Sign In

Star Wars 1977 70mm sound mix recreation [stereo and 5.1 versions now available]

Replies
645
Author
Time

The original 70mm soundtrack of Star Wars has long been considered something of a holy grail for fans of the series.  With its dynamic range, bass, and surround sound, it provided best sonic experience for the film.  Later remixes have never completely captured the feel of the original.

It is fairly well known on this forum that the 1993 Definitive Collection laserdisc soundtrack comes the closest, since it was sourced directly from the 70mm printmaster.  But because of numerous added sound effects (some of which are worthy additions, while others prove more distracting), it occasionally leaves the listener with the feeling that they are not hearing the film's "real" sound mix.  It is also a stereo/Prologic downmix while the original utilised discrete channels.  The 1997 special edition was mixed for the 5.1 format, but contains even more added sounds and has a rather different balance--and strangely, less dynamic range than the 1993 version.  The abominable 2004 mix is almost completely invalid.

Last year I had the idea to combine the LFE track from the special edition with the 1993 mix, but at the time I had only 2.1 at my disposal; that is to say stereo speakers and a subwoofer.  Now I have a complete 5.1 setup, and a listening environment with better acoustics.  Despite the lack of discrete channels, the '93 mixes sound great played through modern upmixing algorithms, and I've really enjoyed being able to take advantage of the built-in surround cues.

Still, for a while I've been pondering whether it would be worthwhile to try to recreate the 70mm soundtrack, and recently I decided to find out.  To do so requires the altered segments of the 1993 mix to be replaced with their equivalents in the 35mm stereo soundtrack, adjusting the levels to match and retaining the '93 version's bass content.  To truly replicate the theatrical experience, a custom LFE channel will be assembled from the '97 and '04 special edition mixes, using whichever bass effect sounds best in each instance, along with level adjustment to achieve the optimum sound.  Many people who have seen the film in 70mm remember the Star Destroyer's powerful roar in particular, and it will certainly make itself known here.

I made a demo file of the opening scene for your listening pleasure.  I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that no upmixer will work on my computer, so this is in a stereo + LFE format.  On my receiver, using Prologic II will drop the LFE channel, but it is retained by using stereo or DTS Neo:6 modes; your results may vary.  The completed version will use the 5.1 format for greater compatibility.  If you have a digital out on your computer, hook it up to your receiver, crank the volume--don't forget to turn on your subwoofer!--and enjoy this preview of things to come.  http://www.sendspace.com/file/axszo5

Some later parts of the film might be more difficult to integrate successfully, but I'm confident I'll be able make it work.  Obviously this isn't going to sound exactly like the real 70mm soundtrack, since it will be upmixed and patched together, and the exact nature of the bass content is ultimately only my interpretation of what it might have been like.  But short of having an official transfer (I won't hold my breath), this should be the next best thing.

 

Edit: Since this project is now complete, I'll put the download links here in the first post to make them easy to find.  The Star Wars 70mm recreation is available in a stereo version as well as a 5.1 mix; the stereo is uploaded as a FLAC split into six RAR files, and the 5.1 as a 448 kbps AC3 split into two RARs.

70mm 5.1 part one: http://www.sendspace.com/file/qq11vb

70mm 5.1 part two: http://www.sendspace.com/file/jd98ys

 

Stereo part one: http://www.sendspace.com/file/efonsr

Stereo part two: http://www.sendspace.com/file/c62qjm

Stereo part three: http://www.sendspace.com/file/iqwit0

Stereo part four: http://www.sendspace.com/file/rk7p55

Stereo part five: http://www.sendspace.com/file/iypdet

Stereo part six: http://www.sendspace.com/file/q5g9be

 

I also created new 5.1 mixes for Empire and Jedi to go along with this.  While there are a few small differences from the 70mm versions of those films (the content more precisely reflects the 35mm releases), the overall sound is extremely close.  The majority of the audio comes from the 1993 mixes, with modified 2004 LFE.

Empire 5.1: http://www.nakido.com/A79D1681FBAE5459337580B6C92AEDB89963D72B

Jedi 5.1: http://www.nakido.com/0F196D0DEA5E5A752ECE1E15DE3ACE7E31BEC143

 

Being a fan of the films' scores, I also made alternate versions containing a few music edits to bring them closer to the way John Williams originally composed them.  These mixes are identical in every way to those listed above, except that the cue for Boba Fett's departure from Bespin in ESB is replaced from the '97 SE, and the deleted music for Ben's scene on Dagobah has been inserted into RotJ.  I myself am rather fond of the way these edits sound, but if they're not to your liking, no worries--that's what the other versions are for.  ;)

Empire: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=GK23ARKU

Jedi: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=MRR0OWX6

 

Since my computer seems unable to actually upmix a stereo track into five channels, Satanika performed this part of the process, as well as combining the result with the LFE channel and encoding to AC3; so credit must go to him for helping me with that.

Feel free to request a re-upload if the links expire.

This post has been edited.

Author
Time

Great idea! Would love a recreation of it, sounds pretty good so far!

We want you to be aware that we have no plans—now or in the future—to restore the earlier versions. 

Sincerely, Lynne Hale publicity@lucasfilm.com

Author
Time

PaulisDead2221 attempted a similar project - see his vintage edit thread starting from about this post.

IIRC he completed a preliminary version - he sent me a low bitrate 5.1 AC3 file to listen to. Now he's not been on the forum much in the last year and I never got around to muxing the preliminary audio with the GOUT video to audition his work.

Guidelines for post content and general behaviour: read announcement here

Max. allowable image sizes in signatures: reminder here

Author
Time

I remember reading about his work with interest.  I ended up starting this myself since he hasn't been around lately--I think his project files were deleted?  Moth3r, you had an interesting notion of using the surround effects from the rear channels of the '97 mix in place of the matrixed sounds on the '93.  I considered doing that, but it seemed ultimately it would be more problematic to combine too many things together, and for the most part I think the film's rear channel effects tend to stay within the Prologic 100 hz to 7 khz range anyway, although I haven't tested that for sure.

I'm finding that I have to be very careful where I transition between the '77 and '93 mixes.  Placing a transition just before a loud sound effect or between scenes tends to give the best results.  Short cross-fades of 250 samples or so can give a better blending than a straight cut.  Switching in the middle of a music cue is difficult, because the difference in sound quality between the two sources is then the most noticeable, and for that reason I've occasionally had to let the '77 stereo run on a bit longer than I would have liked in order to find a good place to change back.  Belbecus posted that the stereo image of the music in the 35mm mix is narrower than it is for the '93, and I have also found that to be the case.

Sometimes I almost feel like I'm nitpicking the 1993 version by doing this, because many of the added effects are innocuous or contribute in a positive way to the overall sound.  But at the same time, eliminating the additions brings it more in line with the way I remember it sounding, growing up with the '85 mix on vhs.  And a few of the additions really were unnecessary, so I'm not sorry to see those go.

This post has been edited.

Author
Time

Hairy hen, I didn't tell the first time but the font you're using here is blasting my eyes... ;)

ESB AUDIOPHILE EDITION

 

The EMPIRE STRIKES BACK Score: "All-Sourced" Restoration & Sonic Achievement.

Author
Time

Ah, sorry about that.  My browser for some reason is having trouble getting the post button to work, so I ended up copying and pasting the text onto a different computer and for some reason it ended up in a strange font.  I'm not sure what the problem is, but I'll try not to have that happen.  :)

Author
Time

Nice!  I can't wait to check this out when I get home.

Author
Time

hairy_hen said:

Sometimes I almost feel like I'm nitpicking the 1993 version by doing this, because many of the added effects are innocuous or contribute in a positive way to the overall sound.  But at the same time, eliminating the additions brings it more in line with the way I remember it sounding, growing up with the '85 mix on vhs.  And a few of the additions really were unnecessary, so I'm not sorry to see those go.

It's not nitpicking IMO. As you said, the -93 soundeffects really stands out sometimes no matter how good the additions are, just like the added crap in the SE film. If it ain't broke, dont fix it! The three Academy awarded soundmixes from 1977 deserves to be preserved, it's a part of the movie! Most video releases of films doesn't even include the original tracks as an alternative... a really disturbing trend.

Looking forward to hear some more from it, love your dedication.

We want you to be aware that we have no plans—now or in the future—to restore the earlier versions. 

Sincerely, Lynne Hale publicity@lucasfilm.com

Author
Time

I really want to hear the 70mm mixes for all three movies synced with the originals someday, so anything that gets me closer to that dream is okay by me!

Author
Time

The 70mm mix of ESB has never been restored, right? That's one I'd love to have.

I know there were some snippets of it on Building Empire, but I think Jambe got them from an old 16mm version.

You know of the rebellion against the Empire?

Author
Time

There is a list of differences between the 35mm and 70mm versions of Empire, but since there are no recordings available, I find myself a bit sceptical that all of those are actually from the 70mm soundtrack at all.  Remember, it was produced first, with some effects shots incomplete compared to the later 35mm release--so how does it make sense for it to have a more complete soundtrack with additional dialogue and more polished music edits?  That doesn't seem logical to me.  Some of those differences may be authentic, but some could well be apocryphal.

Author
Time

Okay, so far I'm about half done replacing the altered sound effects.  I think the extra TIE fighter blasts during the quad laser battle will be the most difficult, because the whole scene has one continuous and prominent music cue.  I try to keep the 35mm segments as brief as possible, because I want to retain as much dynamic range from the '93 version as I can, but necessarily any replacements will be somewhat compromised in that respect.  I can partially compensate by selectively raising the volume, but it's always going to fall short of the original in that respect.  The sound quality of the 35mm mix has noticeably lower fidelity, too, but that's the price that must be paid for the removal of inauthentic sounds.  Thus far I think I've done pretty well disguising the inserts and making the transitions unnoticeable, so it shouldn't be much of a problem.

Satanika said he would take care of upmixing when it's done, so a 5.1 version will be available.  I believe he used the ATSurround plugin for Foobar2000, which is probably pretty similar to Prologic II.  I can't wait to hear this thing when it's completed.  :)

Author
Time

It would help to destinguish which 70mm mix you mean because according to imdb there was a 70mm 6 track dts of the special edition.  Probably only seen in like 2 theaters though,lol.

I do know it was shown i believe at the Royal Premiere in London England.

And at the US premiere.  It was not at Grauman's Chinese.

Can't remember the name of the theater its the place they had the premiere for return of the jedi in 1983.

This post has been edited.

“Always loved Vader’s wordless self sacrifice. Another shitty, clueless, revision like Greedo and young Anakin’s ghost. What a fucking shame.” -Simon Pegg.

Author
Time

Ah, of course I mean the original 70mm mix from 1977, not the SE. ;)

If there's any discernible difference between the DTS and Dolby versions of the SE, I'd be very surprised.  Any such disparity would probably relate only to their differing ways storing and encoding the audio data--ie, theatrical DTS format stores the LFE information in the surround channels and low-pass filters it out to the subwoofers due to bandwidth restrictions.  They may have corrected for phase and level slightly differently because of such things, but that's the only reason I can think of.  Regardless, the SE soundtrack is decidedly inferior to the '77 original both in dynamics and sound quality, though still vastly preferable to the awful 2004 dvd mix.

Author
Time

I had a first listen to the stuff you posted. Note that the computer on wich I have it doesn't really show, but well. As you may expect, I was more interesting in hearing the music than anything else (I'm untutored to anything concerning video and audio mixes for films) and I was amazed by the clarity and the space feeling listening to trumpets (or horns) !!! They did not sound at all like any of the three ANH OST releases. If you have the main title and mostly the end titles with such a quality, I'll surely do something with them. You know where to find me. ;)

This post has been edited.

ESB AUDIOPHILE EDITION

 

The EMPIRE STRIKES BACK Score: "All-Sourced" Restoration & Sonic Achievement.

Author
Time

hairy_hen said:

Okay, so far I'm about half done replacing the altered sound effects.  I think the extra TIE fighter blasts during the quad laser battle will be the most difficult, because the whole scene has one continuous and prominent music cue.  I try to keep the 35mm segments as brief as possible, because I want to retain as much dynamic range from the '93 version as I can, but necessarily any replacements will be somewhat compromised in that respect.  I can partially compensate by selectively raising the volume, but it's always going to fall short of the original in that respect.  The sound quality of the 35mm mix has noticeably lower fidelity, too, but that's the price that must be paid for the removal of inauthentic sounds.  Thus far I think I've done pretty well disguising the inserts and making the transitions unnoticeable, so it shouldn't be much of a problem.

Already this far in the process! I'm really excited about how this will turn out, are you undoing the alterations made to the '93 remix by listening to what I think was Belbucus Comparison DVD or the listed alterations of it made in this thread below or by really good knowledge of it?

http://originaltrilogy.com/forum/topic.cfm/70mm-mix-to-93-mix-comparison/topic/6501/

The reason why I'm asking this is because I've never heard this disc, and are wondering if the quality is good enough so you can actually hear how the music is mixed on the 70mm in this Tie Fighter attack scene you're describing above, the music sounds so differently mixed in this scene and also in the end credits of the 35mm Dolby Stereo compared to the Mono mix and '93 remix, I don't know how to describe it, almost an echoing sound, just curious. Also, is the dynamic range on the '85 LD remaster any better than the original stereo?

hairy_hen said:

Satanika said he would take care of upmixing when it's done, so a 5.1 version will be available.  I believe he used the ATSurround plugin for Foobar2000, which is probably pretty similar to Prologic II.  I can't wait to hear this thing when it's completed.  :)

And neither can I :) will you also make the 2.0 or 2.1 available? Thanks for doing this!

This post has been edited.

We want you to be aware that we have no plans—now or in the future—to restore the earlier versions. 

Sincerely, Lynne Hale publicity@lucasfilm.com

Author
Time

I don't actually have the comparison track, because I've had trouble with newsgroup access, but I did download the in-theatre recording of the 70mm mix around that time.  Sadly, I no longer have it, for it was a casualty of my old computer's death.  The sound quality wasn't that great and the speed was too slow, but I do remember that most of it sounded very similar to the Definitive Collection mix.  I've been making my replacements based on the list Belbecus provided, which I have saved to a text file.

There's one thing on the list that is confusing me a bit--he lists "water noise" during the garbage pit scene, but I've listened to it several times and for the life of me I can't find any extra water sounds that aren't in the 35.  I think there are more splashes in the mono mix, but I have yet to find them in the '93.  Just to be safe I used the older mix during that section in case there's something I'm missing, but I'm not sure.  I know there are a few sounds that appear in the 70mm that weren't in the 35, but as yet I haven't found anything in the 35 that wouldn't also be in the 70!

As far as dynamics go, I've noticed that in the loudest passages on the DC, the very highest peaks are occasionally clipped.  I'm not 100% sure if it is like that on the laserdisc itself or if that is an artefact of the sample rate conversion to 48 khz; but since Belbecus used a very high quality converter I imagine it is probably inherent to the source.  It isn't really audible, since it doesn't ever clip for more than 60 samples or so, but it's interesting.  Based on that, I would speculate that the 70mm original probably had additional headroom beyond what appears on the DC mix.  Certainly its bass response would have been greater with two LFE channels--the '93 version could include only as much low frequency information as two channel dynamics will allow for.  I recall the in-theatre recording sometimes showing peak distortion, often coinciding with LFE from the special edition.  Exactly how loud the bass actually was is unclear, and will be the aspect of this recreation that is most subject to my creative judgement.

I only have the '85 mix as a lossy version from the Editdroid disc, but aside from a widening of the stereo image and the insertion of C-3PO's line about the tractor beam, it appears to be identical to the '77 stereo, including the dynamics.  I too have noticed the music reverb you mention in the quad laser scene; it must have been a creative choice of some sort.

Since the 70mm mix featured surround sound, a 5.1 track would probably be the best way to release this, but certainly stereo or 2.1 versions can be made available if desired, as well.

I appreciate your encouragement!  It's definitely closing in on completion . . .

Author
Time

hairy_hen said:

Since the 70mm mix featured surround sound, a 5.1 track would probably be the best way to release this, but certainly stereo or 2.1 versions can be made available if desired, as well.

I appreciate your encouragement!  It's definitely closing in on completion . . .

That is great! Thanks for answering my questions, I don't notice that added water noise in the '93 version either.

One thing I've been wondering lately is wich of the theatrical mixes was done first, 70mm six-track stereo or the 35mm Dolby stereo?

From the book "The Making Of Star Wars":

The first mix sent out with the film, at the last possible second, was the six-track Dolby stereo version, but the first mix also had the most errors. Next up was the two-track stereo, wich was derived from the six-track, yet there was still no time at that stage to make any changes. "I asked Steve Katz to do something," Burtt says, "but they were all too afraid to mess with it, 'cause the deadline was so close-the whole system with the Dolby was kind of an experiment, and they didn't want me to tamper with it."

From the '04 SE DVD audio commentary Ben Burtt says:

...the first mix done was a two-channel stereo Dolby mix wich hadn't been done before, it was a new process. That mix was done first because we were actually making prints and testing them out, and getting theaters to tune up their equipments required that mix was done first. After that was done, then a six-track stereo mix was done for the 70mm release of the film and of course going back and mixing the film a second time, one make changes, you take things a little further you've learned from the first mix of the movie and you now go and make all your changes in the next mix wich was the six-track...

This info really confuses me, I always thought the 35mm Dolby mix was done first but the 70mm prints with the six-track was sent out and heard by the public first. Can someone please explain this?

 

 

We want you to be aware that we have no plans—now or in the future—to restore the earlier versions. 

Sincerely, Lynne Hale publicity@lucasfilm.com

Author
Time

msycamore said:

 

This info really confuses me, I always thought the 35mm Dolby mix was done first but the 70mm prints with the six-track was sent out and heard by the public first. Can someone please explain this?

 

I think there are many options:

Perhaps these guys don't really remember

Perhaps they have all a different version of the story, depending on their role in it, and "re-edit" the truth each one his way :)

Perhaps it is too complex to explain in an interview or they want to present the best story for anyone thinks they had so much pressure that they've done lot of mess

ect... ect...

Then I' be more inclined to believe the first version you quoted. The consideration I personnaly have for Ben Burtt (notably the importance he likes to show about his work as I see him) reenforce that point.

 

ESB AUDIOPHILE EDITION

 

The EMPIRE STRIKES BACK Score: "All-Sourced" Restoration & Sonic Achievement.

Author
Time

This site has some info on the sound mixes. And what came first.

http://www.in70mm.com/news/2003/star_wars/index.htm

There are theatrical DTS discs of the SE in private hands. The labels indicate they have a six track mix. I don't think anybody has ever figured out how to play them without the proper gear though.

Where were you in '77?

Author
Time

I'm quite certain that the stereo mix was done first.  My reason for saying this is because there a few sounds from the 70mm version that do not appear in the 35.  Most notably, during the first trench run, when Vader destroys the first of the Y-wings.  The explosion is in two parts: first, the fighter is hit, the picture cuts to the pilot reacting to his imminent destruction, then it explodes.  In the stereo mix (and the similar '85), there is a second of near silence during the pilot's reaction; in other mixes, this shot is accompanied by a loud screeching sound.  I first heard that effect in 1997 and thought it was an SE addition, and then later thought that it was one of the '93 alterations.  Imagine my surprise when I heard it on the in-theatre 70mm recording!

Since it makes little sense to suppose that this sound would have been removed from the first mix to the second, only to later reappear in the mono version, it is logical to conclude that the six-track was not the first to be completed.  The differences between them are nowhere near as pronounced as what was done to the mono mix, so it's not difficult to believe that there wasn't any more time to make changes before it had to go out.  I can't say I'm all that fond of the mono mix, partially because many of its changes sound like "special edition fixes" to me, though some of them do add positively to the film.

 

On to progress: as I thought, the quad laser scene was somewhat difficult to get right, but eventually I managed it.  My first thought was that I would have to use the 35mm for most of the scene, but I refrained from this as I would have found the dynamic loss unacceptable.  Instead I listened closely for ideal switching points in order to eliminate the additions while keeping the rest of the '93 version intact.  I've uploaded another test file for this scene (in 2.1 format again), because I'm curious to know how successful my efforts were.  I can't say it's 100% seamless because of the difference in music reverb between the two sources, but it works much better than I originally expected.  It's probably about as good as I can make it, but I want to know if that is good enough.

Download here: http://www.sendspace.com/file/y6yrtg

Only a few more changes to be edited out, and then the LFE channel, and this thing will be done!

This post has been edited.

Author
Time

The quad gun test sounds terrific on my baby 5.1s.

VADER!? WHERE THE HELL IS MY MOCHA LATTE? -Palpy on a very bad day.

"George didn't think there was any future in dead Han toys."-Harrison Ford

My review blog: thehificelluloidmonster.wordpress.com

To the top