Newly-restored short
that originally screened with “The Empire Strikes Back” premiered at the Mill
Valley Film Festival.

Berkeley, CA— Colorflow recently applied its color
grading expertise to a newly-restored version of Black Angel¸ a fantasy-themed short film with a Star Wars connection that was believed
lost for more than 30 years.
Black Angel was
written and directed by Roger Christian, who won an Academy Award for his work
as art director on the first Star Wars
movie, and it originally screened alongside The
Empire Strikes Back
in Australian and European movie theaters in 1980.

The film, about a medieval knight on a mystical quest to rescue
a princess, was not seen again in theaters or elsewhere, although it was
credited influencing a number of later Arthurian cinematic adventures including
John Boorman’s Excalibur and Ridley
Scott’s Legend. In addition to being
Christian’s first outing as a director (he later served as 2nd unit
director on Star Wars Episode 1: The
Phantom Menace
), the film also featured the first work of cinematographer
Roger Pratt (Harry Potter and the Goblet
of Fire
) and composer Trevor Jones (Notting
Hill
, Dark City).
Christian, who thought the film was lost, recently
rediscovered a 35mm interpositive in a vault at Universal Studios in Los
Angeles. A story about Christian’s find appeared in Wired magazine and that
caught the eye of Brice Parker, a producer at Bay Area animation specialist
Athena Studios, and David Tanaka, chair of the Bay Area Section of the Visual
Effects Society.  Parker, who also serves on the board of the Bay Area section
of VES, and Tanaka reached out to Christian with an offer to restore the film
and, when he agreed, organized a grassroots effort to get the work done.
“Everyone we talked to had either seen the article or heard about the movie,”
recalls Parker, “and they were all super interested in lending their time and
expertise.”
Athena Studios CEO John Peters donated his company’s
services for digital clean-up and restoration. EFILM, Hollywood, performed a 4K
scan of the 30-year-old interpositive, while its affiliate, Chace Audio,
transferred the optical sound negative. DI color grading was performed at
Colorflow. “We were excited to jump in and help the process,” says EFILM VP of
operations Josh Haynie, “and the relationships we formed on this project have
evolved into working relationships. So, it’s a positive all around.”
Colorflow Lead Colorist Kent Pritchett said that the film’s
unusual pedigree required that it be treated with a degree of reverence.
“Thirty years ago, when the film was made, it went through a traditional color
timing process that was obviously quite meticulous,” he recalls. “Our role was
to preserve what was there. We wanted to get the contrast right and address any
obvious flaws, but our primary goal was to maintain the integrity of what the
filmmakers were going for.”
Parker notes that the interpositive had originally been
timed under the supervision of Christian and Pratt, so it became the guide for DI
processing. “It was a great baseline to work from and it showed that the film’s
look was slightly saturated with a sepia tint,” he says. “We confirmed with
Roger that that was the look he intended and we didn’t deviate from that.”
Pritchett did apply one or two new tricks. He used his
grading tools to paint out cars briefly visible in the far distance of a few
shots. “They didn’t have that capability in 1980,” Pritchett says.
Noting Black Angel’s
connection to George Lucas and Star Wars,
Tanaka says that it was fitting that most of the restoration work was completed
in the Bay Area. “I
work around a block away from Athena Studios and around six blocks from
Colorflow,” he says. “I could walk over on my lunch hour to review the
restoration. It was a nice boost for the local film and visual effects
community.”
The restored version of Black
Angel
made its world premiere at the recent Mill Valley Film Festival.
About Colorflow
Colorflow is a
full-service post-production facility specializing in color grading for film,
broadcast and the web. The facility is 100 percent file-based and can
accommodate all camera formats, including raw camera files and uncompressed
image sequences. Its workflow is fast, modular and can be adapted to
accommodate productions of all types and scale. 
Colorflow is located in the Zaentz Media Center at 2600 10th Street,
Ste.110, Berkeley, CA 94710.
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