How important would it be for adherents of any faith group to be able to see the person who founded their religion and was the source of their scriptures?
Most religions started long before the advent of film or video, but Scientologists have the opportunity to see and hear their prophet, L. Ron Hubbard, explain the fundamentals of their faith.
Hubbard, who was born in 1911 and died at age 74 in 1986, was filmed presenting six lectures July 4-6, 1958 at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington.
Those lectures have been meticulously restored and ornately packaged in a set of six DVDs, three CDs, and several books containing the lecture transcripts.
The meetings, called a congress, at the Shoreham are considered a landmark event among Scientologists because it marked the first time that anyone besides Mr. Hubbard had made someone a “Clear” — which Scientology defines as “a person at willing and knowing cause over his own life, his body, and his surroundings and without a reactive or subconscious mind.”
It also is the only color film of Mr. Hubbard, who tape-recorded more than 3,000 lectures.
The effort that went into the restoration is nothing short of monumental.
According to Sylvia Stanard of Washington, the external affairs director for the Church of Scientology, the original negatives of the films were cleaned by hand, frame by frame, in an environmentally clean room “worthy of NASA.”
All 518,000 individual movie frames were then digitally scanned into a computer network using 75 terabytes of memory (one terabyte is equal to 1,000 gigabytes).
From there, the individual frames were cleaned of dust and smudges by 60 members of Scientology’s Sea Org group who manned 17 stations around the clock “ultimately removing more than 10 million particles of dust and dirt from those half-million frames.”
The restoration process, which took more than a million manhours to complete, included fixing faded colors, steadying camera jitters, and somehow digitally editing Mr. Hubbard into view when a cameraman failed to follow him as he walked across the stage.
The videos have been translated into 15 languages using subtitles and include an English interpretation for the deaf.
“For the first time in history, Scientologists now can see Mr. Hubbard and experience his congress the way it was when he stepped on stage at the Shoreham Hotel,” Ms. Stanard said.
“Clearing Congress,” packaged in a futuristic plastic container that seems worthy of NASA...sells for $250.