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1997 Special Edition Audio Mixes, GOUT-Synced

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 (Edited)

Now available on the 'Spleen, and via the /r/Fanedits subreddit.

The 1997 Special Edition audio mixes of the original trilogy are, to my mind, the most recent mixes I can stomach for the most part, and were the first ‘modern’ mixes produced for these films. Changes aside, it is the best Star Wars has ever sounded, since the 2004 DVD and 2011 BluRay audio mixes are littered with various problems and were redone from the ground up.

This project syncs the 1997 Special Edition audio mixes to the GOUT. In the process, it had to be edited here and there to address audio differences that correspond to visual changes. The primary source is a preservation of the theatrical DTS audio for the 1997 Special Edition by CapableMetal (whose sources were in turn provided by Jetrell1969 and SilverWook), and the secondary source is Hairy_Hen’s GOUT-synced OOT audio. Special thanks to ChainsawAsh for encoding the lossless PCM output to DTS.

I have tried to stick as close as possible to the 1997 mixes, reverting to Hairy_Hen’s OOT audio as minimally as possible to meet the objective. In many places it was only necessary to use Hairy_Hen’s audio for the front channels, for example. Sometimes a visual alteration was able to be addressed without resorting to Hairy_Hen’s audio at all.

I have included a slightly editorialized version of The Empire Strikes Back’s audio which keeps Luke’s line, "You’re lucky you don’t taste very good,” and removes his scream as he falls through the Cloud City shaft. For many, these are the two elements of the 1997 mix of Empire that are not easily stomached.
This alternate version is labelled as “Custom Version” and the version without these editorial changes is labelled as “’97 Purist Version.” (Purist in the sense that it does not take the liberty of deviating from the 1997 mix in these two instances when nothing visual prompts it.)

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Q. “What is GOUT?”

A. The GOUT refers to the 2006 bonus DVDs containing the original theatrical versions of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. Though it was disappointingly sourced from an old LaserDisc master from 1993 and presented in non-anamorphic format, it remains the best official release to date of the original versions of these films.

Q. “What does it mean to be GOUT-synced?”

A. Fans have come a long way since 2006, with many preservation and fan edit projects, such as Harmy’s Despecialized Editions and Team NegativeOne’s 35mm restoration. There have been numerous audio preservations, and Project Threepio, which presents subtitles in a multitude of languages. By convention, most of these have maintained a standard of reference by being synced to the 2006 bonus DVD release. As a result, one can borrow a video stream from here and an audio stream from there, and mux them together. It is a standardized convention for these projects to ensure wide compatibility. Due to this, you could mux these audio tracks into whatever preservation project you prefer and enjoy them.

Q. “This is not a preservation.”

A. Correct. My introduction to Star Wars was during the time of the Special Edition, and that is the audio mix that was encoded into my brain and feels the most familiar. I like having the option to view the original version with this slightly alternate, and properly remastered audio track. But it is not preserving anything about the original theatrical versions, that’s right.

Q. “Didn’t someone already do this?”

A. Yes, I have seen one other user post a similar project, though I noticed some things I felt were off, and some visual tweak whose audio was still present in the audio despite it not matching what is onscreen. I did these so I can be confident in how they turned out, and no disrespect is intended to the one who had worked on a similar idea previously.

Q. “How much of Hairy_Hen’s audio was used?”

A. Hairy_Hen’s audio is a very respectable restoration of the original theatrical audio, mastered in 5.1 surround. However, being sourced largely from stereo elements, it is not mastered in the same way as the Special Edition mixes. I tried to dip into his audio only as necessary, and to mask the transitions by avoiding them taking place in the middle of dialogue, preferring to segue during a change in environment to keep a sense of consistency in a given scene. Quite frequently it was perfectly seamless to transition in and back out after only a few seconds, though it just depends on the scene. There are many instances in which the two rear surround channels could be left alone and only the front three needed to use Hairy_Hen’s audio. It is not perfect, given the source material available, but I hope that it is something one can enjoy without noticing any flaws. I erred on the side of having a smooth transition over keeping the sheer percentage down of using Hairy_Hen’s audio.

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I’m super glad you’re doing this, as it was something I myself wanted to do! Sounds like you’re taking great care to make it as “authentic” as possible.

If you want DTS encodes of these when you’re done like I did for your PT V5, let me know, I’ve got that whole process much more streamlined now. (Not sure that DTS-HD MA would be worthwhile as theatrical DTS is lower bitrate than standard DTS, correct?)

I think you’re crazy
Maybe

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What version of the movie are you going to use? The GOUT itself or Despecialized?

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Despecialized is GOUT synced already, and he’s just doing audio tracks for others to mux into whichever version they want, so the answer would be neither and both at the same time.

I think you’re crazy
Maybe

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Ohh ok, I thought he was releasing the audio + a version of the movie, not just the audio. I thought it’d be the Despecialized since that’s GOUT synced.

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Exactly. Barring an official OOT release, this is about as future proof as it gets. Even then, I’m sure someone will GOUT-sync even that release to correspond to the various things people have done up to that point.
And thanks, Ash, your encoding setup may come in handy. I’ve just got a PCM output for ANH so I can encode it as needed once I have them all finished.

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Excellent. In my opinion the 97 mix, content changes aside, is the best star wars ever sounded.

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Especially for TESB, with all the music transitions clearly improved.

“I have to say that I felt George’s group of six films had more innovative visual imagination, and this film was more of a retrenchment to things you had seen before and characters you had seen before, and it took a few baby steps forward with new characters.” - James Cameron about Episode VII.

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MalàStrana said:

Especially for TESB, with all the music transitions clearly improved.

And how!

I spotted one I wasn’t aware of before. Pull up and compare the OOT and SE of the scene where Boba Fett stands on the landing platform and instructs the security people to put Han in the cargo hold.

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Very much looking forward to this. Thinking these muxed with the Return of the GOUT/JawsTDS will be my go to versions (obviously using the No Scream/“You don’t taste very good.” alternate ESB).

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

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Well, ESB will be the least ideal of the three, I think. There are a few points where I have no choice but to revert to Hairy_Hen audio for a little bit at a time as musical timing changes coincide with visual changes. I think all the transitions are all right, but it’ll be a less overall consistent mix than ANH will be. Can’t be helped, though.

There’s something that’s going to sound like a mistake, but isn’t. The music seems to catch slightly during the shot change from the interior of the Falcon to an exterior shot right after Leia nurses Luke’s wound on the Falcon bunk, and tells him she’ll “be back.” Queue it up and you’ll hear what I mean.

Empire has a great deal of musical changes and musical sync changes. Nothing I ever noticed until trying to do this. I retained 1997’s version except when a visual change prompted me not to. Though once we’re in Hairy_Hen audio, I can’t jump back out until we get to a suitable point of transition.

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Got them all encoded, and ChainsawAsh will be providing DTS encodes as well.

The plan is to release them as DTS, 448kbps 5.1 AC3, and 256kbps 2.0 AC3 to suite people’s various needs.

When Han shoots Greedo, it sounds like the audio shifts slightly, but it is like that in the 1997 mix itself. I’ve vetted the files, and everything seems to be good. I look forward to listening to these next Fall before Episode 9, probably. I’ll let you all know once these are up.

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 (Edited)

Hal 9000 said:

When Han shoots Greedo, it sounds like the audio shifts slightly, but it is like that in the 1997 mix itself.

This slightly confused me. Isn’t this a part that would use Hairy_Hen’s due to Greedo shooting as well in the SE Mix?

Excited to give these a listen 😃

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

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Well, the leadup to that shot. The transition points is right before Han says, “Yes, I bet you have” and right before Greedo bonks his head on the table. Except the rear channels, which were able to remain 1997 SE and be briefly crossfaded to address sync.

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Thanks, just wasn’t processing right in my head.

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

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Now availalbe! You can find them on the 'spleen, and via a direct download link on the /r/Fanedits subreddit. Thanks to Ash for encoding DTS tracks for us. 😃

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I have included a slightly editorialized version of The Empire Strikes Back’s audio which keeps Luke’s line, "You’re lucky you don’t taste very good,” and removes his scream as he falls through the Cloud City shaft. For many, these are the two elements of the 1997 mix of Empire that are not easily stomached.
This alternate version is labelled as “Custom Version” and the version without these editorial changes is labelled as “’97 Purist Version.” (Purist in the sense that it does not take the liberty of deviating from the 1997 mix in these two instances when nothing visual prompts it.)

Interesting project! What is the status of the “Bring my shuttle” vs. “Alert my Star Destroyer to prepare for my arrival” line in this project? That’s something else that I might expect to vary in a purist vs. custom version, though I suspect few would complain if both versions had “Bring my shuttle”.

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Both versions have “Bring my shuttle,” since in the SE the very next shot continues the musical score with a new establishing shot of his shuttle on the landing platform.
Similarly, neither version has Luke’s lightsaber deactivation sound effect as he flees the wampa, under the justification that including the OOT audio here is a natural function of using it for the scene as a whole.

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Hal 9000 said:

Now availalbe! You can find them on the 'spleen, and via a direct download link on the /r/Fanedits subreddit. Thanks to Ash for encoding DTS tracks for us. 😃

Happy to help! Haven’t muxed them into Despecialized yet, but I’m excited to give them a listen. Wish I had a 5.1 setup so I could get the full effect of these…

I think you’re crazy
Maybe

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Thanks for this work Hal !

“I have to say that I felt George’s group of six films had more innovative visual imagination, and this film was more of a retrenchment to things you had seen before and characters you had seen before, and it took a few baby steps forward with new characters.” - James Cameron about Episode VII.

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There appears to be a problem with my DTS encodes of these, as pointed out by a user on MySpleen. The DTS copies are the only ones that are affected. HAL and I are working on getting this fixed - I’ve identified the problem and know how to fix it, but I can’t do so with the files he’s already provided me, I’ll need the individual mono WAVs for each channel, so it might be a bit before the patched DTS versions are available.

I should note that they’re not unlistenable - the problem is a loud “POP” at the very beginning and a loud burst of static noise at the very end. The other issue is that these somehow ended up as 24 bit output, which isn’t really an issue other than the fact that the source was 16 bit and 24 bit is not DVD-compatible.

I think you’re crazy
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Copy/pasting this from my MySpleen comment (I may also post this in the Technical Help section here):

Well, I’ve been able to encode the audio to DTS without the pop/static artifacts that Audacity introduced for me the first time around, but whether I use eac3to or Surcode directly (yes, I know eac3to uses Surcode’s encoder), MediaInfo always reports the DTS output as 24-bit. I cannot seem to get a 16-bit end result no matter what I do…

…however in doing some research I’ve seen a TON of people essentially saying that a bit depth value for a lossy codec is meaningless.

So I guess my question is…does it matter if the final DTS track is “24 bit” at all? Will this cause compatibility issues for people? And if so, does anyone know how to get a 16-bit 1510kbps DTS encoded from 16-bit PCM input? Either from Surcode/eac3to or from a different program?

I think you’re crazy
Maybe

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I, too, discovered a problem that is being repaired. Turns out I misaligned a few bits of audio for small snippets of the Left and Right channels that were directed to the Center channel to undo Special Edition changes such as Luke’s scream. There are at least one of these issues per film, and this is being corrected along with what ChainsawAsh is doing.
Thanks for your patience; but V2 ought to be what we are all hoping for.