These 'Wizard of Oz' scenes remastered in 4K are stunning

Originally published at: These 'Wizard of Oz' scenes remastered in 4K are stunning | Boing Boing


Those are really lovely. Not a film I’ve watched that often, but these results are fantastic.


I’m unclear on what “enhancement” (if any) the poster did to these two clips. Are they just rips from the 4K UHD Blu-Ray that was released commercially several years ago?


One of my favorite aspects of this film is how the horizon backdrops looked so cartoony and whimsical. This really shows them off.

Also, does anyone else remember a weird rumor, just about the same as time the Dark Side of the Moon syncing craze, that in the scene where the Tin Woodman is revived an actor, a little person specifically, is shown hanging themselves in the background?

Yeah, it’s a goose.


The main issue with remastering this film (and many of that era) is that they were filmed in 3 strip technicolor. Which meant the 3 strips had to be merged in an analog process back in the day that wasn’t perfect. With modern computers they can scan the 3 strips separately (if they still exit) and a computer can merge them nearly perfectly, and it will look better than on the day it was new. I know they did that several years ago with wizard of oz and actually even converted it to 3D with computer imaging. I’m not sure what is new here unless someone had used AI to upscale it or something?


I saw the earlier version that was printed on Kodak Vision (Vision Premier?) stock in a theatre. I don’t think they had the original Technicolor CMY matrix separations for the whole film, but they could re-scan them from a colour print. They did not get the hallucinogenic intensity of the Technicolor reds and yellows on conventional film. This version is still limited by the colour gamut of your display, but I feel they are making a better job of getting the intense colours - they are probably stretching the gamut where they can, and squashing the colours at the gamut limits in some smooth way. You won’t get Technicolor red on your monitor, but it is the next best thing. And you can’t get the Emerald City on conventional film.

I suspect they have done the interpolation to 4K using AI. There are a lot of good techniques for doing that. Unfortunately, when you align the separations and improve the focus, you also lose the ‘nitrate-like’ soft focus that gave the dreamlike quality to the original. The backdrops become obvious. You can see the joint in the studio floor on the yellow brick road. In parts it’s not Oz, it’s the Banana Splits. You win some, you lose some.

I wanted to see if they had the scene from the Wicked Witch’s castle with the huge view over the mountains, and the flying monkeys. That looked awesome in the original, but may be an obvious matte shot in the enhanced version.

PS: see also the ‘nekkid ladies’ in ‘The Infernal Cave’. Their body stockings are obvious in the cleaned up version.


Yeah the first thing I noticed in that sample image was how obvious the prosthetic forehead line was on the lion. Ha.


The make-up still looks very good; especially the scabrous, rusty scalp on the Tinman.


I’d like to see a machine learning algorithm restore the non technicolor parts of the film-- the ‘Kansas’ sequences.

The real world wasn’t black and white back then. It was mauve and brown!


Contrarian here. These remasters actually weaken the look of the movie to me. The backdrops are more obviously paintings; the trees more obviously wooden cut-outs. The softness of film stock made it easier to suspend disbelief. Much harder to imagine a secondary world when the 4K ULTRA HIGH DEFINITION screams STAGE SET! (The only thing that works is the detail on Scarecrow and Tinnie, which jive with how such creatures would be made by early 20th century farm folk.)

I had the same problem with a 4K remaster of Star Wars’ attack on the Death Star released a couple months ago. Strong argument there that practical effects are not better than CGI. I don’t buy the argument that digital effects are “weightless” somehow, when the high resolution only emphasizes (to me) that I’m looking at kit-bashed plastic models suspended over a long table piled with styrofoam and vacuum-molded styrene or whatever.


I don’t understand… The Wizard of Oz was released commercially in 4K like three years ago. Yes, it looks lovely, which was the point of the anniversary restoration. What’s the big news here? That a guy ripped the Bluray and posted on YouTube, or that people are just noticing it was restored?

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There is a fine line between what was the original directors intent, and what any ‘restoration’ impacts the finished product.
Of course, we all want to view our favorite films as we saw them in our neighborhood cinema, or in the case of vintage classics, based upon the memory of our beloved parents or relative.

It is estimated that 35mm film has a digital resolution equivalent to 4K: 35mm Imax film equates to 6K, while 70mm Imax is closer to 12K.
As we know, movies are no longer shot on film.


Most folks know about the aluminum dust that made Buddy Ebsen sick enough to be replaced by Jack Haley, but the new version of the makeup is likely also the reason Haley’s eyes were so red during filming.

I really would have liked to see any footage or to hear any sound tape of Ebsen’s. I bet he would have nailed the part.

Looking back at many musicals from the 30s on, I think “stage set” was definitely the intention.


Well, sure, if it’s a couple dancing up a towering staircase, surrounded by an orchestra next to a fountain full of synchronized swimmers. But this is supposed to be… somewhere else, that you get to via cyclone. I can buy it when I can’t see the floor wax drying; Here I just see a dressed warehouse in Culver City.

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No film but audio and stills of Ebsen in costume.


Tinman’s Boston accent seems more clear as well

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Agree that Wizard of Oz looks better a little hazy. Disaggree re: Star Wars and CGI in general. It’s best used for backgrounds. Front and center picture elements that are CGI look like cleverly arranged flat arrays of pixels to me, and they don’t seem to be getting any better.

All kidding aside (I assume you were kidding :blush: ), given that the producers obviously had a choice between b&w and color, the use of b&w for the Kansas scenes was clearly an artistic choice. I can’t imagine films such as The Third Man, or Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, or The Spy Who Came in from The Cold as being presented in anything other than b&w.

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Color film and cameras were quite expensive. There was not a large number of color cameras available so they were used sparingly.