Sign In

Remastering the 1981 Episode IV Title/Crawl/Flyover

Replies
102
Author
Time

This has come up in a number of other threads and since I am determined that someone needs to do it (I’m trying, but it is taxing my skills), I thought there should be a thread to discuss it.

What better way to start than with a video that shows 4 title sequences together - the original 77 sequence, the 1981 sequence, the 1997 SE sequence and the TESB sequence. Why include the TESB sequence? well, that will become clear later. It shares to things in common with the 1981 sequence that are important for comparison. The versions I have used are the 2006 GOUT, the TR47 version of the Definitive Edition LD, the broadcast version of the 97 SE, and the 2006 GOUT of TESB.

https://vimeo.com/160390349
password OT

Author
Time

The 1981 Title/Crawl/Flyover is the version seen by everyone on broadcast and home video between 1983 and 1996. It exists out there in many forms, but not one of them is up to even the standards of the 2006 GOUT. Some come close, but the 2006 GOUT was transferred from the master video tape (with the 1981 crawl replaced with the original 1977 crawl) to DVD, making it much higher quality than the 400 lines of video stored on any of the LD versions. Since this is the version I watched so much at home (such as the SciFi Channel premier in 1992), it is the version I want if I am going to watch the original cut of Star Wars. To get it at an acceptable quality, it will have to be remastered. Now, if we were just making it from scratch, you couldn’t say that. The goal here is to take existing elements and recombine them back into an accurate version of the 1981 sequence. The other option is a scan of the print, but the only one currently available suffers from a variety of issues, not the least of which is a lack of a starfield to speak of.

First up, the starfield.

Here is the first place where TESB comes in. When the created the 1981 sequence, they used the starfield from TESB. But it isn’t the straight starfield. It is offset so you can’t just lift the TESB starfield. Add to that it is at a sligltly different angle and there is some lens distortion and it becomes very difficult to use the TESB sequence starfield. Darth Lucas has noted that they reuse the same starfield over and over and found that most of the missing left side can be found. I thought about that, but after examining what is at hand, I have taken the route of pulling what I can from the best sources. Team Negative 1’s bonus with the SSE release isn’t completely lacking in stars, but it has only the brightest and you have to manipulate the image and pick the right frames to get what few are there. I started with that as one layer. Then I turned to the LD sources. The Japanese Special Collection is eliminated right away because of how it is cropped. The Definitive Edition LD (or the Faces version which uses the same source video) is the next best source. I could have gone with one of the newer archived versions, but my goto version for the DE is my TR47 set. I aligned the two starfields and painted out the stars that were on the 35mm scan. A more accurate version could use that for the left side and the TESB to recover even more stars on the rest of the screen, but that would create an imbalance so I stuck with just that. I did find a way to create a diffuse background layer of stars. The result is this:

A careful examination reveals that the moons do not move in sync with the starfield, meaning they were composited in later. A remaster must take this into account, which is why I created the starfield and moons on different layers. The moons and planet are the same in all versions, but the placement was different in the 1981 crawl. They are easy to recover from whichever version of the sequence you thing they look the best in. I used a layering of the SSE and the blu-ray.

Then we come to the other reason the TESB crawl is important. If you watch the video I posted, you will notice that each of the ANH crawls has the title receed at different rates. However, if you compare the 1981 sequence to TESB (something I just noticed this morning), you will see it exactly matches until it fades out (it is a simple fade out while the TESB title continues to receed for a few more frames (until the crawl starts) before vanishing. That means isolating the title from the TESB stars will give an accurate element for the title. The 97 SE (and subsequent DVD and BR releases) reused the crawl from the 1981 sequence, so separating that from the stars will give a good element to remaster that. Not quite as simple as it sounds, but not impossible.

That takes us to the flyover. That is probably the hardest part of the entire sequence. The 77, 81, and 97 versions all seem similar, but the 77 sequence has a noticable black line around the Star Destroyer as it crosses over the moon. They recomped it in 1981 to eliminate that artifact and used the same elements in the 1997 SE (but with the 1977 starfield, moons, and planet behind them).

I have not decided how I want to proceed with the flyover. The BR version has issues with the lasers. The broadcast version of the SE isn’t very clear (similar DNR to the GOUT and LD’s) and the two SSE versions are grainy. Perhaps some combination, but I have not decided how I want to proceed.

Author
Time

Couldn’t you potentially take every laserdisc source, align them, then do a motion based average the same way Althor does to average his laserdisc captures? You could even pad and align Pan and Scan versions using a transparent background (so that the padding isn’t taken into account in the average). Considering the number of Star Wars laserdiscs, this easily provides 10+ sources to combine for what should be at minimum the equivalent of the GOUT 77 crawl.

Some people call them Force Ghosts. I call them Midichlorian Swarms.

Author
Time

You could do that if you have access to those sources and know how to align the images. I still don’t know if that would be high enough quality or if you could recover enough detail. I’m more comfortable remastering it from other sources. That is something I can do and I have access to everything I need. At the moment the flyover is the issue, but there are many ways to address that. I need it to match in quality to the GOUT, the Despecialized Edition, and the 35mm film scan (I hear we are soon to see a second version of it).

Author
Time

Poita has scanned multiple prints which the majority of should have the 81 crawl. Those might be the best sources.

What's the internal temperature of a TaunTaun? Luke warm.

Author
Time

We are all anxious to see what Poita has been up to, but I have heard of no time estimates so far. Besides, using similar techniques as Harmy uses would create a version that is appropriate to tack on to the Despecialized Edition. So until we find out what he has, if anything, might as well keep improving our skills by working on a remaster.

Author
Time

So until we find out what he has, if anything, might as well keep improving our skills by working on a remaster.

Well we’ve already seen a list of at least some of the scans he has done, so I don’t think the “if anything” is really valid. But you’re correct that you’re proceeding how you best can, given that you don’t have those scans or know when it would be possible.

Author
Time

towne32 said:

So until we find out what he has, if anything, might as well keep improving our skills by working on a remaster.

Well we’ve already seen a list of at least some of the scans he has done, so I don’t think the “if anything” is really valid. But you’re correct that you’re proceeding how you best can, given that you don’t have those scans or know when it would be possible.

What he has scanned doesn’t really tell us what shape it is in. What we need to do a proper restoration is a scan that contains a proper starfield and the final frame. If he has something like that and someone with the right skills restores it (stabilizing and removing damage) then what I’m trying to accomplish can be scrapped, but if it isn’t complete than my project might serve as a guide to fixing it. I really hope he has something. That is what I really want.

This post has been edited.

Author
Time

I have extracted the Title fade and the crawl from TESB and ANH blu-rays respctively. I manually removed the excess black background from the Title after using some video processes to isolate the color portion and forcing everything else to black. It would have been much simpler if the title wasn’t black text with a yellow border. There was just no easy way to do it. I matched the fade out to the LD source. I used almost the same process to get the crawl, but I had to add a layer to bring out the area where it fades. I didn’t need to edit the individual frames since there was nothing black that I needed to keep so it is a simple lighten layer. I need to still tweak the starfield, but I have the alignment between the starfield a moons. This rendering is just a draft of where it is now. I’m checking the alignment, star brightness, star placement, and pan for issues and overt differences from the original. The flyover at the end is just a place holder and is from TN1’s SSE bonus 81 Crawl sequence.

https://vimeo.com/165022953
password: OT

This post has been edited.

Author
Time

Looks great! (to me anyway) Just get the flyover right and I think we’ll have a winner! I’m so glad someone is doing this. Thank you for your hard work!

Author
Time

The starfield looks the best it ever has so far! Good work, yotsuya!

If Funimation responded to critics of the Orange Bricks…

“We are always impressed with how closely fans watch the many different versions we have made for the Dragon Ball series over the years. It is flattering to know that, indeed, the audience is watching. Consequently, each version comes out differently and any changes that you see on the all-new 1080p high-definition transfer of the original Japanese masters on the Dragon Ball Z Season Set One DVD are deliberate creative decisions. We can confirm that there are no technical glitches as has been reported.”

Author
Time

The crawl and pan down look wonderful! Excellent work!

Author
Time

I’ve been refining the starfield more. I found that the old pan & scan PAL LD had the intro squished. Althor1138 very graciously gave me a copy. So far, it has the most complete starfield, with the exception of some cut off on the left. I was able to find enough pieces in TESB that I stitched something together to cover that area. The problem is, while these old sources do show the position of the stars, the stars themselves are distorted and unusable. Even the TESB starfields are inconsistent. So, since I was able to pull the brightest stars directly off the SSE bonus 81 crawl, I have gone ahead and recreated the rest of the starfield manually. I could pull most of it from TESB, but the stars really don’t line up (probably a slightly different angle of shooting). Since none of them are usable directly, recreating the starfield seems like the best option.

I also did some preliminary examination of the various flyover sources and while the quality of the SSE 77 flyover and the blu-ray flyover are excellent, there are noticeable differences, especially in the engine flares (and in the case of the blu-ray - the engine cowlings themselves). The blu-ray would also require fixing the laser blasts to match the 77 and 81 versions. So that leaves the SSE bonus 81 sequence as the only one that will work and look right. I still will need to create a steller version of that final frame (in the above video it is adequate). But the rest of the frames are going to require a lot of manual work to get it right. It’s only 410 frames. But if I do it that way, I can use some better tools and I won’t have to rotoscope the elements in Vegas. I also won’t need a separate blue glow layer. The goal will be to get as close to the blu-ray quality as possible. I might even need to use some sections of the blu-ray star destroyer to restore details that are obscured. We’ll see how much effort I want to put into it. But first, stabilizing.

This post has been edited.

Author
Time

nightstalkerpoet said:

Couldn’t you potentially take every laserdisc source, align them, then do a motion based average the same way Althor does to average his laserdisc captures? You could even pad and align Pan and Scan versions using a transparent background (so that the padding isn’t taken into account in the average). Considering the number of Star Wars laserdiscs, this easily provides 10+ sources to combine for what should be at minimum the equivalent of the GOUT 77 crawl.

I know I’m a few days behind on this, but I did this a couple of years ago. The results are ok, but they are not quite up to the level of the GOUT. It’s definitely an improvement over a single disc source, but it’s still coming from laserdisc. Here’s a preview of it:

https://mega.nz/#!OcM0GbyJ!P1hm21MusRhnDHC6wVkUTRyPxNcTDa5yJ2O9XPXs_Dw

If I had some gum, I’d chew a hole into the sun…

Author
Time

Not bad considering the source. Definitely a lot of ghosting on the stars. One of the biggest problems with VHS and LD sources.

Author
Time

I need to check some of the stars against the TESB starfield (to make sure I didn’t include any ghost stars) and I have almost finished stabilizing the flyover. I think my planets need some tweaking. Something just doesn’t seem right. I have a better version that I rendered, but I want to do some of the tweaks before I post it. One I’m confident the flyover is stabilized, I need to attack it for color and detail. On further consideration, having a separate layer for the laser bolts and the engine glow makes more sense. I need to desaturate the star destroyer hull and leave the others bright. I can also usetransparency to better composite the elements. Getting very close to a final version.

Author
Time

I tweaked the pan down. Not sure it is quite right yet, but definitely better. Also cleaned up the flyover a bit. Mostly stabilized, but due to the nature of what was wrong, I think I’ll have to do some final aligning and adjusting of the last second to manually align it to one of the already stabilized versions. But for now, this is a good draft and it works very well if you are doing anything DVD quality.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B99_EmD83rgxSE5aTWlRMWgyWms

This post has been edited.

Author
Time

This looks really good. I think it just needs a little more stabilization of the flyover, some slight color correction on the ships, as they look a bit orange to me, and maybe some added grain to make the layers blend a little better. The ships are from a grainy print, but the planets/star field/text all look pristine. Some gate weave might improve the look as well.

Overall, I’m really glad you’ve done this. It’s very helpful to have an HD version of the '81 crawl. Thanks!

If I had some gum, I’d chew a hole into the sun…

Author
Time

I only just saw this now. If anyone wants an isolated starfield from an actual 1981 print, I can probably extract a clean one.
I haven’t got time to spend on it now, so here is a quick extraction, but it may not be complete/may have some film damage, I only spent 15 mins on it.
Imgur

This post has been edited.

Donations welcome: paypal.me/poit
Help get Empire Strikes Back preserved!

Author
Time

poita said:

I only just saw this now. If anyone wants an isolated starfield from an actual 1981 print, I can probably extract a clean one.
I haven’t got time to spend on it now, so here is a quick extraction, but it may not be complete/may have some film damage, I only spent 15 mins on it.
Imgur

Umm… Yes please! I’m sure yotsuya and I would both LOVE an isolated starfield. Would definitely save the trouble of worrying about our accuracy.

Author
Time

well, that is a 1080P version if you want to play with it, right click on it and save it out at full resolution.

I am honestly snowed at the moment, and won’t get back to the crawl until I get back to working on Star Wars itself. I am currently doing THX, organising The Shining, and am perilously short of disc space, so it might be a while before I get back to the Ep IV crawl.

Donations welcome: paypal.me/poit
Help get Empire Strikes Back preserved!

Author
Time

Thanks Poita.

I hate to mention it since you are so busy, but that is the top half of what we see. The frame right before the blockade runner shows up has the rest of the starfield as well as the moons and planet. Both are needed to properly render the starfield.

That image did help me get rid of some ghost stars and add in a few that weren’t in my other sources. So big thanks.

To the top