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Evidence of OOT at Lucasfilm?

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I have just noticed that a shot in 'Empire of Dreams' is taken from the Original Original Trilogy transfer rather than the SE or the 2004 DVD. And it looks as if its of decent quality.

Top - Clearly the 1979/80 compositing work from an OOT transfer (seen in Empire of Dreams)
Bottom - the 'cleaned up' version from the 2004 DVD
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Has anyone got anymore evidence of great looking OOT transfers in the possesion of LFL?

J

Creator of Star Wars Begins, Building Empire and Returning to Jedi
Follow me on twitter @jamieSWB. Please support me at - http://www.patreon.com/jamiebenning/

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You've sort of brought up what boils my bottom about the whole OOT/SE/DVD affair-

LFL HAS to have restored MOST of the films! They started it to do the '97 SEs and continued it to tweak for the DVDs. The MFs have completed what, like 85-90% of the job already??? Its just sitting there on their harddrives! So any arguement that 'it'd just take too much time and money to restore and release the OOT' is total bullshit. A couple of dedicted employees could probably finish it up over a long weekend- hell I know enough people in this forum alone who could do it if they just had access.
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I totally agree.

Actually looking through Empire of Dreams, there are several examples showing evidence of a great OT transfer.

J

Creator of Star Wars Begins, Building Empire and Returning to Jedi
Follow me on twitter @jamieSWB. Please support me at - http://www.patreon.com/jamiebenning/

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It has long been my opinion that the OOT has already been restored for quite some time, and is sitting archived that way. When LFL makes changes to anything, they need to start with the original and work from there, so that means the original unaltered version needs to be available in the best condition possible.

One thing that irritates me greatly is when historical documentaries about the OOT and the process that went into making them get made, and LFL only provides the current, CG-altered footage... footage that didn't exist at that point in history! I know it would be possible for the unaltered footage to be provided in all these cases.

--SKot

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I've belived that for a long time. I was reading an interwiew with the restoring smopany for the 04 DVD's and the guy who owns the company was talking aobut how much dirt etc was on the film because it was nearly 30 years old. Now unless if my calculations are wrong the SE's are only 9 years old not nearly 30!
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I think that the OOT had to be restored. I don't think they could of even done the '97 SE without first cleaning up the OOT. At least, that would be the easiest way, I would think.
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I'm pretty sure that LFL has pristine prints of the OOT.
There's good in the Original Trilogy, and it's worth fighting for.
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The last part is the most important, but I've included the full text for those interested in the technical details.
DYE TRANSFER

A NEW OPTIMISM

Mention “dye transfer” to most anyone in the publishing industry and they’ll tell you it’s obsolete. Ask commercial printers about it and they’ll declare it passé. Raise the subject with a group of fine-art photographers and printers—even Hollywood filmmakers—and you’re likely to get a different opinion.

At least that was the conclusion at an autumn weekend retreat in Vermont hosted by fine art photographer Luke Powell. Over 30 past and present dye printers and photographers from all over North America, Germany and Australia took Powell up on his invitation. A typical conversation-starter was, “Where were you when you heard…?” The question concerned Kodak’s abrupt decision in 1993 to pull the plug on the manufacture of dye transfer products, leaving some 500 photographers and technicians without a source of the materials they depended on for their livelihood.

That decision is still keenly felt among practitioners. The intensity of their response is remarkable, even more so considering the investment dye transfer requires—and not just in terms of money. The process, also known as dye imbibition, starts by creating tricolor separation negatives from a transparency. Exposing each negative onto a specially-coated film creates three bas-relief images called matrices, the degree of relief proportional to the exposure they receive. The matrices are soaked in complementary acidic dye baths and rolled in register onto special photographic paper secured to a pin-register board. The pH difference between the dye and the paper aids the transfer of the dye. It’s a painstaking process that takes years to master.

So why, in this age of instant gratification, would anyone cling to this technology? For one thing, it gives enormous control over color density and balance. And it yields an archival print of spectacular richness and longevity. Bob Pace, a respected authority on color print processes for two generations of photography professionals, is a fervent believer: “I have made over 25,000 dye transfer prints and nothing I have seen in all this time has shaken my feelings about this process.” And Kodak’s dye transfer guru Frank McLaughlin, who taught the process over the phone to generations of image-makers until his retirement in 1986, states simply, “The dye transfer product is the most manageable, most color-pure, most true-to-life photographic product ever invented.

In The Wake of Dye Transfer’s Demise

In 1993 National Public Radio (NPR) aired a pivotal piece by Rachel Maurer reporting on Kodak’s decision and its impact on dye transfer practitioners. Her follow-up article, “The Demise of Dye Transfer”, published in View Camera magazine, chronicled the ways in which photographers and others responded to the news. Some went into debt to purchase Kodak’s remaining supplies, either to finish projects or to stockpile for future use. Others sought new technologies.

And then there was Dr. Jay Paterson, a psychologist and dye transfer aficionado, who now introduces himself as “the fellow from Houston who was driving around a few years ago, heard the NPR piece on my car radio, and got this idea to see what I could do.” That idea soon germinated into active research and development of new materials. With cooperation from Kodak, Paterson began to achieve good results, gaining attention among dye folks.

In the meantime, John Wawrzonek, a high-end photographic printer, saw digital technology as the future. As possible alternatives to dye transfer, he began exploring UltraStable™, a modern tricolor process, and EverColor™ Pigment Transfer, a four-color separation process based on technology used in the graphic arts industry. Others, however, scoffed at the output. Maurer’s article quoted photographer Dennis Ivy’s opinion that an EverColor print “looked like a plastic place-mat.”

Catching Up on Dye Transfer Developments

The Vermont weekend was at first glance a simple gathering of like-minded people. Dye transfer photographer Ctein traveled from San Francisco simply because “we’ve always been a close-knit community, but most of us have never met face-to-face. This is our grand opportunity.” Even more, it was a chance for people to check out the latest in dye transfer product development. Dr. Paterson, for example, related that he had linked up with chemist John DaSilva of Kilborn Photo Products, Inc., in Iowa, to develop materials. Paterson has formed a company in Houston called Dye Transfer Corporation, or DTC. Matrix film and three types of paper have been tested and are now commercially available. The razor-edge sharpness needed for highly technical images is not where Paterson would like it to be, but he expects to be able to correct that with a thinner base “for those of you who wouldn’t mind some polyethylene in the product.” DTC has also released dyes for testing. “We looked at about 50 yellows and 20 cyans and magentas to arrive at where we are,” Paterson states, noting that the dyes he finally selected are similar to Kodak’s but “a bit on the warmer side.”

Do the materials do the job? “Absolutely,” affirms Nino Mondhe of Hamburg, Germany, who owns one of the few remaining dye transfer labs in Europe and remains committed to the process. He’s tested Paterson’s film and papers extensively and is pleased. “The film is good. It’s slightly slower than the Kodak and a hair thinner, but it works very well. The paper is also good.”

Two of Paterson’s ongoing projects are designed to make dye transfer viable for a larger population. One is to produce a less-costly proofing paper by changing to a more common base, but with the same receiver sheet on top to ensure consistency between the final print and the proof. Another is to marry dye transfer with digital imagery. “We want to be able to scan a transparency and produce intermediate output on matrix film or something similar, or expose matrix film directly from a digital file. We’re working on a machine that can do that in perfect registration up to 30 X 40.”

Already blending digital technology with dye printing is inventor Jim Browning, president of Digital Mask, a New Hampshire color photographic print house. In 1993 he began to develop his own materials so he could continue doing dye transfer and still compete commercially with less expensive processes such as Iris™. Browning has invented his own formulations as well as a small-scale sheet coater, all of which he intends to keep in the public domain. Browning claims he can “go from start to finish in three hours” with a machine he built using tricolor lasers that doubles as a scanner and film recorder. “I use the RGB lasers to produce a high-quality scan. Then I use Live Picture™, an application that allows selective modification of the image. I take that file and, using the laser, record each image one at a time in register on 8 X 10 T-Max™ film, then develop them all at once.” Explaining his decision to go digital, Browning states, “You can’t just dodge-and-burn with dye transfer; you have to use masking. Digital technology makes that more practical. Also people often start with digital files today. So this approach makes it possible for me to serve the markets of both digital artists and fine-art photographers.”

Checking Out the Alternatives

The Vermont gathering also gave people a chance to learn how newer technologies are faring and to inspect images offered by printers like Wawrzonek. Ultrastable never did become one of his tools, as it turned out. “Getting consistent results was hard,” he explains, “and depended on things like the pH of the water. By the time we finally learned to live with that, they’d changed the materials to fix the problem.” Then he took a second look at EverColor, decided its colors were better than Ultrastable’s, and changed his focus. When EverColor asked him to run their operation, they merged with Wawrzonek, renaming the company EverColor Fine Art and relocating it to Worcester, Massachusetts.

Wawrzonek’s primary tool is Luminage™, a process that combines tricolor laser exposure using Cymbolic Sciences’ LightJet 5000™ image-setter with Color Savvy’s color management system and FujiColor™ paper for longevity. Frank McLaughlin, in “From Daguerreotype to Digital,” writes that Luminage is “perhaps the first successful marriage of the new technologies. The result is large format (50” X 50”) printing with very high resolution and color quality combined with predictable color.”

As Wawrzonek looks to the future, he sees a merger of inkjet technology and pigments, which can have higher color quality and greater longevity than dyes. He’s encouraged by preliminary announcements of next-generation piezoelectric inkjet printers from Epson-Seiko, Calcomp and others promising improvements in resolution, color quality, longevity and ability to print on a range of surfaces. While he is still dissatisfied with the quality of inkjet images, he believes it’s just a matter of time before “you can do anything with inkjet that you’d want to do with dye transfer.”

Wawrzonek also believes the development of digital imaging is at a high level that will continue to improve. For one thing, he says, “Color management software has brought us to a place where we don’t have to commit to the printer at the time of the scan; we convert the file to the printer of choice just before going to print.” Because he still believes dye transfer has the edge when it comes to color range and intensity, Wawrzonek intends to explore new ways to marry dye and digital. He’d like to be able to give photographers the opportunity, for example, “to bring us the transparency, have us make the separation negatives for them digitally, create the matrices and roll their own prints.” He’s also been considering the possibility of offering a matrix service, using an image-setter to expose the matrices directly from a digital file. The downside, he explains, is that it becomes more expensive to replace worn matrices. “When you have separation negatives, you can go back any time and make another set of matrices. If you’ve gotten your matrices from a matrix service and they wear out, you have to go back to the image-setter.”

The Response: Wait and See

What lies ahead for practitioners of dye transfer and other forms of fine art photographic printing? A wait-and-see attitude predominates. Optimism for Dr. Paterson’s products is tempered by fresh memories of being stranded once before by a sole source. Only Jim Browning—who has taken product sourcing into his own hands—is confident he can continue with dye transfer as long as he chooses. Image-makers are grappling with all the factors likely to influence dye transfer’s ultimate survival: practicality, attitudes towards artisanship, marketability, marriage to digital technology, and acceptability of alternatives.

Practicality is a consideration of time and expense. Noted portrait photographer David La Claire, for example, who began making dye portraits with his father 47 years ago, has decided with his daughter not to continue the dye business into a third generation for practical reasons. Others have made the decision to make prints that aren’t quite as good, but expect to sell more because “I don’t have to spend my entire life printing.” And in terms of cost, some feel Paterson’s dye transfer materials are out of their range. Yet Jim Browning reports that few have expressed interest in his do-it-yourself solutions.

Looking ahead to current and future generations, many wonder if dye transfer will die along with other painstaking artisanal processes. Browning, however, believes the process is no more intimidating than other artistic media and warns, “If you end up using digital to save time, you get garbage.” Andy Cross, an Australian dye printer, agrees the practice will continue: “If you can imagine that in 50 years people will still be interested in learning how to paint or sculpt, which are much more arduous, then chances are people will still be interested in learning dye transfer.”

Survival may also depend on how much dye transfer prints are valued in the marketplace. Some feel it’s a matter of making buyers aware of the differences so they can come to appreciate them. Others maintain that collectors will always see inherent value in the prints because dye transfer is a rare, classic process. And many are heartened by news of the resurgence of Technicolor™, the cinematic version of dye transfer (see related story), hoping the fine art market will benefit as public awareness grows. On the other hand, many feel that buyers don’t care about technology, but will simply buy what they like. John Wawrzonek states, “Dye transfer doesn’t make or break most images. Anyone who looks only at dye transfer will likely miss many of the most important developments in fine art printing.”

For many, the greatest hope lies in the marriage of dye transfer and digital technology, permitting a savings of time and expense. Luke Powell predicts, “If somebody can provide at a reasonable cost a set of matrices from a digital scan then a lot of people can set up. It’s cheap and easy to do. I can easily imagine a thousand people across the U.S. rolling their own prints.”

Regardless of all other factors, the future of dye transfer may ultimately depend on the ability of other technologies to clear the hurdle of output quality. Expectations differ sharply about whether digital can ever match dye transfer—or at least come acceptably close—in the end result. Gerald Storey, a Sacramento dye printer and photographer, comments, “I think digital printing will develop in speed and affordability. But its robotic sharpness is disconcerting—the world just isn’t that sharp.” Guy Stricherz, owner of the CVI Laboratory in New York City, states unequivocally that he will do dye transfer or no color at all, explaining, “Classic continuous tone optical mechanical printing is our specialty. For color, that means dye transfer—its intrinsic beauty and luminosity are unsurpassed.”

Others, like Powell, are more amenable to digital alternatives. He sees Luminage as a way to produce “an image of museum quality that will last longer than your grandchildren, available for $200-$500 instead of $1000.” Fine-art photographer Jim Wallace, who admits he came to Vermont to shop around, is also encouraged: “Computers give us the resolution we need and the ability to manipulate at least as much as dye transfer if not more, but we haven’t had decent output. Now John Wawrzonek—first with EverColor, then with Luminage—is closing the gap.”

As fine-art photography professionals wait for that gap to narrow, where will they turn in the meantime? Richard Jackson of Flagstaff, Arizona, is a fine-art printer who has carried his knowledge of dye transfer into the realm of Ilfochrome™ with stunning results. After examining his portfolio, more than a few people now see Ilfochrome as a worthy alternative, Wallace and Storey among them. “I’d never considered it before, but then I saw Richard’s prints—absolutely beautiful,” raves Wallace.

The Bottom Line

The question for dye transfer printers is whether or not they will choose to see themselves in a more generic light: as creators of fine art prints who take advantage of whatever tools, technology and materials exist. But the bottom line—for them as well as for those who buy their work—remains the uncompromised quality of the image. Frank McLaughlin sums it up best as he reflects on the Vermont gathering: “Museums, image collectors, designers, archivists—anyone who can see the difference between good and poor imagery—should care what happens here. In today’s world of screaming TV advertising, poor-quality periodical publication and generally deteriorating visual taste, well-made images of pleasing color have become like pearls to the eyes of those who have learned to see.”

SIDEBAR: The Re-Emergence of Technicolor™

Dye transfer printers are elated at recent indications that Technicolor—the cinematic version of dye transfer—is returning to the big screen. The re-release of Giant in 1996, the first American-printed Technicolor feature film in 21 years, has heightened interest in its revival within the film industry.

Technicolor is also called IB printing (for “imbibition”, after the photographic term “dye imbibition”). Technicolor, Inc., ended IB printing in the U.S. in 1974. Technicolor London closed its operation in 1977, but not until they’d made five IB prints of Star Wars for George Lucas.

The restoration of the Star Wars trilogy brought IB printing back to the forefront. According to Leon Briggs, who worked with Lucasfilm on the restoration for over two years, the original negatives had faded only 5 - 15%, well within normal range. But he explained that George Lucas wanted the original color in the restored version. Lucasfilms technicians were able to accomplish this goal for Star Wars, but only because they had an IB print to use for color reference.
MeBeJedi: Sadly, I believe the prequels are beyond repair.
JediRandy: They're certainly beyond any repair you're capable of making.


MeBeJedi: You aren't one of us.
Go-Mer-Tonic: I can't say I find that very disappointing.


JediRandy: I won't suck as much as a fan edit.
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Here's another good one. Again, you guys will LOVE the last part:
THE RESTORATION

Before Lucas' vision could become a reality, however, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox had to address a significant and unexpected problem: the original Star Wars negative, from which pristine 35 mm prints would be struck, was in such bad condition that it would be impossible to use. The once vibrant colors had faded by 10% to 15% overall and dirt embedded in the six reels of the negative could produce scratches and pit marks that would loom large on the big screen.

Precautions had been taken. In 1977, the original Star Wars negative was carefully stored in a subterranean vault in Kansas, at an optimum temperature of 50 to 53 degrees. But due to unforeseeable circumstances, such as a now-discontinued color stock that proved susceptible to fading, the filmmakers were faced with the daunting challenge of first restoring the negative before any changes could be made.

The restoration was spearheaded by Lucasfilm/ILM and Twentieth Century Fox, and the team included Pacific Title (for recompositing of opticals), YCM Labs (to provide the color timings) and restoration consultant Leon Biggs, who helped supervise the overall process.

The biggest production challenge for the Special Edition was the restoration, says McCallum. "It has been the most difficult and collaborative portion of the whole process, and was the major accomplishment," he adds. "There is a group of about 30 people who worked for three years cleaning the negative with a sponge, frame by frame. These are really the unsung heroes, because the restoration is what this was all about in the first place."

A major part of the restoration was that meticulous cleaning of the negative, utilizing a special chemical bath heated to 100 degrees. After the cleaning, sections of the original negative, which were needed for Special Edition work, were sent to ILM visual effects producer Tom Kennedy. That footage was digitally scanned into a computer and matched to new footage. Then, after intermediary processes, a final negative and print were made.

In a few situations, however, portions of the original negative that were too faded just couldn't be used. In those cases, the restoration team turned to such master elements as the YCM (yellow-cyan-magenta) separation masters. The negative that was subsequently made off the YCMs looked just as good as the original negative. Additional challenges were presented by the four different film stocks and numerous photographic styles-from location and soundstage work to complex motion-control shots-used during the original production of the film.

A basically discontinued process proved to be a surprising resource for the all-important color "timing," which controls the intensity of colors on the screen. Twenty years ago, two Star Wars prints had been struck in the three-strip Technicolor process, which since its inception in 1932, has been considered the finest printing process available; it is now almost a lost art. George Lucas himself provided one of those original Technicolor prints, which had been in storage in his home. "That's the Star Wars I made," Lucas says.

LINK
MeBeJedi: Sadly, I believe the prequels are beyond repair.
JediRandy: They're certainly beyond any repair you're capable of making.


MeBeJedi: You aren't one of us.
Go-Mer-Tonic: I can't say I find that very disappointing.


JediRandy: I won't suck as much as a fan edit.
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Yeah, I thought I was crazy when I watched Empire of Dreams. There looked to be a lot of OOT footage in a beautifully restored quality that I KNOW was altered for the Special Edition and DVD release.

I'm in agreement, Lucas has the OOT fully restored and shelved (and it's what he watches himself when he's at home. Damn it, the evil bastard).

Dr. M

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I used the OOT crawl in that documentary to make my own recreation. It's the exact same angle and speed.
MeBeJedi: Sadly, I believe the prequels are beyond repair.
JediRandy: They're certainly beyond any repair you're capable of making.


MeBeJedi: You aren't one of us.
Go-Mer-Tonic: I can't say I find that very disappointing.


JediRandy: I won't suck as much as a fan edit.
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I remember reading this article: "New Star Wars Trilogy Shines on DVD", which I believe somebody has mentioned.

Here are some other related articles:
"Lowry Restoration Software" - Focuses on the process and features Indiana Jones
"The Lowry Setup" - See the multitude of Macs Lowry uses via QTVR
"Star Wars DVD Trilogy Unveiled" - Features Lowry talking about the restoration during a Q&A.
"Restoration: keeping the past current with new technology and techniques" - More about the preservation/restoration processes and technologies
"Restorer of THX-1138 & Star Wars: John Lowry" - Has some info the above articles don't

Off topic: In one of the articles above it is mentioned that Lowry is restoring the James Bond films. I hope that these are handled properly as I'd love to see the next set, be it on DVD/HD-DVD/Blu-Ray, look the best they possibly can.

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

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wow i didnt think those scenes looked that great on the documentary. it looke like shots taken from the laserdisc to me
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Originally posted by: Jambe Davdar

http://www.zen67493.zen.co.uk/cloudcompare.jpg


Just an observation, but those pics are FRIKKIN BEAUTIFUL!!!!!
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those stills do look good, especially the oot one
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and i must say i like the colour correction alot better in the oot, the SE is too orange.
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I must differ. I think the SE color correction looks better. I say this because the SE makes the effect of the sun on Bespin more pronounced.
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well each to his own, but i think a little orange can go a long way
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I personally like the new colours n this scene, but that's not the point Adam. I would just want to see the film I saw in the cinema as a kid.

Creator of Star Wars Begins, Building Empire and Returning to Jedi
Follow me on twitter @jamieSWB. Please support me at - http://www.patreon.com/jamiebenning/

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That's completely understandable. As battlewars said: "to each his own."
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Originally posted by: Jambe Davdar
I personally like the new colours n this scene, but that's not the point Adam. I would just want to see the film I saw in the cinema as a kid.
well the original colours werent all orange obviously

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Has anyone got anymore evidence of great looking OOT transfers in the possesion of LFL?


Yes. The THX Demo DVD that contains the THX WOW montage was also re-done in stunning anamorphic and has the original Deathstar II explosion and Sebastian Shaw as Anakin's ghost at the end of ROTJ. Sadly I think they are missing enough frames on either end of the clip to prevent their usage in restoration efforts.

Ben

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Originally posted by: Zottig
Has anyone got anymore evidence of great looking OOT transfers in the possesion of LFL?


Yes. The THX Demo DVD that contains the THX WOW montage was also re-done in stunning anamorphic and has the original Deathstar II explosion and Sebastian Shaw as Anakin's ghost at the end of ROTJ. Sadly I think they are missing enough frames on either end of the clip to prevent their usage in restoration efforts.

Ben

The Sebastian Shaw clip is about 2 seconds to short. But the quality is very good. Yesterday I rembered that scene and looked it up to see if I could use it.

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Like everyone else, I don't know for sure - but I don't think Lucasfilm has the OT restored and on the shelf. So if one was looking for the ultimate source material, it would be a restoration job. Where does a film restoration job begin? With the negative.

The '97 SE was made for theatrical release, not from a digital intermediate, but from the original cut negatives which were pulled apart to create it. The negative segments used to create the new CGI scenes were no doubt saved and stored, but the negative as it once was, with it's original matting, wipes and dissolves, is as good as gone forever (just accept it).

Now the '04 SSE is a different story: as it is made from a DI, no changes were made to the '97 negatives, so in theory you could pull apart the '97 negative again, track down the removed segments in the Lucasfilm archive and reassemble it (not gonna happen).

So, with no realistic hope of the negative, what's the next best thing? Well, it's an interpositive (the stage between a cut negative and the internegative used to create release prints). There's a pretty good chance these exist in excellent condition at LFL for the OT ESB and ROTJ. If they do, they could be scanned in HD for any subsequent digital clean-up and colour restoration.

Why only ESB and ROTJ? Well, LFL or Fox probably have a good IP of SW as well, but there's an even better source, equally close to the negative (one step) for SW, which is the dye-sub prints Lucas is known to have. These are in some ways better than the negative, as they are not subject to the same colour fading over time as the negative stock used on SW. Which means they could also be used as a reference for the digital timing of ESB & ROTJ DIs.

So although I don't think Lucasfilm has the OT restored and on the shelf, I do think they have the capability to put it together relatively easily and for a reasonable cost.