E Pericoloso Sporgersi
Client: Transilvania Film
Work delivered: Concept & execution
This is the story of how the poster for this film was designed, using some of the newest AI restoration tools for visual impact. First, a quick before/after:
The film in a nutshell
“E Pericoloso Sporgersi” means “It’s Dangerous To Lean Out” in Italian. This cryptic warning was printed in all Romanian trains before 1989. The director saw it as a metaphor of the times: to get ahead, one had to keep their head down. However, the characters in this movie are all about leaning out. They want to try the forbidden things.
The poster concept
Two different worlds, two characters leaning out through open train windows for one moment of magical connection. They are not supposed to sporgersi, yet here they are, sporgersiing. Which is pericoloso.
I presented 3 creative proposals. I was very thrilled when the client chose this one, because it wasn't the most accurate depiction of the story's structure, but it had the most heart. The best moments of my career have always been "emotion beats correctness" moments, so I'm glad whenever this happens.
Adding the characters
Designing a poster for a 1993 film: it's fun, but you don’t have a lot of photographic material to work with. You can’t stage a photoshoot. But you've got frames from the film. Luckily, the camera work was amazing and there are poster-worthy compositions at every step. This one film frame happened to fit my concept like a glove and also gave it emotional depth.
The client asked if I could liven the colors up a bit. What I heard was “can you absolutely blow up these colors for us, please”.
This is a poster for a remastered movie, restored & enhanced to suit the visual expectations of a 2023 audience. I wanted the poster to create that expectation. If the movie was digitally enhanced, then the poster had to be ULTRA-enhanced.
Upscaling the image
The size of the film frame was 2K. This resolution works fine for the screen, but it’s not enough for a full-size poster. Size matters in print.
You may ask, isn't 300 DPI overkill for a poster that most people will see from across the hall? Yes, it is. You can easily get away with less.
But have you even stood close to a massive poster in the movie theater? It hits differently when it looks sharp from up close. I wanted that feeling.
How does AI-enabled upscaling work?
I spent 15 years telling my design students “You cannot 'enhance' low-resolution photos like you see in the CSI TV series, there’s just not enough pixel information!”. Dear students: i was wrong. Turns out, the AI overlords have decided you totally can. Jokes aside, here’s what AI does: it’s trained on millions of photos to recognize and reconstruct the missing details. Sure, in theory that may sound like an approximation, merely based on similar imagery.
In practice? It just works.
I used several tools for this restoration, but Topaz Photo AI did the heavy lifting. They say new technology is sometimes indistinguishable from magic. True, but here’s the thing: sometimes you kinda do understand how a technology works, you’ve tried it, it’s been around for a while, you know people who engineer such algorithms, you can rationally trace the steps… and it still feels magical.
So, which algorithm did you use?
All of them. I upscaled the image several times, and created a layer for each attempt. Then I picked out the best portions, masking them into one full image, where every detail is sharp and realistic.
The director had a request: "what if instead of plain type, we'd set the title on a metal slate, like it used to be in real life, in the trains". I absolutely loved the look of metal slate. At first I was afraid it would be too much, that the textured metal might distract from the key visual, but no. They simply clicked together perfectly.
So here's the final product.
And, of course, the trailer:
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