How was this classic film preserved and prepared for DVD?
The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia released Jedda (1955) on DVD to present this 1950s Australian screen classic to a modern audience. Already out on video, which was generated from a new print made in 1995, Jedda has been a favourite with the public. Originally shot on Gevacolor colour negative film, Jedda was processed in England. At some stage the negative was transferred onto tri separation strips, commonly known as ‘tri seps’, which are three full versions of the film each recording a single specific colour component of the image in cyan, magenta and yellow.
These three strips are then recombined on a single piece of film stock to provide the full colour record. The advantage of tri seps is that they are printed on black and white film, which is far more resistant to fading over time. In 1995 a new negative and print were struck from the tri seps. This material was used to generate the video release, and the print was made available for cinema screenings.
In 2002 MPEG 2 encoding tests were done on Jedda and while some noise and other artefacts were expected, the test indicated a recurrent visual irregularity. It appears that only two of the tri seps have been taken in and out of each wipe or dissolve resulting in a flash of lighter colour. The flash is very obvious and recurs so frequently that it assaults the eye. With investigation it was evident that this colour change was in the negative and although visible when screened it was imperceptible and easily accommodated by the eye.
Discussions with the archive’s Preservation and Technical Services specialists and the film’s owner, Susanne Chauvel Carlsson, determined there was no evidence that the irregularity was an original defect. Because this may have been introduced at the time the new negative was struck, its removal or reduction would not affect the integrity of the original film. Restoration work was required before Jedda could be released on DVD.