.

"We do this because we're passionate about it," Singer said. "We want to treat these films completely respectful. I always say that we all feel the ghost of Walt Disney and the original filmmakers behind us and we want to do them proud. We always say that, if they had the time, the technology, and the money, would they have done this fix? Would they have color timed it this way? And we constantly discuss that and debate that. That's why we have so many people with different skills on the team. We have (Dave), a 25 year Disney veteran, producing and directing visual effects. We have Andres Deja who is one of the top animators in the world."

"And not only is he a top animator who's done Scar in The Lion King and Jafar in Aladdin and Gaston in Beauty and the Beast and he's just finishing off Mama Odie in The Princess and the Frog," Bossert said, "he's also like a super fan of the company and is somebody who is very, very knowledgeable. So we've really pulled together a group of people that are very passionate about this and care deeply about this artwork and really want to protect and preserve it. And I think all of us walk away extremely proud each time we finish one of these restorations knowing that we've brought this film back to where the original filmmakers wanted it."

Bossert recalls that after the full restoration of Lady and the Tramp, and showing it to Ollie Johnston who was in the theatre for the digital screening of that film. "And when it was over and the house lights came up, some of us walked over and asked Ollie what he thought. And he had a smile from ear to ear on his face and he looked at us and he said, €˜That's the way it always should have looked.' So you kind of walked away from it feeling like you did good, and that's how we feel."

While some classic movie seemed dated, animated films like Snow White has stood the test of time. "They're fairy tales," Singer said. "They're all about good triumphing over evil and purity and happiness and joy and everybody needs a little bit of that in their life. And to some extent they're all part of our childhood memories. They're all embedded in us."

Taking these extraordinary steps to ensure a film not only maintains its entertainment value but also continues to evolve and mesmerize audiences. Bosser believes its effect they have on audiences keeps experts spending years on the restorations. "I think what's special about the Disney feature films and the reason why they endure through the years, is that they touch all of us emotionally on some level," he said. snowwhite-singing_and_dancing245.jpg"And most of these films, in my mind, speak of hope, that there is hope. And I think that's just a common theme out there."

With exciting scenes of Snow White and the dwarfs merrily dancing, singing and enjoying life beautifully restored, the joy Walt Disney intended with this film will continue to entertain and astound generations to come.

Read the review of the Snow White Blu Ray DVD

Read Fun Facts about the Seven Dwarfs

Photo credits: WDSHE




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