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4(as opposed to 3) audio tracks for the original theatrical run of Star Wars?

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 (Edited)

 

Does anyone here have(or have read) the actual article that this blogger is referencing?:

http://aspectratio.wordpress.com/page/2/

For the last few weeks I have been reading through back issues of Mix to get a sense of how the magazine has reported on the development of digital sound technology in Hollywood. One article that stood out from the rest examined the theatrical re-release of the original Star Wars trilogy in 1997. Larry Blake, the author of the piece and a sound practitioner himself, confronted the whole question of whether or not George Lucas was committing heresy by tampering with the “original” films. Essentially, Blake found that even in 1977 there were multiple “originals” in theatrical circulation.

SNIP

 

This brings me back to Larry Blake’s Star Wars article. During the original release of Star Wars in May 1977 Twentieth Century-Fox released no fewer than four versions of the film to North American theaters. While audiences may have seen the same film, they heard three different ones. Star Wars was one of the first films to be mixed in Dolby Stereo and the very first film to employ a low frequency effects (subwoofer) channel, resulting in some very experimental mixing techniques. No one was quite sure how to best create a multichannel mix and the tools were not yet in place to ensure that the Dolby Stereo mixes were problem-free. By my count, there were four separate mixes readied for distribution: a 4-track master (LCRS, or Left, Center, Right, Surround), a 6-track version (LCRS+LFE), a 2-track Dolby mix (LR), and a mono track.

To be sure, the differences among the sound tracks were not merely cosmetic. Some sound effects, foley, and dialog were missing from some mixes. Ben Burtt recalls that as he and his sound crew scrambled to create the various mixes in the weeks leading up to the film’s premiere “there was a lot of stuff [in the 2-track version] that wasn’t in the stereo optical [4-track], including lines of dialog and sound effects, because opticals were being cut in after the mix.” Burtt notes that the simple-stereo 2-track mix “was the first mix finished and was also the least complete creatively, because at that time the stereo optical [format] was an unknown quantity and Dolby wanted to test it and find out how it was going to work. That mix was rushed out of the door, and we didn’t think it was that important because it was only going to be heard in a few theaters.”

Recalls Burt, “By the time we go to the monaural there were even further developments: more changes in dialog, more changes in sound effects, different processing.” He goes on to joke that “There was an offscreen line of Threepio’s, where he says, ‘That’s the main power station tractor beam switch, and you’ve got to go there and turn it off.’ And that was not in the 6-track version of the movie; it was only in the stereo optical [4-track]. It wasn’t even in the mono print, and I don’t know how it happened, but we found that line and now it’s back in.”

?????!

All of this very intriguing and slightly confusing.

So Burrt is claiming 3PIO's tractor beam line was in the 4 track stereo optical version and not in the mono print.?

It is definitely in the mono print so this  must be a case of faulty memory on the part of Burrt---right?

But then, 3PIO's line did surface in the 1984 HiFi stereo VHS release.

If my understanding is correct---The original 35mm stereo audio track as it appears on the the 1982 VHS tape(and laserdisc)only has 3 audio channels(if you run it through dolby pro logic)---Left Center-Right.This was how dolby stereo tracks were encoded onto VHS linear stereo tapes prior to 1984-85.

Up to this point the surround (4th)channel was missing!

After 1984-85 new VHS Hifi stereo tracks were released to the public that could be decoded through Dolby pro logic that would  reveal that 4rth channel (the surround track).

 

Was 3PIO's tractor beam line in the surround track?

(although all dialogue by tradition is routed into the center channel)

---hence the reason why it was not heard on the VHS/laserdisc releases in 1982-83?

On edit:

This website:

http://www.fromscripttodvd.com/star_wars_a_day_long_remembered_biblio.htm

--reveals the name of the article that the above blogger is referencing:

Blake, Larry, “The Force Returns: Remastering The ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy,” Mix, February 1997

 

 

 

 

 

 



I saw Star Wars in 1977. Many, many, many times. For 3 years it was just Star Wars...period. I saw it in good theaters, cheap theaters and drive-ins with those clunky metal speakers you hang on your window. The screen and sound quality never subtracted from the excitement. I can watch the original cut right now, over 30 years later, on some beat up VHS tape and enjoy it. It's the story that makes this movie. Nothing? else.

kurtb8474 1 week ago

http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=SkAZxd-5Hp8


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Classic Sounds

Oct. 01, 1998

-By Perry Sun

 

/filmjournal/photos/f9703d.GIF

Over the past few years, a trend appears to be growing-the restoration and re-release of films from the past. These movies range from cult favorites of the 1980s to standard-setting works of the 1970s, and to seminal classics from the golden age of cinema such as Gone With the Wind. And these are in addition to Disney's longtime tradition of re-releasing their legendary animated films every seven (or so) years.

Along with the reintroduction of these films, there are often extensive efforts toward restoring film prints and remastering soundtracks. It's been well-publicized that the image integrity of films stored over decades in archives can deteriorate because of the chemical instability of the emulsion (or base) of the print. But what about the sound? Similar restoration efforts are required, if the sound to be used is the optical track from the film print. Then, special considerations need to be taken into account, among them reducing noise in the sound, such as pops, clicks and hiss, through the application of specialized technology. If the sound is to be reconstructed from magnetic tape masters, inherent anomalies are possible due to the effects of long-term storage.

In the re-release of movies, generally what is done with the picture is to assemble the best surviving film elements, restore the prints, correct color timing if appropriate, possibly use digital enhancements to fix imperfections, and then create new master prints on reference-quality film stock. In essence, the purpose of these efforts is to allow the audience to visually experience the film as close as possible to what the public saw when the movie first opened.

However, as will soon become apparent, there has been considerably greater latitude with the use of sound in motion picture reissues. For vintage films, efforts entail print restoration (and therefore the optical soundtrack) and reduction of noise, with the objective of simply presenting the sound in a condition as pristine as possible. But in other cases, the original filmmakers may decide to channel new creative energies to make use of today's digital sound technology, crafting soundtracks with new dimensions and effects, which were originally desired by the filmmakers but not possible due to financial or technological constraints. Still, experts in sound restoration may decide to enhance the spatial horizon of a film, originally released with a monaural soundtrack, by applying specialized techniques to steer mono sound effects throughout the theatre, and extract ambience from the original sound and create surround channels.

In this article, we will take a look in detail at the sonic restoration and remastering of two important films in the past two decades, both of which underwent a dramatic 5.1-channel digital sound makeover. Some impressions of these films in their new digital life follow. In addition, we will look at the reworking of the sound for older movies, and a listing will be offered of other films and ongoing projects with new digital soundtracks.

Star Wars Special Edition

This is perhaps the most widely publicized film in terms of its sound re-engineering. Star Wars is already known as one of the major milestones in the history of cinema sound. Its original opening in May 1977 signaled the beginning of a new era-the release of films with Dolby® Stereo multi-channel sound. The opening scene, in which the Star Destroyer flies over the audience, came with the premonition that "stereo surround sound" was here to stay.

In remastering the sound for the 20th-anniversary release, it was decided that the original four-track master, which had maintained its integrity over almost 20 years of storage, would serve as the backbone for the creation of a new 5.1-channel master. This master was the LCRS (Left-Center-Right-Surround) mix for Dolby Stereo, recorded on magnetic tape. In preparation for the new soundtrack, the first step was to duplicate this master, and then reduce inherent tape hiss by using the Cedar DH-1 noise-reduction system. Then, the four tracks were equalized using a GML Model 8200. Finally, an Aphex Dominator II limiter was employed to reduce harshness in the sound caused by sharp transients.

Because the surround channel in the original master was monaural, stereo surround was created by running the mono surround through a home theatre THX® processor, which splits the single channel into left and right, and then scrambles their relative phase. In some cases, stereo surround effects were added, to an extent similar to what is done with today's digital sound mixes (such as separate left and right effects to impart a feeling of spatial dimension in the theatre). For the LFE (Low Frequency Effects) channel, deep bass effects, such as for explosions, were added to give some visceral impact at key moments in the film.

New mixes were necessary for the added scenes, which were created in the 5.1-channel format. These mixes were meticulously blended into the four-track master, plus original dialog, music and effects elements to create a new 35mm Dolby SR (Spectral Recording) noise-reduction-encoded, six-channel master. Print masters were then created for the three digital sound formats (Dolby Digital, SDDS® and DTS®).

How did this new creative work sound? It was quite apparent upon listening to the first 10 minutes or so of the film that the sound engineers were trying to achieve a delicate balance of remaining faithful to the original mix and incorporating embellishments (mostly reflecting creative ideas originally envisioned but not carried out for various reasons). The music recording sounded remarkably clean, mostly devoid of excessive brightness, and with good fidelity.

The precise panning of sounds (and occasionally dialogue) along the screen from the separate front channels actually was very convincing, and was a testament to the remarkable work of the sound crew in the early days of Dolby Stereo. Of course, being able to hear the accurate placement of sounds on-screen is commonplace with today's digital sound, but experiencing this from a 20-year-old master is breathtaking.

In many scenes, "opening up" the ambient soundfield through stereo surrounds was apparent. One is the desert landscape on Tatooine, where the sound of the wind sweeps between the front and back. The opening scenes aboard the rebel ship and the final attack sequences on the surface of the Death Star exhibited similar enhanced depth in the surround field. And, some left-right rear effects were noticed, as in Tie Fighter scenes, though they seemed to be more subtle compared to current digital soundtracks. The LFE was present in the explosions of Alderan and the Death Star, and from the Millennium Falcon, though again the intensity of the effects was less pronounced than what would be encountered in a contemporary movie. These apparent subtleties could have been deliberate, in deference to the "delicate balance" mentioned earlier.

The one aspect of this new edition that was controversial was the dialogue. While there were no problems with intelligibility, it was almost impossible to overlook the dialogue's bright and strident characteristics. Such imperfections are to be expected due to the dated fidelity and recording technology. Nonetheless, the dramatic improvements to the sonics for this seminal film have prompted many film sound experts and enthusiasts to offer high praise for the achievements at Lucasfilm.

http://www.filmjournal.com/filmjournal/esearch/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000692295

I saw Star Wars in 1977. Many, many, many times. For 3 years it was just Star Wars...period. I saw it in good theaters, cheap theaters and drive-ins with those clunky metal speakers you hang on your window. The screen and sound quality never subtracted from the excitement. I can watch the original cut right now, over 30 years later, on some beat up VHS tape and enjoy it. It's the story that makes this movie. Nothing? else.

kurtb8474 1 week ago

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Very interesting!

This is what I am re-constructing out of this:

-stereo 2-track master made for initial batch of prints for premier day

-six-track mix made for 70mm screenings

-stereo 4-track master made (which replaces the initial 2-track master?) for subsequent stereo prints. This may have been an adaptation of the six-track mix made for 70mm, simply removing the LFE.

Alternatively, the last two points may be reversed. Maybe the 4-track stereo was made immediately after the premier 2-track, and then they added LFE on it for the six-track. Or maybe each of them is its own mix, who knows.

The mono mix definitely was the last mix done, as it has all the extra ADR and sound effects, and had the most amount of time to work on it because it was considered the most important. I suspect that Burtt's recollection about the tractor beam line not being in mono is simply a mistake on his part.

Mysterious uncoverings either way though.

The Secret History of Star Wars -- now available on Amazon.com!

"When George went back and put new creatures into the original Star Wars, I find that disturbing. It’s a revision of history. That bothers me."

--James Cameron, Entertainment Weekly, April 2010

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danny_boy said:

Star Wars Special Edition


In remastering the sound for the 20th-anniversary release, it was decided that the original four-track master, which had maintained its integrity over almost 20 years of storage, would serve as the backbone for the creation of a new 5.1-channel master. This master was the LCRS (Left-Center-Right-Surround) mix for Dolby Stereo, recorded on magnetic tape. In preparation for the new soundtrack, the first step was to duplicate this master, and then reduce inherent tape hiss by using the Cedar DH-1 noise-reduction system. Then, the four tracks were equalized using a GML Model 8200. Finally, an Aphex Dominator II limiter was employed to reduce harshness in the sound caused by sharp transients.

Because the surround channel in the original master was monaural, stereo surround was created by running the mono surround through a home theatre THX® processor, which splits the single channel into left and right, and then scrambles their relative phase. In some cases, stereo surround effects were added, to an extent similar to what is done with today's digital sound mixes (such as separate left and right effects to impart a feeling of spatial dimension in the theatre). For the LFE (Low Frequency Effects) channel, deep bass effects, such as for explosions, were added to give some visceral impact at key moments in the film.

New mixes were necessary for the added scenes, which were created in the 5.1-channel format. These mixes were meticulously blended into the four-track master, plus original dialog, music and effects elements to create a new 35mm Dolby SR (Spectral Recording) noise-reduction-encoded, six-channel master. Print masters were then created for the three digital sound formats (Dolby Digital, SDDS® and DTS®).

How did this new creative work sound? It was quite apparent upon listening to the first 10 minutes or so of the film that the sound engineers were trying to achieve a delicate balance of remaining faithful to the original mix and incorporating embellishments (mostly reflecting creative ideas originally envisioned but not carried out for various reasons). The music recording sounded remarkably clean, mostly devoid of excessive brightness, and with good fidelity.

The precise panning of sounds (and occasionally dialogue) along the screen from the separate front channels actually was very convincing, and was a testament to the remarkable work of the sound crew in the early days of Dolby Stereo. Of course, being able to hear the accurate placement of sounds on-screen is commonplace with today's digital sound, but experiencing this from a 20-year-old master is breathtaking.

In many scenes, "opening up" the ambient soundfield through stereo surrounds was apparent. One is the desert landscape on Tatooine, where the sound of the wind sweeps between the front and back. The opening scenes aboard the rebel ship and the final attack sequences on the surface of the Death Star exhibited similar enhanced depth in the surround field. And, some left-right rear effects were noticed, as in Tie Fighter scenes, though they seemed to be more subtle compared to current digital soundtracks. The LFE was present in the explosions of Alderan and the Death Star, and from the Millennium Falcon, though again the intensity of the effects was less pronounced than what would be encountered in a contemporary movie. These apparent subtleties could have been deliberate, in deference to the "delicate balance" mentioned earlier.

The one aspect of this new edition that was controversial was the dialogue. While there were no problems with intelligibility, it was almost impossible to overlook the dialogue's bright and strident characteristics. Such imperfections are to be expected due to the dated fidelity and recording technology. Nonetheless, the dramatic improvements to the sonics for this seminal film have prompted many film sound experts and enthusiasts to offer high praise for the achievements at Lucasfilm.

http://www.filmjournal.com/filmjournal/esearch/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000692295

This would completely explain why the 97SE 5.1 has a more tinny and airy quality when compared to the 93 and 70mm audio. The masters used are actually different mixes.

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

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No, the four-track master mix served as the basis for both the 35mm and 70mm stereo versions and apparently the 1997 SE audio mix.

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

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Was the 4 track version released? I don't think any theater could have been equipped for it at the time. Another reason is because Dolby had to come up with their stereo matrix and SR later in the 80's to do this.

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

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Why make a four-track if it was never used, whether it the basis for the stereo and 70mm or if it was never released? And wasn't each mix, as is said, its own performance? But if the 70mm and 35mm releases are just fold-downs and +1LFE respectively, then there would only be two true actual mixing performances, no? It would make more sense that it is the international mix, but i would think if any theatres were capable of 4-track playback it would be in the US. Hmm.

The Secret History of Star Wars -- now available on Amazon.com!

"When George went back and put new creatures into the original Star Wars, I find that disturbing. It’s a revision of history. That bothers me."

--James Cameron, Entertainment Weekly, April 2010

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 (Edited)

This master was the LCRS (Left-Center-Right-Surround) mix for Dolby Stereo, recorded on magnetic tape.

Given the overall similarity to the stereo versions, I'd suspected something like this to be the case.  Unaltered portions of the 1997 mix do sound very similar to the original.

Finally, an Aphex Dominator II limiter was employed to reduce harshness in the sound caused by sharp transients.

Is this why the dynamic range of the 1997 mix is so noticeably reduced compared to the 70mm and 1993 versions?  I strongly suspect this limiter to be the culprit.  Extremely high level transient peaks are one of the biggest reasons the 70mm version sounds so powerful: the brief impacts right at the beginning of loud sound effects really 'snap' with great strength, and no other version duplicates this effect.  Of course, the '97 version wasn't derived from the 70mm directly as the '93 mix was, so it's possible that this 4-track master had lower dynamic range to begin with, but the use of a peak limiter makes me suspicious.  I guess you could describe the transients as 'harsh' from a certain perspective, but I don't find them objectionable the way the remixers evidently did.  (The 4-track may not have held up as well as the 70mm printmaster in sound quality; though if that were the case, why not just use it to begin with?)

Because the surround channel in the original master was monaural, stereo surround was created by running the mono surround through a home theatre THX® processor, which splits the single channel into left and right, and then scrambles their relative phase.

Makes sense.  All the original surround effects are present in the unaltered scenes, and with the same balance relative to the front channels.  Shifting the phase would help spread them around the room by avoiding specific imaging, but by THX's own guidelines it seems unnecessary, since using dipole surround speakers would achieve the same effect without needing to alter the mix itself.  The phase shift would also cause them to be diverted to the central rear speakers in a Dolby-EX setup, though since that format wouldn't come into existence until two years later, it wasn't yet a consideration.

In many scenes, "opening up" the ambient soundfield through stereo surrounds was apparent. One is the desert landscape on Tatooine, where the sound of the wind sweeps between the front and back. The opening scenes aboard the rebel ship and the final attack sequences on the surface of the Death Star exhibited similar enhanced depth in the surround field. And, some left-right rear effects were noticed, as in Tie Fighter scenes, though they seemed to be more subtle compared to current digital soundtracks.

I never noticed any particular expansion of the sound field on Tatooine; to me the wind in the surrounds sounded exactly the same as the original, but it's possible I missed it.  I did notice other places where the original suround effects were given stereo panning, however.  Quite a number of stereo surround effects were added to the spaceship scenes and elsewhere, though to me they usually stand out as objectionable: not always because they are new per se, but because they are not particularly well-integrated into the rest of the mix.  The volume level of most new sound effects in the surround channels is far too loud relative to everything else that's going on, placing too much emphasis on being 'flashy' rather than balanced.  The SE mixes for Empire and Jedi have this same problem with overly-loud surrounds to an even greater degree.

The LFE was present in the explosions of Alderaan and the Death Star, and from the Millennium Falcon, though again the intensity of the effects was less pronounced than what would be encountered in a contemporary movie.

The Alderaan and Death Star explosions are the strongest uses of bass in the '97 mix.  Both of them correspond to the addition of CGI shockwaves into the visuals.  There are a few other bass-heavy moments, but most of the usage is surprisingly subdued throughout the film.

Notice how they don't even mention the use of LFE for the opening scene with the Star Destroyer . . . which isn't actually surprising, because the '97 mix barely contains any bass at all in this iconic scene, so fondly remembered by many who saw the original 70mm version.  The '93 stereo track seems to have more bass here than the '97 mix even without an LFE channel being present, and there's just something not right about that!  It may reflect the dynamic reduction in the main channels, but it's still very strange.

New mixes were necessary for the added scenes, which were created in the 5.1-channel format. These mixes were meticulously blended into the four-track master, plus original dialog, music and effects elements to create a new 35mm Dolby SR (Spectral Recording) noise-reduction-encoded, six-channel master.

I think they must have remixed some original scenes from scratch as well.  Similar to the mono mix, the level of the music can be noticeably more prominent than in the original stereo versions; this is particularly noticeable in the opening scene of the film.

The one aspect of this new edition that was controversial was the dialogue. While there were no problems with intelligibility, it was almost impossible to overlook the dialogue's bright and strident characteristics.

Every time C-3PO speaks, the hiss level is unbelievable.  I have no explanation for this other than the tape quality having degraded over time.  This hissing is also detectable in the original mixes, but to a much lesser degree.  With the '93 mix being made just a few years earlier and the noise being less an issue, it again makes me wonder why they didn't use the 70mm printmaster as their source this time.

Other characters' dialogue has always been of somewhat inconsistent quality (probably why they re-recorded some lines for the mono mix), but I've heard it said that this mainly applies to the lines recorded on set rather than in the studio.

captainsolo said:

This would completely explain why the 97SE 5.1 has a more tinny and airy quality when compared to the 93 and 70mm audio.

This may be true.  The characteristics of the EQ and dynamics could be due to the different masters used in addition to mixing choices made for the SE.  But exactly where this mysterious 4-track fits into the history of it is something I can't definitively state with certainty.  The general similarity of the multichannel versions to each other makes it likely that it served as a basis for all of them, but whether it was actually used as it was or simply as a guideline for the release versions to follow . . . who knows?

Nonetheless, the dramatic improvements to the sonics for this seminal film have prompted many film sound experts and enthusiasts to offer high praise for the achievements at Lucasfilm.

Leaving aside whatever one might think of the additions and changes, the '97 mix is indeed a significant improvement to the auditory experience of the film when comparing it to the sonic limitations of the 35mm versions.  But when using the 70mm mix as a reference point, it seems like a step backwards in several respects.

It still mostly retains that authentic 'Star Wars' sound, though, which is more than can be said for the abominable 2004 remix . . .

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danny_boy said:

If my understanding is correct---The original 35mm stereo audio track as it appears on the the 1982 VHS tape(and laserdisc)only has 3 audio channels(if you run it through dolby pro logic)---Left Center-Right.This was how dolby stereo tracks were encoded onto VHS linear stereo tapes prior to 1984-85.

Up to this point the surround (4th)channel was missing!

After 1984-85 new VHS Hifi stereo tracks were released to the public that could be decoded through Dolby pro logic that would  reveal that 4rth channel (the surround track).

Not quite.

Dolby tracks (Dolby Stereo® on 35mm film prints, or Dolby Surround on home video formats) have always carried the four channels.

Initial Dolby Surround decoders (c.1982) licensed for consumer use only decoded three channels - left, right and surround. It was the introduction of Dolby Pro Logic decoding (c.1987) that allowed consumers to also decode a separate centre channel.

More info here: http://www.dolby.co.uk/about/who-we-are/our-history/history-4.html

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Moth3r said:

danny_boy said:

If my understanding is correct---The original 35mm stereo audio track as it appears on the the 1982 VHS tape(and laserdisc)only has 3 audio channels(if you run it through dolby pro logic)---Left Center-Right.This was how dolby stereo tracks were encoded onto VHS linear stereo tapes prior to 1984-85.

Up to this point the surround (4th)channel was missing!

After 1984-85 new VHS Hifi stereo tracks were released to the public that could be decoded through Dolby pro logic that would  reveal that 4rth channel (the surround track).

Not quite.

Dolby tracks (Dolby Stereo® on 35mm film prints, or Dolby Surround on home video formats) have always carried the four channels.

Initial Dolby Surround decoders (c.1982) licensed for consumer use only decoded three channels - left, right and surround. It was the introduction of Dolby Pro Logic decoding (c.1987) that allowed consumers to also decode a separate centre channel.

More info here: http://www.dolby.co.uk/about/who-we-are/our-history/history-4.html

 

Ahh!

Thanks for that!

Has anyone here  managed to decode that surround track on the 1982 VHS tape?(or the 1982 laserdisc for that matter).

I have tried running it through my decoder(using pro logic II) and the surround channel is barely audible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I saw Star Wars in 1977. Many, many, many times. For 3 years it was just Star Wars...period. I saw it in good theaters, cheap theaters and drive-ins with those clunky metal speakers you hang on your window. The screen and sound quality never subtracted from the excitement. I can watch the original cut right now, over 30 years later, on some beat up VHS tape and enjoy it. It's the story that makes this movie. Nothing? else.

kurtb8474 1 week ago

http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=SkAZxd-5Hp8


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danny_boy said:

 

Does anyone here have(or have read) the actual article that this blogger is referencing?:

http://aspectratio.wordpress.com/page/2/

For the last few weeks I have been reading through back issues of Mix to get a sense of how the magazine has reported on the development of digital sound technology in Hollywood. One article that stood out from the rest examined the theatrical re-release of the original Star Wars trilogy in 1997. Larry Blake, the author of the piece and a sound practitioner himself, confronted the whole question of whether or not George Lucas was committing heresy by tampering with the “original” films. Essentially, Blake found that even in 1977 there were multiple “originals” in theatrical circulation.

SNIP

 

This brings me back to Larry Blake’s Star Wars article. During the original release of Star Wars in May 1977 Twentieth Century-Fox released no fewer than four versions of the film to North American theaters. While audiences may have seen the same film, they heard three different ones. Star Wars was one of the first films to be mixed in Dolby Stereo and the very first film to employ a low frequency effects (subwoofer) channel, resulting in some very experimental mixing techniques. No one was quite sure how to best create a multichannel mix and the tools were not yet in place to ensure that the Dolby Stereo mixes were problem-free. By my count, there were four separate mixes readied for distribution: a 4-track master (LCRS, or Left, Center, Right, Surround), a 6-track version (LCRS+LFE), a 2-track Dolby mix (LR), and a mono track.

I agree with you what is said here is very confusing and I strongly suspect something isn't right about this info, never heard of a fourth mix created for US theaters in '77, three mixes were made and the two stereo versions was created from the 4-track master but that wasn't released as its own mix, it was the groundwork they based the 35mm and 70mm stereo versions on.

danny_boy said:

To be sure, the differences among the sound tracks were not merely cosmetic. Some sound effects, foley, and dialog were missing from some mixes. Ben Burtt recalls that as he and his sound crew scrambled to create the various mixes in the weeks leading up to the film’s premiere “there was a lot of stuff [in the 2-track version] that wasn’t in the stereo optical [4-track], including lines of dialog and sound effects, because opticals were being cut in after the mix.” Burtt notes that the simple-stereo 2-track mix “was the first mix finished and was also the least complete creatively, because at that time the stereo optical [format] was an unknown quantity and Dolby wanted to test it and find out how it was going to work. That mix was rushed out of the door, and we didn’t think it was that important because it was only going to be heard in a few theaters.”

Recalls Burt, “By the time we go to the monaural there were even further developments: more changes in dialog, more changes in sound effects, different processing.” He goes on to joke that “There was an offscreen line of Threepio’s, where he says, ‘That’s the main power station tractor beam switch, and you’ve got to go there and turn it off.’ And that was not in the 6-track version of the movie; it was only in the stereo optical [4-track]. It wasn’t even in the mono print, and I don’t know how it happened, but we found that line and now it’s back in.”

So there was a lot of stuff in the two-track that wasn't in the optical 4-track? then he go on and say that the Threepio line was only in the optical 4-track not even in the mono print, to me it sounds like someone confused certain facts when he wrote this.

This is what I trust: http://www.in70mm.com/news/2003/star_wars/index.htm

(1) 35mm two-track (four-channel) Dolby Stereo
(2) 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
(3) 35mm Academy mono.

(For international release, a fourth format would be available for exhibition: 35mm four-track magnetic stereo.) 

danny_boy said:

Has anyone here managed to decode that surround track on the 1982 VHS tape?(or the 1982 laserdisc for that matter).

Yes, Belbucus captured the Laserdisc audio a few years ago, it is now used on several fan made DVD's. 

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

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There were consumer Dolby decoders on the market in '82? I didn't even see one until the late 80's.

I was seeing old Quadraphonic amps command high prices in used stereo gear shops and they would fly off the shelves in thrift stores, beacuse that was supposedly the only way to decode surround sound at home at the time.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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I just found out that apparently 4 track magnetic audio prints were made up until 1983 ending with Scarface. Is it possible that there were mag-optical combo prints of the OT? There’s a thread over on filmtech where someone remembers running a magnetic/optical ESB print.

It is possible that if Star Wars had magnetic prints that it would indeed be a fourth mix as it had different standards than Dolby Stereo and a limited mono surround controlled by a test tone.

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Anything is possible. Would 4 track have been mentioned in newspaper ads the way 6 track Dolby was?

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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 (Edited)

Yery interesting! Thats leads me to the question which one of these tracks were shipped for the audio dubbing in foreign countries? The German Dubbing for example featured the “Close the blast doors!” line and a music cue during the Dianoga attack from the get-go. (The Dianoga music was later reused for the extended Mos Eisley scene in the ANH Special Edition.)

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SilverWook said:

Anything is possible. Would 4 track have been mentioned in newspaper ads the way 6 track Dolby was?

Would there have been a different mix for the initial re-releases?

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Haarspalter said:

Yery interesting! Thats leads me to the question which one of these tracks were shipped for the audio dubbing in foreign countries? The German Dubbing for example featured the “Close the blast doors!” line and a music cue during the Dianoga attack from the get-go. (The Dianoga music was later reused for the extended Mos Eisley scene in the ANH Special Edition.)

AFAICT the Dionaga music was added (accidentally?) in the 95 THX releases in several European markets. It’s there on the Spanish THX release as well, but was not on any prior Spanish home video release.

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)

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I think some of the older post in this topic have some very incorrect information to them. I can’t say if there was an initial version downmixed to just stereo for the earliest showings for stereo optical prints. I don’t know if we have any of those prints left. From what I’ve found so far, the initial release had different end credits. This is preserved with the Moth3r widescreen bootleg and Puggo Grand. Both of of these have the same voice for Beru as the 70 mm and the Dolby Stereo mixes. Quite different from the mono mix (along with all the other changes). It is an interesting question whether there was an early stereo mix. But the 6 channel and Dolby Stereo Matrix mixes have identical mix stems. There are no differences and this is the source for all the later mixes (1985, 1993, 1997, 2004, 2011 - which differ as to how many of the changes made to the Mono mix were incorporated back in). As Star Wars was not the first film to feature Dolby Stereo and as the 70 mm (for which there is an in theater recording from 1977) prints were some of the earliest shown, I very much doubt that there was a different 2 channel plain stereo mix. It would have been just as easy to run the 4 main channels (minus the one or two LFE channels) through the encoder to make the optical track. As there were no changes from the early 70 mm prints to the main run Dolby Stereo prints, the tale of a separate 2 channel plain stereo makes no sense.