When you shell out $70 later this month to purchase the new DVD box set of the original three Star Wars episodes, you can thank Lowry Digital and its 600 Power Mac G5s for the clean images you are watching on screen.
John D. Lowry and his staff of 80 employees spend their days poring over original master copies of films, many of which have sat in vaults for countless years but have nonetheless collected dirt, dust, and scratches over the years. The result can be on-screen artifacts, washed out colors, and other elements that detract from an ideal viewing experience.
Lowry, who in 1972 was hired by NASA to clean up the broadcast feeds from the Apollo 16 and 17 missions to the moon, has become the leader in the field of movie restoration in recent years. His companyis credentials include the Indiana Jones trilogy, which made him the obvious choice for LucasFilm when it began work to release Star Wars to DVD.
Using proprietary software and a computer network packing 379 terabytes of storage, Lowry begins by analyzing the film and noting its problems, then sets parameters for the restoration software, which identifies flaws and applies fixes to frames based on neighboring film frames. Lowry and his team then pore over each modified frame one by one to ensure the corrections are of the highest quality.
Those of you seeking to learn more about Lowry can turn to Tuesdayis USA Today story or a feature Apple published last year. At that time, the company employed 100 Power Mac G5 and 300 Power Mac G4 systems with 100 terabytes of storage.