I’ve been working on this project for a while now, although to be honest the lion’s share of the work was done by someone I’ll just call HB (you know who you are), so my biggest thanks go to him for helping me out! But here’s how this project happened:
In September of 2013 TK-949 found an auction for two German Special Edition trailer 35mm-reels. We got the crazy idea to split the costs on these and buy them, not sure what we’ll do once we get them. Since poita chronicled the arrival of his film scanner, I decided to contact him first and he was willing to help me out. Backed up like this TK and I not only bought those two trailers, but we also managed to track down a third one, basically completing the trio.
Although these SE trailers are known as trailers B (covering SW, TESB and ROTJ), C (for TESB and ROTJ) and D (ROTJ only), trailer A is only different from trailer B in one single Jabba-shot, so I don’t think it will be missed too much. Furthermore I don’t even know if there’s ever been a German version of trailer A.
So once the reels arrived, poita hooked me up with aforementioned HB, who he pointed out to have better equipment to pick up audio from these trailers, an important factor, since these are German trailers (with their audio not readily available on any official releases). So instead of sending the reels from Germany to poita in Australia, I packed them up and mailed them to HB in the USA… nevertheless a long journey, but two weeks later they arrived and HB started a few test scans.
(Note, these are flatbed scans from the reel to show the resolution, not scans from the film scanner)
The first “problem” that occured was the fact that the trailers were in anamorphic Cinemascope format, meaning that his 2K-scanner was only able to scan the whole frame at a resolution of 1260x1080 (the rest of the frame contained the audio track and the perforation) - hardly the 1080p preservation I was hoping for. Furthermore trailer B proved to be rather dark on the print itself, so the scan had to be brightened up a lot afterwards, making it look even worse. Fortunately a solution was already on the horizon, with HB planning to update his scanner to 4K in the near future.
A couple of weeks later, HB sent me new scans… this time in pristine (and anamorphic) 1920x1080 resolution with uncompressed PCM audio of the Dolby Surround tracks. Furthermore he cleaned up the first trailer using Filmguard liquid, which already fixed a lot of the dirt and scratches on the film itself. And what a difference it made! The scan resolution of HB’s 4K-setup is 3840x2160 pixels, which - in case of the Cinemascope format - allows for a resolution of 2440x2160 for the actual film frame. For easier file transfer he’s scaled these down to 1920x1080, but to be fair the image doesn’t really contain more resolution than that (apart from more detailed dirt and scratches).
I color corrected the trailers to get rid of any excessive color shift and contrast problems, sharpened them slighty and scaled them to their correct aspect ratio of 2.35:1. I then encoded them to (Blu-ray compliant) H.264 files, leaving the PCM audio untouched, packing them into more convenient MKV containers. I’ve also added English language audio tracks from schorman’s “Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition Trailers (720p/Theatrical 5.1 DTS Audio)” project (which can be found on the Spleen) based on Jetrell Fo’s DTS audio preservation. The trailers were ready for release!
Finally, some screenshots of the finished trailers (as imgur galleries):
Trailer #1 (B)
Trailer #2 ©
Trailer #3 (D)
An interesting fact about these German trailers is that they didn’t use the original movies’ dubs. Instead all voices were newly recorded, with some weird choices. First of all some of the German OT voice actors have died between ROTJ and the SEs - namely Heinz Petruo (Darth Vader), Hugo Schrader (Yoda) and Wilhelm Borchert (Obi-Wan) - or were too old to return for their part (Helmut Heyne, who voiced the Emperor in ROTJ was 90 in 1996). So in trailer B both Vader and Yoda were dubbed by the same German actor (the weirdest choice for Yoda), Helmut Krauss (known for lending his voice to Samuel L. Jackson in the German version of “Pulp Fiction”… though not in the prequels). In trailers C and D Vader is voiced by Bernd Rumpf, the established German voice of Liam Neeson… a nice fit, but it’s weird when listening to it now, regarding Neeson’s “upcoming” role in the saga.
Another weird choice was to have Friedrich Schoenfelder voice Obi-Wan, since he voiced Tarkin in the first film.
The leading four (Luke, Leia, Han and Lando) all got their respective voice actors from the OT, but as is the nature of trailers, all their takes sound different from the OT as they were newly recorded.
I suspect the reason for this re-dub was the fact that the German recordings were supposedly lost and extracting them from the messed up German THX mixes was not an option. (Luckily the German dubs resurfaced in time for the Blu-rays, were remastered and sound just like they were recorded yesterday).
NOTE that this is intended to be a preservation rather than a restoration, so right now I haven’t performed any further digital clean-up of the trailers. Trailer 2 and 3 appeared to have been never played, so they are in fantastic shape anyway. Maybe further down the road I’ll clean up trailer 1 as well, but not right now. What I DID already do though was denoising the trailers as a test… and as it turns out, there’s a LOT of detail buried under all that film grain.