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BBC Digitally Restores Churchill State Funeral

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BBC Studios and Post Production’s Digital Media Services team has digitally restored footage Winston Churchill's state funeral to mark the 50th anniversary of the former Prime Minister's death.

As part of a commemorative series of shows commissioned by the BBC, the footage of Churchill’s funeral was re-transmitted at 09:15 on Friday 30 January to coincide with the exact time that it was broadcast 50 years ago in 1965.

Broadcast to over 350 million homes across Europe, the footage begins with the funeral cortege and takes in London’s cityscape from the Houses of Parliament to St Paul’s. The film then shows the final procession down the Thames to Waterloo, where the coffin is carried onto the funeral train to Handborough, near Bladon.

Charles Tugendhat, Director of Digital Media Services at BBC Studios and Post Production, said: "It’s an honour to continue to remaster historically important content and we add Sir Winston Churchill’s state funeral to the restoration of the Queen’s Coronation and the digitisation of WW1 film footage for the Imperial War Museums. It’s always a real privilege to be ensuring British heritage is future-proofed for generations to come."

BBC Studios and Post Production’s Digital Media Services’ colourist Harvey Williams worked from the fourteen original 35mm film reels, with the overall restoration taking a total of five days.

With the footage split across numerous reels, the first process was to join the film up invisibly to give a seamless result. The film was then manually cleaned and transferred to HD using a Spirit telecine machine.

Mr Williams worked frame-by-frame in Nucoda FilmMaster and DustBuster to grade and clean the footage.

For the sound, a high pitched whistle that occurred through much of the material (due to the nature of the recording) was addressed and reduced. The final task was to sync up the audio with the picture as the originals reels did not match.


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