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Original Trilogy DVD FAQ (Unofficial)

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There seems to be a lot of information and mis-information surrounding the release of the Original Star Wars Trilogy on DVD in September. Many threads on this Forum have useful information, and my goal here is to compile all of it into one handy reference thread, free of debate and controversy - just the facts.

What Is This Release?

Lucasfilm plans on releasing "the original theatrical incarnations" of the Star Wars trilogy on September 12th, 2006. Little is Officially known at this point, apart from the Press Release issued on May 4th, 2006. The Press Release has changed over the last few days for unknown reasons, but currently has written some edited out information back in. (See details below)

What Makes These Editions The Original Theatrical Incarnations?

Essentially the DVD's will contain each of the films, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, & Return Of The Jedi as they were in their theatrical EDIT form, which differs from both the 1997 Special Editions, and 2004 DVD Box Set.


Wait A Minute - There Are MANY Different Versions Of The Theatrical Runs!

This is true. Star Wars has experienced many changes through the years, including several different sound mixes, Special Effects revamps and Digitally Remastering. We know little at this point except that the film edits will be from 1977, 1980 and 1983. The first film in the series (Star Wars) is reportedly being issued with the pre-Episode IV: A New Hope title crawl, as it was in 1977 before the subsequent re-release.

According to the Official press release each film will be in Dolby 2.0 Surround Sound, released in a two-disc set, coupled with the 2004 DVD release which many already have. While you are getting the O-OT, you should be aware of this.

The different soundmixes are explored in many threads on this Forum, and the above link is a good starting point. At this point we just don't know if Star Wars will feature the original 1977 Dolby Sound Mix or any of the post-1985 remixes.

From Where Did Lucasfilm Source These New DVD's?

Currently this is the hot-button debate of the hour. Until we have concrete evidence all is conjecture.

In an article from May 4th, 2006 in USA Today Lucasfilm's Jim Ward stated that the picture quality will not be up to 2006 standards, but "state of the art, as of 1993." This has led many Forum Members to believe that the DVD's will feature the 1993 Laserdisc Transfers of the Trilogy that were used to make various officiallaserdisc sets and subsequent fan preservation projects - however, debate on the Forums has revealed the following:

    In 1993 the original negatives of the films were preserved and restored for work on the 1997 SE's.
      No one knows if this is just a straight transfer to DVD from the masters made for Laserdisc. Ward's cryptic comments are open to interpretation which has polarized fans.

      Having said all of this, an interesting post appeared on Millennium Falcon by Darth First, who if you aren't familiar with, has proven very reliable and accurate in the past with insider scoops. He claims that the 1993 masters are not being used at all, but rather an extensive restoration process is underway at Lucasfilm to present the O-OT in the quality that is "expected from Lucasfilm" releases. Additionally, a Forum Member of originaltrilogy.com claims to have a friend that works in a film lab and has washed the negatives of the original cut recently.

      Why Bother? Are These Going To Be Laserdisc Quality?

      No! Even is the DVD's are sourced from the Laserdisc Masters, this doesn't mean Lucasfilm simply transferred a Laserdisc to DVD. The Masters used for the Laserdiscs would look substantially better on DVD. It is important to note again, that at this point we only have a few cryptic clues as to where the discs are sourced from.

      At this point, we can assume that the films won't look as vibrant and polished (for better or for worse) as their 2004 DVD incarnations, leading many to hopefully speculate that they are untouched. Given Lucas' reputation, many are waiting with bated breath.

      Where can I find articles in the mainstream media about this release?

      This was big news in the media, to be sure. After years of petioning Lucasfilm everywhere from (of course) the massive collection of signatures to actually asking the man himself directly at conventions, we finally made a break through. It is no wonder this story was picked up. Thanks to several Forum members for the leads on these stories, which are now linked here:

      USA Today - May 4th, 2006

      Baltimore Sun - May 5th, 2006

      Zap 2 It - May 4th, 2006

      Yahoo News (Criticizes Lucasfilm Gouging Fans)

      Waiting On Bothan Spies To Produce More Info...

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      I would like to add that while some people are claiming anonymous insider sources that state they are using the old 4x3 Letterbox transfer for the DVD, an information source who calls himself "Darth First" and who was responsible for leaking almost all the information about both the 2004 Box Set and the Episode III DVD many months beforehand has come out and said these DVD's ARE being sourced from the film elements. Yes, I understand the ludicrousness of charging someone who volunteers to call themselves "Darth First' as a voice of authority, but his track record with the DVD news from the two previous releases is 100 percent. There is also another member here claiming a friend has firsthand helped WASH the film elements at a lab for processing this year.

      It's a pretty muddy issue, however the above seems to shine a more clarifying light on what direction Ward and Lucasfilm are going in.
      The Best Show You've Never Heard
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      Good thread, and everyone should follow it. This should be a reference for everyone as they log on each day. I am going to read this thread first for any updated posts, and then talk about what has or has not changed on the release.

      Great idea.
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      No one needs to worry. Last night I had a dream where I spoke with George Lucas, and indeed - these upcoming dvds will be newly transfered from film elements. He said it was ridiculous that anyone would think he would simply slap some old laserdisc masters onto these dvds. After all, he's George Lucas - the man behind ILM and THX! He's all about using technology to its fullest!

      But yes, unfortunately it was just a dream. So don't quote me.
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      It's great to see them mention this site in particular. So glad I signed the petition! Not that I actually thought it would accomplish much at the time, but here we are now, getting what we wanted (hopefully).
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      A thousand blessings on TheCassidy's head for starting this thread. Somebody had to be the voice of reason.

      And with that said, I think this might deserve sticky status...
      For as much as some people claim to hate what Star Wars has become, they sure seem incapable of shutting up about it.
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      "The move is a direct response to popular demand, according to Lucasfilm spokesman John Singh. "The biggest question we've ever gotten from Star Wars fans is, 'When are you going to release the originals?' A Web site called originaltrilogy.com, in the last year alone, gathered 72,000 signatures asking for their release. We love that passion."

      http://www.gigabikes.com/forums/html/emoticons/beerchug.gif
      originaltrilogy.com Moderator

      "Why are you here, Rey from nowhere?”

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      FAQ updated with Mainstream Media coverage (thanks for the idea THX) and a few grammatical/content changes.
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      Originally posted by: TheCassidy
      The quality was further diminished on Laserdisc due to Lucasfilm's THX process, which tends to soften out an image and wash out the color.

      That's not correct at all. THX isn't a process. It's a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval", meaning that the final product accurately copies the original master.

      Neil

      Well at least the reversed surround channels have been addressed.

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      The colors in the OT always were "washed out". The LDs are much closer to the theatrical color than the 04 DVDs (and most of the transfers) which boosted the saturation.
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      Originally posted by: Neil S. Bulk
      Originally posted by: TheCassidy
      The quality was further diminished on Laserdisc due to Lucasfilm's THX process, which tends to soften out an image and wash out the color.

      That's not correct at all. THX isn't a process. It's a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval", meaning that the final product accurately copies the original master.

      Neil


      Thanks Neil - noted and corrected. I'm not sure where I read that, there's so much schtuff flying around these days that it's hard to disseminate the facts!

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      Originally posted by: TheCassidy
        In 1993 the original negatives of the films were preserved and restored for work on the 1997 SE's.
        Does anyone actually know this to be true? I mean in the sense of OUT negs?
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        You mentioned that someone recently was washing the original negatives to the film...but could this possibly be in preperation for the 3-D release next year? Or if this in fact has occured, are you fairly certain it would be for the OOT DVD release?
        Forever a Star Wars fan!
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        What a patronising article from Lucasfilm. "We understand people are pissed off, but fuck them anyway"

        Yeah that makes me feel better.

        RATLSNAKE

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        That "directly contacting fans" thing has me interested. I wonder what they could possibly do to assure us?

        There is no lingerie in space...

        C3PX said: Gaffer is like that hot girl in high school that you think you have a chance with even though she is way out of your league because she is sweet and not a stuck up bitch who pretends you don't exist... then one day you spot her making out with some skinny twerp, only on second glance you realize it is the goth girl who always sits in the back of class; at that moment it dawns on you why she is never seen hanging off the arm of any of the jocks... and you realize, damn, she really is unobtainable after all. Not that that is going to stop you from dreaming... Only in this case, Gaffer is actually a guy.

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        Can the "Darth First" info be removed from this FAQ?

        Also, with all this talk of "anamorphic" transfers, could you link to my article that explains just what they are to avoid further confusion?

        Neil

        Well at least the reversed surround channels have been addressed.

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        Hot off the press from HTF.



        The LF publicity department has begun sending out the following response to the hundreds of irate emails they’ve been receiving on the Star Wars issue:



        Quote:
        I wanted you to know how much we appreciate the passion and enthusiasm you have for Star Wars, and thank you for sharing your concerns about our upcoming DVD release.

        The DVDs being released in September will contain two versions of Star Wars: Episodes IV, V and VI – the Special Editions (which represent George’s vision of the movies) and the first versions, which will be included as bonus material. We hoped that releasing those “original” movies on a bonus disc would be a way to have some additional fun with the debut of the movies as individual DVDs. We certainly did not want it to become a source of concern or frustration for any of our fans.

        As you may know, an enormous amount of effort was put into digitally restoring the negatives for the Special Editions. In one scene alone, nearly 1 million pieces of dirt had to be removed, and the Special Editions were created through a frame-by-frame digital restoration. The negatives of the movies were permanently altered for the creation of the Special Editions, and existing prints of the first versions are in poor condition.

        So many fans have requested the original movies, we wanted to find a way to bring them to you. But since these movies do not represent George's artistic vision, we could not put the extraordinary time and resources into this project as we did with the Special Editions. The 1993 Laserdisc masters represented the best source for providing the original versions as DVD bonus material. Although these are non-anamorphic versions, they do preserve the original widescreen composition of the movies.

        We want you to be aware that we have no plans – now or in the future – to restore the earlier versions.

        We hope you will understand our decision and, again, want to let you know how much we appreciate your interest and enthusiasm.

        Sincerely,
        Lynne Hale
        publicity@lucasfilm.com





        At this point I am going to light a candle for the O-OT, because perhaps until the day GL passes, and his kids/heirs decide to restore the original films and release them to put their families through college and the like, we will never see these movies as we should. I know they say "never believe them when they say never", but Lucasfilm's actions seem to suggest this is the case.

        RATLSNAKE

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