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The theatrical colors of the Star Wars trilogy

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Since I don’t want to clutter NeverarGreat’s regrade thread with ongoing discussions about the original colors of the Star Wars trilogy, I decided to start a dedicated thread to this subject, as it is relevant to future Star Wars trilogy preservations.

The discussion that prompted this thread is about the colors of the corridor where Leia gives R2-D2 the disc with her message for Obi-Wan Kenobi. On the bluray this scene looks like this:

The panels have a grey color, as they have had on most home video releases that preceeded it. Here’s the same shot as it looks on the 1986 Japanese Special Collection laserdisc:

This is the way most fans remember this scene.

However, in the 1977 theatrical release the colors seem to have had a rather pronounced green cast, as is seen for a 1977 bootleg recently shared by williarob:

Color balancing the raw LPP scan used by Team Negative1 for the Silver Screen Edition reveals a similar color palette:

This color timing can also be found on the earliest home video release. Here’s what the shot looks like on the 1982 pan and scan laserdisc release:

Let the debate begin!

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Wow, coincedence?

“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”
― Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays

“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”

― Socrates

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Darth Lucas said:

Beat me to it, DrDre. Haha

Yeah, I felt guilty for invading Neverar’s thread, which ultimately should be about his amazing work, and not my ramblings about print colors… 😉

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The same shot from the Faces Widescreen Collector’s Edition VHS:

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“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”
― Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays

“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”

― Socrates

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An interesting thread…even though it could open up a HUGE can of worms, but none the less, I am looking very much forward to having some questions answered here. Thanks for creating this thread Dre!

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DrDre said:

Color balancing the raw LPP scan used by Team Negative1 for the Silver Screen Edition reveals a similar color palette:

I think this is the best looking (and probably most accurate) version of this shot to me. It’s dark, which makes sense because she’s doing this in the shadows, away from view of any storm troopers. The green is there, but it’s subtle, only peeking through in certain luminances and still reads as neutral overall.

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Jetrell Fo said:
This one is from the Silver Edition Widescreen SE VHS:

“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”
― Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays

“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”

― Socrates

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I guess I’ll continue to stick my nose in this conversation by repeating my thoughts from the other thread.

I think one of the key things to consider is the generation of the print. From what I’ve seen in several key shots, both the GOUT and the 97 special edition transfer were done from an interpositive. That could change how the colors look since its kind of an orange color. But that also means they’re one generation removed from the original negative. Also, since they were done later, there could be a slight difference in how the interpositive was generated.

So basically rather than tge coloring found in those versions being wrong I think it’s just different. It also could be closer to the original negative which is what some of us want to see. For those wanting a strictly 1977 transfer feel some of the uncomfortable color choices from those versions maybe closer to the truth. I just think the colors need to be properly balanced so that and it feels right as much as possible but the original color timing as it appeared in the original prints stays. If that means certain scenes look kind of green than they do. But they need to be corrected to the things around them so the blacks in the neighboring scenes are actually black and not dark green like I’ve seen in some of the images that have been shared. Because when you correct for just the darker green in those shots it reduces the green tint in the corridor shots of Leia and R2 without turning the white corridor walls magenta pink.

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yotsuya said:

I guess I’ll continue to stick my nose in this conversation by repeating my thoughts from the other thread.

I think one of the key things to consider is the generation of the print. From what I’ve seen in several key shots, both the GOUT and the 97 special edition transfer were done from an interpositive. That could change how the colors look since its kind of an orange color. But that also means they’re one generation removed from the original negative. Also, since they were done later, there could be a slight difference in how the interpositive was generated.

So basically rather than tge coloring found in those versions being wrong I think it’s just different. It also could be closer to the original negative which is what some of us want to see. For those wanting a strictly 1977 transfer feel some of the uncomfortable color choices from those versions maybe closer to the truth. I just think the colors need to be properly balanced so that and it feels right as much as possible but the original color timing as it appeared in the original prints stays. If that means certain scenes look kind of green than they do. But they need to be corrected to the things around them so the blacks in the neighboring scenes are actually black and not dark green like I’ve seen in some of the images that have been shared. Because when you correct for just the darker green in those shots it reduces the green tint in the corridor shots of Leia and R2 without turning the white corridor walls magenta pink.

This is how I got to the corrected LPP colors. Here are four frames of different scenes in close proximity of the raw scan of the LPP used to create the SSE:

I balance the Darth Vader shot (no match to the technicolor print), such that the stormtroopers, and the walls are white, and Darth Vader black:

Now I use the color balancing LUT to correct the other frames:

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Another scene that has been discussed numerous times, is the Vader/soldier strangling scene. Currently there are three references for this scene, that I know of:

The Senator print photos (not known if the photo was color balanced):

The 1977 bootleg (probably not balanced, but VHS to digital transfer):

A recent photo of a projected technicolor print shared with me (not known if the photo was color balanced):

All three of these photos point (two of which are technicolor prints for sure) point to a very similar color grading, all of which are somewhat green shifted.

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At this point it does seem the color of technicolor prints (I’m pretty sure the 1977 bootleg is also of a technicolor print) does have a green shift when projected as has been argued by many, and any color grading attempting to match these colors should incorporate these anomalies. However, it’s also interesting to estimate what the colors would look like without these anomalies. One thing which helps in this case, is the presence of subtitles, which are supposed to be white, and can thus be used to balance the colors.

Before:

After:

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Nice catch with balancing to the subtitles! In my humble opinion the grey of the door frames (the irregular edge set inside the circular door opening) in the back of that shot with Vader should match the frames in the long hallway shot of Princess Leia. They look to be of similar construction, so theoretically they should match.

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Williarob said:

On set video (from OCP Movie’s Deleted Magic) shows that there was a blue light in the escape pod:

Imgur

Cool! So, that’s another thing we definitely can confirm was part of the original color grading.

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Some weeks ago, during my daily color grading homeworks 😄 I managed to try to mimic the color grading of poita’s scan; to achieve that, I took WOWOW (still using that for tests, because EP4 * should * have a little better color grading than BD) and RaiTre as color reference; mixed 40% WOWOW untouched and 60% WOWOW regraded, raised the saturation a bit, moved the hue torwards green, and that’s the result:

Comparison: http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison/198176

I call this 2017RG (regrade) just to remember; maybe Vader’s cape is too green now, but it reveals more details, crushed in the untouched version; still, a bit too green for my tastes, that’s why was put aside, but after reading the thread, I thought to post it nevertheless, to have some feedback.

[spoRv] projects: released | in progress | future | homepage: blog.spoRv.com| fan preservation forum: fanres.com|

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DrDre said:

Williarob said:

On set video (from OCP Movie’s Deleted Magic) shows that there was a blue light in the escape pod:

Imgur

Cool! So, that’s another thing we definitely can confirm was part of the original color grading.

The blue light comes and goes depending on the shot. It is present about half the time. R2 should be very blue when the light is on and he has entered the pod. It is one of those things on my list to correct with my edit, but not with my BR restoration. Just one of those warts we have to live with.

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DrDre said:

At this point it does seem the color of technicolor prints (I’m pretty sure the 1977 bootleg is also of a technicolor print) does have a green shift when projected as has been argued by many, and any color grading attempting to match these colors should incorporate these anomalies. However, it’s also interesting to estimate what the colors would look like without these anomalies. One thing which helps in this case, is the presence of subtitles, which are supposed to be white, and can thus be used to balance the colors.

Before:

After:

That is about what I came up with for that shot. Then the shot of Leia and R2 remains green, but is less green. I think the green is integral to the 77 print, but it should be minimized as much as the surrounding scenes will allow. I think to accurately represent the 35 mm prints, we need to take the reported green tint of the Tech IB and compensate for it. So this is the color grading I would champion.

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^…^ said:

Some weeks ago, during my daily color grading homeworks 😄 I managed to try to mimic the color grading of poita’s scan; to achieve that, I took WOWOW (still using that for tests, because EP4 * should * have a little better color grading than BD) and RaiTre as color reference; mixed 40% WOWOW untouched and 60% WOWOW regraded, raised the saturation a bit, moved the hue torwards green, and that’s the result:

Comparison: http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison/198176

I call this 2017RG (regrade) just to remember; maybe Vader’s cape is too green now, but it reveals more details, crushed in the untouched version; still, a bit too green for my tastes, that’s why was put aside, but after reading the thread, I thought to post it nevertheless, to have some feedback.

I think it looks good. Maybe a bit too much saturation in the rebel trooper, and a bit dark, but otherwise I like it. This is how I would regrade the bluray for this shot with the current information:

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I think it looks good. Maybe a bit too much saturation in the rebel trooper, and a bit dark, but otherwise I like it. This is how I would regrade the bluray for this shot with the current information:

*** How then would Leia’s interrogation scene with Vader look, given this same Color Grading, Dre?

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Tweaked a bit previous settings; lowered green and saturation a bit, increased gamma and contrast; top WOWOW, bottom WOWOW 2017ReGrade2:

Don’t want to push too much, because I’d like to leave some details in the shadows, and avoid black crush/white clipping as much as possible.

[spoRv] projects: released | in progress | future | homepage: blog.spoRv.com| fan preservation forum: fanres.com|

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^…^ said:

Tweaked a bit previous settings; lowered green and saturation a bit, increased gamma and contrast; top WOWOW, bottom WOWOW 2017ReGrade2:

Don’t want to push too much, because I’d like to leave some details in the shadows, and avoid black crush/white clipping as much as possible.

Okay…I’m trying to adjust my colors as well, and although I can’t count on my monitor to give me accurate colors, I think this is close…albeit, I know I have the colors much more saturated then Dre’s here:

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Other than the colors being more saturated, am I close to how these settings should look? I ask again, because I can’t trust my own monitor to give me a proper look.

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dlvh said:

^…^ said:

Tweaked a bit previous settings; lowered green and saturation a bit, increased gamma and contrast; top WOWOW, bottom WOWOW 2017ReGrade2:

Don’t want to push too much, because I’d like to leave some details in the shadows, and avoid black crush/white clipping as much as possible.

Okay…I’m trying to adjust my colors as well, and although I can’t count on my monitor to give me accurate colors, I think this is close…albeit, I know I have the colors much more saturated then Dre’s here:

Imgur

Imgur

Imgur

Other than the colors being more saturated, am I close to how these settings should look? I ask again, because I can’t trust my own monitor to give me a proper look.

Leia really looks natural here, at least to me. Great Job!

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dlvh said:

I think it looks good. Maybe a bit too much saturation in the rebel trooper, and a bit dark, but otherwise I like it. This is how I would regrade the bluray for this shot with the current information:

*** How then would Leia’s interrogation scene with Vader look, given this same Color Grading, Dre?

Since the print scan is very dark for the Vader shot, it’s not possible to transfer this color grading to the Leia shot, so it would take some creativity. Here’s another attemptt for two shots with Vader and Captain Antilles.

Reference:

Regrade:

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