Star Wars (1977) original Blu ray. Crappier than ever.

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by EddieVanHalen, Oct 29, 2017.

  1. mj_patrick

    mj_patrick Forum Resident

    Elkhart, IN, USA
    I highly doubt Verta's version will ever be seen. He painted himself in a corner when he announced the project and attached his name to it. He can't legally release it into the wild and claim credit for it; he can't release it anonymously without saying what it is in order to be able to claim the credit he wants.

    He also spent a lot of effort publicly throwing rocks at work done on previous Star Wars video releases. Would anyone be surprised if those involved didn't want to work with him? Especially if they were doing their job which was carrying out the orders that the director gave.

    With that said, I really don't want the official restorations to the original Star Wars films done by a single person. That slides right back to the same problem we've had for years when Lucas was making all of the decisions.
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  2. The Hermit

    The Hermit Wavin' that magick glowstick since 1976

    I've stated on this thread and elsewhere that restoring the original Star Wars trilogy's theatrical versions isn't as cut-and-dry as other restorations, for a number of reasons;

    - the original camera negatives have been re-spliced to conform to the 1997 Special Editions... would Disney/Lucasfilm spend the copious amounts of time and money to restore them again (albeit digitally)? I just don't see it myself; they have nothing to gain from it... I'd love to be proved wrong, but if anything, we'll likely get brand new 4K masterings of the OT theatricals sourced from the existing interpositives, which are still in pristine condition by all accounts and were likely the source of the OT theatrical footage as seen on the Empire of Dreams documentary.

    - even if Disney/Lucasfilm decide to restore the OT theatricals from the original camera negatives, it still won't be the original original versions, at least not on the 1977 film, as the CRI (Color Reversal Intermediate) film stock used on that film for many optical effect composite shots was so badly degraded as to be unusable, necessitating the wholesale re-compositing of most of the optical shots - the majority of visual effect and all of the composite wipe/dissolve shots - in that film from the original elements. Also, would they still use the original starfields or the digitally-created new ones produced for the Special Editions...?

    - and lastly, would/should any new restoration clean up the old optical effect artifacts like matte lines, garbage mattes, etc, or just leave it as is? What also about the mistakes and other "funky stuff" - as George Lucas likes to refer to it - throughout that trilogy (the Wampa arm or the reversed Imperial uniforms in Empire, for example) do you correct them too? At what point does correction become revision and who decides where that line is drawn?

    Personally, I'd have been more than satisfied with a brand new (pin-registered) 2K scan from the interpositives, a meticulous remastering that cleaned up dirt, scratches, tears, and other anomalies whilst leaving absolutely everything else completely untouched and as originally released, and a release (even for a limited period) on DVD and Blu-ray in time for the 30th anniversary in May 2007... that would have been very, very nice indeed, personally I don't care that much about whether something is 2K or 4K, so long as it's done right and looks great, and those films could have looked genuinely great if handled right back then... but George had his ideological agenda to uphold and that's all she wrote on that front, alas...

    And we've been waiting ever since...
  3. greg_t

    greg_t Forum Resident

    St. Louis, MO
    I often wonder who, besides a good size core chunk of fans, really even knows or cares about the "original versions"? The "special editions" have been around in some form for over 20 years now, longer actually than the original releases were. Most people I talk to don't even know that the originals were replaced, and some would probably feel it's a step backwards in effects to role back to the "old" versions. To them, the special edition is star wars, and there are lots of them I've talked to. Outside of us group of diehards I just wonder if it's worth the huge investment in time and resources by Disney to restore and release the originals anymore? Especially when several really good fan versions can be had for free.
  4. budwhite

    budwhite Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.

    Götaland, Sverige
    Yeah I don't think many people care or even know about the difference between the original and Lucas's special editions.

    For historical reasons it would be great with a true restoration of the old films.

    And like I said before, I don't even care that much anymore. I did maybe seven years ago but then came Harmy's despecialized editions and later the great scans of various 35mm prints
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  5. The Hermit

    The Hermit Wavin' that magick glowstick since 1976

    Disney do actually care a great deal about the restoration/preservation of their catalog, they've even extensively restored (at 4K too!) the likes of Song of the South which have yet to be publicly released, so I do believe there are many SW fans at both Lucasfilm and the Mouse House who would not only love to see the OT theatrical versions remastered/restored and re-released, but would also happily and readily give their creative time and energy to such an endeavor... it's just convincing the powers-that-be to pull the trigger on such a project - and to go against George Lucas' continued wishes - that's possibly holding it up... maybe...

    Some of the fan projects are exceptional, given what they have to work with (in both sources and resources), but you can't beat the professionals working from original sources with all the resources and technology available to them...
  6. budwhite

    budwhite Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.

    Götaland, Sverige
    Sure. But my expectasions would be extremely low if a release would be announced. I would only buy it if it gets great reviews.

    And please, no big box set with the other trilogy's. Would not buy if so
  7. DrDre

    DrDre Forum Resident

    Which is pecisely why Verta´s work is relevant. Working from print sources his process guarantees that only the original elements are used, particulary where they have degraded. Take for example this shot that was replaced for the 1997 SE:

    However, let´s not forget the color separation masters exist for Star Wars, and while they could not be used in 1997 due to shrinkage, digital technology could be used to align them today. Either way Verta has offered to work with the resatoration people at Disney on this, and apparently they are interested in his methodology.
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  8. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    As I've patiently said countless times: conforming features nowadays is all digital, and it's not a problem to scan different pieces and cut them together in a different order. Some pieces damaged by splicing -- hot splices lose 1 frame every time you make one -- would have to be reconstructed, and that would take time. Lost or damaged shots could be dropped in from the I.P. (a finegrain positive copy of the OCN), so it's not impossible... just difficult. But there's no hot splices or tape splices anymore for the most part. (OK, except for Chris Nolan and Dunkirk, weird projects like that.)

    I don't know where you're getting your information, but there were no CRIs used on any of the Star Wars films. In fact, they very cleverly kept quite a bit of it as O-Neg and used multiple passes of the negs, sometimes weeks apart, to create the effects solely to avoid dupes. The optical stages are OCN (O-Neg) -> IP (Interpostive) -> IN (Interneg) -> release print. The did as much as possible to OCN stock to keep the film looking very clean, and because they owned their own optical company, it wasn't that hard to do... just time-consuming. The original can be reassembled digitally, as I've said many times, but it'd be a bit of a "patchwork quilt" job with some original shots, some replacements, some I.P.'s, maybe even some dupe negs.

    No clue. There's basically a committee inside Lucasfilm that makes those decision, but I think the buck stops with Kathleen Kennedy, and I think Bob Iger gives her a long leash. If it were me, I'd say these are historically important films and just to leave all the content mistakes alone. Fix the obvious technical stuff like bad splices, jitter, excessive grain, glue marks, scuffs, dirt, damage, horizontal shifts, and so on. I did fix some of the matte lines myself the last time, but that's kind of a color/level problem that is not that hard to tweak. It's a subjective call.

    You lose about 25% of the resolution every time you do a contact print (like an IP), so I think everybody in the restoration business agrees it's best to stick with the OCN whenever possible. It's not that much trouble to do, and I would say about 99% of the pieces survive. I'm taking a wild guess that there's about 2400 total shots in Star Wars, and I'd bet no more than 20 or 30 are missing, and those could be replaced from the IP. Processed carefully and color-matched, you'd never notice them even in a 4K version.

    There are issues with scanning IP's, BTW, because of how dense the stock is and how much light has to be pumped behind it, plus the fact that IPs use yellow backing. It requires some effort to balance them out, so those are not ideal for film transfer either. I've done hundreds of IP transfers, so it can be done... it's just tough. All things considered, the O-Negs have a cleaner look and are quite a bit sharper.[/quote]
  9. DrDre

    DrDre Forum Resident

    Professionals working from original sources with all the resources and technology available to them is what resulted in the blurays. So, I'm not so sure the professionals can't be beaten. You forgot to mention budget and time constraints, and most importantly the desire to produce a faithful restoration. Let's not forget that some of the techniques employed in the restoration of Disney's animated classics have been quite controversial. However, I would agree that if the desire is there to create a faithful restoration, and ample budget and time are provided, then you can't beat the professionals working from original sources with all the resources and technology available to them.
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  10. The Hermit

    The Hermit Wavin' that magick glowstick since 1976

    Very true, and why I believe the Mouse House likely won't restore the OT theatricals from the original negatives; a process that would be costly and time-consuming for what would amount to essentially a niche audience at this point.

    A remastering from the interpositives would cost a fraction of a full-blown restoration from the original camera negatives... and hence a better chance of actually happening.

    Very true, and that's obviously your area of expertise... but as I said before; the whole potential restoration of the SW trilogy isn't cut-and-dry... and if using the interpositives as source over the OCN's actually tip the balance in favor of the powers-that-be pulling the trigger on such an endeavor, then it's IP for the win!!!
  11. The Hermit

    The Hermit Wavin' that magick glowstick since 1976

    With all due and sincerest respect (and I genuinely mean that with all professional and personal courtesy), Marc, I don't know where you're getting your information from; Kodak 5249, an Intermediate stock, was used for 62 shots on Star Wars.

    But don't take my layman words for it, listen to ILM's Tom Kennedy;

    "If George had wanted to do something even more creative to an optical shot, like flop it or add an overriding zoom, and there wasn't a lot of time, they used CRI as an intermediate reversal stock to alter those few effects shots after the fact".

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  12. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Forum Resident

    Northeastern USA
    I personally grew up with the prequels and special editions (first on TV / VHS then on DVD) only. I think most fans my age don't really care, as we don't have any sentimental attachment to seeing it in theaters at all. Even so, I would say some of the added effects are glaringly obvious, even without them being pointed out. Honestly I could care less about most changes and even like quite a few but the more obvious ones do interrupt my immersion. The film history part of me would love for all cuts to be released like with Blade Runner, but I can't say it keeps me up at night like some of you lol.

    As it stands, the Star Wars films seem dated in either cut. The original cut on the GOUT DVDs has some obviously dated effects, but the special editions feel more like an early 2000s blockbuster with their bad cocktail of CGI and practical effects. It'snot really George's fault, as it's an aesthetic that feels badly dated even when originally intended, on films like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Ultimately for casual audiences I doubt either cut would drastically impact a view of the film's quality or relevancy.

    Yes, I think Disney is pretty interested in restoration of their history, and have extensive internal archives. I know it sounds pretty granular, but I was wondering if their desire to transform Star Wars into a Marvel-like universe would push them to only release one version of the films to maintain a cleaner canon from a marketing perspective.
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  13. DrDre

    DrDre Forum Resident

    Apparently Disney themselves have confirmed 4K restorations exist for the SE versions of the OT at an event, which were completed in 2011/2012 probably under Lucas' supervision:

    The Entire Star Wars Trilogy Exists in 4K

    It seems likely these restorations will be released in the forseeable future.
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  14. The Hermit

    The Hermit Wavin' that magick glowstick since 1976

    Old news is no news... never heard before that the 4K remasters had been rejected; I doubt that and believe it's more likely that once Lowry/Reliance finished those new transfers in 2013, they were handed over to ILM who completed the color timing on them, hence the new 4K print of the '77 film shown to Gareth Edwards in 2014 whilst working on Rogue One.
  15. DrDre

    DrDre Forum Resident

    There were a number of news outlets that reported on the rejection of the 4K remasters roughly four years ago:

    Rumor: Recent 4K Star Wars Conversions rejected?

    These reports were probably not accurate given what we know now, but at the time it was the best information available.

    Another interesting bit of inside info is (source, that LFM requested a print copy of Star Wars from the Library of Congres for reference purposes while working on Rogue One.
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  16. JediJoker

    JediJoker Audio Engineer/Enthusiast

    Portland, OR, USA
    That's a fair question. Seems logical. If that's so, and they choose to not release theatrical versions themselves, I hope they will license those versions to someone else. Criterion, maybe?
    zombiemodernist likes this.
  17. Time Is On My Side

    Time Is On My Side Forum Resident

    Madison, WI
    I still say that with the release of Episode IX, Disney should reissue the movies on Blu-ray and for the original trilogy, include both cuts of the movie on the disc. But who knows. If the actual original prints have been altered to the Special Editions then I guess the Harmy editions are as close as we will get.
  18. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    Internegs are in a different category. That's just a dupe negative image struck off another negative -- they do it to avoid going through another IP stage, which would lose sharpness and picture quality... and yet even that is not what CRIs were invented for. CRIs were used for entire motion picture releases just to save money, and it turned into a huge disaster when they realized over time it created terrible image problems, plus the CRI stock faded very badly. But I'm talking about the use of CRIs for entire motion pictures, not a handful of VFX shots. (I used to shudder when I encountered CRIs shipped to us by the studio because they had not had the foresight to make IPs; my 1980s mastering on King Kong ('76), The Onion Field, and Mahogany looked awful, but it was the best I could do from the "stepped-on" image of a CRI.)

    Technically, even a digital -> negative transfer on a film recorder is a kind of a dupe, but the stock characteristics don't yield nearly the image quality loss. Nowadays, a smart post supervisor would find the original neg trims and use those instead of the dupes and do the flip or other changes in post, which is one button nowadays. All it takes is time, money, and really good organization of all the materials.
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  19. budwhite

    budwhite Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.

    Götaland, Sverige
    That's easy to fix by using different sources and tools. Takes time and money though.
    Read the last few pages.

    Lawrence of Arabia was saved in the late 80s and that was a huge deal. Amazing work was done.
    Fixing Star Wars 30 years later in the digital world is a piece of cake
  20. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    They actually did far more work on Lawrence of Arabia with the digital 4K restoration done about 5 years ago. Technicians today can do far, far more complex work than traditional photochemical restoration.

    The 4K restoration of Lawrence of Arabia is so crisp it looks like it was shot today

    It's true that you have to do some physical restoration of the original negative just to make sure the sprocket aren't damaged and the splices won't fall apart on the scanner, so some human inspection is always necessary.
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  21. budwhite

    budwhite Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.

    Götaland, Sverige
    My Fair Lady and Spartacus also got heavy restoration work done some years ago that saved those films for the future.

    I believe that both the video and audio had to be located from different places and put together bit by bit
  22. DrDre

    DrDre Forum Resident

    I would actually be interested to see what you consider some of your best work. Can you point me in the right direction?
  23. Geoff D

    Geoff D Well-Known Member

    Had to sign up just to reply to this: Skyfall was shot 2.8K SPHERICAL on Alexa, not anamorphic. Now 2.8K might not sound like much of a difference from 2K, and it's nowhere near 4K of course, but it's almost 50% extra horizontal resolution over 2K nonetheless, which is why Mr Deakins still insists upon carrying this material through to a 4K finish and has done ever since he shot In Time on Alexa. (Rodrigo Prieto noted the same thing with the Alexa footage they shot on Argo in AC Nov 2012, that the 4K finish of that footage looked better than 2K because "ArriRaw gives you 3K resolution".) Here are Deakins' own comments from Film and Video Times, Sept 2012 issue: "We’re timing in 2K, but the DI is basically 3K, and then it is up-rezzed to 4K for the DCP". He did the same very recently on Blade Runner 2049, shooting Alexa in open gate 3.4K and keeping the DI at that resolution (including VFX shots) for a final upscale to 4K. Not "real 4K" then, but it doesn't have to be to deliver more information than a straight 2K output (which is where a lot of people, not saying you necessarily, are getting caught up in the upscaled "fake 4K" panic).

    Spectre was a return to 35mm anamorphic for the Bond series, with the Mexico opening shot spherical 35mm and the Thames chase lensed on Alexa 65 (using Panavision lenses, a then-rare team-up between Arri and Panavision). Hoyte van Hoytema insisted on a 4K finish, from AC Nov 2015: "Why did you do the DI in 4K? HvH: 2K is not enough resolution to render the shape and depth of the grain. I love grain. It’s very organic; it feels round. In my opinion, if you render grain in 2K, it turns into noise — some sort of digital interpretation of grain". Both Skyfall and Spectre had 4K DCPs delivered to theaters.

    As for the first two Craigs, they were indeed finished at 2K but I've heard that people have attended screenings of a 4K DCP of Casino Royale. No concrete info on a 4K rebuild just yet though. QoS, nada. As for any others that were originally finished at 2K, DAD has had a 4K DCP for several years already: Die Another Day | Park Circus . Could just be a straight 2K upscale but that'd be a rarity for a DCP as there's literally no point in doing so (whereas 2K upscales on 4K UHD disc vs 1080p Blu-ray can present significant advantages in terms of spatial resolution, compression, dynamic range, chroma subsampling and so on).
  24. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    You are 100% correct -- my error. I think there's good and bad with anamorphic lenses, but Deakins' work is beyond reproach: if he shot through a glass milk bottle, I bet it would still look fantastic. (Note that 4.5K Alexa LF and 6.5K Alexa 65mm have existed for some time now, and I bet that would be Deakins' choice now.)

    90% of all blockbuster films these days go through an upscale path, usually where the VFX drop ins were technically done in 2K but uprezzed for the final 4K delivery. Eventually, it's hoped that we'll have enough bandwidth in post to bump the speed up, but given the 4X data size for a 2K file vs. 4K, it'll be a tough battle to win. I have done a couple of dozen 4K projects that were done in true end-to-end 4K, but we were blessed by very few VFX shots (fewer than 100). The monsters like Marvel films -- 2000+ VFX shots -- could not be done with current technology in 4K. They can and do preserve the non-VFX shots in 4K whenever possible, but they are not done from Raw -- they almost always transcode to EXR or DPX. I know that there was a 4K release of Episode 8, but what I don't know is how much was upscaled and how much was original, since there were like 6 or 7 different VFX companies involved, with the final all put together by Fotokem/Burbank.

    None of this relates to Star Wars (the point of this thread) since Episodes 4-5-6 were shot on film, Episode 1 was shot mostly on film, Episodes 2 & 3 were shot in HD, and then Episodes 7-8-9 were on a mish-mash of a bunch of formats including film. The choice to go to 2K is more about time than money, so the $200+ million budgets don't cut any ice with the schedule.

    Did you read Steve Yedlin (Episode 8 DP)'s dissertation on resolution, film vs. digital? Lots of food for thought there, and the short answer from him is that he feels that anything above 2K is not really necessary...

    Steve Yedlin On Color Science

    I think Yedlin is a very bright man, and Episode 8 -- shot mostly in digital, but with careful film grain added as a final step in color grading -- looked terrific. Though from a film restoration point of view, I'd have no problem if they restore and redo all of the Star Wars theatrical films from 4K using modern technology. Even in 4K, even if the new versions precisely recreate the content of the original theatrical releases, one thing is sure: crazy fans will still criticize them.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2019
  25. Kiko1974

    Kiko1974 Forum Resident

    I thought The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi got 4K DI's.
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