In honour of Peter Kraus’ 85th birthday, one of the first major films that he principally acted, sang, and danced in has been restored: Im schwarzen Rößl am Wolfgangsee (1961) is being re-released alongside a documentary spanning his life’s work. Post-production freelancer Sebastian Sadnek (dersabe.com) has been going through this iconic film in German history, aligning missing pieces of audio and tidying up Kraus’ legacy.
GERMANY’S ANSWER TO ELVIS
As rock ‘n roll made its way through Germany, the music industry marketed Kraus as their very own Elvis Presley, quickly becoming one of the nation’s most popular singers and teen idols. In the first four years since his debut, he sold 12 million records and made 36 hits, like ‘Susi Rock’, ‘Wenn Teenager träumen’ (A Teenager’s Romance), ‘Hula Baby’ and ‘Sugar Baby’. By the late fifties, he was one of the most popular teenage film stars in Germany, alongside his female counterpart Conny Froboess, appearing in films together like Wenn die Conny mit dem Peter (1958) and Conny und Peter machen Musik (1960).
Im schwarzen Rößl am Wolfgangsee is considered to be a ‘Schlagerfilm’, a German-language musical film which includes hits and choreographed dances that sometimes make the plot recede into the background but tends to be dominated by love stories, curious confusions and comedic elements that tend to end happily. Im schwarzen Rößl am Wolfgangsee tells the tale of Eva, a dancing girl who resigns after inheriting the Palace Hotel in St. Wolfgang, but faces despair when she realises how ruined the building actually is – but Gustl, a performer in the band Weißen Rössl knows what to do…
HOW SADNEK RESTORED IM SCHWARZEN RÖSSL AM WOLFGANGSEE
Sadnek worked on this film in partnership with Lisa Film, who will celebrate their 60th birthday in 2024. Their collection of more than 300 films produced in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland has had great impact on European cinema and their stock has been distributed to Filmarchiv Austria for restoration to celebrate this.
Filmarchiv Austria digitised the film stock of Im schwarzen Rößl am Wolfgangsee for Lisa Film, which was originally mislabelled as a ‘duplicate negative’ when in fact the footage was the original 35 millimetre negative. Overall, the physical footage was in excellent condition with a few fine scratches in certain areas – “it was the best thing we could get to to start the digitisation and restoration process” said Florian Wrobel, technical director of Filmarchiv Austria. It was machine cleaned using isopropanol and digitised in 4K on a ScanStation by LaserGraphics, and some of this restoration process will be featured in the documentary.
The big challenge for Im schwarzen Rößl am Wolfgangsee was the sound. The audio was not on the original magnetic tapes so they had to use a recording copy – but these did not match up! Sadnek believes that someone in the 90s had edited parts of the film and shortened some scenes, which meant that they had to re-match everything, scene by scene. The only scenes that were safe from being cut were the musical numbers. Despite this, Sadnek now has a 91 minute feature film brought back from history.
And the best parts to restore? “It’s the musical scenes within the movie. It’s pretty hard to keep your feet on the ground when there’s rock ‘n roll music going on. You can see people enjoying the scene, the scenery, and you feel the whole vibe of this film and the intention of the film, so it was a lot of fun to actually work on those scenes.”
WHY USE PHOENIX?
Phoenix was used throughout the whole restoration process, with DVOs like Dry Clean, Dust & Fix used to create a strong foundation to work from.“With Phoenix and Filmworkz you can get perfect results with just a little bit of effort.”
The major aspect for restoring Im schwarzen Rößl am Wolfgangsee was the new DVO Frame Lock: “it was wonderful! When we started the process, the new DVO Frame Lock was not out yet and I had no clue, but then this particular DVO was just the thing we needed and suddenly it was there – it just did a great job. The results came out well after just a little bit of trying how different settings worked out. In the end it was a huge part of the whole process.”
The ease of Phoenix is one of the biggest advantages for Sadnek; “I would definitely recommend Phoenix and Filmworkz – I wouldn’t be using it if it wasn’t that easy to start with! Of course, there are many things you have to try and even more things you have to learn. I would still consider myself a newbie when it comes to film restoration even though I’ve been working on projects like this for more than five years now. I’m learning on a daily basis. Every project will get me through new opportunities, every project offers so many new challenges, and so many different approaches.”
Sadnek started his own company at 20 whilst he was still studying, and after various stints in different roles, he began working with Lisa Film, an Austrian film production company. When they decided to dispose of their magnetic tapes, 16 millimetre negatives and 35 millimetre negatives, and instead digitise all their content, Sadnek got into restoration then.
“I’ve always had this technical approach where I’m most interested in how programmes work, how algorithms work. I love experimenting with the settings, figuring out what happens if I just level it up a little bit here and a little bit there and see how the result comes out. An almost academic approach to restoration.”
TESTING OUT THE FUTURE
Sadnek has also been beta testing the new Loki 2.0 “which is a totally different approach”.
Loki 2.0 is an automated and scalable software solution to batch process film footage by addressing a wide variety of image processing tasks through the access of DVO tools.
“The new preview is a game changer. I’m very curious about the batch processes and how I can use Loki 2.0 to set up new workflows.”