My colleagues Greg Kintz, Jack Theakston and I recently had the pleasure of visiting with
Ned Price, Vice President of Mastering at Warner Bros. in Burbank.

Mr. Price kindly answered some questions on the new restoration of HOUSE OF WAX.

Ned Price and Bob Furmanek at Warner Bros.

BF: The restoration is outstanding. We've seen many 3-D versions of this film over the past 33 years and have never seen it look this good. Kudos to you and your team!

NP: Thank you, that’s very generous.  Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging is part of our Technical Operations research and development team, so they are able to build tools as needed for the different challenges we meet in restorations.  Colorist Janet Wilson does the heavy lifting on the majority of our restoration projects, she is extremely patient and diligent in working with these titles.  Janet also worked on the 3D “Dial M for Murder” restoration and the “Wizard of Oz” 3D conversion. 

BF: Can you briefly explain the process of scanning from the YCM elements and how Motion Picture Imaging approached this restoration?

NP: We completed 4k scans of the 3-strip positive protection masters (YCM’s) for both left eye and right eye negatives for a total of 6-reels of film to restore the 3-D color composite image.  The 6-layers of film were composited and aligned, using proprietary software to create a perfectly registered color image (the individual YCM records had shrunken independently of each other so they would no longer align using traditional photo-chemical restoration methods.  The color composite images were then digitally processed to minimize color breathing (inherent in original processing of the YCMs). 

BF: We understand the original camera negative was inadvertently damaged by an outside laboratory many years ago. Can you tell us what happened?

NP: The original camera negative sustained water damage and were rewashed in a lab in an attempt to save them.  Unfortunately the rewash was unsuccessful and the original camera negatives for both eyes were destroyed.  Fortunately, Warner Bros. had manufactured YCM separation master positives at Technicolor, which were made extremely well and provided the quality you will see on the Blu-ray. 

BF: What aspect of the 3-D restoration was the most challenging for your team, ie: left/right panel matching, alignment, convergence etc?

NP: The most challenging aspect was for Janet to match in both right and left eyes.  This is a long and eye fatiguing process as of course, Janet had to color correct wearing 3D glasses. 

BF: We've noticed a few very brief alignment issues which were errors in principal photography. They have been part of the film since 1953. Was there any thought of fixing those shots for the restoration?

NP: We decided to retain alignment of the original photography.  The moments were very brief and we decided not to touch them, we would have reworked the shots had there been more sustained errors. 

BF: We know the original fourth effects channel is the original from 1953. Can you tell us what materials were used by Chace for the new audio mix and is there any hope the Warnerphonic tracks may still survive? 

NP: Rear horn contains a different mic placement in the main title sequence.  I do not know how the rear horn was derived from the original Warnerphonic track.  I never give up hope in finding missing elements.  It’s possible that a copy of the Warnerphonic track might turn up in Europe. 

BF: Warner Bros. owns more vintage 3-D films than any other studio, including the MGM and RKO libraries. Are there plans to restore any other 3-D titles in the near future?

NP: We completed preservation on all the 3D features, shorts and animated titles.  Elements are all prepped for restoration, but there is nothing in the cue at the moment.  I’m hoping consumer response to “House of Wax” Blu-ray will encourage our sales divisions to pursue additional titles.  I think the success of “Wizard” 3D conversion will also help us to release native 3D classic titles. 

BF: Thank you for your time, it is very much appreciated.

NP: Thank you Bob, come back and visit again soon.