HD Festival Showcases 'SRT-Enhanced' SD Film

It used a process from Topaz Labs known as SRT (Super-Resolution Technology).

For a three year-old film festival that prides itself on showing only HD movies, it obviously took something extra to propel a motion picture shot in SD into this week's Beverly Hills Hi-Def Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Yet the independent film "Sounds" (a sci-fi comedy, no less) got its festival premiere on Dec. 30 after the movie underwent a digital enhancement process which some festival observers think resulted in images approaching 1080p quality—although it was not produced in any HD format.

It used a process from Topaz Labs known as SRT (Super-Resolution Technology), which up until now has been used primarily for surveillance satellites for the CIA and other intelligence groups, and the CSI forensics crowd.

The movie (which is still seeking a distributor for U.S. theaters) was written and produced by a first-time filmmaker, Ryan Humphries, and was shot in California and Washington, D.C. Until now, SRT primarily has been used for spy satellites by the military and CIA, some high-tech forensic labs, and other law enforcement agencies.

SRT proponents say rather than using a process to merely interpolate and smooth out pixels during imaging enlargement, the SRT software allows film and TV producers to enhance SD images far more intricately (and paralleling the differences, they say, dramatically enough to equal the image distinctions between Blu-ray and standard DVD). According to Topaz Labs, its enhancing technique "evaluates video information from many frames, extracts as much video information as possible, then optimally rebuilds each frame to recover as much detail as possible."

"Sounds" producers first offered side-by-side "before" and "after" image comparisons of the film at NAB last spring.