Only the best movies get rereleases from Criterion, but it often takes a lot of polishing, editing, and preservation to bring older selections into the beautiful condition that viewers expect. To see a bit of that restoration process, Gizmodo dropped by the Criterion offices in New York as it was beginning work on Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent. In a video, Criterion staff describe how they take a film from negatives to a digital print. In this case, its staff had everything they needed to produce a good release: "When you can get the original negative and it's in good condition, you're in great shape," Lee Kline, a technical director for Criterion, tells Gizmodo.
There's still plenty to be done though. To start, scanning the negatives at 2K resolution is a two-day process — scanning negatives at 4K resolution takes closer to a week. From there, the film undergoes color correction. In the case of Foreign Correspondent, Criterion gave the film far more contrast than what came off of the negative: Criterion's staff can have a dramatic impact on the look of a film, so they study other movies by the director and cinematographer to determine just what an image is supposed to look like. They also need to edit out any damage to the film, and because sound runs alongside the filmstrip, any dirt brought in will cause shrill clicks, pops, and hisses in the movie's audio, which need to be edited out as well. To see the full process — including a look at how Criterion's famously stylish cover art is made — check out Gizmodo's full video above.