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Sources on the Special Edition

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I'm going to try to write a non-technical article on the Special Editions and do some research for a possible fan commentary to sync with the Blu-ray. I'm looking for every source of information regarding the Special Editions. I've compiled what I have here:

starwars.com 1977/2004 comps

starwars.com Articles (1997 SE)
A New Hope "What Has Changed"
Empire Strikes Back "What Has Changed"
Return of the Jedi "What Has Changed"
Anatomy of a Dewback article
Anatomy of a Dewback video

American Cinematographer Articles
"An Expanded Universe"
"Renewing the Star Wars Sequels"
"Saving the Star Wars Sequels"
"George Lucas: Past, Present, and Future"

Laserdisc Featurette
Part 1
Part 2

Miscellaneous
Article on Lowry's work on the 2004 cleanup (apple.com)
Kaminski's article on the film preservation
Kaminski's article on the Jabba scene

Books
ILM: Into the Digital Realm (last chapter on SE)

Does anyone know of any other sources? I'm sure there are some Star Wars Insider articles (zombie says he thinks he can get those to me). I don't need information about the release and hype, I'm more concerned with the making of and reasoning behind the changes. The AC articles are incredibly dense with information.

Is there a clear point mentioned anywhere about when they decided they might as well do ESB and RotJ? Because they started storyboarding changes to ANH in 1993, added Jabba in 1994, but pushed RotJ:SE back a week in 1997 because it wasn't done yet. When did they start that they weren't done yet?

“005 is super hep” - dahmage

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doubleofive wrote: Does anyone know of any other sources? I'm sure there are some Star Wars Insider articles (zombie says he thinks he can get those to me). I don't need information about the release and hype, I'm more concerned with the making of and reasoning behind the changes.

Although the 'release and hype' stuff are not what you are after, most articles are 95% that to get to the one tidbit you are looking for.

For instance, MTV did a special at the time and there's a short segment on the technical merits/changes.  Available on TWC289 as with other Special Edition era tv programs/news reports:

http://originaltrilogy.com/forum/topic.cfm/Treadwell-Collection/post/483342/#TopicPost483342

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Another place to look for articles is Google's News Archive Search.  They've been scanning in old newspapers from all and when over:

http://news.google.com/archivesearch/advanced_search

(change to 100 results & limit the time frame to maybe a year at a time, and plenty of results so you'll figure out terms and such to nail down some of the harder to find articles) 

For instance 'Star Wars' from 1997-1998 gives 10,100 results.

add in 'Special Editions' gets you down to 1,570.

weird that adding 'Lowry' to the above gives nothing...

Note: go back to the main advanced archive search when ammending a query, for some reason if you update in the results page it looses the date field.

Note2: also if you stumble upon an article which is behind a paywall, take a sentence or two and search for that.  Often articles were reprinted in another publication which is not behind a paywall.

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mMathab has been pulling out articles from the Google archives related to SW and here's a great one he's found on this subject:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=OacaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=DC8EAAAAIBAJ&pg=6425,8183100&dq=recover-12-copies-that&hl=en

(had started typing it in, so here's part fo the text.  typos are mine)

The digital remastering will be finished next month after almost three years of work, at a cost of $30 million.  The re-editing process has been laborious.  The negatives were badly damaged after 20 years of wear and tear, and the Twenthieth Century Fox had to mount an international hunt to recover 12 copies that had never been returned from cinemas.

 

Luckily George Lucas found an unused "protection copy" in his basement, and editors at his California special effect laboratory - Industrial Light and Magic, which devised tricks for 'Jurassic Park' - cut and spliced this and some of the negatives to create a clean master version.

 

Four people  were charged with finding every piece of unused original footage from 'Star Wars,' 'The Empire Strikes back' and 'Return of the Jedi'.

 

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"Then the digital processing began. This involved feeding every shot through a computer and turning it into numbers. To edit, experts changed the binary language to alter the images."

I'm sorry, what? First off, this is the first time I've heard that "every shot" was digitized, and I'm pretty sure they didn't modify the film directly using 1s and 0s.

Thanks for the leads!

“005 is super hep” - dahmage

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Going with " 'star wars' & digital' " some stuff pre-97.

Seems there was a Nov. 24, 1994 press release of the upcoming SEs, here's one of the articles from that:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=FrIyAAAAIBAJ&sjid=PvEDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6505,1641009&dq=digital+star+wars&hl=en

"The original release of 'Star Wars' preceded the introduction of our THX sound system in theaters.  I wanted everyone to re-experience the film with the added benefits of today's motion picture sound advances"

Also around this time another laserdisc version was coming out:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=lVxVAAAAIBAJ&sjid=mz4NAAAAIBAJ&pg=3219,4413858&dq=digital+star+wars&hl=en

Excerpt:

Q. Why this latest video release?

A. I guess it's me finally tring to get things to be right.  When 'Star Wars' was first released on video, it was in the first pioneering days of video releases.  I've always wanted to improve the quality.  Through my THX group, we've been working on quality control systems.  I wanted to move it into VHS and tape, and this is my chance to do that.

Q. Will you ever be satisfied with the quality?

A. Probably not. We'll always be pushing for a higher-resolution picture and better quality and better quality video sets.  Hopefully, the quality in the home will be as good as the quality in the theater.

Q. Is anything added to the film itself?

A. the film is the same, the old version.  I'm working on a new version to be released theatrically on the 20th anniversary.  It's called Special Edition, and it will have themes that I couldn't get into the film because of time and money constraints.  Also improvements in the special effects; those things have bugged me over the years, and I wanted to get it right.

*omitted*

The sequels are something I haven't really written.

 

1995 NYTimes article on digital and film:  (not sure if you are keeping track of when details emerge of the new scenes)

http://www.nytimes.com/1995/12/25/business/digital-studios-it-s-economy-stupid-george-lucas-sees-technology-wondrous-tool.html

One of the first full uses of the new technologies may be the new "Star Wars" trilogy Mr. Lucas is producing, as well as a special edition of the original trilogy of films.

In the special edition, Mr. Lucas said, he will resolve some long-standing irritations by using today's superior technology to produce scenes as he had originally envisioned them. For instance, when Luke Skywalker and his friends enter the desert city of Mos Eisley, the vistas will be far broader and the streets more detailed.

 

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Right now I'm making a timeline of when they started things, when things were announced, what ILM and Lucas were working on besides the SE (dates of Lucas writing TPM seems to overlap with work on the SE). I'm using the Google archive to find articles giving general dates as to when things were announced. I can't find an official timeframe of the prequels being announced, just rumors, then it being fact.

“005 is super hep” - dahmage

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http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/entertainment/1997/01/02/1997-01-02_a__star_wars__is_reborn__enh.html

"It's the same movie, just enhanced bigger and better."

*omit*

The changes, Sherak insists, are subtle but still "amazing stuff."

 

Snarky Jedi SE review:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=XqYaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=HS4EAAAAIBAJ&pg=5395,8602871&dq=digital+star+wars&hl=en

 

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=9gYiAAAAIBAJ&sjid=FaYEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6963,3787322&dq=digital+star+wars&hl=en

'Star Wars' looks different as trilogy returns

 

http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/chicagotribune/access/10881311.html?dids=10881311:10881311&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&type=current&date=Jan+19%2C+1997&author=Mark+Caro%2C+Tribune+Staff+Writer.&pub=Chicago+Tribune&desc=IS+GEORGE+LUCAS+TAMPERING+WITH+HISTORY%3F&pqatl=google

IS GEORGE LUCAS TAMPERING WITH HISTORY?

....paywalled unfortunately....

 

http://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/03/business/the-old-star-wars-gets-some-new-looks.html

Two decades' worth of dust has been brushed off the film and the static has been removed from the soundtrack. These changes have been welcomed by fans and film historians, unlike the four and a half minutes of new special effects. The changes to the film have some cheering, but purists wonder whether technology should be used to alter the classic.

''I'm a little bit leery about the insertion of new creatures into the film,'' said Vivian Sobchack, professor of critical studies of film at the University of California at Los Angeles.

*omit*

''In Star Wars, there are basically four different movies now -- great and bad old effects, and great and bad new effects,'' said Edward D. Sullivan, a freelance writer who previewed Star Wars.

*omit*

Steve Williams, visual effects supervisor and the animator on the new Jabba-Han Solo scene, put the changes in the film into perspective. ''George is just flexing his muscles in this one,'' he said, explaining that this was an experiment before the real work begins on the prequels to the Star Wars saga.

 

That might be something to track down, when did the public first latch onto the 'Han shot first' thing.  Those above are quotes of people remarking on the changes and how that affects the as seen in '77 film.  But the 4.5 minutes are generally commented as being 'cosmetic'.

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doubleofive wrote: Right now I'm making a timeline of when they started things, when things were announced, what ILM and Lucas were working on besides the SE (dates of Lucas writing TPM seems to overlap with work on the SE). I'm using the Google archive to find articles giving general dates as to when things were announced. I can't find an official timeframe of the prequels being announced, just rumors, then it being fact.

A video disc release, and the IMAX are things i've noticed going through the newspapers.  The SE and PT all seem part of the same conversation.  Here we go:

A Variety article from 1993 October 3rd or 2nd is the announcement of the Prequels:

http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=NewsLibrary&p_multi=DSNB&d_place=DSNB&p_theme=newslibrary2&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0F36085ED70AE57B&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM

OK, ``Star Wars'' fans. You can stop holding your breath. George Lucas has made it official.The lead story on the front page of Variety this week, under the headline ``The Force Is With Him,'' says Lucas is back on track with the next ``Star Wars'' trilogy.In case you've forgotten, Lucas made ``Star Wars,'' ``The Empire Strikes Back'' and...

 

I like that a lot of the information on Wikipedia is people quoting "Secret History". Nice.

Would be better if it went to the original source material.  With everyone quoting one book/person, it only takes a little slip up to convince many people that the rest of the book is nonsense, even if it is truthful everywhere else.

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I've got the announcements I need. Everything seems to have happened very fast, with them announcing the prequels, starting production on the SE, doing the Jabba sequence, then announcing the SE, all within a year, with almost 3 years to finish it up. Still not sure when they decided to do the other two movies. ESB had to have been earlier since Pacific Titles had to redo the wipes. Since RotJ doesn't have any redone wipes or very many re-comped elements, I guess they thought they could squeeze it in at the last minute.

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http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/courant/access/14376624.html?dids=14376624:14376624&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&type=current&date=Jan+31%2C+1997&author=MARY+K.+FEENEY%3B+Courant+Staff+Writer&pub=Hartford+Courant&desc=STAR+WARS+GEORGE+LUCAS+STRIKES+BACK+CREATOR+%60IMPROVES%27+HIS+MASTERPIECE&pqatl=google

"You can argue till you're blue in the face about this," said film historian Leonard Maltin. "There are many film buffs, including me, who say once the movie has been set, leave it alone, don't confuse us with different versions.

 

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Was not the final mix done so late that they could not wait to find the original masters for jedi and this is why the SE soundtrack cd sounds like shit ?

Because the stage they did it at had to be vacated for the scoring of ID4.

Speaking of 1994 nov 1 was when Lucas started Episode 1, the writing of it.

So the Special Edition had to be in the plans for some time to coincide with the lead up to the prequels as well as free r&d paid for by fox.

“Always loved Vader’s wordless self sacrifice. Another shitty, clueless, revision like Greedo and young Anakin’s ghost. What a fucking shame.” -Simon Pegg.

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doubleofive said:

I like that a lot of the information on Wikipedia is people quoting "Secret History". Nice.

That is really nice, and it makes me happy, those pages can take a lot of turnes until they settles on something. Congratulation you son of a b**ch! ;)

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

Sincerely, Lynne Hale publicity@lucasfilm.com

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skyjedi2005 said:


Was not the final mix done so late that they could not wait to find the original masters for jedi and this is why the SE soundtrack cd sounds like shit ?

Because the stage they did it at had to be vacated for the scoring of ID4.

Speaking of 1994 nov 1 was when Lucas started Episode 1, the writing of it.

So the Special Edition had to be in the plans for some time to coincide with the lead up to the prequels as well as free r&d paid for by fox.
I'd love to find evidence of the mixing, very interesting. Thanks for the writing date, I was going to look that up.

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skyjedi2005 wrote: So the Special Edition had to be in the plans for some time to coincide with the lead up to the prequels as well as free r&d paid for by fox.

LFL was also cannibalizing tech from the video game division who started doing blue screen video work, which was similar to the set replacement work taking place in the Young Indy series.

Also might be worth noting how Lucasfilm Magazine became Star Wars Insider in this run up to the SE time period.

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I remember some Howie Long Special where there is probably just a second of footage showing the washing of the original film.

But mostly was useless hype.

I believe the anatomy of a dewback will be on the blu ray, time to wait and see if part 2 is altered that proves Lucas saves all his films and their related materials.

Then you could get that making magic CD thing Fanfiltration converted, or get babyhums special edition press kit.

 

Probably both fall under the hype and non essentials though.

“Always loved Vader’s wordless self sacrifice. Another shitty, clueless, revision like Greedo and young Anakin’s ghost. What a fucking shame.” -Simon Pegg.

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The cinefex issue of the ilm  anniversary retrospective and special edition are interesting but not the prices being asked.

The fact there is almost nothing subtancialy like a documntary on the special edition, and not an apoloist piece like on the laserdisc, is dissapointing.

No footage of pacific titles work, or ilms work, or ycm labs work.

Into the Digital realm has what a single paragraph on the so called restoration.

 

I think there was a work in progress cgi x-wing on the John Knoll books cdrom meant for when they started discussion early in the nineties the special edition. 

I think it was called 365 days or something, just a lol quality animated computer model i think.  Not sure if its the same as the one none suggested but probably it is.

I think their were articles on the cgi creation of Jabba and the sound mixing in one or 2 issues of star wars galaxy magazine by topps, but i don't think i have them anymore.

“Always loved Vader’s wordless self sacrifice. Another shitty, clueless, revision like Greedo and young Anakin’s ghost. What a fucking shame.” -Simon Pegg.