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The Spongebob Squarepants Movie - 35mm Re Creation

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The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie: 35mm Re Creation

Goal: To restore the theatrical presentation of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, through ‘filmizing’ the current release and preforming a shot-by-shot color retiming based on 35mm references.

Project Info: Every home release of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, since the 2005 DVD and VHS, has been sourced from a digital master, which more closely resembles that of the ongoing cartoon. The animated segments were digitally re rendered, possibly with an altered palette, and the live action segments have been noticeably retimed. The purpose of this project is to preserve the movie as it was was originally presented, on 35mm, during its 2004 theatrical run.

Source Material:

Video:

  • The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie - 2011 Blu-ray

Audio:

  • BD 5.1 Audio Track (For now)

  • Isolated Score - Custom track I intend to compile down the line

Theatrical References:

  • First Theatrical Trailer c. 2003 - an official scan from 2003 of a 35mm print, featured on Paramount’s website

  • Final Theatrical Trailer c. 2004 - an official scan from 2010 of a 35mm print, featured on Paramount’s YouTube channel

  • My own 35mm print of the final trailer, for the best possible color reference

  • The.Spongebob.Squarepants.Movie.2004.PROPER.TELESYNC.XviD-INVASi (pending)

Original first post:

I’ll preface this by saying that Paramount did a fine job on the 2011 bluray release of The Spongebob Squarepants Movie (nowadays you have to write the whole title out, to differentiate from that recent blunder I’d rather not think of). The animation is straight from the source files, looks just as it did when it was animated, and the live action segments completely retain their grain, no DNR to be found.

But in its theatrical run, it was presented on 35mm. Paramount features, on their youtube channel, the theatrical trailer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tv8xk7BKaNM), evidentially from an original 35mm print; you can clearly see constant grain and specks of dust on the frame throughout.

Point being, it’s enough proof to see just how the movie looked during its theatrical run (it seems this 2004 print was scanned for youtube in 2010, I doubt the image could have faded a great deal in that window of time). The colors are radically different, and even the movement of the animation from frame to frame feels a bit unique compared to the more familiar digital transfer, as to be expected (although I’m foreign to the technicalities of that sort of thing, I’m sure there’s an explanation someone else here can offer). It certainly retains that early 2000’s, “awkward-90’s-to-00’s” Nickelodeon appearance they quickly rid themselves of a short time later. It feels much more it’s era (if five years can be considered an era) than that of a straight 1080p re-render; despite the obvious advantage in accuracy.

I would love to see the movie just as it looked on film in 2004. Should I be the one to commence this project, my goal is to use the 2011 blu ray to recreate that exact appearance, down to the subtle back-and-forth jittering of the frame you can see exemplified in the trailer. Seeing it back in 2004 was probably one of my fondest movie-going experiences. I spent five years watching my favorite show grow and mature brilliantly, and it reached its grand finale in the form of this movie (what’s that called again? Nuh-stalj-a or something). It’s also probably the last of the fond memories I’ve harbored for Nickelodeon. Everything after that’s just kind of a blur to me.

Seeking only the most natural looking colors for Star Wars '77

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They put this on a print? I’m surprised, I thought it’d be all-digital.

Ol’ George has the GOUT, I see.

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The movie did come out in 2004. 35mm prints were still king then.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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I’ve compiled a few screenshot comparisons to better demonstrate the visual difference, especially in color. You can see that in re-rendering the movie for the Blu-ray, the frame has been considerably brightened in most every shot. Because of this, components such as the painted elements retained a greater amount of detail in the 35mm print than the current digital re-render. It wasn’t until I compiled these that I realized there were also a great deal of visual changes from this trailer to the Blu-ray as well. Given that we’re looking at the trailer, it’s unclear whether or not these changes were already present by the time of the finalized theatrical release, or were altered in post for the Blu-ray. I guess If I had a Cam Rip from 2004 I’d have a sure fire answer.

http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison/149708 (Bubbles now emerge when the door swings open)

http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison/149711

http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison/149709 (“Shell City” sign now on top of the gift shop)

http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison/149713 (Completely different render)

http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison/149704

http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison/149712

Seeking only the most natural looking colors for Star Wars '77

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I remember seeing this when I was a little kid. The coloring of the trailer is accurate to what the DVD and to what my memory serves the theater was like. I always remembered The movie had more stylistic differences in its shading and colors. I was questioning it as a kid, why they didn’t change over to that look after the movie. It looks as if they tried to alter the master for the blu ray to appear more in line with the coloring that is seen in the later seasons.

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Sorry my mistake on the dvd. I was pretty confident the dvd looked more like the 35mm trailer rather than the blu ray. It has been aired on nickelodeon a few times over the years it might have a different transfer, but I doubt it. I’m unsure of any pan n scan copies I have only seen it in widescreen.

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i have a pan and scan copy of the film. its the same as the dvd!

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Fortunately, I’ve found two 35mm trailers for sale. One is the original, american trailer, and the other is a German dub. As long as the color timing is consistent I’m not really concerned with the audio. Which to you think is the better option?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/SPONGE-BOB-SQ-PANTS-MOVIE-35mm-trailer-Film-Cell-Theater-Preview-SCOPE-animate-/262091068381?hash=item3d05d853dd:g:4dcAAOSwMmBV3eo7

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Kino-Der-Spongebob-Schwammkopf-Film-35-mm-35mm-Film-Kinotrailer-Movie-N36-/111743558046?hash=item1a046f619e:g:lf4AAOSwHnFVzf1F

Seeking only the most natural looking colors for Star Wars '77

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get the scope one. it’s the better choice in my opinion!

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Probably the safer option, I agree. I bought the Scope print a little while ago, so soon enough I’ll have a solid color reference to work with. It’d be interesting to see how well the timing carries over when I match a direct frame scan at 1800 dpi or so to an uncompressed blu ray frame. Most likely I’ll wind up using Dr_Dre’s fantastic color tool to do this.

Seeking only the most natural looking colors for Star Wars '77

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Minor update:

The SCOPE print came in the mail a short while ago. While I haven’t had a chance to properly scan it, I did open the reel to skim the frames and observe to color timing. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

It is the same trailer that Paramount features on YouTube. Despite this, the grading isn’t consistent with either their scan of the trailer nor the Blu-ray/previous home releases. Some shots are more partial to the Blu-ray’s colors, others are definitive proof that the Blu-ray is largely inaccurate.

When comparing my print to Paramount’s scan, it looks as if there is a general blue tint in the Paramount YouTube upload; the exterior shots of Bikini Bottom are the most indicative of this. Conversely, live action shots in the SCOPE print are a lot more green compared to any other release I’ve seen, to my recollection.

So at this point I’m going to have to go off of Both Paramount’s scan of the trailer and my own personal copy as references, despite their contradictions. What I really need at this point is a Cam rip of the film, which I’m sure exists but is currently nowhere to be found online. With that I’d be able to find a compromise for the grading on some of the more questionable shots.

Seeking only the most natural looking colors for Star Wars '77

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It would seem that it’s been color timed to maybe fit better with the cartoon than a big screen production for the Bluray … which is certainly a bummer for fans of actual film.

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http://www.paramount.com/movies/spongebob-squarepants-movie

Another great reference. Definitely a 35mm transfer and damning evidence that the movie was drastically re timed for home releases.

There isn’t a blue shift in this trailer, compared to the YouTube one, though the contrast nothing like the former. Still, the colors in this trailer are a lot more reminiscent of my print, so I think I’m getting just a bit closer here.

What’s interesting to note is that this trailer is a advertisement for the DVD & VHS releases, but looks nothing like them.

I’m left with alot of questions though. For instance, I’ve no clue what to refer to for the shot below; not only are the colors completely different in all three cases, but the visuals appear to be from three seperate stages of production:

Paramount Website:

Paramount Youtube:

Current (DVD):

Seeking only the most natural looking colors for Star Wars '77

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you found a CAM RIP? can you give a link to me? i can’t download it at all

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I’m 99% sure they just put a filter on it for the trailer. I remember the trailers having the look present in your pictures, but the movie to my knowledge always looked how it does on the Blu-Ray.

The real changes like the palette on Plankton’s close up were either made to be different in the trailer or not finished yet. Not sure why they ditched the red and went with the normal palette there, but I’m almost positive the red palette was not in the movie.

Edit: I made a thread on a SpongeBob forum I’m on about it. I could be remembering wrong, so we can see how other members remember it.

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Is the score you are using the promotional score CD released by Gregor Narholz? Or is it the whole movie with only the score? Just wondering as there’s been nothing I’ve ever managed to find other than rips of promo cd.

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Supmandude said:

I’m 99% sure they just put a filter on it for the trailer. I remember the trailers having the look present in your pictures, but the movie to my knowledge always looked how it does on the Blu-Ray.

See, that’s the conclusion I came to recently, going over the sources I have. Or at least, it would be, if not for the 35mm print of the trailer I own looking nothing like the scan on Paramount’s YouTube channel. Just to compare, here’s what this frame of the ‘morning routine’ sequence looks like in the YouTube trailer:

I took that frame, and in Photoshop I matched it near perfectly to the same frame on my own 35mm reel. After doing this, it was evident that Paramount’s upload had a glaring blue tint that made the frame murkier and more off-colored than it should be. Here’s what it looks like on an actual film reel, though:

Now, compare this to the Blu-ray:

Even after the correction, the colors are nothing alike. And this is from the final trailer, which was cut together only a few months before the film’s release.

Now I’m no expert on the subject (“in fact I’m not an expert on anything”), but if the digital render we have now on the blu-ray was transferred straight to film for the theatrical release, it would look much the same in color, but lacking in saturation, and duller/“dirtier” than it should appear. This is not the case.

Despite this, preview screens for one telesync from 2004 that I’ve seen prove that the blu-ray colors might not have been conceptualized only after the film’s theatrical run, and were present in some cases. So I theorize that, two separate color timings were created to accommodate for both 35mm screens and digital screens. Keep in mind, this is 2004 we’re talking about; digital theaters were very scarce and severely outnumbered, meaning a lot more people than not saw the 35mm version:

I can’t say for sure which grading came first, though; but if the goal here is to re-create what the film looked like on a 35mm print, I’d say there’s still an objective at hand. I’m fairly convinced it’s the version I saw in theaters in 2004, and the version I haven’t seen since.

Also, SBMania is a fantastic forum. I feel like I made an account there at some point, but in the mean time you could link this post, and see what they think.

Seeking only the most natural looking colors for Star Wars '77

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Tiny update:

While I’m still not really sure how to go about recreating the filmic look, I’ve discovered something quite valuable to the progression of this project. Before the theatrical release, Paramount released several high quality renders of stills from the movie to the marketing department for the German release of the film, to use for lobby cards and other general advertising. These were released publicly on December twelfth of 2004. Note that this was still several months before the first official home release. There is enough evidence to suggest that the movie’s palette was indeed changed to a noticeable degree, likely to more closely match the fourth season that was airing in between the theatrical and home releases. You can see this in one comparison here:

German publicity photo:

2011 Blu-ray (my own copy)

I could be wrong about the origins of the publicity photo, but until then I’ll take it into consideration as a reliable color source

Seeking only the most natural looking colors for Star Wars '77

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Swazzy said:

Tiny update:

While I’m still not really sure how to go about recreating the filmic look, I’ve discovered something quite valuable to the progression of this project. Before the theatrical release, Paramount released several high quality renders of stills from the movie to the marketing department for the German release of the film, to use for lobby cards and other general advertising. These were released publicly on December twelfth of 2004. Note that this was still several months before the first official home release. There is enough evidence to suggest that the movie’s palette was indeed changed to a noticeable degree, likely to more closely match the fourth season that was airing in between the theatrical and home releases. You can see this in one comparison here:

German publicity photo:

2011 Blu-ray (my own copy)

I could be wrong about the origins of the publicity photo, but until then I’ll take it into consideration as a reliable color source

Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t the pictures in the background different in the publicity photo compared to the Blu-ray?

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The shoe picture appears to be the same, but the rest are totally different.

The Drink in Question

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I noticed this as well. In the 35mm trailer the pictures are as they are in the Blu Ray, so it seems I could be wrong.

Thing is, after seeing it in the theater in '04, I never thought much of it or watched it again. My interest faded, though my friends and I enjoyed it immensely at first, when the show started to grow rotten and we all pointed to the movie as the beginning of this. I only gave it a second watch in anticipation for the new second movie (that’s a story for another time).

I remembered why I liked it in the first place, but the look of the movie didn’t match at all to my memory. Long story short, I’m in a position where my memory is the most reliable reference I have. The publicity photos look much closer to what I recall.

Again, I still own a print of Paramount’s YouTube trailer, so soon I’ll have a chance to see how it should look without an awful blue filter over it. Then I should have some concrete idea on how to properly regrade the digital master.

Seeking only the most natural looking colors for Star Wars '77