Case Studies

Past projects IMAGICA Lab. has serviced

Digital restoration of Momijigari : Important Cultural Property

Momijigari (1899) became the first film to be named the National Important Cultural Property of Japan in 2009.
IMAGICA Lab. was responsible for digitally restoring the entire film from duplicated nitrate negatives which the film itself was specified as the important cultural property; under the supervision of the National Film Archive of Japan.



Pre Restoration Post Restoration
befor after

provided by: National Film Archive of Japan


Highest priority for this project was to not damage this very delicate, important cultural property. The goal of the restoration was to reproduce the same footage as when it was released; while recognizing the delicacy of the process.

Digital restoration and separation master of Ginrin, a milestone in Japanese Experimental Film history

Ginrin (1955) is an early notable works by Toshio Matsumoto, a pioneer in Japanese experimental films. IMAGICA Lab. worked on its digital restoration and creating a separation master for the purpose of deep archiving.



We created the separation master utilizing a color management system developed in-house by IMAGICA Lab.. The film was digitally restored to accurately reproduce the fading colors to film, DVD and other media under the supervision of the director himself.

ginrin_01 ginrin_02

provided by: National Film Archive of Japan

Post Restoration
Digital restoration on two of the oldest animation films, Namakura Gatana and Urashima Taro

  Film Tinting ©IMAGICA WEST

Film Tinting ©IMAGICA Lab.

The very first Japanese silhouette animation was released in 1917; same year as Namakura Gatana was released and Urashima Taro, the following year. IMAGICA Lab. worked on digitally restoring and tinting these films with the support of Mr. Natsuki Matsumoto, who discovered these animations that physically exists today.



These films were digitally restored by first creating an intermediate film via wet processing as they were tinted. After digital restoration, we transferred to film and tinted using an in-house developed tinting machine. We continuously evolve our workflow to match the need for each film; collaborating the traditional, hands-on analog ways and the latest, digital technological way.

We researched and reported on the digitization of the old recording and archival footage we have worked on, to the National diet library on 2008.

The researched media were:

  • Audiovisual documents
  • Cassette tapes
  • Open reel tapes (6mm magnetic tapes)
  • VHS videos
  • Betacams
  • U Standards
  • Laser disks
  • VHD
  • 16mm films
  • 8mm films

We reported our quantitative and qualitative results and observation on digitizing the media listed above, in changing its sampling frequencies and file formats. The report was released on the National diet library’s website.


At IMAGICA Lab., we are accustomed to transcoding in various formats of audiovisual media other than what is listed above. Please inform us of any request for digitization, duplication, migration, etc… Feel free to contact us for consultation on which format should the media be archived as, or any questions about media in an unknown format.

Creating 35mm film from small gauge films (property of Art Research Center at Ritsumeikan University)

We created 35mm duplicates from 8mm films by Etona Eiga-sha, as well as 9.5mm home movies owned by the Art Research Center at Ritsumeikan University.


We create prints for screening along with intermediate film by thoroughly inspecting the film for its condition to confirm it can endure the process; restore necessary areas and utilising equipment strictly controlling the focus and framing. After experimenting and deliberation, we have decided to perform the blowup while keeping the perforations in the center area of the 9.5 films in the picture to preserve as much visual information as possible.


“Toy Film Project” (Osaka University of the Arts)

Our experienced technicians have duplicated over 900 of so-called “toy films” since 2003 requested by the “Toy Film Project”. The process involved creating safety film (creating duplicate negatives and positives for screening) and telecine.



These toy films have been severely damaged over the years as most of them were created prior to the Pacific War. The crucial process in creating the safety film from these material involved physically repairing the degradation. We were successful in restoring polished films by thoroughly repairing with care and filling tiny scratches on the original material by wet processing to create the intermediate film.

Digitally restored films by IMAGICA;

  • Wasei kenka tomodachi (1929; Dir. Yasujiro Ozu) Restored in 2003
  • Zanjin Zanba Ken (1933; Dir. Daisuke Ito) Restored in 2003
  • The Water Magician (1933; Dir. Kenji Mizoguchi) Restored in 2004
  • Namakura Gatana (1917; Dir. Junichi Terauchi) Restored in 2008
  • Urashima Taro (1918; Dir. Seitaro Kitayama) Restored in 2008
  • Momijigari (1899; Dir. Tsunekichi Shibata) Restored in 2010
  • Ginrin (1955; Dir. Toshio Matsumoto) Restored in 2010
  • The Sun in the Last Days of the Shogunate (1957; Dir. Yuzo Kawashima) Restored in 2011
  • Carmen comes home (1951; Dir. Keisuke Kinoshita) Restored in 2012
  • Cruel Story of Youth (1960; Dir. Nagisa Oshima) Restored in 2014
  • Her Brother (1960; Dir. Kon Ichikawa) Restored in 2015
  • Early Summer (1951; Dir. Yasujiro Ozu) Restored in 2016
  • MOMOTARO, SACRED SAILORS (1945; Dir. Mitsuyo Seo) Restored in 2016

Examples of foreign film restorations

IMAGICA Lab. accepts archiving and restoration projects from not only within Japan but from abroad. In 2014, we established Imagica South East Asia in Malaysia; actively working on transcoding, restoration and archiving visual materials in Southeast Asia.

Restoration of King Gojong and Martyr An Jung-Geun (1959); Korean film utilizing optical work

provided by Korean Film Archive

provided by Korean Film Archive

King Gojong and Martyr An Jung-Geun (109 min), directed by Jeon chang-keun, was 5th in Korean box office the year it was released, received many awards within the country and was the most expensive production for the time.
IMAGICA was responsible for the restoration utilising optical work.



Two types of material were used from the original, 35mm and 16mm film, to create one restored film. Optical processing (compositing technique) was used during restoration due to composites that have become uncommon and certain areas were severely damaged.

Restoring Sorrowful youth (1967)

provided by Korean Film Archive

provided by Korean Film Archive

Sorrowful youth (99 min) was directed by Gang Dae-jin. It was the largest box office hit of the released year and 9th overall in the 60’s. The film was based on a novel [same titled] by Kim Raeseong published in 1953.
Yun Jeong-hee, one of the greatest Korean actresses, debuted in this film and later came to be knowns as one of the “troika,” the three-star actresses in the late 60’s. She also won the Best New Actress award at the Grand Bell Awards for this film.
IMAGICA was responsible for restoring using optical processing.



Stocks of Fujifilm and Kodak were used in the original 16mm film and was required to be processed separately due to great deterioration differences. Creating a 35mm intermediate film from the original 16mm caused an unstable picture and it became necessary to amend the printer (machine for duplication). Also, the original 16mm was scaled down from 35mm film with inappropriate shrinking process, which led us to optically composite clear edges.

Other foreign films

Restoration of Daughter of the Nile

Pre Restoration Post Restoration
©Taiwan Film Institute

©Taiwan Film Institute

A film released in 1987; directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien, known for THE ASSASSIN and Cafe Lumiere. The film won the Jury Special Prize at the 5th Torino International Festival of Young Cinema and Best Original Film Score at the 24th Golden Horse Award.
IMAGICA Lab. was responsible for scanning the original negative in 4K, digitally restoring the audiovisual and mastering in DCP.



This was our first attempt in restoring a foreign film in 4K and required long hours of hand processing due to flickering and stain throughout the film; despite its relatively new material. Noise reduction was made in audio as well along with realigning lip sync. Different office location became a challenge for us in grading; where we restored by requesting a reference print along with the direction from the cinematographer.
The restored film was screened at the Berlinale Classics (Berlin International Film Festival) in 2016.

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