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17/05/2013

BBC Studios and Post Production Restores Footage Queen's Coronation

BBC Studios and Post Production's award-winning Digital Media Services team has digitally restored the original black and white televised film footage of the Queen's Coronation, which was first broadcast on 2 June 1953. Amounting to 7 ¼ hours of coverage, the remastered Coronation will be shown in its entirety by BBC Parliament on Sunday 2 June 2013, exactly 60 years after its original broadcast. The project was commissioned by BBC Information & Archives as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Celebrations.
For the 1953 live broadcast, cameras were set up all over London for what was at the time the BBC's biggest ever outside broadcast. Working from the original 45 reels of negative black and white footage, BBC Studios and Post Production's Digital Media Services team used the latest digital systems to restore the footage. It was first ultrasonically cleaned, then transferred, digitised, graded, grain reduced and dust busted. Having been recorded in the era of 405-line analogue television and captured live on the crudest of experimental recorders, extensive correction was needed to minimise the disturbances between reels and remove many of the early electronic glitches that were inherent in the television of that time. The audio tracks were balanced to make sure the sound was brought in line with the corrected footage. The results were then transferred to modern HD videotape for future reuse.
Colourist Jonathan Wood explains: "The original images and sound were captured by filming a purpose-built monitor, which at the time was the only practical way to preserve live television broadcasts. The 35mm reels of film lasted about ten minutes each, so had to be regularly changed. This mean that a key part of the restoration was ensuring the overlaps and mid-shot joins were seamlessly. The sprocket damage and scratches were also painstakingly painted out."
He adds: "We took a lot of care to ensure that the final restored footage had the right balance between looking clean and refreshed, while retaining the essence of the day it was captured back in 1953."
"It's been a great honour for us to restore such a prestigious historic event," said Clive Hodge, Head of Digital Media Services at BBC Studios and Post Production. "Remastering the footage of the Queen's Coronation for today's digital world means it can be enjoyed by a new generation."
Earlier this month, BBC Studios and Post Production's Digital Media Services team won a 2013 FOCAL International Award for its work remastering the two landmark David Attenborough nature documentary series, Life of Earth (1979) and Trials of Life (1990).
BBC Studios and Post Production
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