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The ‘Custom Special Edition’ That Almost Wasn’t, But Then Was

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 (Edited)

I have long wanted to put together a definitive “custom Special Edition” version of the OT, ever since I was aware of there being two (at that time) different versions of the movies out there. I couldn’t do justice to the incredible preservation work this community has produced in the last 15 years, so I will not attempt to go into that here.

Below is an outline for one such project which requires idealized versions of source material that doesn’t exist. This project will more than likely never actually be produced, though I wanted to at least spell out a specific plan for what I would like to do.

What stands in the way of completing this project, and what are its goals?

The goal would simply be to harmonize the various official versions of the films to produce a suitable ‘custom Special Edition’ version to compliment one’s OOT preservation of choice. It would not be intended as a definitive version, and certainly not as a replacement to the OOT. But, it should still be a consistent and quality presentation of fundamentally the same films.

The biggest obstacle would be source material. I would not want to venture on a project like this until relatively stable source material exists. The primary source would be a color corrected 2011 BluRay transfer, with a secondary being a yet-future 1080p “final” Despecialized Edition. These two sources ought to be color corrected to closely match each other, by whatever means, as a starting point.

Several of these changes would require manual FX work. In these instances, we would move beyond the goal of strictly picking and choosing from various versions of the films. Sometimes this would be needed in order to pick and choose between elements present within the same shot, or when merely cutting between versions would not do. Sometimes it is desired to use a SE shot, but extended manually in order to match the timing of the original. These have been specified below.

So, here is my dream list of (visual) changes to the 2011 BluRay master, save for color correction and all the preliminary cleanup. Again, I don’t expect that the stars will ever align to see this actually get made, but here it is anyway.

ANH:

  • Ala Adywan, recreate the timing of the crawl in relation to the music (including the timing of Tatooine entering the frame), while retaining "Episode IV: A New Hope.”

  • If using NeverarGreat’s technicolor 2011 (tweaked slightly) version as the base, ask Neverar to export a version of R2’s jump cut-less shot. (He re-added a jump cut for his version.)

  • Add missing SE vaporators to one shot. (Or simply use OOT to remove them from the first shot.)

  • Use OOT in order to include the “cone of light” emitted from R2’s projector for three shots in Luke’s garage.

  • Remove the ghostly image of Luke caused by a (re-)compositing mistake right before Owen calls (sings) for Luke in the morning.

  • Get rid of the rocks added in front of R2 for the 2011 version.

  • Use the 2004 version of the Krayt Dragon call (with the original available in an alternate audio track)

  • Mos Eisley entrance. I want to keep enough of the CGI expanded atmosphere to have other short bits fit in nicely, such as when the Falcon takes off.

    • The speeder approaches the city…
    • Use SE shot of speeder, the one with mirror image troopers added.
    • If possible, given music and pacing, include the OOT establishing shot which went on to include a Jawa swinging from a Ronto
    • OOT version of ‘traffic stop’ sequence.
    • Beginning with final shot of ‘traffic stop’ sequence, or perhaps beginning with the next shot, use 2011 footage to include expanded establishing shots and added Rontos and dewback in front of cantina.
  • Use OOT to reinclude the Wolfman for two shots.

  • Use OOT to remove Greedo shooting at Han.

  • Use OOT to remove the SE flying droid accompanying the troopers as they search for the droids.

  • Remove the SE Jabba the Hutt scene using OOT.

  • While retaining the SE version of the Alderaan explosion, manually remove the added shockwave. [Would be nice to not have every major explosion in the OT, and only the OT, have a shockwave. This way, only Death Stars do this. Or, alternatively, you could have ONLY Alderaan do this, while neither Death Star would.]

  • Use OOT to reinstate the blaster flashes that were censored in a few SE shots.

  • Manually reanimate a blinking light in a wide shot of the Death Star which was accidentally removed for the SE.

  • Use pre-2004 footage to use the original dianoga.

  • Ala Adywan, depict the Falcon as being in hyperspace (blue) during the “not a bad bit of rescuing” scene.

  • Ala Adywan, retain the SE Biggs scene, though smooth R2’s vertical trajectory to avoid an awkward jump cut masked by a passerby in the foreground. [If this was done, use the line, "Blast it, Biggs, where are you,” and use Adywan’s audio idea to let Luke acknowledge his friend’s death.]

Potentially use the OOT Death Star explosion, depending on what was possible about Alderaan. [See Alderaan explosion comment.]

  • Idea: manually modify R2’s red/blue light to reflect the rest of the saga ONLY during the final scene, after he was shot during the battle

  • Manually fix the SE’s little issue where Leia starts to move her hands upward right as the frame freezes as we wipe to credits.

  • (A few different audio mixes could be created to provide multiple options, such as a “mostly 2011” mix or a “mostly 1997” mix, etc.)


ESB:

  • Stick with the SE wampa scene, but use OOT (or a manual transition) to remove one particular Wampa cutaway shot as Luke dangles after his initial attempt to reach the saber.

  • Use pre-2004 footage to feature the original framing of all Falcon cockpit scenes which were zoomed in for the 2004 version.

  • Use Adywan’s version of the Emperor scene. Another slight deviation from the rules, though very much in the spirit of hybridizing the OOT and SE. Worth making a slight exception.

  • Use pre-2011 footage to remove the added CGI sparks as Chewie struggles with the ughnauts to reclaim 3PO.

  • Use OOT to remove the added elevator outside a new window in the Cloud City hallway which poses continuity issues later in the scene.

  • Manually fix the scale issue between the added Cloud City balcony and our heroes as they run past. (The scene where they meet up with R2.) Could borrow from Adywan, though would need to use the SE’s version of the sky over his for continuity’s sake.

  • Recreate original content and timing of the Falcon’s escape, removing the added sequence of Vader’s shuttle landing aboard the Star Destroyer. (No FX work needed.)

  • I can imagine creating at least two audio mixes for this one: “mostly 1997 SE” and “mostly 2011 (including new Boba Fett voice).”


ROTJ:

  • Use pre-2011 footage for the establishing shot of the exterior of Jabba’s front door.

  • Use OOT for Lapti Nek.

  • Use the SE addition of Oola falling into the Rancor pit, without other SE elements prior (no FX work needed).

  • Either use OOT or apply manual work in order to remove two SE shots of Boba Fett with the SE backup singers.

  • Use pre-2011 footage to remove the added CGI effects as Han is thawed out.

  • Use pre-2011 footage to remove the added CGI dug prior to Luke entering Jabba’s throne room.

  • Use pre-2011 footage to remove any and all CGI blinking ewoks.

  • Use pre-2011 footage to remove CGI additions to R2 after he is shot while trying to break into the bunker.

  • Use OOT, or manual work, to remove the added shockwave around the second Death Star explosion.

  • Use the 2011 galactic celebration montage, modified: Matching the 1997 SE’s timing and audio, replace Tatooine with Naboo manually.

  • Use pre-2004 footage to feature Sebastian Shaw as Anakin Skywalker’s ghostly visage.

  • I wouldn’t imagine a great deal of fruit in any alternate audio tracks for this one.

PM me for links to my edits; apparently, some feel shy about this.

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Seems interesting. I don’t agree with all the choices (that’s normal: every SW fan has his own “perfect cut”) but I like most of the ideas (especially about ANH and the project to structure the Mos Eisley entrance).

“I have to say that I felt George’s group of six films had more innovative visual imagination, and this film was more of a retrenchment to things you had seen before and characters you had seen before, and it took a few baby steps forward with new characters.” - James Cameron about Episode VII.

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NeverarGreat said:

I assume you know of my version of ANH, which is a hybrid Special Edition conforming to several of your desired changes. 😉

Thank you for reminding me. It sounds like that and a future DeEd would be the way to go.

PM me for links to my edits; apparently, some feel shy about this.

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 (Edited)

So, here are all the changes that would require manual work, aside from cobbling existing sources together. For ANH, I suppose using NeverarGreat’s Technicolor project (for ANH) would be relatively future proof in executing any of these for the potential use of anyone, if there is desire. (ESB doesn’t seem to require any manual FX work.)

ANH

  • Ala Adywan, recreate the timing of the crawl in relation to the music (including the timing of Tatooine entering the frame), while retaining “Episode IV: A New Hope.”

  • This would require tampering with available footage beyond merely selecting between official versions. I would like to use only 2011 footage for the “Look sir, droids” scene, though manipulated to sync seamlessly with OOT timing. The beginning of the shot would need to be extended artificially. At present it would only be possible to do this in a way which is shorter than the OOT. It is minor, but I would prefer not to have this scene come off any choppier than in the OOT, while using only SE footage.

  • Mos Eisley entrance. This would require some technical work, rather than combining existing official sources. (See OP.)

  • Use 2011 footage as 3PO and R2 observe stormtroopers interview a man outside the Cantina, though manually remove the trooper dismounting a dewback in an unconvincing manner. Retain the SE dewback, however.

  • While retaining the SE version of the Alderaan explosion, manually remove the added shockwave.

  • Depict the Falcon in hyperspace after their escape from the Death Star. (Could be taken from the upcoming Revisited HD Remake, though would be relegated to 720p.)

  • Ala Adywan, retain the SE Biggs scene, though smooth R2’s vertical trajectory to avoid an awkward jump cut masked by a passerby in the foreground.

  • Manually fix the SE’s little issue where Leia starts to move her hands upward right as the frame freezes as we wipe to credits.

  • Manually fix the scale issue between the added Cloud City balcony and our heroes as they run past. (The scene where they meet up with R2.) Could borrow from Adywan, though would need to use the SE’s version of the sky over his for continuity’s sake.

ROTJ:

  • Either use OOT or apply manual work in order to remove two SE shots of Boba Fett with the SE backup singers.

  • Use the 2011 galactic celebration montage, modified: Matching the 1997 SE’s timing and audio, replace Tatooine with Naboo manually. (I could probably do this myself.)

PM me for links to my edits; apparently, some feel shy about this.

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Updated the preceding post and the OP to remove the idea of hybridizing the original and SE versions of the establishing shot/sequence of Han and Leia in their apartment on Cloud City. If I were trying to “thread the needle” with a perfect version, I’d like to do it that way. But, for a tweaked SE intended as a companion to a properly restored OOT, the SE sequence is just fine.

I also decided that it is worth making an additional exception to the rule by depicting the Falcon as being in hyperspace after the escape from the Death Star in ANH, as Adywan did. At first I thought, “It’s not like ANH had no concept of a hyperspace blue tunnel thing which reflects into the cockpit, because we see it when Han comes out of hyperspace over Alderaan’s location. They just, for whatever reason, chose not to depict this scene in that way.” But, then I remembered that Vader describes the company as just having made the jump into hyperspace immediately prior to the scene, and no passage of time can be inferred.

While I would prefer to stick close to the official versions, this and Adywan’s emperor scene would be worthwhile, wholesome exceptions.

PM me for links to my edits; apparently, some feel shy about this.

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I’d agree with that reasoning. Ady’s Emperor scene was done amazingly well!

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These are pretty close to ideal hybridizations, although I could disagree on a couple of minor things. It would awesome if they could be made a reality someday.

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 (Edited)

Incredible. This is an impressive list Hal, and a lot of elbow-grease type changes.

Hal 9000 said:

Updated the preceding post and the OP to remove the idea of hybridizing the original and SE versions of the establishing shot/sequence of Han and Leia in their apartment on Cloud City. If I were trying to “thread the needle” with a perfect version, I’d like to do it that way. But, for a tweaked SE intended as a companion to a properly restored OOT, the SE sequence is just fine.

I also decided that it is worth making an additional exception to the rule by depicting the Falcon as being in hyperspace after the escape from the Death Star in ANH, as Adywan did. At first I thought, “It’s not like ANH had no concept of a hyperspace blue tunnel thing which reflects into the cockpit, because we see it when Han comes out of hyperspace over Alderaan’s location. They just, for whatever reason, chose not to depict this scene in that way.” But, then I remembered that Vader describes the company as just having made the jump into hyperspace immediately prior to the scene, and no passage of time can be inferred.

While I would prefer to stick close to the official versions, this and Adywan’s emperor scene would be worthwhile, wholesome exceptions.

This is one of those things which I have always thought about every time I watch ANH. I’ve watched this film so many times that I am numb to the affect it has on my experience, but I still think about it. Glad to see I am not the only one!

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This thing might not be as ‘out there’ as I assumed. I believe I have the resources I would need for ESB and ROTJ, or I would only need minimal help. No promises, as I am very busy, but I’m going to let this incubate.

JEDIT: The biggest problem will be source material. NeverarGreat’s color correction of ANH is fantastic, but I don’t see anything comparable for ESB and ROTJ. I would need a suitable primary source for the 2004/2011 version to begin with, in the same vein of NeverarGreat’s ANH.

Neverar, are you planning to give the other two the same treatment? DrDre has a thread about matching ESB to the SE grade which looked pretty good, too. For ESB and ROTJ, matching the OOT or 1997 SE would be perfectly fine. (ANH’s 1997 SE transfer had some color issues, and your technicolor grade for it leaves nothing to be desired.)

PM me for links to my edits; apparently, some feel shy about this.

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Hal 9000 said:

  • Ala Adywan, retain the SE Biggs scene, though smooth R2’s vertical trajectory to avoid an awkward jump cut masked by a passerby in the foreground.

why you don´t use the complet deleted Biggs scene?

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Hal 9000 said:

This thing might not be as ‘out there’ as I assumed. I believe I have the resources I would need for ESB and ROTJ, or I would only need minimal help. No promises, as I am very busy, but I’m going to let this incubate.

JEDIT: The biggest problem will be source material. NeverarGreat’s color correction of ANH is fantastic, but I don’t see anything comparable for ESB and ROTJ. I would need a suitable primary source for the 2004/2011 version to begin with, in the same vein of NeverarGreat’s ANH.

Neverar, are you planning to give the other two the same treatment? DrDre has a thread about matching ESB to the SE grade which looked pretty good, too. For ESB and ROTJ, matching the OOT or 1997 SE would be perfectly fine. (ANH’s 1997 SE transfer had some color issues, and your technicolor grade for it leaves nothing to be desired.)

I don’t see doing the other two any time soon if at all, unfortunately. Maybe when Poita’s unfaded scan of Empire is released and we see how crummy the Blu-ray is in comparison, but otherwise I’m hoping to focus on the Starlight fanedit(s).

DuracellEnergizer: “^He’s embraced the absurd. Don’t expect to gain any conventional understanding from his posts.”
A New Hope Technicolor Recreation (Released!)
The Force Awakens Restructured (V2 Released!) and The Starlight Project

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Thanks for the clarification, that’s good to be aware of. Having the holy grail of sources would be the biggest hurdle to clear, and the only solution is time.

PM me for links to my edits; apparently, some feel shy about this.

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 (Edited)

benduwan said:

Hal 9000 said:

  • Ala Adywan, retain the SE Biggs scene, though smooth R2’s vertical trajectory to avoid an awkward jump cut masked by a passerby in the foreground.

why you don´t use the complet deleted Biggs scene?

The Special Edition itself did not use the entire scene, but edited out a brief conversation about Luke’s father. To mask the edit point, someone passes by in the foreground. As this happens, R2 suddenly is much higher up. For Adywan’s project, he smoothed R2’s trajectory and made it more gradual.

I am not suggesting cutting anything from that scene, but merely smoothing out a problem caused by how the SE has the scene cut to begin with.

Here’s a snippet of that portion:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwkZT7ETH_8

Compare to the SE’s version:
https://youtu.be/lWYtpdcbLEM?t=44s

PM me for links to my edits; apparently, some feel shy about this.

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The KK650 versions are pretty good primary sources for ESB and ROTJ. His latest incarnations have pretty natural looking colors considering there isn’t really a source for “accurate” colors on those movies.

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Hal 9000 said:

Updated the preceding post and the OP to remove the idea of hybridizing the original and SE versions of the establishing shot/sequence of Han and Leia in their apartment on Cloud City. If I were trying to “thread the needle” with a perfect version, I’d like to do it that way. But, for a tweaked SE intended as a companion to a properly restored OOT, the SE sequence is just fine.

I also decided that it is worth making an additional exception to the rule by depicting the Falcon as being in hyperspace after the escape from the Death Star in ANH, as Adywan did. At first I thought, “It’s not like ANH had no concept of a hyperspace blue tunnel thing which reflects into the cockpit, because we see it when Han comes out of hyperspace over Alderaan’s location. They just, for whatever reason, chose not to depict this scene in that way.” But, then I remembered that Vader describes the company as just having made the jump into hyperspace immediately prior to the scene, and no passage of time can be inferred.

While I would prefer to stick close to the official versions, this and Adywan’s emperor scene would be worthwhile, wholesome exceptions.

Either you can show them in Hyper space or coming out of hyper space before the cockpit sequence starts that way you add an extra shot and the original footage requires no tampering with then.

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It would seem really strange to go from, “They’ve just made the jump into hyperspace,” to a shot of the Falcon exiting hyperspace and Han taking his gloves off, IMHO.

PM me for links to my edits; apparently, some feel shy about this.

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Personally I don’t think it would be that strange just we jumped forward in time to when they exit hyperspace.

Anyway I have been pondering what my perfect special edition version would be recently but I would roll back the whole tattoine section back to theatrical version bar sandcrawler extra shot and Falcon take off shot.

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Hal 9000 said:

It would seem really strange to go from, “They’ve just made the jump into hyperspace,” to a shot of the Falcon exiting hyperspace and Han taking his gloves off, IMHO.

Agreed. The custom version I started on and abandoned years ago used Adywan’s hyperspace effect, too.

a trolling bantha

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 (Edited)

OP updated again for ANH, to reflect more thinking and refining on the subject.

In putting together a realistic battle plan for this project, here is what I would need (and a few wants included in parentheses) in order to tackle ANH, save for the upcoming NeverarGreat color corrected 2011 transfer and a Despecialized Edition based on it. Here follows what would be needed (or wanted), starting from only these two sources:

  • Re-undo R2’s jump cut on the Taintive (Neverar’s source re-added the jump cut, and he ought to be able to export an untouched, color corrected version.)

  • Add missing SE vaporators to one shot. (Or simply use OOT to remove them from the first shot.)

  • Remove one set of stormtroopers to a SE Mos Eisley establishing shot which are perfect mirror images of each other.

  • (Remove the shockwave from the SE version of the Alderaan explosion. If this were done, both Death Star explosions would retain their added shockwaves. Alternatively, Alderaan could keep its SE shockwave, and use the OOT for both Death Star explosions. The idea is to only have one ‘class’ of explosion depicted this way, rather than all and only OT explosions being depicted this way.)

  • Depict the Falcon as being in hyperspace during the “sometimes I amaze even myself” scene, with flickering blue wormhole visible out the cockpit and flashing blue light cast on the set. (Refer to Disney-era films for the look.)

  • (Smooth R2’s ascension into the X-Wing during the SE ‘Reunion with Biggs’ scene. The alternative is merely not to include this scene.)

  • (During the award ceremony, manually modify R2’s red/blue light to match the rest of the saga.)

PM me for links to my edits; apparently, some feel shy about this.

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I think that Alderaan with shockwave + OOT Death Star explosions would make the most sense.

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will there be a german track in?
thanks

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Well, it probably won’t exist for some time, if at all. And even then, the DTS 1997 SE audio will likely be my primary source, which would rule out any alternate language tracks.

PM me for links to my edits; apparently, some feel shy about this.

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 (Edited)

Your custom edition will be very close to the OOT, so it might be quite possible for anyone to adapt a dubbing track to it. If you begin to work on your edit, try to keep a logbook of the changes (with the timestamps), with that information making any alternate track could be quite easy. For your PT edits it would be too much work (and no dubbing exists for the deleted scenes anyway), but for the OT (and even the ST), it’s possible.

ANH is the episode that suffers the most of many bad SE changes (cgi rocks, Mos Eisley entrance, Greedo shooting first, Jabba,…). I like the fact you still want to retain the good SE elements (I personally like the cgi dewbacks - even the ones in front of the cantina, but I hate the one that goes in front of the camera, of course 😄). The SE Biggs scene is good. Would be a shame to remove it to correct a slight continuity issue with R2. What about reinstalling the line about Anakin ? (is the line inconsistant with the PT ? The actor was 37 in 1977, so “37 - 22 = 15”, he was just a boy when he met Anakin during the Clone Wars, or maybe sooner during Anakin’s training between Ep I and II. Is there a video file that could be used for that purpose ?)

“I have to say that I felt George’s group of six films had more innovative visual imagination, and this film was more of a retrenchment to things you had seen before and characters you had seen before, and it took a few baby steps forward with new characters.” - James Cameron about Episode VII.