Facility completes
sparkling 2K restoration of eight seasons of the Emmy-winning series that defined
police dramas in the 1990s.

BURBANK—In a project for 20th
Century Fox spanning nine months, Roundabout
restored and remastered the first eight seasons of the classic
procedural police drama NYPD Blue. More
than 170 1-hour episodes were scanned and finished in 2K, restoring the show to
pristine quality for a new domestic release.
Created by David Milch and Steven Bochco, NYPD
became an instant hit when it debuted in 1993 and drew critical praise
for its street-level view of big city cops. Its ensemble cast, including Dennis
Franz, Jimmy Smits and David Caruso, and tense, interweaving plotlines served
as models for police dramas for years to come. The show won nine Emmys, four
Golden Globes and three Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The new restoration was created from 35mm cut negative—the
first eight seasons were shot on film—and other original elements. 2K scanning
was performed by Roundabout Colorist Juan Zorn using Lasergraphics archive
scanning system The Director.
Reassembling episodes to conform to the series’ original broadcasts
proved complicated as the cut negative often did not entirely match videotape
reference copies of what actually aired. Senior Colorist Michael Smollin, who
led the restoration project and worked on the original series in the 1990s as a
young assistant, explains that the discrepancies were the result of last minute
editorial changes.
“The producers often brought in alternate takes to be
inserted during post-production finishing,” recalls Smollin. “We’d put the new
material on a telecine and color correct it so that it could be integrated into
the video master, but those scenes were not cut back into the negative.”
Smollin and his crew found missing scenes by combing through
original production dailies. They used a Steenbeck flatbed film editing system
to view 20-year old film elements and match them against video reference. When
missing scenes were located, they were scanned at 2K, restored, color graded
and integrated into the new masters. Similarly, camera moves, resizing and
repositioning originally applied to stock images had to be recreated during the
remastering process.
All of the material underwent a scrupulous digital process
of removing dust, scratches and other artifacts conducted by Roundabout’s
restoration experts using MTI Film’s DRS Nova. During the color grading process
that followed, particular attention was given to replicating the gritty,
cinema-verite look of the series—one of its signature elements.
“Keeping the look consistent and faithful to the original
was a significant challenge,” says Zorn. “The show was meant to look
run-and-gun and some scenes were quite dark. We wanted to preserve those
moments while keeping it all in a flow and without sharp changes that might be
shocking to the eye.”
“They took a lot of risks,” agrees Smollin. “They did a lot
of exterior shooting with Steadicam. Many of the police station environments
were low light. The cinematographer was going for a natural lighting
environment. We worked hard to match that look, and once we had it, we carried
it through all eight seasons.”
Smollin says it was fun and fascinating to revisit the show
20-plus years after its debut. “Our restoration process was essentially the
reverse of what was done back then in post-production,” he says. “They started
with dailies, went to offline, then cut the negative, color corrected it on a
telecine, and finally mastered to video. We scanned first, then color
corrected, and then sent it to editorial.”
Roundabout also restored the series’ soundtrack. The
original stereo surround stems were remixed in 5.1 surround.
Both the sound and picture crews operated under a tight
timeframe. “We established an aggressive schedule in order to meet a domestic
television airdate, completing eight seasons in less than nine months,” says
Roundabout Executive Director Mastering and Restoration Ron Smith.
“It was a very collaborative project,” adds Zorn. “Our whole
team worked together and gave maximum effort to get the look right and deliver
on time.”
About Roundabout
Roundabout Entertainment is a full-service post production
facility serving all sectors of the entertainment industry. It features the
latest technology for editorial finishing, color correction, sound editorial,
sound mixing, restoration and more, and a staff of more than 80 post production
operators who are among the best and most dedicated in the industry. The
facility’s technical infrastructure includes secure servers and a 40GB,
fiber-base LAN network.
Founded in 1992, Roundabout remains a youthful, growing
company with a startup mentality. Its mission is to solve problems and produce
great work. It is committed to remaining at the forefront of technology and
building mutually fruitful, long-term relationships with it clients.

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