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The Star Wars Trilogy

A Digital Star Wars Scrapbook.

27. May 2013 22:47
by jedi1

The Making of Harmy's Despecialized Edition

27. May 2013 22:47 by jedi1 | 0 Comments

A lot of work went into restoring Star Wars for Harmy's Despecialized Edition v.2.1 (v2.5 is coming soon). Here is a making of Documentary which details some of the sources and techniques that went in to bringing back the Theatrical Version of Star Wars. If you have been happily watching the official Blu-rays and DVDs since 2004, you may be surprised by some of the changes you see corrected here... This is a 720p HD video, so use the full screen button.

The Star Wars Trilogy

Star Wars Despecialized Edition Remastered. Introducing the Sources.

This featurette will give you a quick look at the various sources used to recreate the original 1977 version of Star Wars in the Star Wars Despecialized Edition Remastered. The main video source of the Despecialized Edition Remastered was the official blu-ray release of the heavily altered version of the film. The Star Wars trilogy came out on blu-ray in 2011. To the disappointment of many fans, this release was sourced from the same master as the 2004 DVDs and inherited most of the 2004 releases problems. Such as crushed blacks, a heavily altered color palette, and automated digital cleanup resulting in a slightly artificial look of some scenes. Luckily the higher resolution and bitrate of the blu-ray format allow for these problems to be corrected to a certain degree. An overall color correction was first performed by an member called You_Too, who wrote an AVISynth script to fix some of the worst color issues of the 2004 master. Mainly the ever present magenta tones, which are especially visible in laser fire flash frames, but in other instances as well. At the end, a shot by shot color correction was done based on the colors of a well preserved Technicolor print.

Another major source used in the Despecialized Edition was the 2006 bonus DVD containing the original version of the film. This DVD is commonly referred to as Georges Original Unaltered Trilogy, or "The GOUT" for short. Even though it uses a non-anamorphic transfer from 1993, it is unfortunately still the highest quality of the original version officially available. Aside from its low resolution, this 20 year old transfer is also plagued by many other issues, such as motion smearing caused by a primitive digital noise removal method used when making the transfer in the early '90s. This is clearly visible here, where the speeder leaves a trail of its own shape from previous frames behind it. The transfer also suffers from badly faded colors and severe aliasing. Sometimes, only small elements were used from the Gout to cover up Special Edition changes. But in other instances, entire shots had to be replaced by GOUT upscales.

Upscaling this obsolete transfer and having it look acceptable next to HD footage was no easy task. And that's why "Project Blu", an HD upscale of the GOUT DVD done by an member called dark_jedi, was used in most cases. Usually it was further enhanced and, of course, color corrected to fit together with the surrounding high definition footage. dark_jedi is now cooperating with you_too on making an even better upscale for a new version of "project Blu", and a few work in progress shots from this new effort were also provided by them for the Despecialized Edition Remastered.

Another source, used for the Despecialized Edition Remastered was the aforementioned 2004 DVD version. The source used for the Despecialized Edition, however, wasn't the DVD itself but an HDTV broadcast which used the same master as the 2004 DVD. This HDTV source was used to undo some of the changes made for the 2011 Blu-ray release. It was also the main source of the first Despecialized Edition and was therefore carried over in the shots which weren't redone in the remastered version, or shots which were redone prior to the release of the blu-ray.

To undo some of the changes done in the 2004 release, a capture of an anamorphic, standard definition PAL digital broadcast master tape of the first Special Edition from 1997 was also used as a source. Again, sometimes only some elements were extracted from this source. But sometimes, whole shots were used.

For the most recent versions of the Despecialized Edition a great new source became available. A Scan of the first part of the Mos Eisley scene from an actual low fade LPP 35mm print done on a home built scanner by a group of dedicated fans called "Team Negative1". The print, while in a fairly good condition still had too much grain and dirt to fit along side the blu-ray footage which was scanned from the original negative. So first, an automated cleanup was performed in Avisynth, by another Original member who calls himself "Laserschwert". Then the footage was further enhanced and color corrected, especially where the entirety of the frame had to be replaced. But also where only elements from the scan are used to cover up the special Edition changes.

Puggo GRANDE, a home made capture of a 16mm print of the original film was also one of the minor video sources. For example, in this shot it was used to minimize the aliasing present on the wings of the X-wing fighters in the GOUT. It was also used as a reference for the theatrical timing and placement of the Greedo subtitles.

The last group of source used was a variety of still images. Many 35mm cell scans and screen photos of varied resolution and quality were obtained from several different sources, some of which wish to remain anonymous. The condition of the film in some of those scans was often quite rough and required cleanup and enhancement in order to fit with the blu-ray footage. These images were usually used to restore original matte paintings, to enhance GOUT footage or to create custom mattes to cover up Special Edition changes. Sometimes, animation had to be employed to create the subtle movement present in the original footage. And rotoscoping had to be used to put the foreground elements in front of the mattes. Custom mattes were often created from other sources such as several consecutive frames or a combination of HD and GOUT images.

It was the combination of all these sources that made it possible to recreate the experience of watching Star Wars as it was originally released and a debt of gratitude is owed to the people who provided these sources by all those who will enjoy the Despecialized Edition Remastered.

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