In 2008, missing scenes from the 1927 Fritz Lang classic Metropolis were discovered in Buenos Aires. Many thought a complete version of Metropolis would never be found. But now it will soon be possible for people to see the film almost in its original form.
But the footage was 16mm and in poor condition. Many saw it as unrestorable. But some software whizzes as a company called Algosoft thought differently. And they’ve just posted the beginning of their restoration at their website. These tests concentrate on something called “deflickering”.
Here’s a description of the process:
After Algosoft’s Inna Kozlov and Alex Petukhov examined the footage, they were excited about the challenge — not only because it was an important piece of film history, but because it was a perfect test for their new fully-automated de-flicker algorithm. The flicker in the Metropolis footage wasn’t ordinary flicker. It consisted of bright moving splotches with sharp edges. When Algosoft sent their test results to Alpha-Omega, Thomas Bakels wrote: “I can’t imagine any of the other companies delivering something good as you just showed me.” In August 2009 Algosoft was informed that their test won the competition organized by Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Foundation.As a result, Alpha-Omega purchased a seat of VIVA, and it has been used to remove the dramatically flicker from damaged footage.
You can view samples of the flicker removal here.
Update: Check out this new high quality video of the restoration here. The audio is in German, but it features a lot of interesting clips so its worth watching even if you don’t understand German.