And we are all trying our best to wring the most out of what we have to work with. But the fact is, even massive undertaking that utilize the best possible technology, methods and efforts--i.e. the XO project--the fact remains that the best the OOT will ever look is a Laserdisk.
And we all know that there are many people out there with actual 35mm prints of Star Wars. In fact, if i understand it correctly, a member of the XO team himself even owns one. Now, the issue is "are these any good?"--are they scratchy and faded? Well, probably a lot of them are. But there are many that are not--in fact, i have seen some that are looking pretty damn good. Some people still have those rarer Technicolor prints made by dye-transfer that look almost immaculate in terms of colour and resolution.
So, what i am getting at is: how crazy is it for us to attempt to do our own high-resolution 2K scan of a 35mm print? This would literally preserve the film, more or less, forever. It would be so high-resolution that you could even make new 35mm prints from the data. Forget SD and HD, this is better than anything even available to consumers yet. This would place the future of the film in our hands, safe, secure, and for future releases, no longer bound to the Lucasfilm cash machine. The data could be used to make SD releases, HD releases and more and better 35mm prints. In short, we would never need Lucasfilm for the film ever again, ever. In time, people--for instance the same people that slaved over preserving the XO project--could frame-by-frame restore all the scratches and grain that would inevitably be resultant in a theatrical print. Star Wars would literally be ours for the ages.
Now, here is the problem: cost. Yes, you knew this would be coming. What is the price of scanning a 2 hour + 35mm at 2K resolution? Roughly $50,000 USD. I'm sure you could get a deal to scan it for a little less than this. Another problem: storage. I think this would literally take up a few terabytes of information, so basically it required a dedicated "Star Wars server." This is less of an issue however, as is the software to handle it--many people here and elsewhere are post-production professionals who not only would be willing to share and be caretakers of this data but also have the physical capability to do so. So that leaves the staggering cost of scanning the print.
At first this seems totally unrealistic...but really...is it?
How crazy is it to get a fundraiser going to make Star Wars truely--and physically--ours? If everyone here contributed a hundred bucks we'd have a good start, and many people including myself would be willing to donate many more times that amount. Take this over to Home Theater Forum, The Digital Bits, any place where collectors and professionals have been fighting the good fight--I'm betting that it would be surprising how fast the donation box would climb. And with people like Robert Harris ready to jump into the mix this could all be done properly and professionally.
Am I crazy? I think something like this would have a good chance at success, in time.
The Secret History of Star Wars -- now available on Amazon.com!
"When George went back and put new creatures into the original Star Wars, I find that disturbing. It’s a revision of history. That bothers me."
--James Cameron, Entertainment Weekly, April 2010