Behind the curtain on 'Wizard of Oz,' remastered in IMAX 3D

Prime Focus World


It’s been 75 years since "The  Wizard of Oz” made its debut on the silver screen.  Now fans can see it again on the big screen — this time in IMAX 3D.

It took 14 painstaking months to bring the beloved classic to a new dimension. The process began for Prime Focus World (the visual effects company behind the conversion) with receipt of the restored and digitally re-mastered reels of the film. Warner Bros. went all the way back to the film’s original Technicolor camera negative and performed a full photo-chemical restoration before scanning the negative and digitally restoring the picture.

"The Wizard of Oz" was set to debut Friday at the newly renovated Chinese Theater in Hollywood and will be on screens for one week only wherever IMAX is available.

RELATED: Awesome time-lapse video of Chinese Theater's IMAX transformation

KPCC interviewed Justin Jones and Chris Del Conte, two of the producers behind the 3D conversion, about what it takes to re-remaster this classic film into the 21st century. 

Q. How long was the process? How many people worked on it?

Del Conte: It was basically a 14-month process from beginning to end — us mapping out hero shots, getting the look down in terms of different depths and environments. And then from there, once the hero shots were approved, going forward and actually managing the entire show top to bottom, going from reel to reel and sequence to sequence. As far as crew...this show is definitely touched by well over 1,500 internal crew through the different steps of the process.

Q. What kind of changes will the audience see? Do we get to see the moles on the Wicked Witch of the West’s nose?

Jones:  We definitely added some exaggerated depth to features of the witch — pulled the nose, the chin, the fingers a little bit more than we normally would. It's not something the audience is going to pick up on right away but is something more subconscious that we hope is going to give her a scarier effect. And the lion's curls are more lifelike. The munchkins, we were able to make them appear even smaller compared to characters around them.

Q. Why is it running for one week only? Wouldn’t you want folks to enjoy this remastered version longer on the big screen?

Del Conte: The Blu-ray comes out at the end of the month and it's a 3D Blu-ray. And that was the original plan, but I think they really felt that, you know, what this film really needs is to be seen by an audience theatrically. They got the biggest window they could through IMAX — so don't miss it, because it's worth it.

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