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Info: An Interview with an employee of CBS/FOX Video

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To everyone on originaltrilogy.com

I’ve done a number of posts in the past about what my dad has thought about the various fan edits and preservation initiatives to try to bring STAR WARS, either, up-to-date with added effects that we wonder why they didn’t think about that when they did the SE, DVD, or BD or back to what they originally remember before the SE. We recently got a new 4k 55” SONY that looks so good we haven’t bothered to change any of the color settings from the factory default. When I showed him my STAR WARS BDs on that TV, his comment was that it looked better than the limited equipment they had to work with back at CBS/FOX Video. As such, I thought that this was the best moment to announce that I plan on interviewing him. I plan on asking him what it was like working at CBS/FOX, working on so many high profile movies, dealing with the limitations in equipment that he was stuck with at the time, and, most importantly, how the most recent release of STAR WARS compares with what he handled at the studio in terms of audio and video quality.

If anyone has any particular question that you’d like me to ask him, post it here. I WILL NOT be asking him what he thinks of a particular fan project. You can see my other post as a reference point for that:
http://originaltrilogy.com/topic/id/17753

Questions will be limited to his tenure there, his feelings about the movie series, and whether or not recent DVDs/BDs have done the movie series justice in terms of audio and video quality. I’ll consider asking him how he feels about the changes made (SE/post-SE); but, only if there’s enough of a consensus to want to hear his thoughts. Otherwise, when it gets down to it, it’s all about one man’s creative decisions about his own art and the lines in the sand that get drawn just because people feel they are “owed” the version that they fell in love with in the first place. This is not to say that any one version is more relevant than another. I just consider that a topic for another discussion.

“…It’s like this is the movie I wanted it to be, and I’m sorry you saw half a completed film and fell in love with it. But I want it to be the way I want it to be. I’m the one who has to take responsibility for it. I’m the one who has to have everybody throw rocks at me all the time, so at least if they’re going to throw rocks at me, they’re going to throw rocks at me for something I love rather than something I think is not very good, or at least something I think is not finished.”

  • George Lucas, 2004

http://www.today.com/id/6011380/ns/today-today_entertainment/t/lucas-talks-star-wars-trilogy-returns/#.Vy2lQVVhlhE

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Joshua724 said:

when it gets down to it, it’s all about one man’s creative decisions about his own art and the lines in the sand that get drawn just because people feel they are “owed” the version that they fell in love with in the first place.

OUTPUT ERROR

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I’d be very interested to hear how film was converted to VHS, especially if he could give any insight into Pan & Scan. Who was brought in to do that? Did directors ever have any input into it?

Star Wars Revisited Wordpress / Facebook / Twitter

Star Wars Visual Comparisons WordPress / Twitter

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I’m interested in what prints they used. There are many possible sources. There were audition prints, interpositives, internegatives, distribution prints. Did they made a special print to telecine or was it one of the above? I’ve head it was often an interpositive (which are usually somewhat orange). Did it vary from film to film and did they have predefined settings depending on the source material? The pan&scan process would also be interesting to hear about, such as whether to squish, pan&scan, or letterbox the opening and closing titles.

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I would wonder about how they went about subtitling the alien languages.

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Who are you, who is your dad and why are you going to ‘interview’ him???

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clutchins said:

Arnied said:

Who are you, who is your dad and why are you going to ‘interview’ him???

He gave you a link to click.

I clicked the link, it does not answer my questions.

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On reflection, I think I could have worded the last statement of my post differently so as to avoid rubbing individuals on this forum wrong. My dad is disappointed with the fact that the version of the movie that he worked on may never see the light of day (except if Disney releases the original version). However, as much as my dad likes to see how fans try to recreate the original film print utilizing many creative means, he has become rather disdain with the fact that fans are complaining so much about the changes. As such, I was trying to make a resounding no so as to punctuate the fact that this is about a project that took place in the 80s. Not as much about either the SE or fan projects.

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Sorry this took so long. It was a matter of getting together with him on a day that nothing else was going on and we wouldn’t get interrupted. On top of that, we had some wild animals wandering around our backyard at night that we wanted gone, I was trying to find video sources to use as reference clips, and my video editor kept crashing (of which it took a long time just to find out that the video formats I was using didn’t want to work with my video editor, so I had to convert them).

Bottom line, here’s the interview:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LagwssLxlk

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Started listening, great and fascinating so far at 15 mins in. Thanks for sharing.

If your crop is water, what, exactly, would you dust your crops with?

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I’ve watched the whole interview and it has a lot of great detailed info. I really appreciated that you and your father put this together. Thanks again for sharing!

If your crop is water, what, exactly, would you dust your crops with?

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I noticed a few incorrect pieces of information, but most of it was new and gold.

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For the benefit of the rest of us who are unaware, what was incorrect?

“Logic is the battlefield of adulthood.”

  • Howard Berk
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  1. Speculation/Details about Black R2-D2 (It’s not black because of the blue-screen process, they actually used a black-painted R2 to specifically avoid problems with the blue-screen process), 2. Laserdiscs aren’t acutally glass, can’t remember anything else right now.

Just to clarify though, everything in there this is fascinating to hear about. Details about the transfer equipment, politics of the releases, etc. Thanks again for posting.

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

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Williarob said:

@Joshua724: At around 58 minutes, your dad talks about a cassette recording he made of the soundtrack for testing at home, and he says he “thinks we still have that”. Were you able to dig that up? I’m sure I’m not the only one here who would like to listen to it…

Not only do I have it, I was planning on loaning it to someone who knew how best to handle it to coincide with the release of this interview. I just forgot to mention that. As such, does anyone know someone who has the proper tape playing equipment to be able to play back this tape at the highest audio quality that it was recorded at? Here’s some stats:

TDK MetalBias 70us EQ MA90
Noise Reduction: DBX
High(CrO2)): 70us

The main emphasis on this tape cassette is that it was recorded with a tape machine that took full advantage of the metal composition on the tape cassette to record the audio track in the best way possible.

Note: The tape cassette says The Empire Strikes Back. If he was making a test recording, it would be of the first movie done using this new digital mastering technique. There wouldn’t be a need to do it with a second test recording. So, no, we don’t have the Pre-SE A New Hope audio track.

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schorman13 said:

  1. Speculation/Details about Black R2-D2 (It’s not black because of the blue-screen process, they actually used a black-painted R2 to specifically avoid problems with the blue-screen process)…

I won’t nitpick about this too much except to point out that, if you take note of R2’s light just below his optical lense, the blue also goes out there. Now, this could also be proof towards the idea that there was a black R2 on set. Just thought I’d point that out.

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JayArgonaut said:

For the benefit of the rest of us who are unaware, what was incorrect?

Star Wars/A New Hope was never released with just a stereo soundtrack. They used the Dolby Stereo mix which is a 4 channel matrixed surround encoded into 2 channels. I have done a test of the earliest LD archives tracks and have been able to extract the 4 channels from it. I held this misconception until just a few months ago. It seems that Lucasfilm gave them the 6 track audio and CBS/Fox did their own surround mix of it for the 1985 release. He was no longer there when they did the DE, but I would guess that the process was probably the same. I love the description of the transfer process and that they did the surround encoding of the 1985 version form the 6 track audio (it kind of explains why the 1985 ANH audio is identical to the 1977 except for the one line that was added where the 1993 audio has many pieces taken from the mono-mix but omits that line, not to mention the different dynamic of the 3 different audio versions).

He makes a distinction between the recordable video disc format and LaserDiscs. I have no doubt the early recordable video discs were made of glass.

He also seems unaware that the the earliest LD releases were before ROTJ came out and that all of the OT was released with the original theatrical stereo tracks (meaning Dolby Stereo encoded surround sound) had been released before he ever started there.

I usually take all such interviews at face value that they are providing terrific first hand knowledge of their experience, but when they speak of their second hand information they may not be the best source.

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Joshua724 said:

Williarob said:

@Joshua724: At around 58 minutes, your dad talks about a cassette recording he made of the soundtrack for testing at home, and he says he “thinks we still have that”. Were you able to dig that up? I’m sure I’m not the only one here who would like to listen to it…

Not only do I have it, I was planning on loaning it to someone who knew how best to handle it to coincide with the release of this interview. I just forgot to mention that. As such, does anyone know someone who has the proper tape playing equipment to be able to play back this tape at the highest audio quality that it was recorded at? Here’s some stats:

TDK MetalBias 70us EQ MA90
Noise Reduction: DBX
High(CrO2)): 70us

The main emphasis on this tape cassette is that it was recorded with a tape machine that took full advantage of the metal composition on the tape cassette to record the audio track in the best way possible.

Is this a cassette tape or a reel? If it is a cassette, I have a NAK MR1 that has been tuned recently.

"Close the blast doors!"
Puggo’s website | Rescuing Star Wars

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Puggo - Jar Jar’s Yoda said:

Joshua724 said:

Williarob said:

@Joshua724: At around 58 minutes, your dad talks about a cassette recording he made of the soundtrack for testing at home, and he says he “thinks we still have that”. Were you able to dig that up? I’m sure I’m not the only one here who would like to listen to it…

Not only do I have it, I was planning on loaning it to someone who knew how best to handle it to coincide with the release of this interview. I just forgot to mention that. As such, does anyone know someone who has the proper tape playing equipment to be able to play back this tape at the highest audio quality that it was recorded at? Here’s some stats:

TDK MetalBias 70us EQ MA90
Noise Reduction: DBX
High(CrO2)): 70us

The main emphasis on this tape cassette is that it was recorded with a tape machine that took full advantage of the metal composition on the tape cassette to record the audio track in the best way possible.

Is this a cassette tape or a reel? If it is a cassette, I have a NAK MR1 that has been tuned recently.

We had to look it up to find out that NAK MR1 stood for Nakamichi MR-1. Of which, in that case, as long as the tape heads are aligned to 1983 standards, it should work with the cassette he recorded to. Here’s my email address if you don’t want to post your mailing address to the forum: joshua7241984@gmail.com


Note: I just found out a few hours ago my dad will only rent the cassette for a few hundred dollars. In his mind, because this is the only one of it’s kind in existence, it’s worth way more. The thing is, I’ve been telling him for years about how this is a holy grail for OT fans to be able to have a Pre-SE soundtrack and he’s said that someone would have to have a deck that can handle the quality of this recording. He never once mentioned a price. So, sorry about that. Believe me, I feel like I’ve been thrown a curve-ball from out of nowhere.


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Puggo - Jar Jar’s Yoda said:

I must be missing something… why would a pre-SE soundtrack be so valuable? The laserdisks were pre-SE.

The cassette is valuable TO HIM because it’s the only cassette in existence with a recording of the ESB soundtrack in dbx on a metallic tape that’s able to capture the quality and frequency range of the original ESB optical reels.

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What I’m about to say is not to confirm that anyone on either side of the fence knows better about what they are talking about so much as to lay certain things down after having some encounters after posting this interview:

  1. I will acknowledge that he is probably confusing some technical information about certain formats. In particular, referring to laserdisc as a glass format. However, this does not necessarily indicate that he has gaps in his memory. I can build a computer from scratch and have it working in just a few hours. But, that doesn’t mean I always know where my car keys are.

  2. No Laserdisc was made up to 1986 when my dad was laid off…period. Any and all manufacturing information stating that laserdiscs for STAR WARS were made before that are outright lies. CBS\FOX would have been told what kind of master tapes to make and for what format before even making the masters due to the fact that they were the only duplication facility in North America with the license to duplicate and distribute all three movies in North America. As such, he would know if they were going to.

  3. As much as I applaud fan efforts to preserve the pre-SE audio tracks via the laserdisc, they pail in comparison to the cassette recording my dad did while at CBS\FOX. I appreciate any and all offers to transfer the cassette we have to a digital format for later use. After talking with my dad, even though he did the recording for me (something that he could hand down) and I could do with it what I want, he made it conditional because it was meant only for me. But, we decided to purchase our own metal tape deck and plan on digitizing the track that way. I’ll figure out how to make it available after that. As far as which version it is, it’s before the SE. So, what does it matter? But, if you need a date, call it the CBS\FOX 1984 version of ESB.