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Harmy's Despecialized Star Wars 1977 - Color Adjustment Project

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Edit 2: Despecialized 2.7 builds off of 2.6 with additional color changes, mostly removing some green from the desert and Death Star. Additionally, the “A Long Time Ago” card is a cleaned up version from the Silver Screen Edition (SSE). It also features Catbus’s excellent Greedo subtitles that were derived from the SSE, and Darth Lucas rotoscoped the lightsaber blade in Ben’s hut from the SSE. This version has better video quality as I used Harmy’s lossless encodings. It features a Hindi track and Project Threepio v9.2 subtitles.

Comparison gallery: http://picsurge.com/g/cCwnAo

EDIT: This is now available as Star Wars Despecialized 2.6 as AVCHD, MKV, and BD iso with alternate crawl options. MKV format releases have a fixed Castilian audio track as well as Russian, Ukranian, Thai, and Navajo dubs (in addition to the tracks in 2.5). Replaced some shots using TN1’s Silver Screen Edition, mostly for purely GOUT based shots like Luke heading to his X-wing. I did some extra manual and automatic cleanup and stabilization, and did my best to match the color, contrast, grain, and sharpness to surrounding shots. An older version without cleaned up 35mm footage replacing GOUT shots is available as Despecialized 2.5 (Recolorized) in MKV format.

Original post:

First of all, thanks to Harmy for all the endless hours he has put into making the best versions of the Star Wars trilogy currently in existence. As the title suggests, this is a color adjusted version of Harmy’s Star Wars Despecialized 2.5. I was hesitant to make a thread about it, since some may see it as an attack on Harmy (it is not at all). But Harmy himself gave the blessing to make the thread.

The latest ESB and RoTJ are damn close to perfection and look approximately like what an official Blu-ray release should look like. SW 2.5 is great as well, with more despecialized shots than the other two films. But in this case, Harmy took a unique take on the color timing. Because he had access to frames of a scanned IB Technicolor print, he based the 2.5 coloring on that. Harmy did an amazing job matching those scans. Some of the big differences in color could have only made his job more difficult, and his product looks like Technicolor scans.

IB Tech prints of SW were struck in the final days of operation for the UK Technicolor lab, and it is thought that their dye processing quality control was less than ideal, resulting in green color shifts. And, of course, no two IB Tech prints were the same. Most importantly, Harmy was not aware at the time that his scans had not yet been corrected to match the way the print looks when projected. He plans to adjust his color timing for his version 3.0.

The goal is just to make a more consistent version color wise that, for me, is ideal for watching in a trilogy with Harmy’s other two releases. Instead of shooting for the look of an uncorrected scan, it is simply a little bit less jarring to me. Others will definitely prefer the look of Harmy’s untouched v2.5, and I think that is fantastic. Now that he knows that the IB Tech scans were not corrected to the print, his v3.0 will be much better than this. However, feedback for this color adjustment (including from Harmy himself) has generally been positive, so I’m happy to share it with anyone else who is interested.

Largely, I actually used the 1997 Respecialized version that Harmy made himself. In his 1997 edition, he shot for the same color scheme as his v2.5 Despecialized. However, a refined technique resulted in more natural skin tones and, occasionally, other major improvements. I used Harmy’s versions as much as possible to remain true to his intent.

Some shots in Harmy’s version have very strong tints. They are matched well to the uncorrected Technicolor scans, however, they do not match the surrounding shots/scenes. I adjusted the RGB curves and occasionally tweaked the saturation. While I did have TN1’s release, the GOUT, and other scans and sources handy as a reference, it should be clear that I did not aim to color match anything precisely. The general color scheme, however, still adheres to the Technicolor look in general. Every shot should still look like it belongs in Harmy’s release rather than a print with Eastman or GOUT timing. I did not flatten and desaturate the film as a whole. Skin tones are still rosy at times and walls may still be brilliant blue.

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I’m really impressed with some of those shots! I’d love to give this a watch. It’ll tide us over really nicely until Harmy’s (inevitably awesome) 3.0 lands.

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Excellent work towne32! Certainly worthy of it’s own thread… 😃

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Thanks Dre! Anything positive about color from you (and Harmy) means a lot.

If anyone wants to chime in with last minute feedback, I can PM them about the near final test render.

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Do you reencode the Despecialized editions for this or do you have Harmy’s master files?

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TR2N said:

Do you reencode the Despecialized editions for this or do you have Harmy’s master files?

Unfortunately the former.

But, as I said, this is to be a watchable alternative to 2.5 for now, not something that will be your permanent copy on your shelf forever. Harmy plans to use similar color timing for his 3.0.

I’m now doing some encoding tests, giving it enough bitrate to have some breathing room and hopefully look okay for a re-encode. Any encoding tips (involving making the most of a re-encode) would be appreciated. 😃

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TV’s Frink said:

How do I download this? If you don’t want us newbies to have access maybe you should just not post about it at all. I know how you treat us newbies and we don’t appreciate your exclusive cabal mentality.

This is normal, as I have restricted access to you, Frink. You, and only you, may download my other project where I take all the toilet humor out of zoolander and transplant it into Raiders of the Lost Ark Fridinkulous Edition.

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Someone did that thing I’ve been hoping someone would do! Hooray!

Looks like you’re still in the decision-making process as far as encoding goes, but is this more likely to be released as a large MKV or an AVCHD (or both)? If the re-encoding is going to diminish the benefit of the larger file size anyway it’s no big deal, but if there’s an appreciable difference I’d love to see it at the highest quality possible.

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joefavs said:

Someone did that thing I’ve been hoping someone would do! Hooray!

Looks like you’re still in the decision-making process as far as encoding goes, but is this more likely to be released as a large MKV or an AVCHD (or both)? If the re-encoding is going to diminish the benefit of the larger file size anyway it’s no big deal, but if there’s an appreciable difference I’d love to see it at the highest quality possible.

I’m open to smaller encodings if there’s any demand. I am not an expert on encoding, or the logic behind some of the decisions one would make, and bandwidth/storage isn’t a practical concern of mine. So the thought was, give it as much space to breath as is reasonable, and hope the quality grain doesn’t suffer much.

Harmy used an average bitrate of 13.5Mbps (if vbr, the min and max are unknown to me). I went up to 18 CBR. After muxing to blu-ray with every audio track in 2.5, this left 7Mb to spare for a BD25. 😃

I’m still open to other ideas. But short of anyone telling me I’m doing it all wrong and giving a better suggestion, the plan is to do a final watchthrough this evening (Harmy said it best - thank goodness for commentary tracks) and perhaps get it online before Frink turns into a pumpkin at midnight.

Edit: The release itself will be mkv, but I did the remux to make sure the m2ts overhead wasn’t too much.

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Well, the main thing is what are you using to make your color adjustments. I’m going to assume Adobe. If so, you definitely don’t want to encode h264 straight from Adobe, because their h264 encoder sucks balls. You’ll want to export lagarith or some other form of lossless avi and then encode with x264.

This is the script I used for SW v2.5:

“G:\FINAL ENCODE SW\FINAL ENCODE\x264.exe” --pass 1 --bitrate 15000 --bluray-compat --level 4.1 --preset slower --subme 10 --keyint 48 --sar 1:1 --slices 4 --vbv-bufsize 15000 --vbv-maxrate 25000 --open-gop --weightp 0 --colorprim bt709 --transfer bt709 --colormatrix bt709 --me umh --merange 64 --deblock -1:-1 --qcomp 0.8 --stats “.stats” --output NUL “G:\SWv2.5.avi”

“G:\FINAL ENCODE SW\FINAL ENCODE\x264.exe” --pass 2 --bitrate 15000 --bluray-compat --level 4.1 --preset slower --subme 10 --keyint 48 --sar 1:1 --slices 4 --vbv-bufsize 15000 --vbv-maxrate 25000 --open-gop --weightp 0 --colorprim bt709 --transfer bt709 --colormatrix bt709 --me umh --merange 64 --deblock -1:-1 --qcomp 0.8 --stats “.stats” --output “T:\SWv2.5.mkv.264” “G:\SWv2.5.avi”

  • www.facebook.com/despecialized
  • IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DESPECIALIZED EDITIONS, PLEASE READ THE FIRST POSTS OF THESE THREADS, WHICH HAVE UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION: SW, ESB, ROTJ, 97SE RE-ED
    IF YOU DON’T FIND WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR THERE, TRY ASKING IN THE APPROPRIATE THREADS - MOST REGULAR POSTERS KNOW ALL THE ANSWERS AND SOMEONE WILL LIKELY BE ABLE TO HELP YOU.
    IF I GET A PM WITH A QUESTION, WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN ANSWERED THROUGH THESE MEANS, IT WILL BE IGNORED. SORRY BUT I AM NOT THE LOCAL INFO BOOTH. THANK YOU.
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Thanks very much for that. I know that Adobe is balls for h264 encoding, so I did indeed export losslessly. And then I used a different piece of software to encode h264. Not sure if x264 will be better or not. But I suspect that either way, I need to go much higher with my bitrate max given your settings. I was just wary of such a wide gap between average and max, realizing that it means some parts will then be quite low bitrate depending on how often 25Mbps is approached. So I settled for CBR 18.

Perhaps I will give it a try with target 18Mbps, max 25. Honestly, for my own copy, I’ll just do max CBR and burn it to BD50 for peace of mind. But that’s an unreasonable thing to upload for something like this.

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CBR is generally a pretty bad idea, because it puts bitrate where it’s not needed and lacks it where it is.
Also, chances are that whatever you used probably uses x264 internally anyway.

  • www.facebook.com/despecialized
  • IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DESPECIALIZED EDITIONS, PLEASE READ THE FIRST POSTS OF THESE THREADS, WHICH HAVE UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION: SW, ESB, ROTJ, 97SE RE-ED
    IF YOU DON’T FIND WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR THERE, TRY ASKING IN THE APPROPRIATE THREADS - MOST REGULAR POSTERS KNOW ALL THE ANSWERS AND SOMEONE WILL LIKELY BE ABLE TO HELP YOU.
    IF I GET A PM WITH A QUESTION, WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN ANSWERED THROUGH THESE MEANS, IT WILL BE IGNORED. SORRY BUT I AM NOT THE LOCAL INFO BOOTH. THANK YOU.
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Since I’m gonna have to do this too, what secondary encoder would u recommend for x264 Harmy?

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Harmy said:

CBR is generally a pretty bad idea, because it puts bitrate where it’s not needed and lacks it where it is.

Yeah. I thought I was perhaps at or around your max bitrate with my CBR bitrate, though, in which case it would have been a good idea if it fits on the BD25. 😃

Also, chances are that whatever you used probably uses x264 internally anyway.

Nope, not in this case.

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Well, with CBR, you could go even higher for the maxrate and thus get better quality at the same size. And sure, shoot me a PM 😃

  • www.facebook.com/despecialized
  • IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DESPECIALIZED EDITIONS, PLEASE READ THE FIRST POSTS OF THESE THREADS, WHICH HAVE UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION: SW, ESB, ROTJ, 97SE RE-ED
    IF YOU DON’T FIND WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR THERE, TRY ASKING IN THE APPROPRIATE THREADS - MOST REGULAR POSTERS KNOW ALL THE ANSWERS AND SOMEONE WILL LIKELY BE ABLE TO HELP YOU.
    IF I GET A PM WITH A QUESTION, WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN ANSWERED THROUGH THESE MEANS, IT WILL BE IGNORED. SORRY BUT I AM NOT THE LOCAL INFO BOOTH. THANK YOU.
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Darth Lucas said:

Since I’m gonna have to do this too, what secondary encoder would u recommend for x264 Harmy?

Well, as you saw, I use x264 with no UI but if you wanted a UI, Handbrake is good, you just have to be careful to turn off all it’s automatic settings, like auto-cropping.

  • www.facebook.com/despecialized
  • IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DESPECIALIZED EDITIONS, PLEASE READ THE FIRST POSTS OF THESE THREADS, WHICH HAVE UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION: SW, ESB, ROTJ, 97SE RE-ED
    IF YOU DON’T FIND WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR THERE, TRY ASKING IN THE APPROPRIATE THREADS - MOST REGULAR POSTERS KNOW ALL THE ANSWERS AND SOMEONE WILL LIKELY BE ABLE TO HELP YOU.
    IF I GET A PM WITH A QUESTION, WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN ANSWERED THROUGH THESE MEANS, IT WILL BE IGNORED. SORRY BUT I AM NOT THE LOCAL INFO BOOTH. THANK YOU.
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towne32 said:

Thanks Dreamaster. I’ve actually started another thread about it. I actually like the neutral tones in 1.0, but it’s still a bit dark. More like an Eastman/GOUT look. But if I were to attempt to get 2.5 looking like that, it would turn into a Frankenbeast for sure. And the 1.0 picture quality is too poor (especially after a re-encode) to use for a base. Plus, I like the Technicolor look for the most part. I will be very interested if Harmy does indeed do multiple color timing schemes for 3.0.

You just keep doing what you’re doing… all of your screenshots of the adjustments your making give me goosebumps, in my opinion you are on the right path.

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This is looking to be a very interesting project. Harmy did a wonderful job of De-Specializing Star Wars, but as you mentioned, some of the colors, lean a bit too much to the green side, and others colors are a bit jarring.

I’m glad you’re maintaining the Technicolor look though, even though it might not have been exactly like we may have seen in the theaters in '77, according to the links you’ve provided, your on the right path to a more consistent result throughout the whole film.

Keep up the good work…I’m excited to see what develops of this.

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Looks like an interesting and valuable project! This is what I love about the community on OriginalTrilogy.com (and of Star Wars, generally): open collaboration and building on each other’s work to create increasingly improved and impressive contributions. Best of luck!

How to Download Harmy’s Star Wars Despecialized Editions - “TUIG”
Checksums & File Verifications for Harmy’s Despecialized Editions
Harmy’s Sources Documentary (11 min version) on YouTube

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I already went through the film and gave towne some feedback on certain shots/scenes.

I’ll look at the higher bitrate version you linked me to tonight, towne. Sorry I hadn’t got to it last night. Was busy doing dad-related stuff.

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Harmy said:
It’s like it’s quite possible that Picasso would have loved to use Photoshop for some of his paintings if it was available back then, but if you take a picture from Picasso and recreate it in Photoshop, it’s not going to be the same picture and it can hardly be used to demonstrate Picasso’s brush techniques.

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Thanks again for all the feedback.

That link should be offline actually. It wasn’t an ideal encode and I deleted it to make room for the (hopefully) final version.

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