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Star Wars Prologue - Epic Prequel Edit

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STAR WARS PROLOGUE TECHNICAL DETAILS
===============================
Media : NTSC dual-layer DVD
Audio : English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround
Video : 16:9 enhanced w/original 2.35 letterboxed frame

N Discs : 2
Length : ??? minutes

Region : All
Subtitles : N/A

Production Environment
- Audio Editing : Adobe Audition, Hypercube, Sonic Foundry, Vegas Pro
- Video Editing : AfterEffects, AVISynth, Paintshop Pro, Photoshop, Vegas Pro, VirtualDub
- Story boards : Womble MPEG Video Wizzard
- Burning/ripping : DVD Decrypter, ImgBurn
- MPEG-2 encoding : MainConcept 1.5.1, TMPGEnc Plus 2.5

Notes : The Prologue uses a new, high-definition transfer for all EP1 footage, resulting in a NTSC DVD that is superior to both the original PAL and NTSC Phantom Menace discs. Viewers will notice increased detail, decreased film grain and none of the edge enhancement artifacts that plagued the original NTSC DVD transfer. The original NTSC DVDs are used for all EP2 and EP3 footage because picture clarity is as good or better than the PAL discs--due partly to the latter's anemic MEPG-2 encoding. Audio quality is superior to anything available on a PAL disc.


QUICK RESOURCE
============

File. Official Teaser Trailer 10.7MB (MQ MP4 Encode)
MEGAUPLOAD, Rapidshare

YouTube (low quality)

Note. This file is also available as a torrent. Try either mininova.org or btjunkie.org and search for "Star Wars Prologue Epic Prequel." If you are new to torrents, I recommend the uTorrent client. It is lightweight, free, and fairly easy to setup and use.

Content

Page 01. Early Jarjar removal screenshots.
Page 03. Discussion about 'ghosting' Qui-gon.


INTRODUCTION
===========

I started this thread to share some early progress in my own project. The Prologue is my replacement for TPM, AOTC and ROTS. The goal is to cut A prequel from the original DVDs. It is 'epic' in the LOTR sense; the new DVD will span 13 years, depict several battles and likely have a running time of about three hours.

The immediate motivation behind the Prologue is to better serve the original trilogy, not to improve or revise the prequels. I feel that each of the prequels has some good material intermixed with nonsense filler and superfluous silliness. Collectively, there is plenty of material for an intelligent and fun movie.

More specific goals include:
1. Reducing JarJar to an incidental character;
2. Restoring information control and secrecy;
3. Removing annoying acting and alien banter;
4. Correcting post-production AV sync flaws.

The Prologue begins with secret clone order 66 and then follows Ben, Yoda and Senator Organa as they scramble to make sense of what happened. A reference to Qui-gon at the end of E3 is used to arc the story back 13 years, at which point elements from TPM and later AOTC are introduced into the movie. The Prologue eventually resumes where it began, but by tracking instead the events of Anakin and Palpatine.

Aside from the opening crawl, I want to avoid introducing new and useless elements. The goal of most of my rotoscoping techniques is to REMOVE elements. However, in some cases it will be necessary to add or alter music and sound elements.

This post has been edited.

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There are at least two other edits I know of that combine all 3 prequels, but I think this would be the first to use a "flashback" to progress the story. Very interesting.

I don't have anything more to add because I haven't downloaded or viewed your screener, but I hope that you get some constructive feedback from others and continue with this project.

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Wives can be a great asset during fan productions. Here is one example...

I have spent more time on the opening title and crawl than any other sequence thus far. Much of this time was spent learning new software and hunting down fonts, but I also spent (or rather, wasted) several hours thinking about color. If you examine the title shots below, you can see that there is no standard Lucas print. The colors have varied from lime yellow to light gold.

Star Wars (original)
http://img138.imageshack.us/img138/1077/ep4aao0.jpg

Star Wars SE
http://img138.imageshack.us/img138/8570/ep4os2.jpg

Prequel Episodes 1-3
http://img138.imageshack.us/img138/82/ep1ax6.jpg
http://img138.imageshack.us/img138/208/ep2an2.jpg
http://img138.imageshack.us/img138/4919/ep3ju6.jpg

When it came time to make some color decisions for my title, I leaned toward EP3. In fact, I prefer using elements from EP3 whenever possible because the DVD provides the most up-to-date source for sound and digital effects. My wife also preferred the EP3 color.

However, she also wondered why I was tasking myself to choose a Lucas color. With her subtle charm, she reminded me that this is MY project. I could use any damn color I wanted. It didn't even have to be in the yellow family!

Of course! What was I thinking? I didn't have have five color choices; I actually had millions of color choices.

I eventually stumbled into the short wave-length family of colors and found a blue that we both agreed looked very sci-fi. However, we quickly determined that it also looked like the blue used in old style video games. It was a good color for the movie, Tron--but not for a Star Wars prologue.

The color I eventually developed looks very "Star Wars" to me and my wife; and probably for good reason. It is based on the same RGB values used in the title for EP3. I merely swapped the red and blue components

http://img247.imageshack.us/img247/2462/prologuetitlevs0.jpg

Star Wars purists might have issue with my decision to go blue, but I argue that the strong color departure helps to reinforce that this is a prologue to the original trilogy. Episodes 4-6 are in a completely different class (IMHO).

For those of you still downloading the Part 1 screener, this is the title crawl that awaits you. As I noted previously, there are some encoding artifacts in the AVI that do not appear in the source:
http://img509.imageshack.us/img509/8772/prologuecrawlzd5.jpg
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blue font was used in the empire strikes back trailers back in 1979.

i always loved that, as for the roll up titles i really prefer the yellow.

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

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Ditto on the blue for the early ESB work. I helped Jambe with a demo of what it might have looked like for Building Empire. And honestly, the "A long time ago..." card is blue. Why should the crawl be the same?
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Well, it is blue in the official releases; but that would be too much blue, in my opinion.

In the Prologue, EP3 Yellow is used:
http://img174.imageshack.us/img174/6592/alongtimeagoup9.jpg

And for the curious, I am using the original phosphor green for the production credit (though I am hoping that maybe someone can design a better one for me )
http://img174.imageshack.us/img174/5058/antimatterfx3.jpg

I generally don't recommend using different colors for the title and crawl--I think you have to let one constrain the other, which is why I instead altered A long time ago.... If anyone has mixed colors successfully in the introduction sequence, I'd like to see it.
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Rotoscoping....

I have completed some finishing touches of Part 1 (such as feathering all the transition wipes), and am now in production of Part 2--the first point in the movie where elements from EP1 are used.

There are several sequences containing Jarjar that can be omitted entirely, but there are plenty that cannot. I will occasionally have to rotoscope him out, and it just happens that the first scene I want to edit was filmed with a (slowly) moving background. Here is the first frame of the sequence (Qui-gon stops talking here, so there is no character interaction).

http://img413.imageshack.us/img413/3006/rotoscopingjarjarro6.jpg

NOTE: Obi-wan will be entering this scene soon, which is partly why I need it.

I am new to rotoscoping, but I understand the principle and method that can be used in Photoshop (or After Effects) when there is a 'clean' reference frame available for cloning. But what about the case when the target of deletion is ALWAYS in the shot?

I'm hoping that some of you have some experience with this and can offer suggestions, tips or recommendations for other tools that might help.

There's got to be a way to do it with good results.
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I believe that Taolar, whose working on an edit of Superman 1 and 2 did (or had help?) doing something like this to remove Richard Pryor from a shot. Perhaps check that thread and contact him? He posted the before and after clips and they looked impressive.

To contact me outside the forum, for trades and such my email address is my OT.com username @gmail.com

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I would love to hear/see some of this...

You say your using the raw soundtracks... I was curious if you'd see/hear my complete score edits.

Episode I is the complete score. You'd be free to do as you pleased with that. Episdoe II unforatunately is mostly just the album with DVD rip, so it wouldn't be clean enough to use...

Episode III's complete score edit has a lot more clean material to use as well..

I also offer my edits to Episode III up as an example of what could be done to remove a lot of extranious parts and to preserve continuity...

you can view them here along with edits of sequences like The Arena with how it would be with the music and such...

www.youtube.com/BrachioInGen


Is it not sad that in this time, we are more surprised by acts of love than acts of hate?
-Me

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It was Darth Editous who removed Richard Pryor from a scene in ADigitalMan's "Superman Redeemed" (I think it was this that prompted ADM to profess his amorous feelings for DE, as famously quoted in someone's signature).

Laserman also gave some advice on the process in this thread.

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Originally posted by: Moth3r
It was Darth Editous who removed Richard Pryor from a scene in ADigitalMan's "Superman Redeemed" (I think it was this that prompted ADM to profess his amorous feelings for DE, as famously quoted in someone's signature).

Laserman also gave some advice on the process in this thread.


That was a special moment that will live in my heart forever.
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Thanks for all the references--I am finding some good leads to tutorials (e.g., see CreativeCow.net).

You say your using the raw soundtracks...


Yes. Let me clarify that I am using soundtrack material with sequences ONLY if the cutting demands it. Whenever possible I will use the original AC3 stream. Frequently it is the case that an original scene or chapter, comprised of sequences ABCDEF, will appear in the Prologue as ABDEF (a simple cut), ABF (a heavy cut) or ABFDE (a re-worked scene). Depending on the movements of the score and the physical dynamics of the audio signal, it can be either ridiculously easy or fantastically difficult to construct a seamless music segment for the re-cut sequences. If the music cannot be made to transition in a way that sounds intentional, then I will bring in the original soundtrack and synchronize it to key movements in the new video segment. I then isolate important sound effects from the original AC3 stream (as best I can) and layer those over the new music sequence.

Video cuts seldom have to be seamless; but the audio must be seamless for the edit to be convincing.

I twice had to use this process in Part 1, and the few people local to me who have played the scenes swear that the music was made specifically for my cut. So, whatever trickery I am using, it seems to be producing good results
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This is a great concept; I especially like the blue opening crawl to distinguish it from the OT. Good job on the actual text too (the writing).

The transitions need a lot of work though. Do you intend to keep in the fades to black? They really take you out of the moment, especially during an action sequence like the Yoda/Palpatine fight.

As for the text informing us of where and when, I'd suggest something more Star Wars. Maybe the same font as "A long time ago..." and in the black bars beneath the screen?

Those are just my thoughts, take them as you will. Looking forward to the next section.
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I don't mean to ask a dumb question, but where can I see this? I've read the thread a couple times and I'm still not sure I follow. It sounded like there was another thread you were sourcing this from maybe?


Is it not sad that in this time, we are more surprised by acts of love than acts of hate?
-Me

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@GoodMusician

I torrented an early screener for Part 1 last week and seeded it for a few days. I will prepare another screener that extends into Part 2 when I reach the 30 to 40 minute mark (maybe later next week).

@Commander Courage

The fade-to-black at the end of the early screener was just a last-minute join, so that viewers could see how the time arc worked. The actual transition (which you can see below), fades from the last shot of Yoda directly to the star field with the approaching shuttle. So, as you suggest, the transition here is continuous.

Now, there are four fade-to-blacks in Part 1, which are identified below with a rough time stamp. It wasn't until I prepared these clips that I realized all instances occur in the final minutes of Part 1. I believe (and hope) that it is the story flow itself that influenced my decision here. I am not using these fades arbitrarily, so let me briefly explain my thinking for each one, and then you (and others) can elaborate on why you think they do or do not work. It's funny that you mention pace, because pace is foremost on my mind whenever I use fade-to-black as a transition.

fade@17.0m (emperor address 1)
Here we have a strong, semi-climactic sequence followed by a somber scene. The fade-to-black is needed to bridge this disparate mood. [Note. Technically this is a CUT to black followed by a fade FROM black.]

fade@18.0m (emperor address 2)
See previous explanation

fade@19.0m (Yoda confronts Sidius)
Subject moves from scene A to scene B without any intervening action. We need fade-to-black to satisfy passage of time.

fade@22.5m (the duel)
Again, used for passage of time.

fade@24.0m (13 years ago)
This transition, which is NOT fade-to-black, is used to support a major time jump without pausing the movie.

About the overlay text...
(1) The black region is probably not an option because roughly 50% of the letterbox is lost to overscan. On my 16:9 TV, for example, these Cinescope DVDs produce fairly narrow black bands.
(2) The font is actually a member of the Franklin Gothic family, but I completely agree that the choice of font is important. Too many font variations are just as bad as too many colors. The suggestion to adopt the same Gothic font used for A long time ago... is a good one. I will also have to anticipate the subtitle typography.
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Just a suggestion: Maybe rather than fade-to-black, use a rising sound effect-into-abrupt cut, like the flashblacks on LOST?
-Really like the blue "STAR WARS" (love those old Empire trailers)
-I'd use Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon as your transition characters as much as possible. Between the two of them, they are good "chroniclers", like the wizard telling the tale in Conan. Or like Godfather 2, the transitions are from father to son, only here master to apprentice?
Anyway good luck!
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This seems like an exciting project =)

As for fade@24.0m (13 years ago), I would suggest that you cut to episode one before Yoda's last line there. It would seem more natural I think.
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@Baronlando

> "Or like Godfather 2, the transitions are from father to son, only here master to apprentice?"

A potentially clever idea. GF2 was a great movie! I will keep this technique in the back of my mind as I continue to story-board this project.


@SweHanzon

> "I would suggest that you cut to episode one before Yoda's last line there. It would seem more natural I think."

Your suggestion has merit. I might experiment with this idea and see if the timing works. The "Qui-gon" statement is an obvious trigger, but the question is whether the scene should (or needs to) be terminated precisely at that point.

The original transition points works; but would a slightly earlier transition work better?
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The production of Part 2 is much slower--only because it requires the most rotoscoping and intra-sequence cutting (re Jarjar). However, I think I've hammered out a few methods that will allow me to re-build desired footage. I've also learned that some sequences cannot be "saved" to reasonable standards due to motion parallax effects. There really is quite a bit of incidental and unnecessary camera movement in these movies that makes it difficult to rotoscope with good results; and if the results are not good, there is no point in using the edit.

Here are some of the results that will appear in the final cut. There is one sequence I still hope to include (the initial droid attack on Ben while he and Qui-gon are meeting up in the forest), but I am waiting for an HD source, which is needed to pull off the edit.

Left: original footage; Right: Prologue edit

http://img178.imageshack.us/img178/1081/nabooforestge5.jpg
Landing on Naboo

http://img146.imageshack.us/img146/3714/palacehuntaky1.jpg
Palace Entry 1

http://img521.imageshack.us/img521/4688/palacehuntbkw6.jpg
Palace Entry 2

http://img147.imageshack.us/img147/8104/palacehuntckg3.jpg
Palace Entry 3

http://img132.imageshack.us/img132/1273/palacehuntdpb4.jpg
Sneak Attack
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I almost forgot...

The real test of rotoscoping is how the edit appears in motion. I will prepare a short action clip once I finalize this section of footage (from the landing to the palace).
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OMG, those shots look great!
I can't wait to see the clip.
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I'd be interested in seeing how you work this out story wise... it sounds like a very interesting take on the story


Is it not sad that in this time, we are more surprised by acts of love than acts of hate?
-Me

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I shall watch this thread with great interest.
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Very impressed so far. Can't wait to see the completed project!
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