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How accurate are the Harmy versions?

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I haven’t seen the originals in a very long time.

I sort of lost heart after the first CGI Special Edition, and I couldn’t find good quality copies of the films I loved as a kid.

I have NTSC VHS sets,I have Empire on Betamax, I have A New Hope on SECAM video from France. But those are all hard to watch now that I live in the UK. And old and near death when I try.

So how accurate are all three films?

I saw Return of the Jedi and that sure the hell seems like the film I remember.
So I know these must be good.
But how close?
Just very curious about these versions

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Return of the Jedi 2.5 is ridiculously accurate, because Harmy seemed to be comparing every shot to the 35mm print. He discovered recomposited shots that no one had ever noticed before, because they never had a high enough quality source. He also discovered that some shots that we presumed were re-comps were actually not, just well restored.

I know of very few things that he ‘missed’ in “Star Wars” 2.5, but the quality of many of the shots he restored is far lower due to the sources he had at hand.

Empire Strikes Back 2.0 has many recomposited shots (from the Blu-ray) remaining. Since it only slightly affects the positioning of things, he was right to not downgrade them to the GOUT’s sub-480i low quality image. But they’ll probably all be upgraded using 35mm shots in the near future.

But if you’re asking ‘how close is it’ experience wise, focusing on the kinds of changes that the general fanbase would notice, like CGI ships and creatures and other nonsense, then you would consider it 100%. Anything less is what we around here would call ‘semi-specialized’. It’s the finer details that we obsessives notice that end up getting saved for last.

Charles: I know you have a common name, but you wouldn’t happen to be a Doctor Who fan and a film collector? Edit: Based on your posts, I suspect you may be. Great to have you here and welcome to the forum (even if you’re someone else 😃 ).

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If you really want the original originals from a totally pure source, you’ll have to go with TN1’s Silver Screen edition for the original and the Grindhouse editions of the sequels. Those are all 100% sourced from 35mm film print scans. The problem is the “grindhouse” releases haven’t been cleaned up yet, so they’re pretty grainy and scratchy and have some color issues. But they’re 1080p and the only versions that can rightfully be called “theatrical.”

Still, if you want something that approximates the Blu-Rays in terms of crisp clean image, Despecialized will definitely satisfy you. You won’t notice anything that might not have been restored unless you’re the most hardcore of the hardcore nitpickers who know each and every frame by heart. If you haven’t even seen them in a long time, then I can assure you nothing will be different from your memory at all.

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SSE technically isn’t unless you mux a different audio track, though.

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@Charles Daniels

Color-timing and contrast of the image could be a slightly distracting thing - it depends on the viewer. As far as i assume, you are used to the home video releases of the OT, which feature a brightened up image (Experienced Users: please correct if i’m wrong). So you may notice (for example in Star Wars 2.5) some shots with slighty different colors and a darker image you are not used to, due to your viewing experience.

Rogue One is redundant. Just play the first mission of DARK FORCES.
Being surrounded by yes men: the hallmark of a corrupt leader.
‘The best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly.’ - V.E.S.
‘Star Wars is a buffet, enjoy the stuff you want, and leave the rest.’ - SilverWook

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towne32 said:

Return of the Jedi 2.5 is ridiculously accurate, because Harmy seemed to be comparing every shot to the 35mm print. He discovered recomposited shots that no one had ever noticed before, because they never had a high enough quality source. He also discovered that some shots that we presumed were re-comps were actually not, just well restored.

Wonderful to hear the level of detail and investigation.

My mind baffles at how much work would be involved.

I worked with various teams on trying to reconstruct various missing Dr Who stories, and while that is very hard stuff to do well, it would be peanuts compared to what Harmy has done.

I know of very few things that he ‘missed’ in “Star Wars” 2.5, but the quality of many of the shots he restored is far lower due to the sources he had at hand.

Hmm… I wonder if 16mm reductions were ever made for exhibiting and broadcasting these films in Africa.

Or even 35mm copies on the black market in South Africa.

I’ll ask around. It might be some expat is sitting on a full trilogy somewhere.

Empire Strikes Back 2.0 has many recomposited shots (from the Blu-ray) remaining. Since it only slightly affects the positioning of things, he was right to not downgrade them to the GOUT’s sub-480i low quality image. But they’ll probably all be upgraded using 35mm shots in the near future.

Oh! Fantastic!

But if you’re asking ‘how close is it’ experience wise, focusing on the kinds of changes that the general fanbase would notice, like CGI ships and creatures and other nonsense, then you would consider it 100%. Anything less is what we around here would call ‘semi-specialized’. It’s the finer details that we obsessives notice that end up getting saved for last.

Charles: I know you have a common name, but you wouldn’t happen to be a Doctor Who fan and a film collector? Edit: Based on your posts, I suspect you may be. Great to have you here and welcome to the forum (even if you’re someone else 😃 ).

Cheers mate!
Scary that my reputation precedes me!
Yeah, I’m the crazy Dr Who guy with the film collection. 😃

I don’t have a lot of Star Wars on film, I mostly have British TV shows. But I do have some. And yeah, would be great to pick up more. But I imagine the mark up is substantial! Lol

Cheers mate! Great to be recognised on the door!

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Haarspalter said:

@Charles Daniels

Color-timing and contrast of the image could be a slightly distracting thing - it depends on the viewer. As far as i assume, you are used to the home video releases of the OT, which feature a brightened up image (Experienced Users: please correct if i’m wrong). So you may notice (for example in Star Wars 2.5) some shots with slighty different colors and a darker image you are not used to, due to your viewing experience.

My viewing experience for these has been:

A French VHS release of La Guerre Des Etoiles played back on VCR which was happy to play SECAM tapes on a PAL TV

A betamax copy of Empire Strikes Back, the picture quality wasn’t bad in comparison to playing a French tape on a British telly!

And a VHS off TV recording of Jedi off network TV from about 1987. That was NTSC and so after I moved to the UK I had to deal with NTSC played back on PAL equipment.

What I’m getting at – is that for the last 12 years my viewing experience of Star Wars has been smeared like looking out a car window while doing 90 miles an hour with muddy sound – occasionally in French…

Seeing Harmy’s Despecialized editions is like watching a movie again. And I’m floored.

Its worth noting that I have the special edition trilogy box set on VHS, was a gift, but I couldn’t bring myself to take it out of the plastic wrap, much less watch it!
😉

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Charles Daniels said:
I worked with various teams on trying to reconstruct various missing Dr Who stories, and while that is very hard stuff to do well, it would be peanuts compared to what Harmy has done.

Really? I’d think that would be harder, since so much footage is actually lost, unlike Star Wars, where much of the footage was just low-quality.

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Wazzles said:

Charles Daniels said:
I worked with various teams on trying to reconstruct various missing Dr Who stories, and while that is very hard stuff to do well, it would be peanuts compared to what Harmy has done.

Really? I’d think that would be harder, since so much footage is actually lost, unlike Star Wars, where much of the footage was just low-quality.

It’s easier in the sense that the same quality of result is impossible. Doctor Who reconstructions are made from the best material available, but it mostly means it’s a slideshow.

Off-screen 8mm recordings exist from australia, but they’re generally only a few seconds long. Fortunately, the maker of them captured some absolutely critical moments.

A guy called John Cura was comissioned by the BBC to take official off-screen photos of episodes. So there are many hundreds of those, for most, but not all, missing episodes (generally about 60 made per episode).

For the few episodes not well represented by the above, promotional shots and on set shots, as well as tons of other material, have been used with the camera scripts to reconstruct what the episodes might have looked like.

Every episode’s audio, fortunately, was recorded by fans. Some of the earlier ones are of lower quality, but they’ve been restored very well anyway. Later in the 1960s, some fans managed to use fancier direct line-in recording setups.

As a Star Wars fan, the most frustrating thing is that people go through such incredible measures for Doctor Who, because of a mistake made in the 1970s (trashing the episodes). And everyone would kill for those episodes to be back. For Star Wars, it exists and we’re watching the mistakes happen in real time, and for no good reason.

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ray_afraid said:

I dunno… I’d say something like 99.2% ?
And if you say you can spot any of the unauthentic 8%, I’ll assume you’re lying. 😉
I might not be totally correct there, but when I watch 'em, there’s nothing that pulls me out of the experience.

So you’re saying Harmy gave 107.2% effort?

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Wazzles said:

Charles Daniels said:
I worked with various teams on trying to reconstruct various missing Dr Who stories, and while that is very hard stuff to do well, it would be peanuts compared to what Harmy has done.

Really? I’d think that would be harder, since so much footage is actually lost, unlike Star Wars, where much of the footage was just low-quality.

For a lot of stories there are pictures taken off television at the time. For some there are 8mm off air clips - taken by fans. And for a few there are film trims and clips salvaged from other shows.

But, for some there is NOTHING. Well other than behind the scenes photos, but not a frame of broadcast.

This means reconstruction is often rather a case of making it up as you go along.
For example if you have a story set in the Renaissance you look for the same actors appearing in other productions in period costume.

All the audio for every episode exists in full, thanks to dedicated fans who recorded it on reel to reel in surprisingly amazing quality.

So a lot of times it’s just a slide show, showing pictures to match the action as close as possible. Sometimes you have a clip to add in at the correct point.

If you are very lucky you have scenes which focus on props, or close ups of Daleks or monsters firing web guns, and you can go ahead and film those scenes and slot them in.

Sometimes you can even get access to the original props.

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towne32 said:

I know of very few things that he ‘missed’ in “Star Wars” 2.5, but the quality of many of the shots he restored is far lower due to the sources he had at hand.

A year ago and Star Wars Despecialized 2.5 was this ridiculously close to perfect version, and now it’s the warty stepsister of the trilogy. Such is the price of progress. I agree Jedi is now the one that’s currently most ridiculously close to perfect, no doubt soon to be surpassed by Empire, and so on.

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)

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CatBus said:

towne32 said:

I know of very few things that he ‘missed’ in “Star Wars” 2.5, but the quality of many of the shots he restored is far lower due to the sources he had at hand.

A year ago and Star Wars Despecialized 2.5 was this ridiculously close to perfect version, and now it’s the warty stepsister of the trilogy. Such is the price of progress. I agree Jedi is now the one that’s currently most ridiculously close to perfect, no doubt soon to be surpassed by Empire, and so on.

It’s crazy when you consider how we would’ve seen this progress ten years ago. I first started lurking during the XO project days, and left for a few years. But the early suggestions of using 35mm were basically laughed out of the room.

I still think Empire 2.0 is fantastic as well. I don’t tend to notice the 97SE Falcon cockpit shots the way other people do, which is often the main or only complaint.

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towne32 said:
As a Star Wars fan, the most frustrating thing is that people go through such incredible measures for Doctor Who, because of a mistake made in the 1970s (trashing the episodes). And everyone would kill for those episodes to be back. For Star Wars, it exists and we’re watching the mistakes happen in real time, and for no good reason.

Yeah it’s just simply beyond my comprehension what the hell is going on with Star Wars.

I’ve read the various explanations from George Lucas on this topic and it’s like
“I understand all the words and all the points being made here… But… How on earth did this make sense?”

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towne32 said:

It’s crazy when you consider how we would’ve seen this progress ten years ago.

Before the GOUT, I’d have told you Cowclops was the best it was ever going to get. Which I believe was the point of the GOUT–shut down the market for those Laserdisc rips. Nowadays I wouldn’t touch Cowclops, but it’s not because of the GOUT…

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)

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CatBus said:

towne32 said:

It’s crazy when you consider how we would’ve seen this progress ten years ago.

Before the GOUT, I’d have told you Cowclops was the best it was ever going to get. Which I believe was the point of the GOUT–shut down the market for those Laserdisc rips. Nowadays I wouldn’t touch Cowclops, but it’s not because of the GOUT…

I actually gave a friend a copy of my cowclops Return of the Jedi disc because he had previously shown my sister the first two movies on pan & scan vhs. I figured a widescreen laserdisc version would be an improvement. Even though the Gout is so much clearer without noticable mpeg2 compression artifacts. But I didn’t have the ready means to copy a protected disc that was dual layer.

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