When the government-mandated switch to all-digital broadcasting begins in 2009, television and film studios will face a dilemma. Should they try to sell their vast programming libraries to networks and other media outlets in their current form, with all of their analog scars and wear and tear? Or do they find a way to restore- or even improve- the quality of those classic TV shows and films of yesteryear so they can proudly stand on their own in the brave new high-def world?
If these studio execs have any foresight, they’ll likely choose the latter, in which case we’ll be seeing Barbara Eden materialize from her magic bottle in eye-popping fashion, and Maxwell Smart’s cone of silence might get a brand new shine. There’s a lot of similar product out there waiting for its digital close-up, which is why Advanced Digital Services is on to something very big.
What’s their gig?
Advanced Digital Services, the house that Andy McIntyre built, is a 28,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility located in the heart of Hollywood. ADS operates on a 24/7 schedule, something that most convenience stores can’t even promise any more. While its core business is duplication, the company will handle any video-related project that comes its way, including, but not limited to, vaulting and distribution and, most recently, restoration.
McIntyre started as a cameraman in the early 1970s, then honed his post-production skills working in a variety of facilities. Eventually he founded AME, which became the largest video post-production facility in the world. In 1994 he opened ADS, which according to McIntyre is now "equipped with the best post-production machines in the industry- and we will make sure that it stays that way." ADS also services every format available, including new media and high definition. McIntyre adds, "We’re well prepared to shift gears as the industry shifts." In the case of its restoration business that means ADS will be looking backwards as a way to move ahead.
The Cool Factor
Jack Fleming, the company’s vice president of operations, is very passionate about the product the company delivers. Not only is it restoring Nick-at-Nite-friendly programming like All in the Family and The Jeffersons, but ADS is also resurrecting long-forgotten television programs, such as Johnny Cash’s 1970s variety show, that would have likely just disintegrated on the shelf.
The facility’s film restoration work includes the classics The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Some Like It Hot, as well as three 1920s Howard Hughes films, one of which, Two Arabian Knights, had been one of only two Oscar-winning films previously considered lost.
The Geek Factor
Ariel Ticsay, ADS’ head of restoration, will be the first to tell you there is no one quick fix in restoring these projects. Ticsay and his team use the Snell & Wilcox Archangel system, considered the state-of-the-art tool in real-time restoration.
For ADS, it’s not just about the software and systems, but also the people who operate them and whose painstaking and passionate work breathes new life into both classic and, invariably, cult-classic films and television programs. While Ticsay says that restoring all 138 episodes of Get Smart was a true labor of love, there could also come a day when ADS is confronted with a much more daunting task: restoring the entire Jerry Springer library.