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Original Star Wars Trilogy Restoration

Robert Harris

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31 replies to this topic

#1 of 32 OFFLINE   Lord Dalek

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Posted September 22 2008 - 08:55 AM

Ok this is what we know... The master film elements to the original pre-special edition Star Wars trilogy are in very poor shape. So poor that LFL had to reuse the old faces laserdisc masters for the 2006 2-disc releases. Heck the master negatives might have been junked for all we know.

However, as a result to your recent work on The Godfather, is it possible Bob to go do a reconstruction/restoration of these films to get a decent HD master out of em?

#2 of 32 OFFLINE   Patrick McCart

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Posted September 22 2008 - 12:19 PM

There's a whole chapter on the Star Wars restoration/digital work in "Into the Digital Realm" Great coffee table book on Industrial Light and Magic.

But it points out that most of the negative was usable. They did have to re-do a lot of opticals from scratch since the color reversal internegative stock had faded. Some shots were damaged and replaced either with dupes from the 1985 interpositive or color separation masters. And Lucasfilm seemed to insist the '04 remasters were from the camera negatives, but I guess the negatives have since been re-conformed?

Well worth a read if you can find it at a local library.

#3 of 32 OFFLINE   Keith Paynter

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Posted September 22 2008 - 12:20 PM

Forgive me for speaking ill of the dead, and ahead of Mr. Harris, but...

...I think you know what the answer is going to be.

Lucas prefers the new versions. The others are dead to him. (Pretty much) Nobody bought the reissues with the laserdisc masters.

Do I need to say more?
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#4 of 32 OFFLINE   Charles de Lauzirika

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Posted September 23 2008 - 06:12 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Paynter
(Pretty much) Nobody bought the reissues with the laserdisc masters.

Simply because they weren't anamorphic and in 5.1. If they had been, I and many others certainly would have bought them. But you know that. Posted Image

#5 of 32 OFFLINE   Keith Paynter

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Posted September 23 2008 - 09:07 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles de Lauzirika
Simply because they weren't anamorphic and in 5.1. If they had been, I and many others certainly would have bought them. But you know that. Posted Image

Ohhhhh, yeahhhhhh.... Posted Image
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#6 of 32 OFFLINE   Nicholas Martin

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Posted September 23 2008 - 04:22 PM

This has to be the ultimate "dead horse" topic, because we all know it won't ever happen no matter how wishful our thinking may be.

And we all know that.

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#7 of 32 OFFLINE   andrea - jor el

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Posted October 02 2008 - 11:24 PM

perhaps a little out of topic, but do you know why the luke light saber during the millenium falcon training scene was green!! in the last special dvd edition?
how can it be possible all the lucas team don't correct this kind of stuff?

#8 of 32 OFFLINE   Oliver_A

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Posted October 08 2008 - 06:19 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Dalek
Ok this is what we know... The master film elements to the original pre-special edition Star Wars trilogy are in very poor shape. So poor that LFL had to reuse the old faces laserdisc masters for the 2006 2-disc releases. Heck the master negatives might have been junked for all we know.

If the negatives are permanently altered, then why not scanning in a release print?

Here are scans from an original 70mm print, and they look quite okay to me, wouldn't even look too bad for an HD transfer, certainly more than adequate for an anamorphic DVD release:

Jedi1.Net Presents 70mm Star Wars Film Cell Scans.

Especially considering the fact that the scans were done on standard home equipment, not on a professional film scanner.

@Robert: would 70mm blow-up prints be a good source to do a restoration?

#9 of 32 OFFLINE   Douglas Monce

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Posted October 13 2008 - 12:11 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oliver_A
If the negatives are permanently altered, then why not scanning in a release print?

Here are scans from an original 70mm print, and they look quite okay to me, wouldn't even look too bad for an HD transfer, certainly more than adequate for an anamorphic DVD release:

Jedi1.Net Presents 70mm Star Wars Film Cell Scans.

Especially considering the fact that the scans were done on standard home equipment, not on a professional film scanner.

@Robert: would 70mm blow-up prints be a good source to do a restoration?

There might have been some Technicolor dye transfer prints made in England in 77 that might look half way decent, but most of the prints made in the U.S. are likely fairly pink by now. Release prints of Empire and Jedi might look pretty good as a more stable film stock was introduced sometime after 1980.

Also scanning a a film cell for a still is not comparable to scanning a reel of film for use as a motion picture. Just because the images look okay on that print, doesn't mean that it will run through a projector or scanner.
Doug
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#10 of 32 OFFLINE   Oliver_A

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Posted October 14 2008 - 05:06 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Monce
There might have been some Technicolor dye transfer prints made in England in 77 that might look half way decent, but most of the prints made in the U.S. are likely fairly pink by now. Release prints of Empire and Jedi might look pretty good as a more stable film stock was introduced sometime after 1980.

Wasn't Star Wars re-released in 1981? Funnily, the most faded print on these pages is Return of the Jedi.

Quote:
Also scanning a a film cell for a still is not comparable to scanning a reel of film for use as a motion picture. Just because the images look okay on that print, doesn't mean that it will run through a projector or scanner.

Well, it's not like Star Wars is a movie from the 1920's / 1930's...

What are you trying to tell? That the Laserdisc videomaster was the best possible attempt? The amount of detail on these pictures might be even enough for a HD release. On the Blade Runner 5 disc set for example, the rare workprint was also transferred from a beaten up 70mm print, and released in HD.

Why is it feasible for every other movie, but for Star Wars, everything is suddenly impossible? From what source did they remaster the original 1977 crawl on the 2006 DVD, which is NOT digitally recreated!

#11 of 32 OFFLINE   Douglas Monce

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Posted October 14 2008 - 03:42 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oliver_A
Wasn't Star Wars re-released in 1981? Funnily, the most faded print on these pages is Return of the Jedi.



Well, it's not like Star Wars is a movie from the 1920's / 1930's...

What are you trying to tell? That the Laserdisc videomaster was the best possible attempt? The amount of detail on these pictures might be even enough for a HD release. On the Blade Runner 5 disc set for example, the rare workprint was also transferred from a beaten up 70mm print, and released in HD.

Why is it feasible for every other movie, but for Star Wars, everything is suddenly impossible? From what source did they remaster the original 1977 crawl on the 2006 DVD, which is NOT digitally recreated!


Star Wars was released in 1977.

The workprint from Blade Runner was what is known as a preview print. It was probably run all of 3 or 4 times before it was discovered again and new prints were made from it to show in some selected theaters (which lead to the "director's cut"). The reason it looks crappy is because it is a preview print (meaning the film wasn't finished and color corrections and other things were not done yet), not because it was abused.

A release print would have been run thousands of times, and in the case of a film like Star Wars, which in some cases played for more than a year, the release prints from that era are likely not in great shape.

The crawl was an effect that was done by ILM and likely was in their vaults, some what better protected than the rest of the film. Remember that Fox owned this film until Lucas was able to buy the rights from them sometime in the 80s. Lucasfilm didn't control the negatives, nor the condition under which they were stored. Fox may have even trashed all of the still existing release prints when Lucas gained control of the elements.

I suspect the laserdisc masters were used because they were at hand and the simplest solution to an issue that Lucas doesn't want to deal with anyway.

Of course this is mostly speculation based on the limited information available.

Doug
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#12 of 32 OFFLINE   Keith Paynter

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Posted October 14 2008 - 04:18 PM

I'm surprised no one is tackling the "A New Hope" vs. no title debate.

It tells me a lot that Mr. Harris hasn't weighed in here yet, since this is his forum area...

Now please...

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#13 of 32 OFFLINE   Oliver_A

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Posted October 15 2008 - 05:18 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Paynter
I'm surprised no one is tackling the "A New Hope" vs. no title debate.

Because that's not the issue here. The issue is, can the original unaltered trilogy be released in a good quality.

Quote:
It tells me a lot that Mr. Harris hasn't weighed in here yet, since this is his forum area...

The original poster probably opened this thread, because at the time in 2006 when the news spread around that the unaltered movies were just straight transfers of the laserdisc masters, Robert Harris annouced his willingness to restore those movies for Lucasfilm.

Quote:
Now please...

Posted Image

Does this discussion do any harm? No. It's just an evaluation of the (IMHO ridiculous) claims from Lucasfilm that the original movies can not be restored. I think these scans prove that this is not true at all. There are most probably still release prints from the original version out there which could be used to make a very good looking DVD and a decent looking Blu Ray transfer. I wouldn't even wonder if Lucasfilm still has much better material in their vaults.

It only takes the will, and suddenly, the original 1977 textcrawl appears for the very first time on a home video format. Apparently sourced from a film print. Why didn't they scan in the rest?

#14 of 32 OFFLINE   EnricoE

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Posted October 15 2008 - 05:36 AM

i will say that lucasfilm still has some pretty good prints of the films in their vaults. remember that for the 1997 tspecial edition heatrical release had to come from something. besides, the thx laserdisc master went through a serious clean up. it was shown on cav 9 disc box set. hence my believe that prints are still there.

#15 of 32 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted October 15 2008 - 10:31 AM

Believe me, no one wants the OOT restored and released on BD more than I. But at this point, while this discussion should be had, and no it doesn't harm anything or anyone in having this discussion, I think what is clear is this:

Lucas doesn't want a restored OOT.

That's the difference between this and every other restoration project Mr. Harris has ever tackled. In those past projects (up to and including The Godfather), the principles wanted RAH to save their film. Lucas clearly does not. He claims they're beyond restoration, but that's not a claim he meant as an "open challenge" to someone like RAH. Rather it is part of his justification for releasing/restoring only the New OT versions.

The OOT was widely released, and spawned millions of fanatics, a few of whom had money and resources to be able to spirit away a release print, and I'm sure if Lucas gave his blessing, RAH wouldn't find it very hard going to find workable material for all three films.

The hold-up here isn't the films. It's the creator. And it's the one point that Lucas seems hellbent on never changing his mind. Much to our dismay and disappointment.

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#16 of 32 OFFLINE   Oliver_A

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Posted October 15 2008 - 10:47 AM

We know that the problem here is not the film elements themselves, but the creator. I personally do not hope to get any decent release of the unaltered trilogy from Lucasfilm.

However, I still think it's interesting to evaluate this issue, because most people really seem to think that the original films are permanently destroyed, thanks mostly to the PR campaign from Lucasfilm. I guess many fans want this discussion to end, because it's quite hurting to have a look at the 70mm frames, realizing that it could indeed be done. Much bitterness around here. I however find it somehow fascinating, looking at some kind of lost treasures. Completely with original colours, grain, decent sharpness, I would instantly buy a transfer of such elements.

Well, all we can do is let time pass...

#17 of 32 OFFLINE   EnricoE

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Posted October 15 2008 - 06:15 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlo Medina
Lucas doesn't want a restored OOT.

and since he says that these version are no longer for him existent, all academy awards the films received should be returned. the many changes mr. lucas did were not always to improve the film which they clearly didn't. the infamous "han shoots first" is a big change. it changes the charactor of han deeply.

i don't have a problem if a director goes back to his "baby" and add or remove things to make a better narritive. but denying the public the film they grew up with and also them "you want see the original versions ccause i erased them from my mind" is just plain wrong. hence all academy awards and other awards have to returned.

#18 of 32 OFFLINE   greg_t

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Posted October 18 2008 - 06:46 AM

Don't know if any of you ever saw the THX Ultimate Demo DVD, but it has the old WOW montage from the laserdisc days. The star wars clips are from the original trilogy, and they look fantastic, so there is really no reason that they can't make the unaltered trilogy look great.

#19 of 32 OFFLINE   Jonathon M

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Posted October 19 2008 - 06:38 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by EnricoE
hence all academy awards and other awards have to returned.

I felt exactly the same way when every release of Jaws (a film that won for best sound) had the awful remixed soundtrack instead of the original.

#20 of 32 OFFLINE   Stanton Heck

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Posted October 24 2008 - 10:27 AM

Well I have the LASERDISC that are THX of the original versions/ To me they look great. A DVD copy off of them would look better then the DVD'S that were releasesd


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