Lowry Digital

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Lowry Digital
IndustryFilm restoration
FounderJohn D. Lowry Edit this on Wikidata
HeadquartersBurbank, California
Key people
John D. Lowry, founder
Ramki Sankaranarayanan, President
ParentReliance Media works (Reliance Group)

Lowry Digital is a digital film restoration company based in Burbank, California. It is a part of Prime Focus Technologies, which is a technology subsidiary of Prime Focus.

John D. Lowry gained industry recognition in 2008 for his computer-based proprietary algorithms used in the restoration of the NASA Apollo missions 16 and 17 films.[1] As of December 15, 2006, Lowry Digital had 700 Apple Power Mac G5s, a server bay with 700 terabytes of storage and two $300,000 digital motion picture film scanners. The company is becoming increasingly involved in work on digital 3-D films, such as U2 3D and Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D.[2] Lowry Digital was instrumental in adapting existing technology and developing new image processing techniques that set a new standard for 3-D in the landmark film Avatar. The Burbank, California subsidiary was lauded in helping Avatar — the highest-grossing film in history — to earn its Academy Awards for technical achievement.[3]

Lowry describes the restoration process as overcoming three obstacles: wear and tear, age, and multiple generations of optical copies. Each frame is scanned into a high-resolution digital format, where the computer first checks for standard problems like size alterations or jitter. Then the files go through the lab's render farm for speck removal, which is then eye-checked frame-by-frame. The system works natively in 32-bit floating point, can process any format like HD and 4K, and outputs to a pristine digital master. Lowry Digital’s advanced digital image processing is also used to minimize grain in image quality without losing any quality, even in modern major motion-picture releases like Miami Vice and Zodiac.[4]

On 16 July 2009, in time for the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, NASA tasked Lowry Digital to restore original video footage of the missing Apollo moon landing tapes, at a cost of $230,000. Lowry president Mike Inchalik commented that the video "is by far and away the lowest quality," the company has dealt with.[5]

Brief Overview[edit]

Prime Focus Technologies’ Academy® Award-winning, proprietary Lowry Digital technology is one of the most advanced tools available for remastering, upconversion and restoration. This unique technology helps content owners re-purpose their legacy content for high resolution viewing across all devices — VoD, OTT, and traditional linear television broadcasting up to 4K-UHD. Using complex algorithms based on motion estimation, the ‘Lowry Process’ effectively reduces visual noise in motion pictures. This makes it possible to carry out other forms of restoration on the content, such as removing dirt and scratches, reducing flicker, replacing lost detail, and sharpening the quality of existing images.

Company History[edit]

John D. Lowry (June 2, 1932 – January 21, 2012) was a Canadian film restoration expert and innovator who founded Lowry Digital Images in 1988.

Lowry Digital Image was largely shaped by the needs of its first studio clients. Lowry described the restoration process as overcoming three obstacles - wear and tear, aging, and multiple generations of optical copies. The system works natively in 32-bit floating point, can process any format like HD and 4K, and outputs to a pristine digital master. Lowry Digital’s advanced digital image processing is also used to minimize grain in image quality without losing any quality, even in major modern motion picture releases.

The company was known as DTS Digital Images while it was owned by digital audio company, DTS, from 2005 to 2008. It then changed its name to Lowry Digital in April 2008, when it was acquired by India's Reliance MediaWorks, which is part of the Reliance ADA Group, owned by renowned businessman Anil Ambani. Lowry Digital was later acquired by Prime Focus Technologies (PFT) as part of a merger of the film and media services business of Reliance MediaWorks (the media & entertainment arm of Reliance Group) and Prime Focus Ltd (PFL), a public limited company.

The Lowry Digital Process was honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the Scientific and Technical awards category held in 2012.

The Lowry Advantage[edit]

The Lowry Digital Process offers complete control of grain (noise) and sharpness enhancement to improve the viewing experience. The process removes subtle and very minute artifacts while increasing the sharpness in the image. This toolset can also extract visual data that is not immediately visible, by combing through frames and combining the best information from each frame/range to provide the best possible output.

Today, the Lowry team includes highly trained digital image processing artists skilled in frame-by-frame manual repair and painting, as well as expert QC professionals trained for master QC. PFT’s state of the art infrastructure includes DaVinci Resolve V15 for color grading, Clipster and Transkoder for packaging and QC, consistent Sony HDR monitoring, and 4K film restoration workstations. It also includes high performance Quantum Storenext SAN storage .

PFT bundles Lowry Digital Process with its highly scalable global pipeline of remastering offerings that include conformance, color grading, visual effects, packaging etc. PFT provides customers with high quality deliverables within short turnaround times, at highly affordable rates.

Marquee Projects[edit]

  • The Simpsons: Upconversion from SD to HD in 4:3 and 16:9 with tilt and pan for 342 episodes of the epic animation series.
  • NASA: Restoration of the original video footage of the missing Apollo moon landing tapes, in time for the 40th anniversary of the moon landing on 16th July 2009.
  • Prometheus: In addition to grain reduction and image processing, all 3D related issues were fixed, and the Z axis was made acceptable for theatrical release.
  • Star Wars: The legendary first three ‘Star Wars’ feature films were all scanned at 4K with full restoration including stabilization, grain reduction, and dust & dirt removal.
  • Avatar & Titanic: In addition to image processing and grain reduction, Z axis issues that had occurred during the original 3D shooting were fixed.
  • Disney: Short films and platinum classic films like 'Dumbo', 'Snow White', 'Cinderella', 'Sleeping Beauty' and several others were scanned at 4K, color corrected and restored according to fixed specifications. Dirt and dust were removed from each of these films, and scratches and grains were cleaned up.

Films worked on[edit]


  1. ^ Cellini, Joe. "John D. Lowry, Restoration Software". Apple Inc. Archived from the original on 2008-10-26. Retrieved 2008-09-23.
  2. ^ "DTS Digital Images Fine Tunes Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D for Upcoming Summer 2008 Release". Business Wire. Reuters. 2008-03-26. Retrieved 2008-08-04.
  3. ^ "'Avatar' producer lauds Reliance MediaWorks for its Oscar". Reliance – Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group. 2010-03-08. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
  4. ^ http://www.lowrydigital.com/noise.html
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-07-19. Retrieved 2009-07-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]