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The Star Wars Trilogy

A Digital Star Wars Scrapbook.

15. January 2016 15:16
by Team Negative One

Team Negative One completes 35mm Restoration of Star Wars

15. January 2016 15:16 by Team Negative One | 0 Comments

There hasn't been a lot of new content posted here recently, but that is not because I don't have any! Even before the build up and release of the new film, I had stacks of magazines waiting to be scanned, and Gigabytes of videos just waiting to be encoded and uploaded to the site.

But I haven't had a lot of time to do anything with it, because for the last three years, most of the spare time I would have devoted to keeping this site up to date has instead been spent helping Team Negative one with this project. In August 2015, I completed my work on Reel 3 and posted a short preview. Since then, like all of you, I have been waiting for them to complete the color correction, stabilizing, sharpening and assembly of the final completed film.

Star Wars - It's Back Poster

Despite having access to the original source, and to all the cleaned footage as the project progressed, I was still completely blown away by the final version. I had no idea it could look so good! Honestly! Way back at the start I had created a comparison clip with the 2006 Bonus DVD on top and the raw scan of LPP on the bottom, in order to see which frames (if any) were missing from the print, and I remember being rather alarmed that it made the GOUT look good!:

Don't worry, we were able to recover the stars - this is how it looks in the final version:

Nevertheless, we all plugged away day after day, week after week, cleaning frame after frame after frame. Personally I found that it look me about one minute to clean each frame, sometimes longer, so I might work on it for an hour, believing that I must surely have cleaned about 10 minutes worth of film, only to find that I had barely cleaned 3 seconds worth of film. 60-90 minutes per day was about my limit, with a family and a full time job I couldn't spare any more than that.

In August of last year, I finally completed the reel and assembled all the cleaned shots, adding some contrast adjustment, deflickering, cropping, etc. and posted a sample of it here on the site. It looked much better than before, but still not as good as I had hoped. So, I sent all my cleaned footage off the colorist and after a short break I started work on version 2.0, using a second print of Star Wars and some new techniques I had been itching to try out. More on how version 2.0 is progressing in a future post... In the meantime, let's take a look at some brand new before and after comparisons. In this first comparision you can see just how faded this section of the original film was...:

I assure you this is the same piece of film! There was no cheating. Every single frame in the film was scanned in to the computer from a 35mm film Reel:

The beginning and end of each reel is always rougher than the middle, here is the beginning of Reel 2, before and after.

And how does it compare to the official Blu-ray?

The official Star Wars Blu-ray was sourced from the original negative, while Team Negative One's was sourced from a theatrical 35mm print, several generations away from that negative, so it is more grainy and not nearly so sharp. However, the colors are much more natural than the overly saturated levels artificially applied to the Blu-ray in an attempt to make it "fit in" more with the look of the Prequel trilogy.

Edit: More comparisons.

The Blu-ray is clearly sharper, cleaner and nicer in a lot of ways, but I miss the wolfman! And keep an eye on that pink light behind the bar. In the original film it was a soft pink, on the Blu-ray it's neon!

Studio shots like this one are not so grainy, and the 35mm print hold up pretty well. At first it looks a little washed out here against the overly saturated Blu-ray, but Luke's armour is pink very briefly in the blu-ray, and the watch the lights behind C3P0's right shoulder change from one version to the next...

I watched the whole film with my family last weekend and it was awesome!

There are some more, screen shot comparisons on imgur:

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