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Horizon - How To Film The Impossible - Remastered

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Hi guys!

Horizon - How To Film The Impossible is, in my opinion, possibly the best documentary about classic VFX ever made.

I found a fairly decent copy of it on Myspleen some time ago but it’s still only a DVD transfer of an old videotape, with lots of noise, dropouts, interlacing artifact and really noisy sound. So I wanted to clean it up a little but never got around to finishing it.

It is a project I’ve wanted to do for ages and when I recently wanted to use this amazing documentary to demonstrate something, I found that out of the two copies that used to be on youtube, only the worse one remains and it’s really bad.

Also, our company started a VFX academy to train future compositors, because they always have trouble finding good people, and as part of this, they started doing lectures on history of VFX and I suggested this documentary to my colleague, who heads the academy and he loved it and asked me if I could possibly bring him a higher quality copy than what was on youtube.

This motivated me to finally do this little cleanup project this weekend (well, Friday night and Saturday, really - I was at work all day today) but those of you who know me will probably know that I didn’t stop at just doing a bit of cleanup 😄

And so, here’s the Horizon - How To Film The Impossible - Remastered:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hQ0GQjmIWDPOv0Xs3rJ2SgzOLDVQoiP2gPeHBNuqZto/edit?usp=sharing

  • www.facebook.com/despecialized
  • IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DESPECIALIZED EDITIONS, PLEASE READ THE FIRST POSTS OF THESE THREADS, WHICH HAVE UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION: SW, ESB, ROTJ, 97SE RE-ED
    IF YOU DON’T FIND WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR THERE, TRY ASKING IN THE APPROPRIATE THREADS - MOST REGULAR POSTERS KNOW ALL THE ANSWERS AND SOMEONE WILL LIKELY BE ABLE TO HELP YOU.
    IF I GET A PM WITH A QUESTION, WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN ANSWERED THROUGH THESE MEANS, IT WILL BE IGNORED. SORRY BUT I AM NOT THE LOCAL INFO BOOTH. THANK YOU.
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I’ve started it, and I think it’s great! I’ve never actually seen the old school process of compositing in action before, and to see the folks who did it the best, and during its peak, is really special indeed.

I’ve just noticed a few things that don’t make too much sense to me. Namely, the 4:3 behind the scenes footage brings back memories of non-anamorphic widescreen. I’m curious why that decision was made rather than maybe upscaling it and presenting it normally in the 16:9 ratio, with only two borders. Additionally, it looks like you’ve applied a filter of specks to the footage, specifically during the Temple of Doom stuff, which I would think would go against the goal of clean up and remaster. Just curious as to the thought process there.

What mistakes have you noticed?

“After a time, you may find that having, is not so pleasing a thing after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.” - Spock

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This looks interesting, but I really don’t understand the use of blurred backgrounds over simple black letterbox/pillarboxes. Doesn’t seem to make it easier or more enjoyable to watch.

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The idea of the small image over blurred background is to make the low-quality image smaller on a moder large screen, like it would have been on a small CRT back then and yet to keep the screen visually filled like in the original documentary. Then the idea extended into using the same thing for the film footage to make it visually consistent and again fill the screen, like the original documentary’s Pan&Scan footage. And finally, I added the extra horizontal blur under the BTS footage to simulate the same AR as the film footage. I personally really like the look.

As for adding a bit of dirt to the Indy (and 2010) footage, I wanted to preserve the feel that the original documentary had, where the film bits just breathe celluloid even through the layers of analog noise, so I used the film scans for Star Wars footage and I wanted to give the footage where I had to use Blu-Rays similar feel - I even regraded the Indy footage closer to the way it looks in the documentary.

  • www.facebook.com/despecialized
  • IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DESPECIALIZED EDITIONS, PLEASE READ THE FIRST POSTS OF THESE THREADS, WHICH HAVE UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION: SW, ESB, ROTJ, 97SE RE-ED
    IF YOU DON’T FIND WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR THERE, TRY ASKING IN THE APPROPRIATE THREADS - MOST REGULAR POSTERS KNOW ALL THE ANSWERS AND SOMEONE WILL LIKELY BE ABLE TO HELP YOU.
    IF I GET A PM WITH A QUESTION, WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN ANSWERED THROUGH THESE MEANS, IT WILL BE IGNORED. SORRY BUT I AM NOT THE LOCAL INFO BOOTH. THANK YOU.
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Harmy said:

The idea of the small image over blurred background is to make the low-quality image smaller on a moder large screen, like it would have been on a small CRT back then and yet to keep the screen visually filled like in the original documentary. Then the idea extended into using the same thing for the film footage to make it visually consistent and again fill the screen, like the original documentary’s Pan&Scan footage. And finally, I added the extra horizontal blur under the BTS footage to simulate the same AR as the film footage. I personally really like the look.

Sure, I see where you are coming from.

I will say though that the whole blurred stretched backdrop thing is truly the worst thing to ever happen to video.

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Thank you Harmy, it looks very interesting!

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I absolutely hate the blurry background, not here specifically, but the whole idea of it, I also would prefer black bars, but other than that I must say - thanks for improving the quality of one of my favourite special effects related documentaries

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OK, seeing how many people prefer the black bars, I think I’ll make a purist version 😉

  • www.facebook.com/despecialized
  • IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DESPECIALIZED EDITIONS, PLEASE READ THE FIRST POSTS OF THESE THREADS, WHICH HAVE UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION: SW, ESB, ROTJ, 97SE RE-ED
    IF YOU DON’T FIND WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR THERE, TRY ASKING IN THE APPROPRIATE THREADS - MOST REGULAR POSTERS KNOW ALL THE ANSWERS AND SOMEONE WILL LIKELY BE ABLE TO HELP YOU.
    IF I GET A PM WITH A QUESTION, WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN ANSWERED THROUGH THESE MEANS, IT WILL BE IGNORED. SORRY BUT I AM NOT THE LOCAL INFO BOOTH. THANK YOU.
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This is a great documentary and I love seeing it in great quality with the modern scans spliced in but…pillarboxed AND letterboxed? I feel like I’ve time travelled back to the late 90s, early 2000s!

In all honesty, it looks really tiny. I personally think a simple pillarboxed presentation is best.

What’s the internal temperature of a TaunTaun? Luke warm.

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Does anybody have hi-res scans of any of the matte paintings shown in this doc? Without the live action footage - with the holes.

  • www.facebook.com/despecialized
  • IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DESPECIALIZED EDITIONS, PLEASE READ THE FIRST POSTS OF THESE THREADS, WHICH HAVE UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION: SW, ESB, ROTJ, 97SE RE-ED
    IF YOU DON’T FIND WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR THERE, TRY ASKING IN THE APPROPRIATE THREADS - MOST REGULAR POSTERS KNOW ALL THE ANSWERS AND SOMEONE WILL LIKELY BE ABLE TO HELP YOU.
    IF I GET A PM WITH A QUESTION, WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN ANSWERED THROUGH THESE MEANS, IT WILL BE IGNORED. SORRY BUT I AM NOT THE LOCAL INFO BOOTH. THANK YOU.
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Excellent! I personally love the aspect ratio presented because I can watch this on my 2.35:1 screen.

To contribute to The Starchaser 3D project, please pm for details

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I haven’t watched yet but I will soon.

I can answer almost all questions anyone might have about the Sith from Star Wars Legends, and please do PM me for the bd25 DEED(Despecalised Editions), as I have this version, though I can’t answer technical questions about them. Do not go gentle into that good night, Though wise men at their end know dark is right, They
Do not go gentle into that good night.
“Star Wars is a buffet, enjoy the stuff you want, and leave the rest.” - SilverWook
Feel the love.

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Also, could I find someone willing to make English subtitles for this?
This would be a great starting point to getting it translated to other languages - I myself would love to make a Czech translation.

  • www.facebook.com/despecialized
  • IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DESPECIALIZED EDITIONS, PLEASE READ THE FIRST POSTS OF THESE THREADS, WHICH HAVE UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION: SW, ESB, ROTJ, 97SE RE-ED
    IF YOU DON’T FIND WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR THERE, TRY ASKING IN THE APPROPRIATE THREADS - MOST REGULAR POSTERS KNOW ALL THE ANSWERS AND SOMEONE WILL LIKELY BE ABLE TO HELP YOU.
    IF I GET A PM WITH A QUESTION, WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN ANSWERED THROUGH THESE MEANS, IT WILL BE IGNORED. SORRY BUT I AM NOT THE LOCAL INFO BOOTH. THANK YOU.
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Count me in to (do my best to) make French subs (I’ve already made them for your Despecialized documentary) 😄

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https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hQ0GQjmIWDPOv0Xs3rJ2SgzOLDVQoiP2gPeHBNuqZto/edit?usp=sharing

  • www.facebook.com/despecialized
  • IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DESPECIALIZED EDITIONS, PLEASE READ THE FIRST POSTS OF THESE THREADS, WHICH HAVE UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION: SW, ESB, ROTJ, 97SE RE-ED
    IF YOU DON’T FIND WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR THERE, TRY ASKING IN THE APPROPRIATE THREADS - MOST REGULAR POSTERS KNOW ALL THE ANSWERS AND SOMEONE WILL LIKELY BE ABLE TO HELP YOU.
    IF I GET A PM WITH A QUESTION, WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN ANSWERED THROUGH THESE MEANS, IT WILL BE IGNORED. SORRY BUT I AM NOT THE LOCAL INFO BOOTH. THANK YOU.
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interesting documentary, indeed. thanks a bunch, harmy!

You really only need to hang mean bastards,
but mean bastards you need to hang.

John ‘The Hangman’ Ruth

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Great documentary, thanks for restoring it.

I got really bummed out when the “good” version was removed from YouTube a few years ago, and this version is such an improvement in every way. The high-res footage from the movies really helps to illustrate the points they were making in the documentary; like the white TIE’s overlapping the Falcon in shot SB19. I could never quite see what they were referring to in the either of the low-res VHS versions.

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Excellent work Harmy. It’s great to see so much behind the scenes stuff from Temple of Doom. It’s legitimately my favorite movie of all time, and there’s not much content out there.

Thanks again for the purist version. I really cannot handle the “fill the screen” stuff that is becoming so commonplace.

If I had some gum, I’d chew a hole into the sun…

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Great work Harmy! I’ve always liked these kind of Special Effects documentaries.
I’ve found a blog here-
http://nzpetesmatteshot.blogspot.com/
http://nzpetesmatteshot.blogspot.com/search/label/LucasFilm
It’s a treasure trove of behind the scenes stuff, focused on matte paintings.

Movie Magic from the 90s is another good series
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLepmcWUt_wgZxUX4s1p_-zNOVsNihYVHO

anyone know of any others? or, for instance good behind the scenes specials/featurettes of particular films?
-thanks

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Oh man I loved this documentary back in the day Always wanted to see it gain thanks for doing this awesome job man

!

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Hey Harmy, thank you for taking the time to create a “purist” version. I’ll be downloading this when I get home!

What’s the internal temperature of a TaunTaun? Luke warm.

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schorman13 said:

Excellent work Harmy. It’s great to see so much behind the scenes stuff from Temple of Doom. It’s legitimately my favorite movie of all time, and there’s not much content out there.

Good man. It’s not my all-time favourite, and I definitely rate it below Raiders, but man is ToD some outrageous fun. It’s criminally overlooked and, quite often, unfairly reviled - by fools who complain about the mushy peas while ignoring the perfect steak.

Thanks again for the purist version. I really cannot handle the “fill the screen” stuff that is becoming so commonplace.

Yes, thank you Harmy for that. If you ever revisit this in future, I have a request/suggestion: a purist black background version that is Constant Image Height. That way I can watch it on my 150" 2.35:1 projector screen without the film sequences being windowboxed. It would be a great pleasure to show others this favourite doco of mine in such a presentation.

Regardless, well done. Take a bow.

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Thanks for this!

Edit: Just got through watching the purist version. What a great show. I’m not sure the narrator has seen Star Wars though, “Darth Varder”, haha.