Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

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Re: Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

Post by omgitsgodzilla »

There's also the fact that the market for literally anything in Japan is a lot smaller on account of the smaller population, and IIRC rentals never really went away in Japan the way they did here, or at least they stuck around a lot longer. So that's fewer potential sales to make their money back, and more potential rental revenue that each sale has to make up for.
Last edited by omgitsgodzilla on Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:52 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

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Malchik wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:27 amIronically they probably would make more profit

That "probably" explains it all right there... licensing out guarantees X amount of revenue, while rolling the dice that gaijin might import enough extra copies to make an equivalent amount is not guaranteed.
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Re: Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

Post by Chrispy_G »

You would think they would maybe consider some kind of solution to be more of a 'partner' with potential international distributors...and get away from the more traditional "pay for the license, then you do what you do with massive restrictions we put on you"

If Toho perhaps partook in the creation/production/financing of some of these international releases...they would also stand to reap the rewards. Share the risk, share the reward.

But who the heck knows.

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Re: Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

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With 4K UltraHD releases being completely region free, there is nothing (besides money) stopping Toho from distributing their own releases worldwide. If you let a 4K bluray play to the end of the credits, you get about 10 minutes of the "This disc is authorized for home playback"-type warnings in 20 or so languages - it's insane! Not to mention WB's Godzilla releases have dozens of subtitles languages available. All the major Hollywood studios have realized they can save a few bucks on printing out discs for various markets and just make one for worldwide distribution. Then they get 100% of the profit.

Toho seems content to just agree to a fixed licensing fee, charge a ton for extra features (which distributors mostly balk at), and sit back.
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Re: Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

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Joseph Goodman wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 11:25 am
Malchik wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:27 amIronically they probably would make more profit

That "probably" explains it all right there... licensing out guarantees X amount of revenue, while rolling the dice that gaijin might import enough extra copies to make an equivalent amount is not guaranteed.
Yeah, but they license the film for X amount of time and when the disk goes OOP or the company goes under, the license is in limbo for years before Toho can contractually re-license the movie instead of making constant income from said film.

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Re: Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

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Americans are never going to import Japanese discs in nearly the same numbers they'd buy domestic ones. A US company licensing their films also takes on any production and distribution costs, so Toho doesn't have to pay those for the discs sold in America, and since US discs will actually sell in significant numbers in America, Toho can charge a good deal for the license. It makes no sense at all for Toho to forego the licensing revenue and add to their own production costs in the hope that marginally more foreigners will import their discs.

The choice isn't between less money up front and more money slowly over time. It's between more money right now and less money slowly over time, and that's not difficult.
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Re: Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

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goji1986 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 6:01 am With 4K UltraHD releases being completely region free, there is nothing (besides money) stopping Toho from distributing their own releases worldwide. If you let a 4K bluray play to the end of the credits, you get about 10 minutes of the "This disc is authorized for home playback"-type warnings in 20 or so languages - it's insane! Not to mention WB's Godzilla releases have dozens of subtitles languages available. All the major Hollywood studios have realized they can save a few bucks on printing out discs for various markets and just make one for worldwide distribution. Then they get 100% of the profit.

Toho seems content to just agree to a fixed licensing fee, charge a ton for extra features (which distributors mostly balk at), and sit back.
See, I think I mentioned in some other thread a year ago but people weren't fond of the idea:

Toho really ought to set up satellite distributor operations in other major markets for their films, such as the US. Yeah, if they have effectively the same disc with English-language packaging and subtitles for half the price or less, some fans in Japan will reverse import. There's only so much Toho can do about that. But they might as well make some money than rely on licensing fees with the rights to their films fractured in what is still one of the world's biggest film and home video markets.

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Re: Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

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Well, tohosaurus kinda beat me to it while I was typing. But yeah.

I mean, there is a possible third option...

Toho *could* go ahead and include various language subs and dubs (where they have them or are confident they own the rights) to their domestic releases and then seek out/solicit for foreign distributors to sign some kind of deal where they order a wholesale bundle of 4K discs and distribute them to retailers in their region.

Then they could just press more runs of discs when more orders come in, or something like that.
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Re: Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

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canofhumdingers wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:20 pm Well, tohosaurus kinda beat me to it while I was typing. But yeah.

I mean, there is a possible third option...

Toho *could* go ahead and include various language subs and dubs (where they have them or are confident they own the rights) to their domestic releases and then seek out/solicit for foreign distributors to sign some kind of deal where they order a wholesale bundle of 4K discs and distribute them to retailers in their region.

Then they could just press more runs of discs when more orders come in, or something like that.
I remember a few/several years ago when Toho was supposedly going to try to transform into a more globalized studio, one more involved in co-productions with non-Japanese studios (probably particularly American and Chinese studios), offer more of their properties for remakes, etc. Yet some years later we've seen rather little. Seems like much the same Toho. And candidly, I think Toho would actually be able to grow their business more if they took the approach of some successful Hollywood studios with respect to their modernization efforts (let alone home video).

I kind of liked the idea of Sony being a sort of steward for Godzilla, but seems iffy on their interest in the franchise at all at this point.
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Re: Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

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Unfortunately, it looks like the UHD Blu-ray of KKvdG won't include the audio commentary from Toho's earlier DVD and Blu-ray releases.

Has a UHD Blu-ray release of Godzilla 1954 been formally announced yet?
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Re: Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

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John Pannozzi wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 7:22 pm Has a UHD Blu-ray release of Godzilla 1954 been formally announced yet?
Nope.
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Re: Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

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John Pannozzi wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 7:22 pm Unfortunately, it looks like the UHD Blu-ray of KKvdG won't include the audio commentary from Toho's earlier DVD and Blu-ray releases.

Has a UHD Blu-ray release of Godzilla 1954 been formally announced yet?
Not too surprising though as that seems to be very common when it comes to most 4k releases lately. Not sure why it's become so common of a thing to do though.

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Tohosaurus wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:25 pm
canofhumdingers wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:20 pm Well, tohosaurus kinda beat me to it while I was typing. But yeah.

I mean, there is a possible third option...

Toho *could* go ahead and include various language subs and dubs (where they have them or are confident they own the rights) to their domestic releases and then seek out/solicit for foreign distributors to sign some kind of deal where they order a wholesale bundle of 4K discs and distribute them to retailers in their region.

Then they could just press more runs of discs when more orders come in, or something like that.
I remember a few/several years ago when Toho was supposedly going to try to transform into a more globalized studio, one more involved in co-productions with non-Japanese studios (probably particularly American and Chinese studios), offer more of their properties for remakes, etc. Yet some years later we've seen rather little. Seems like much the same Toho. And candidly, I think Toho would actually be able to grow their business more if they took the approach of some successful Hollywood studios with respect to their modernization efforts (let alone home video).

I kind of liked the idea of Sony being a sort of steward for Godzilla, but seems iffy on their interest in the franchise at all at this point.
Yeah I've always wondered if anything was going to become of that as they made a big press release. Wouldn't be surprised if with it being Toho they're probably asking too much for the films. I honestly don't ever see Toho doing something to that extent as they seem so focussed on their own market. Not to mention I think they're more content making money off of licensing the films out to companies in different territories. As well as the fact doing that requires nowhere near as much effort or money on their part. But that's just my opinion.

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Re: Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

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omgitsgodzilla wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 4:57 am Criterion didn't do this big overhyped release with this deluxe packaging just as a placeholder five years in advance of an anniversary that only means anything to Godzilla fans specifically.

Might they revisit some of these films? Maybe. King Kong vs. Godzilla strikes me as the most plausible candidate, considering its significance, the availability of a new master, how its presentation was compromised on the original set, etc.

Might we see some releases from someone else for the 70th anniversary? Maybe. I don't know how long Criterion's got what they've got, but I could see somebody doing something with the VS/Millennium films.

But Criterion wasn't playing some long game where they bought up and released 15 films just to reserve an arbitrary spot for another release five years down the line. They bought those films for the set we got, and in all likelihood that's all we're getting from them. If their plan was to hang onto these films until better masters came along, they'd have done that instead of releasing the existing set.
I never tried to imply that Criterion had some grand master plan, but if their distribution rights to the Show Films are long enough or in any way permanent/extensive...that obviously gives them an opportunity to do more than one set.

We don't know all of the behind the scenes talks. A 4K restoration of GvK had been done when Criterion had all of the rights. It could have been as simple as Criterion inquiring about what prints they were/were not going to be given access to, what amount of new restorative work they would/would not be able to do. If we all remember, the 2012 Blu Ray of the original film was not nearly as restricted as the 2019 Showa Set.

If Toho had given them the full green-light, access to all of the best materials and freedom to include multiple versions and do all of their usual restoration/new transfer processes they typically do...I believe they would have taken the time to do so, and the Showa Set wouldn't have been rushed for Spine #1000 in 2019.

But, if they saw they were being hamstrung and limited, then making Godzilla Spine #1000 and a full Showa set is at least a big deal in and of itself even if it wasn't nearly as robust or thorough as Criterion might be typically expected.

And from Criterion's perspective...if they are still trucking along for a few more years, and Toho DOES eventually get all of their own top line restorations done and open them up to foreign distributors...Criterion will be in a perfect position to take advantage of that for SOMETHING like the 70 year anniversary.

Criterion has clearly shown that they will "upgrade" previous released into new Blu Rays, and they will re-release films from previous releases in new collections and sets. It isn't insane to think that come 2024 or some OTHER year...they might have a more grandiose Showa Set ready to release, or even a much more comprehensive "100 Years of Olympics" style set that includes much more than just the Showa Era films.

"50 Years of Godzilla and other Toho Kaiju" could be classy and extensive as hell. It could even be released in one, two, or three volumes to break up the "eras"

Yeah...it is all pure speculation. I'm not saying there is some great plan in place. But...Criterion put out their sort of "quick and compromised set" in 2019. Maybe they will NEVER EVER do another Godzilla release, that is entirely possible. Another complete possibility is that, 5+ years down the line from that 2019 release, they get a chance to do something much more comprehensive, and if they still have the Godzilla rights, they will be able to jump all over it.

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Re: Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

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It's not entirely outside the realm of possibility; I just tend to be wary of wishful thinking about this sort of thing, especially considering how easy it is to get rumors started among Godzilla fans. It would be cool if that happened, but that's different from there being any real reason to believe that it might actually happen. Treating a further, more comprehensive set as "another complete possibility" on remotely equal footing with the existing set being what we get from Criterion is unfounded and potentially misleading -- not that I think you're trying to mislead anyone, of course; I just think it runs that risk.

It's true that Criterion regularly revisits titles -- format upgrades, individual reissues of films from box sets, including previous individual releases in new box sets -- but I've never heard of them revisiting an entire collection like this. It's not impossible, but there's not really a strong precedent for it.

Besides that, a big collection of other Toho kaiju films along with these seems a little far-fetched -- a Godzilla collection made obvious commercial sense given the strong name recognition, and the brand's pop culture impact more than justified it in terms of Criterion's ostensible "mission." Criterion pursuing loads of other lesser-known kaiju films makes less sense along both of those lines, and veers into fan wishlist territory imo. It would be cool to see them do it, maybe bringing more attention and consideration to these films, but to tell you the truth, I don't think Criterion is really that kind of advocate for films disregarded by cinephiles, so much as curators of a nebulous existing canon. I don't think that's how they approach their physical output, anyway. You see more of that effort to kind of use their credibility to boost deserving but lesser-known films on their streaming platform.

I think we're more likely to see eventual releases of Rodan and War of the Gargantuas than another pass on the Godzilla films. Rodan in particular was a bigger hit in the US when it came out than one might assume from how well it's seemingly remembered today. In both cases, I suspect the US versions would be the big stumbling block, and might account for why we haven't seen releases of these already -- the commercial success of the US cut of Rodan would not only merit its inclusion but make it an especially glaring omission from any edition that didn't feature it, and it would be strange to release a kaiju film that prominently features an American star without the one version where his voice is used.
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Re: Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

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im honestly fine with a barebones release of all godzilla films in 4k in the US, using good masters if it comes to that. cheaper too then the import and japan pricing option
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Re: Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

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Has there been anymore news/info on the 4k broadcasts?
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Re: Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

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GodzillaFan1996 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 7:32 pm Has there been anymore news/info on the 4k broadcasts?
Other than the airdates being updated monthly, no real in-depth news has been posted since this article.

Here's a small comparison I found of the color balance between the 2016 and 2021 standard HD broadcasts of KKvsG.
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Re: Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

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Cool. While it’s tough to make an accurate judgement based on small, compressed images viewed on my phone screen, it looks like the 2021 color timing is more natural and pleasing overall. Not that the earlier version looked bad by any stretch of the imagination.
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Re: Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

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This article was posted earlier in the thread, with a rough summary. After finding out about DeepL Translator and its more readable results than Google Translate, I decided to run the whole article through DeepL and post it. DeepL still has some quirks in use, like occasionally skipping whole sentences or repeating them, so I had to go paragraph-by-paragraph, and even line-by-line in some case. Any errors in clean-up are mine; mods, feel free to re-shuffle this post if needed, since it's such a huge wall of text.

(interviewer questions are in italics)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Interview
The "scariest picture quality ever" is not an exaggeration!
"Banned negatives and lost trailers: the secret story behind the making of 4K Godzilla is the archaeology of Godzilla movies"

Editor: Tatsuya Matsunaga

March 06, 2021
Japanese Movie Channel" and "Japanese Movie + Period Drama 4K" will start special feature broadcasts of "Godzilla" series 4K digital remastering for 8 consecutive months, starting with "Godzilla (1954)" (4K digital remastering version) on Saturday, March 6. Godzilla (1954)" on Saturday, March 6.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend a preview of "Godzilla (1954)" (4K digitally remastered version), which I had already heard about on this site. It's always a good idea to let people know that you like this kind of stuff.

I watched this film on the screen in the screening room of the Tokyo Development Center in Chofu, and honestly speaking, I couldn't believe it. I can't believe it. I can't believe it at all! I was terrified. I even felt guilty that no money was exchanged to watch the film, even though it was a preview. You want to pay for something good, don't you?

The first Godzilla was a black-and-white film with an inexplicable eeriness to it that only comes from its black-and-white presentation, so perhaps this is an inappropriate analogy, but the image looks as if it has been "stripped of its color. I wondered what kind of ingenuity was used to make a film shot 67 years ago look this good, without any of the shaking of the frame that is typical of films from this era.

More than two weeks after the screening, I visited the Tokyo Labo again and spoke with Mr. Toshifumi Shimizu, the sales representative, and Mr. Hayato Komori, the technical coordinator.

With Mr. Yuki Sanpei, the programming director of the Nippon Eiga Channel, we asked about the actual state of the remastering work of the Godzilla series, including the first Godzilla, and the "Godzilla" series 4K digital remastering of the most horrible picture quality for 8 consecutive months. Godzilla fans can't take their eyes off the restoration work and the "restored original trailer" that will be shown for the first time in this special broadcast.

This 4K version is the result of the work done seven years ago.

In the 4K digitally remastered version of "Godzilla (1954)," I was impressed by the vividness of the "first Godzilla" that I had never seen before. I think the "First Godzilla" was restored as the "60th Anniversary Digital Remastered Version" in 2014. What kind of new work was done on the 4K digitally remastered version compared to the 60th anniversary digitally remastered version?

Komori: In the "60th Anniversary Digital Remastered Version", the scanning of the film material was done in 4K, but everything after scanning was done in 2K. In this "4K Digital Remastered Version", everything from scanning to restoration, grading, and mastering was done in full 4K from in to out.

Shimizu: This time, we used the same 4K scans that were used for the 60th Anniversary Digital Remastered version, so we did not re-scan the film. We didn't re-scan the film this time. However, all the re-grading work was done from scratch.

Komori: Because it's an old work, the first Godzilla has a lot of scratches and deteriorates badly, so it's a lot of work, but I asked the departments in charge to work on it like, "Sorry, one more time! (laughs).

If the scanned material is the same as the "60th Anniversary Digital Remastered Version," does that mean that you didn't do the same kind of "first goji" film search that you did for the last 4K scan?

Shimizu: It would be best if we had the original negatives (the original film that was exposed and attached to the camera for shooting), but the original negatives are flammable film...it's called nitrate film, and it's now considered a dangerous material. If you set it on fire, it will instantly burst into flames, and even if you put it in water, it won't go out...it's like an explosive. Toho replaced all of them with nonflammable films in the 1970s and disposed of the originals. In fact, there were several types of film that had been replaced, and we had to sort through them during the production of the "60th Anniversary Digital Remastered Version". The master was created by scanning the best of them and bringing in the missing parts from other materials.

Komori: I did not participate in the film selection process seven years ago. My predecessors at the time did the hard work, and I took over (laughs). (Laughs) As a result, we were able to find one that was in good condition, so we didn't have to do that for the 4K digitally remastered version of Godzilla (1954).

Shimizu: Incidentally, Komori was in charge of the grading for the 60th Anniversary Digital Remastered version, and he is the one who made the film beautiful by adjusting the color and exposure.

Komori: To this day, it has successfully fulfilled its mission as the "first Goji" with the highest image quality (laughs).

I see! I thought you were searching for the film again for the production of the 4K digital remastered version. Strictly speaking, I think this was done for the 60th Anniversary Digital Remastered Version, but may I ask you a bit more about the master production process?

Shimizu: Of course. Before I talk about the selection of the film from which the 4K scans of "First Goji" were made, let me explain how it works step by step. First of all, the nature of film is such that duplicating a negative results in a positive, and duplicating a positive results in a negative.

In order to make a film for screening that has positive attributes, a master positive is made from the original negative for preservation. From the preserved positive film, a negative film is created that will be the parent of the film for screening. The negative film that is made for duplication is called a dupe negative. By duplicating these negatives, the positive films, commonly called prints, that were distributed to theaters for screening are completed. There are many films that use the original negatives to make prints directly for screening, but the relationship between positives and negatives is as described above.

A search conducted during the creation of the 60th Anniversary Digital Remastering revealed that there were three types of film left over from the first Goji: the master positive, the dupe negative, and the 'banned' dupe negative, enough for an entire movie.The closest thing to the original negative, which was destroyed because of its flammability, was the master positive that came from it! However, after examining the information engraved on the film, it was discovered that the "master positive" was a duplicate of the "dupe negative" found with it! This means that it cannot be treated as being close to the original in terms of generation.

I was afraid to use the "Prohibited Dupe Negative," which had a large "Prohibited" sign on the front of the film can, because I didn't know why it was banned, but when I opened the lid, I found that the contents were in very good condition, even though it was banned. And as I looked into it, I found that this film was closer to the original in terms of generation.

So, when we find out why it is forbidden to use, it seems that it is because some of the rolls have scratches in them. On the other hand, if there are no scratches on the rolls, then it's okay to use them, so I used the above "banned" dupe negative as a base, and took the missing parts from the other dupe negative and the master positive, and edited them into one roll.

Komori: By looking at the edge of the film, you can tell what year it was made and the generation of the film. From there, I searched for the most original film, the one closest to 1954 when the film was released.

Shimizu: According to the edge information, the "dupe negatives" are from 1955 or 75, but I guess they are from 75. The 'banned' dupe negative is from 1973. And the oldest "Master Positive" was from 1983! This happens so often that when we start to digitize any title, we start by examining all the existing films.

Next Page: The ultimate goal is to achieve "the picture and sound of the original negative and first preview.

Restoration work in 4K to a high level of perfection.

You're doing what seems like a pretty tremendous amount of work on each title...!The concept of the "60th Anniversary Digital Remastered Version" was to "aim for the image and sound of the original negatives and first previews when the film was released." What was the image creation goal for the full 4K "First Goji," which uses the same materials?

Shimizu: We proceeded with the concept of getting closer to the "original negative, the picture and sound of the first preview" with a higher quality. Last time, we had done the images in 2K size, so there was a part of me that thought, "Maybe if we had done it in 4K then, we wouldn't have had this trouble" (laughs). (laughs) But it's also true that it was difficult to do it in 4K at the time.

Komori: For example, due to the specs of the equipment used, there are problems such as the amount of data handled not being able to run in real time. It is difficult to check the the flickering of the screen that occurs within a single cut that occurs on film unless the speed is constant. I am proud to say that it was only through the accumulation of the current technology and the experience of the technicians based on the previous project that we were able to bring it to the high level of perfection in this remaster.

I heard that you remastered the 60th Anniversary Digital Remastered version from the same scanned material, but did you restore the 4K digitally remastered version while comparing them?

Shimizu: It was partly because we started from scratch, but also because the "60th Anniversary Digital Remastered Version" that Komori worked on was very well received by fans. With the proposition that we need to go beyond this, we are comparing scenes and saying, "This is how we did it before, but this time we are going to take a different approach," by restoring and grading various parts.

However, the restoration team has worked on the original Godzilla many times, first on the video software, then on the broadcast master, then on the 60th anniversary digital remastered version seven years ago... and now on the full 4K version. I'm sure you remember which scene has what kind of scratches on it.

In fact, I think it went pretty smoothly this time because of this accumulation. Every time I work on a project, I often worry about "how to fix this", but this time, I felt that I was able to do it quite smartly because I had accumulated a lot of technical knowledge up to this point.

However, with 4K output, the picture looks more detailed than ever before. This makes it possible to see scratches and dust on the film that were not visible before (laughs). (laughs) Small scratches and dust will come out, so I think that was the hardest part of the restoration process.

The effects of 4K vary depending on the production period of the movie.

Thank you very much for this valuable story. Thank you very much for your precious story. This episode really shows the difficulty in handling the increased amount of information in 4K...! In the midst of all this, there are seven films that are being released in 4K for the first time, which is an exciting development for fans.

Mihei: The selection of the lineup was based on discussions among three companies: Nippon Eiga Hoso Kyokai (Nippon Eiga Hoso Kyokai), Toho (the rights holder), and Togen (Tokyo Development Center), which is responsible for the actual work. This is the background of our decision.

In addition, "Godzilla vs. Biollante," which won the first place in the fan vote in the "Godzilla General Election" event held by our company in the past, is a relatively recent work in the Godzilla series, but we decided to include it in this lineup based on the results.

Shimizu: You mentioned about the effects of 4K, and we were able to find out which films looked the best when we aired the "Godzilla 4K Project" in 2014. Godzilla 4K Project" broadcast in 2014, in which famous scenes from all the titles released at the time were converted to 4K for one minute. That's from "King Kong vs Godzilla" to "Godzilla vs Hedorah" in this lineup.

This is partly a guess, but the film used to shoot these films was relatively low in sensitivity and had a fine grain. Because of the low sensitivity, it is difficult to capture images in dark areas, so the photos were taken with a lot of lighting and the camera's f-stop stopped down to the aperture. Therefore, the low sensitivity of film allows for beautiful images to be preserved.

Later, with the evolution of film, highly sensitive films were introduced. As an analogy, if you take a video shot in a dark place and brighten it up, the whole image will look rough. This is how high-sensitivity film becomes a little rough. In the Heisei era, highly sensitive films are used, so it is easier to shoot without much lighting, but the information remaining on the film is actually rough.

We were asked by Toho and Nippei (Japan Film Broadcasting Corporation), "What kind of films would you like to see? So, we chose films from the Showa era that would be highly effective in 4K, that we thought would please the fans, and that would look good in 4K.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the release of "Godzilla vs Hedorah. We thought, "Why not remaster it in 4K to commemorate the 50th anniversary," and since the film has many psychedelic images that reflect the era in which it was released, we thought the colors would look good in 4K. This is the reason why we recommended the film to you.

I wonder if the inclusion of "Godzilla vs. Hedorah" in the 4K lineup is a request from the field side...!

Shimizu: "I'd love to see it! I said (laughs). (laughs) It will be the 50th anniversary of Hedorah, so please promote it, Nippei!

Next Page: A closer look at the 4K version of the films screened at the Toho Champion Festival

The lineup focuses on films from the Showa era, but I was a little sad to see that my favorite films, "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla" and "Mechagodzilla Strikes Back," were not included this time...

Shimizu: Please take that as a good sign that this project was a great success and that you are leaving it for when Mr. Nichiei comes back with "Let's do the second one! (laughs).

As for "Godzilla vs. Biollante," which may be of interest to people of all ages, apart from the fact that it's a popular movie, it's also a challenge for us to see how far we can push the "rough picture quality" that I mentioned earlier. We will be working on it from now on, but we would like to start working on it so that it can be developed in the future.

Thank you very much! Now that you mention the process, is the 4K conversion process being done for each film? Also, please tell us about the order of the titles you are working on and the overall progress.

Shimizu: The remastering work is being done one by one, in the order of broadcast. We are currently restoring and grading Mothra vs Godzilla.

In addition to "Mothra vs. Godzilla," there are other titles in the lineup for which the original negatives do not exist in their entirety. In what form will these films be remastered in 4K for the full-length version?

Shimizu: Of the films in our lineup, there are three for which the abridged version is the original negative: "King Kong vs Godzilla," "Mothra vs Godzilla," and "The Great Monster War. For "Mothra vs. Godzilla" and "The Great War of Monsters," which will be converted to 4K for the first time, we will use the original negatives of the abridged versions as a base, and fill in the missing parts from the existing master positives.

Therefore, we are in the midst of a challenge to see how far we can push the differences in image quality due to differences in the materials used, and we are doing our best to avoid any sense of discomfort. I think it would be good to have a completely uniform picture quality by remastering using the full-length master positive, but I wanted to show the power of 4K for the parts that have the original negative.

It's no longer just an archeology of the history of Godzilla movies: The secret story behind the restoration of the original "First Look" trailer

As a special effects fan, I'm very happy to hear that you've given us a story that we can more than enjoy the broadcast of, even if we just follow the episodes up to this point! On the other hand, is there any point that you would like to emphasize? On the other hand, if there is anything that you would like to emphasize, please let me know.

Shimizu: Actually, not only the film, but also the trailer was all done in 4K.

Mihei: We asked Togen to convert the original trailers for the eight films in this lineup into 4K. Currently, the trailers for broadcast movies, or in the case of March, the first Godzilla, are shown as promos during the interval between broadcast slots. In March, the first Godzilla trailer is shown as a promo during the interval between the two slots, and the trailer for the next month's broadcast is also shown after the main program. After watching the main program, users can enjoy the original trailer of the next month's program.

Was the remastering of the trailer done in conjunction with the film?

Shimizu: The 4K remastering of the trailers and the delivery of the film have all been completed. By the way, about the Godzilla trailers, there were no original trailers left from that time, but we worked tirelessly without sleep to restore all the trailers to the way they were when they were first released in theaters for this broadcast (laughs).

When you say "restore the trailer," what exactly did you do?

Shimizu: To be more specific, for "Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster", "Invasion of the Astro-Monsters", and "Destroy All Monsters", the only thing that remained was the preview film for the Toho Champion Festival. We wanted to somehow restore them to their original titles when they were first released in theaters, and at first we had to transcribe the titles based on materials left behind by fans of the time. However, that alone is not enough, I asked them to search all over the film center to see if there were any trailers from that time lying around in Toho's film center. We asked them to search all over the film center and send all the existing Godzilla trailer films to us. And then...

We were able to find the original trailer film, which had been shown at an event in the 1980s and was thought to have disappeared after that!

When I hear about the restoration, the search, etc., it's like archaeology anymore....

Shimizu: Yes (laughs). Once that happened, we scanned the found film, had our compositing team extract the text data, and replaced it with the current trailer. So after the process of fitting the trailer to the current trailer, the original 4K trailer was completed! It was really like doing archeology, and the facts that were commonly believed were turned upside down, and the film that was made based on the materials left by the fans at that time was also completed, but I heard that something was found at the film center, so I bowed to the compositing team and said, "Excuse me. Please do it again! (laughs).

When we checked the film, we found that even if the title had not been changed, the Toho logo was not the same as when the film was released, but had been updated, and the phrase "coming soon" was missing. For this part, we found an unaltered film in the negative warehouse. By replacing materials as necessary, we were able to completely recreate the "original trailer of the time"!

For "Ghidorah" I thought I could just replace the text, so I pulled the old text data and put it on the current trailer. However, when I compared them, I noticed that there were about two cuts where the images were different. In the existing "Toho Champion Festival" version, Godzilla is throwing a rock with one hand, but when I saw the original trailer, I realized that Godzilla was throwing the rock with both hands! It was a series of discoveries that I thought I'd get that from the old one too (laughs).

That's a lot of hot drama in a trailer that's about a minute and a half net!

Shimizu: We started out with a light-hearted idea of "I want to try restoring it," but it turned out to be quite a heavy work, so we are very happy that the trailer will be aired after the main feature. Many fans have probably only seen the trailers at the Toho Champion Festival, and there is a "legend" that you could see the trailers at a screening event held in the 80s. The original trailers have never been covered, so I guess you could say this is the first time we've seen them.

I was able to fully feel the enthusiasm of the production side, which made me want to subscribe to the Japanese Film Channel just from that story alone!

Komori: For me, as the person in charge of the work, the feeling of having to keep making corrections every time I found a new material was like "entering a complicated maze. I couldn't see any way out (laughs). (laughs) As Shimizu said earlier, some of the titles had been changed, so I was trying to figure out which was which as I worked. It was like, "Which one are you talking about, 'Godzilla Dengeki Daisakusen' (retitled 'Kaiju Soshingeki')? Or something like that.

I mentioned earlier that I collected prints as reference materials, but the older ones had already deteriorated to a bright red color, so it was difficult to use them directly. I was able to get around this by extracting the titles, etc., and for some cuts I was able to restore them to a point where they were comparable to the original using color correction.

Shimizu: It's a short video, but it's something that fans will want to watch from cover to cover.

Komori: I hope you won't underestimate it just because it's a preview (laughs).

Next Page: What are the highlights of the 4K remastered version of "First Goji" that is finally about to be broadcast!

The highlight is "All of it! I want you to feel the power of film by moving back and forth between frames.

Excuse me for one last question on the first Godzilla. Are there any scenes that you had a hard time with in the 4K adaptation of the first Godzilla, which will be aired for the first time on March 6 (Saturday), or any particular scenes that you put a lot of effort into during the restoration and would like people to pay attention to when it is aired?

Komori: There is no specific point of interest. Restoration is a whole film, so it's all about the restoration. Minor scratches that run across the entire film are also a concern, and where frames are missing, we try to make up for it by looking at the back and forth movement as much as possible. I also corrected for "warping" that was occurring throughout the film due to its age.

Shimizu: The biggest difference between the 60th Anniversary Digital Remastered version and the 4K Digital Remastered version is the removal of flickering. Last time, Komori did his best frame-by-frame removal, but we couldn't keep up in some areas. The 4K digitally remastered version is a classic film, but thanks to the hard work of the restoration team in removing the flickering, it has become very easy to watch even today, and you can easily get into the story. We are very glad that we took on this challenge.

Thank you very much for the episode that makes me understand how you can say "all" in terms of the points of difficulty and highlights!

Shimizu: If I may be so bold, I would like you to watch the film in "frame-by-frame" since the restoration work was done in 4K this time. You can read the letters on the billboard in the scene where Godzilla goes through the streets of Ginza, and although it was possible to read the letters last time, you can now read the letters in the newspaper article more clearly in the cut where it is inserted. It is not a remaster from the original negative, but I think you can feel the power of the film.

In addition, "Godzilla" series 4K digitally remastered in the most horrible quality for 8 consecutive months" except for "King Kong vs. Godzilla," will be the first 4K versions of the films, so I hope you will enjoy the differences compared to the films you've seen before.

Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to help us out!
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John Schuermann
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Re: Toho's Godzilla 4K Restoration Project

Post by John Schuermann »

Joseph Goodman - thanks so much for taking the time to translate and post all that. Terrific stuff.

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