(note - probably should have titled this best, not correct, but you get the idea)
I have decided that it is time to construct my own edit of the saga, but to do so for the OT, I must first have on hand copies of the original unaltered trilogy and blu-ray version with the same color palette. Since ANH is the most challenging, both in color correction and in the edits I want to make, I started working on bringing Harmy’s despecialized edition and the blu-ray together. I have found it is impossible (well, probably not completely, but it is more work than I care to put in). So I find I must gather all the source material, both video and researching the film making process, to assemble what I need.
I am going to confine this to ANH, though I intend to do much the same thing with TESB and ROTJ, though don’t think they have quite the same color issues.
Many people have looked to the Senator viewing for the correct colors. Even George himself turned to his technicolor print to retime the colors for the 97 SE. However, being a student of film history and a great appreciator of 1930-1960 Hollywood, I am acutely aware that the Senator print likely has colors that are more saturated than the standard film print would have been.
For ANH, what we are left with are the Technicolor prints, the transfers made from interpositives, and a faded negative. When printed using the original color timing, it turns out green. I think this, plus the nature of the color issues in the Lowry scan (along with the same issues I observed in one of the Bond films, also restored by Lowry) is a key to understanding how to fix the problem. The problem has been made more difficult by selective color correction of some scenes. Pretty much the same problem I have observed in me matching Harmy’s despecialized version back to the blu-ray.
My first step is to take the versions of ANH I have and assemble a master. I am going back to some older versions I have, before the GOUT on DVD. I have the GOUT (a phrase which makes me smile for what it would mean in other context), the Japanese Special Collection LD capture (24 fps, but cropped differently and with C-3PO coming out almost copper), the TR47 capture of the Definitive Edition LD (at least I think that is the version, it is 24 fps done by pulling the correct half frames out of the 60 fps LD and compiling them back to the original, which yields some odd artifacts), and Harmy’s despecialized edition. As all the audio tracks I have are timed perfectly to that version and it has a higher image quality, It may be one of the layers I use, but the color is going to come from the TR47 and the GOUT with the JSC fixing the DNR issues both of those have.
I have done this many times with photos and it usually comes out great. Trying it with video is going to be interesting, but hopefully it will yield the same quality of results.
That still leaves me with matching the blu-ray to what I come up with. While any additional color correcting they may have done may result in some scenes that I will have to address seperately, my initial focus is on the blown out reds, blues, the magenta explosions, the reddened skin tones, and the dark green walls. I think all of these stem from the same issue that results from how Lowry corrected for the faded negative. I will be experimenting on how best to fix that, but I suspect that the Red, Green, and Blue channels are not aligned correctly and that once I isolate what the issue is, it will be straight forward to fix. I’ve read of some other attempts, but we don’t all agree on what the correct colors should be.
One of the sources I will draw on is Gone With the Wind. The blu-ray of that film is taken from a technicolor print. I have a DVD that is from the previous, non-technicolor print and the older LD from the 50th anniversary restoration. I’m going to compare the saturation levels and the color correct the snapshots of the Senator viewing to arrive at what the standard film print colors should have been.
I’m also of the opinion that those garbage matts we all were so familiar with on home video are a product of incorrectly adjusting the interpositive image. I will be setting the blacks so the garbage matts are hard if not impossible to see. The images from the Senator viewing seem to bear this out.
In the end, I hope to have a nifty file to burn to disc that will have both opening crawls and 6 audio tracks. TESB and ROTJ should be much simpler and then it will be a matter of just editing the two cuts of the film together to arrive at my edits, but until then, I have some restoration work to do, but to the GOUT an to the blu-ray.