Sign In

Info Wanted: SW--A New Hope (status/use of original audio master tapes)

Author
Time
 (Edited)

I’m curious as to the status of the original audio master tapes used for ANH.
On another SW forum it was suggested that the orig tapes were digitized in early 90s (??).

Not sure if these digitized copies of the orig. master tapes have made it into the various fan-based restoration efforts (e.g., 4k77 and Legacy Edition). I have my doubts about that 😉

Of ALL the video released (including Special Edition BluRay and DVD), I liked the sound of the LaserDisc and Hi-Fi tapes released in the early/mid 1990s …
http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/starwars/images/e/ee/Laserdisclogo.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20110316124030
The Special Edition version (BluRay, DVD) are too loud and EQ’d for my taste.

I know that the 2006 DVD bonus disc (with the non-SE versions) used the same audio as the LDs from the 90s. But the LDs, IMO, are better because they feature UNCOMPRESSED PCM digital sound; not lossy like DVD versions.

Author
Time

I can tell you for sure that the 4K77 project does not have access to the master tapes or copies thereof.

Mike Verta hinted in one of his videos that he has access to them for Legacy, but for obvious reasons he couldn’t discuss where or how he got them, nor could he share them. But since he does work in Hollywood, in the film industry and did interview many of the people involved in making Star Wars, visited the Lucasfilm archives, etc. I don’t have any reason to doubt him.

http://www.thestarwarstrilogy.com

http://www.the007dossier.com

Author
Time

Williarob said:

I can tell you for sure that the 4K77 project does not have access to the master tapes or copies thereof.

Mike Verta hinted in one of his videos that he has access to them for Legacy, but for obvious reasons he couldn’t discuss where or how he got them, nor could he share them. But since he does work in Hollywood, in the film industry and did interview many of the people involved in making Star Wars, visited the Lucasfilm archives, etc. I don’t have any reason to doubt him.
===============
I did read MV’s post about getting some official support from Lucasfilm, but didn’t know whether that included audio.
Hopefully, he treats the audio the same way he’s handling the video, except not using audio noise reduction (that will lose fidelity for sure).
Actually, (and as i noted in the OP), the LDs from 1993/95 were pretty good and lossless. I have no problem in Legacy/4k77 re-using that source for audio.

Author
Time

13hm13 said:

Actually, (and as i noted in the OP), the LDs from 1993/95 were pretty good and lossless. I have no problem in Legacy/4k77 re-using that source for audio.

Those mixes are not theatrically accurate though.

__Valeyard.net

Author
Time

If but I could get my hands on the stems, I absolutely would put together a true stereo mix, and I might consider whether it could be done in 5.1, with the exact same elements as the mono mix.

"Right now the coffees are doing their final work." (Airi, Masked Rider Den-o episode 1)

Author
Time

Sorry if I’m a little ignorant on this subject but what are the master tapes? Are these like negatives are to the film? Or where were they used?

And in the time of greatest despair, there shall come a savior, and he shall be known as the Son of the Suns.

Author
Time

The master tapes are just that: the final mixed sound and outputted to audio tape.

On a production back in the days, you had your on set sound recorded on a nagra and all of this was edited and put to stems which is multi tracked tape. One track was dialogue, another was music and another was sound effects. These stems are then mixed and mastered to stereo, mono, surround sound master tapes.

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

Author
Time

Image of 1978 TEAC ad from various Audio or Prof. Recording magazines:

Author
Time

13hm13 said:

Image of 1978 TEAC ad from various Audio or Prof. Recording magazines:

Very frickin cool.

Author
Time

Mavimao said:

The master tapes are just that: the final mixed sound and outputted to audio tape.

On a production back in the days, you had your on set sound recorded on a nagra and all of this was edited and put to stems which is multi tracked tape. One track was dialogue, another was music and another was sound effects. These stems are then mixed and mastered to stereo, mono, surround sound master tapes.

I understand that but didn’t all the played audio in the film prints come from the film (on the side)? Or where else someone could get these master tapes unless working for LFL? Just wondering is this a similar case to “I wish we had the o-neg to scan it for OT.com members” or are these tapes actually around somewhere like film prints?

And in the time of greatest despair, there shall come a savior, and he shall be known as the Son of the Suns.

Author
Time

LexX said:

Mavimao said:

The master tapes are just that: the final mixed sound and outputted to audio tape.

On a production back in the days, you had your on set sound recorded on a nagra and all of this was edited and put to stems which is multi tracked tape. One track was dialogue, another was music and another was sound effects. These stems are then mixed and mastered to stereo, mono, surround sound master tapes.

I understand that but didn’t all the played audio in the film prints come from the film (on the side)? Or where else someone could get these master tapes unless working for LFL? Just wondering is this a similar case to “I wish we had the o-neg to scan it for OT.com members” or are these tapes actually around somewhere like film prints?

The sound, as played in theaters, is on the film print itself either in optical form or magnetic track.

These “master tapes” are in the hands of Lucasfilm. MikeV has friends who lent the digitized versions to him for his project. I guess a two hour AIFF/WAV file is easier to transport than gigabytes of O-neg scans.

On another note, the original stereo mix is well preserved: a member found an LD pressing whose digital track was that version so it’s as good as we’re going to get outside an official release.

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

Author
Time

LexX said:

Mavimao said:

The master tapes are just that: the final mixed sound and outputted to audio tape.

On a production back in the days, you had your on set sound recorded on a nagra and all of this was edited and put to stems which is multi tracked tape. One track was dialogue, another was music and another was sound effects. These stems are then mixed and mastered to stereo, mono, surround sound master tapes.

I understand that but didn’t all the played audio in the film prints come from the film (on the side)? Or where else someone could get these master tapes unless working for LFL? Just wondering is this a similar case to “I wish we had the o-neg to scan it for OT.com members” or are these tapes actually around somewhere like film prints?

From my understanding, the O-neg does not have the original soundtrack. They were mated during the making of the interpositives. The 35mm interprositives either had the mono soundtrack or the stereo soundtrack (Dolby Stereo matrix encoded 4.0 channel surround sound - L, R, C, Surround) and the 70mm had the 4.1 or 4.2 surround (basically the same sound mix as stereo, but with a specific LFE channel). During the work for the Blu-ray release, they archived all three of these. The 1985 and 1993 audio mixes appear to also be Dolby Stereo matrix encoded, but I don’t know if they are 4.0 or 5.1 (I’m awaiting a new external hard drive so I can start working on converting the matrixed stereo into discreet multi-track audio. Several of the early LD releases have the original theatrical matrixed stereo track. The mono is only available from a UK video recording and a film print - and neither one appears to be the level of quality we would want. The discreet 4.1/4.2 audio from the 70mm prints is not available but has been recreated by some enterprising OT members. Any higher than LD quality would have to come from LFL directly.

Author
Time
 (Edited)

I’m not sure WHEN Lucasfilm digitized the “original master tapes” (if that’s what they used)?
I’m GUESSING it was around the time (may be partly because of) the 1993 LD box set was released (also the 1993 CD Original Anthology soundtrack box set): both of these were pretty big production efforts for Lucasfilm; further, Lucasfilm had the SE projects in the plans .So it makes sense that they “invested” in the soundtrack at this time.

Magnetic tape (with analog audio or video) degrades – OVER TIME – for several reasons (tape plastics disintegrate, magnetic loss, Earth’s own magnetic field playing havoc, etc).

The optical (audio) film tracks do not have the rez/fidelity of analog/magnetic tracks (much less the orig. tapes), but they (optical audio) don’t suffer from de-magnetization (= fidelity loss) or print-thru (= pre- or post-echo).

Bottom line: One can only hope the original tapes were digitized in the early 1990s (if not earlier).

Author
Time

The master is a four track tape and was then tinkered from for making the 70mm Dolby, 35mm Dolby and mono. It was reutilized in 1997 when the SE track was being made and then likely digitized as all the other mixes are supposedly on file.

The musical score is also on four track IIRC.

If I’m mistaken on anything feel free to correct me.

VADER!? WHERE THE HELL IS MY MOCHA LATTE? -Palpy on a very bad day.
“George didn’t think there was any future in dead Han toys.”-Harrison Ford
YT channel:
https://www.youtube.com/c/DamnFoolIdealisticCrusader

Author
Time
 (Edited)

As an audio guy, I really hope the tapes were captured more recently than 1993. 1997 might be good. Early 1990s digital equipment isn’t known for its excellent sound quality.

That said, If anyone has the 1977 soundtrack captured digitally (and not converted) from the ld, I’d love to hear it!

Author
Time

LFL archived all three original audio tracks for ANH during the work on remixing the soundtrack from original elements for the blue-ray release. They archived all three versions - mono, stereo matrix, and 4 channel. And magnetic tape does not deteriorate that quickly. It has been the main method of recording for more than 50 years and even the oldest ones can still be used to issue better sounding remasters than the original release. In some cases, the oldest magnetic tapes, such as the recordings going back to the 40’s or late 30’s, could only be played once to archive the data digitally, but the materials used from later periods are superior and not prone to degradation. Especially magnetic tape masters from the 60’s and 70’s.

Each major home video release of the original Star Wars movies has had a different audio mix. The earliest releases have the original theatrical audio. In 1984, Ben Burt created the first digital master audio which appeared on subsequent new releases starting the following year. For the 1993 Definitive Edition, there was a new audio master. Both of these differ slightly from the original in terms of channels matrixed into the final stereo and the stereo width of the mix as well as the volume and clarity. They again got a different mix in 97 and 2004 (with that one having considerable issues with the music in the surround channels. For the blue-ray, Ben Burt went back to the original and remixed ANH to be closer to the mono mix. He did not use many of the alternate takes of lines found in the mono-mix, but virtually all the effects sounds are there. He is the one who stated that they archived all the original mixes from 1977 while working on the blue-ray. The newest mix exists as 6.1/7.1 on the blue-ray and as 5.1 on the latest DVD release.

Author
Time

captainsolo said:

The master is a four track tape and was then tinkered from for making the 70mm Dolby, 35mm Dolby and mono. It was reutilized in 1997 when the SE track was being made and then likely digitized as all the other mixes are supposedly on file.

The musical score is also on four track IIRC.

If I’m mistaken on anything feel free to correct me.

The 70mm 4 track and the 35mm matrixed stereo are essentially the same mix. The only difference is the 70mm also had an LFE track (or two LFE tracks - the info is unclear, but it is clear that other than LFE, there was L, R, C, and surround and those were identical to the matrixed tracks found in the 35mm). The Mono mix was done completely separate and featured more detail in most places, but lacked some of the effects applied for the stereo mix, such as the echo when Luke and Leia are trapped in the casm and the radio distortions during the Death Star battle. Now, one source I found indicated that the LFE is actually included in the matrixed stereo mix. Basically the surround and LFE are on the same channel, with everything below the range of 80-120 Htz being the LFE and everything above being the surround. But I have not been able to confirm this.

The great advantage of Dolby Stereo was that it worked for theaters with mono, stereo, and surround system, all from one master print. Where I live, only 2 of the 16 screens had stereo growing up. Since then they have built new facilities that all have surround and have kept up with the latest digital formats are are all DLP today. But that change was in the early 90’s, so most of the films I saw were in mono even though the film itself was stereo. But all those movies I saw in mono, if you run them through a Dolby Pro Logic system will have surround, either 4.0 or 5.0 depending on when they were released. That is why there really isn’t a separate mono mix for Empire or Jedi. No need. When Star Wars came out in 1977, some theaters didn’t have equipment that was compatible so Ben Burt made a special mono mix.

Author
Time

There actually IS a mono mix for Empire. Rare (as far as we know it only exists on a 16mm print) but it exists.

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

Author
Time

ESB has mono and production documents indicate one done for ROTJ-additionally Raiders had a mono.
It is correct that the 70 and 35 Dolby tracks are likely very much the same but until we get actual concrete evidence it’s impossible to say. The baby booms were filtering out the low end as opposed to an actual dedicated LFE channel. I will suggest that there are likely a few differences in range etc since the 35 was intended for optical and the 70 had mag tracks.
The definitive collection 93 mix was reputed to be derived from the 70mm mix before those changes were made and is what HairyHen has been working with.

VADER!? WHERE THE HELL IS MY MOCHA LATTE? -Palpy on a very bad day.
“George didn’t think there was any future in dead Han toys.”-Harrison Ford
YT channel:
https://www.youtube.com/c/DamnFoolIdealisticCrusader

Author
Time

One thing that may be compromised for vinyl lovers and certain audiophiles, is the analog goodness of the original recording.
I do have the OST for all three OT films on vinyl, and can definitely hear advantages (and disadvantages) of analog.
I can’t say how “analogyness” affects psycho-acoustics (perception/enjoyment) of the movie: music, effects and dialog. But you’re gonna miss some stuff with 16bit/44.1 k.
If Mike V. has access to the digital copies of orig. tapes, it’d be interesting to know what rez LFL used for digitization (e.g., 24bit/192khz, etc.).

Author
Time
 (Edited)

13hm13 said:

I do have the OST for all three OT films on vinyl, and can definitely hear advantages (and disadvantages) of analog.

Are you talking about the music soundtracks or the “The Story of…” records?

Author
Time

captainsolo said:

ESB has mono and production documents indicate one done for ROTJ-additionally Raiders had a mono.
It is correct that the 70 and 35 Dolby tracks are likely very much the same but until we get actual concrete evidence it’s impossible to say. The baby booms were filtering out the low end as opposed to an actual dedicated LFE channel. I will suggest that there are likely a few differences in range etc since the 35 was intended for optical and the 70 had mag tracks.
The definitive collection 93 mix was reputed to be derived from the 70mm mix before those changes were made and is what HairyHen has been working with.

There is an in theater recording of the 70mm audio. It shows none of the additions that were made to the 93 mix and appears to be identical to the 77 stereo matrix mix. For the 84 mix, only the one line of C-3PO’s was added. For the 93 mix, virtually all the effects found in the mono mix that were not in the 77 stereo mix were added - though no lines of dialog were changed.

Also, the mono versions of Empire and Jedi were likely downmixes of the stereo tracks (possibly the L, R, & C channels or the full matrixed stereo). By 1980 there wasn’t much point to having a special mono mix for the theatrical prints. 16 mm would be a different case, but one where a downmix of the stereo would be the simplest way to achieve. There is a lot of evidence of a separate mono mix for ANH, but I have never seen any for TESB or ROTJ. There is another mix for TESB. The 70mm seems to have been missing some music and effects toward the end and appears to have been missing some of the composited effects. Again, there is an in theater audio recording so we have some idea how it is different, though I don’t know of any quality archive of it.

Author
Time

While we’re on the topic of ESB soundtracks, this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8MpzMUD4Gg) shows that Luke’s “You were lucky to get out of there” line heard in the 70mm and SE tracks was on-set dialogue. Just something interesting that I found out recently.

Author
Time
 (Edited)

For the second time, there is a mono mix of Empire Strikes Back that is not a fold down.

http://originaltrilogy.com/topic/Empire-Strikes-Back-mono-mix-GOUT-sync-and-Comparison-MP3-READ-1st-POST-FOR-INFO/id/15865

Several lines are shifted (“The 1st transport is away!”) some are added (C3pO’s lines when entering the hibernation chamber) and some are changed (the stormtrooper when 3PO enters the wrong room at Cloud City).

This can be found on Despecialized as the 16mm Mono.

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

Author
Time

alexp120 said:

13hm13 said:

I do have the OST for all three OT films on vinyl, and can definitely hear advantages (and disadvantages) of analog.

Are you talking about the music soundtracks or the “The Story of…” records?

Music – OST is original soundtrack (the commercial LP release of John Williams’ score).
Japanaese pressings of which are pretty good.

I do own all three ‘Story’ LPs, too, along with other movies’ story LPs like The Black Hole, Tron, etc. These all have marginal sonics.