Digital Restoration of Take this Hammer's Soundtrack

About This Item

In March and April of 2014, the TV Archive worked with BAFTA Award winning sound editor John Nutt on a digital restoration of Take this Hammer's optical soundtrack, to improve sound quality. The following clips offer a direct comparison between two audio tracks featuring the same segment of Take this Hammer: before and after digital restoration. The first clip's audio is taken from the original, optical soundtrack. The second clip features the digitally restored soundtrack. The full restoration will be released in DIVA soon.

John Nutt kindly provided a basic summary of his work on this restoration. The original optical soundtrack, transferred from the 16mm print to digital, had many problems. In order to increase intelligibility of the dialogue, several EQ (equalization) filters were used with different settings. Starting with a high-pass filter to remove all the low-end ‘grunge’, then several notch filters were used to remove hums, squeals and camera noise. Nutt also frequently used two different noise reduction programs, in the hope of making the dialogue more prominent. Often one or the other of two multi-channel compressors and occasionally a noise gate/limiter were used, once again to try and give the dialogue greater prominence. A program was also used to “de-click” the areas that had static or distortion. In a number of cases Nutt resorted to using iZotope’s “Spectral Repair” tool, to remove annoying problems that were not successfully dealt with previously. With all the removal of problematic sound, there was an occasional need to add a bit of “room” reverb, to make the decay of voices seem more natural. As a final step, Nutt added a very small level of continuous room tone for the interiors, and some city ambience for the exteriors. This helped smooth out the scenes that had lost much of their ambience as a result the EQ filters, noise reduction programs, compressors and limiters. Throughout the film, Nutt worked scene by scene rather than applying a continuous fix to the entire project. Every scene required different approaches, although the goal was always the intelligibility of the spoken word. Before handing the film back, Nutt spent a full day “re-syncing” every scene, after realizing that there were synchronization errors throughout, which varied considerably.

Please note: copyright to both versions of Take this Hammer is held by WNET. All rights reserved. WNET is the premier public media provider of the New York metropolitan area and parent of public television stations THIRTEEN and WLIW21. Take this Hammer (the Director's Cut) was originally produced by KQED for National Educational Television (NET) - the predecessor of WNET - and was never televised. After 15 minutes of footage was cut from the original version, a 44 minute edit first aired on February 4th 1964 at 7:30pm, on KQED Ch.9 in the Bay Area. This shorter broadcast edit was remastered by Monaco Digital Labs in 2009 and may also be viewed in DIVA.

Originally aired on
Date aired
Recording medium
16mm b&w optical sound film
Rights for this video belong to
WNET.ORG Properties LLC
Type of material
documentary film

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