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

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 (Edited)

Hal9000’s Custom Star Wars: A New Hope Special Edition

This is Version 2 of this project. It has been remastered with much better source material, and a variety of improvements.

If the following strikes you as esoteric, I invite you to peruse the forums of Originaltrilogy.com.

First and foremost, credit is due to Adywan for producing his color corrected transfer of the BluRay’s video stream; CapableMetal, Jetrell1969, and SilverWook for their combined efforts at making the theatrical DTS audio from the 1997 Special Edition available; Harmy for producing the famed Despecialized Edition; Team Negative 1 for producing 4K77; NeverArGreat for producing his technicolor version; Sir Ridley for visual FX work; ChainsawAsh for encoding a DTS mix; and MalàStrana for assisting with subtitles.

Having satiated my restlessness with the Star Wars prequels, I wanted to put together a custom ‘Special Edition’ of the original trilogy to place on my shelf alongside the original, theatrical versions (currently represented by Harmy’s Despecialized Editions). I thought about calling them the “So You’ve Decided To Watch The Special Edition” version, because they wouldn’t be intended as one’s sole version of the films. Rather, a companion piece to the original versions, as a Special Edition should be.

I do not consider this a full-blown fan edit, as I am primarily hybridizing existing official versions of the film, keeping changes I can appreciate and excluding those I feel hinder the film. Of course, this is highly subjective, and everyone’s perfect blend would be slightly different.

The primary video source is Adywan’s color corrected version of the BluRay. The primary audio source is the 1997 Special Edition theatrical DTS audio. Exceptions are described in the list of changes.

This project is presented in 1080p BluRay-compliant video, with DTS and AC3 audio tracks, and English and French subtitles.

Available as a 1080p BR-compliant mkv, 720p mp4, and a DVD5.

Here follows a list of changes made to the primary video and audio sources for this project.

***Video Changes, beginning from Adywan’s color corrected BluRay transfer

  • Used an alternate language for the beginning of the crawl to correct a strange Special Edition change in which the opening STAR WARS logo recedes much more quickly than originally, or in any other film to date
  • With help from Sir Ridley, retimed the “look sir droids” scene to the original theatrical version while retaining Special Edition imagery. The scene feels like the original version without resorting to its footage or shortening the scene to remove added shots (The following scene’s opening shot of the sandcrawler remains in its Special Edition version.)
  • Thanks to Sir Ridley, the ‘cone of light’ missing from the Special Edition version of R2 projecting Leia’s image in Luke’s garage has been restored
  • Used NeverArGreat’s technicolor version of the shot of the setting suns, sourced from the original theatrical version, adjusting the rest of the scene to match by blending his and Adywan’s versions
  • Used NeverArGreat’s footage to remove a mistakenly composited image of Luke during the establishing shot of the homestead the following morning
  • The entrance to Mos Eisley has been reconceptualized to feature as close as possible to the best of both the original and Special Edition versions. This makes use of the Despecialized Edition for a few shots, creative editing, and color matching. The intended effect is to retain some of the improved visuals while avoiding the poor pacing and tone of the Special Edition.
  • Used 4K77 to restore two shots of the Wolfman alien, who had been replaced for the Special Edition
  • Used the Despecialized Edition to remove an added ugly CGI stormtrooper dismounting a dewback outside the Cantina
  • New subtitles for the Greedo scene have been added, borrowing from Catbus’ Project Threepio in order to match the look and feel of the originals as closely as possible
  • Used the Despecialized Edition to remove the added floating CGI droid to the stormtroopers’ search of the streets
  • Removed the scene between Han Solo and Jabba The Hutt added for the Special Edition, using a wipe transition rather than the original theatrical version’s cross fade in order to retain quality
  • Thanks to Sir Ridley, a new FX shot depicts the Falcon traveling through hyperspace toward the Death Star, and the following cockpit interior has been updated to correctly appear to be traveling through hyperspace (this was done for continuity with a subsequent change)
  • Used the Despecialized Edition for a few shots to restore blaster damage on the chests of Imperial officers which were censored for the Special Edition
  • Used 4K77 to restore the original dianoga
  • Thanks to laborious work from Sir Ridley, the Falcon’s interior is properly depicted as traveling through hyperspace, with a blue flicker present in the cockpit and through its windows. The establishing shot of the following scene has been gently modified without altering sync to depict the Falcon exiting hyperspace as it approaches Yavin IV.
  • Thanks to Sir Ridley, a TIE fighter has had its engine glow added which was mistakenly omitted for the Special Edition
  • NeverArGreat’s version of the Death Star explosion was used, coming very close to the 1997 Special Edition’s colors, avoiding the bleach-white coloring of subsequent releases
  • Recreated the original theatrical timing of the closing iris wipe, avoiding an awkward point at which the frame freezes during the Special Edition version

***Audio Changes, beginning from the 1997 Special Edition theatrical DTS audio mix:

  • Used the 2004 version of Kenobi’s ‘krayt dragon call,’ avoiding both the dewback sound of the original theatrical and the indescribable effect used for the 2011 BluRay
  • As a nod to the original mono mix, the Cantina band can be heard softly outside the Cantina, leading into the point at which the song has progressed when cut into the interior
  • Used a line from the mono mix as Wedge flies to assist Luke, going from “Blast it, Biggs, where are you,” to “Blast it, Wedge, where are you?”
  • Added a brief line from the radio drama after Biggs is killed, allowing Luke to react to the death of his friend to provide greater continuity to the scene between the two of them establishing them as friends in the Special Edition

(I have included an alternative audio track that omits the following audio change.)

  • Altered Kenobi’s line to Luke introducing the lightsaber for continuity with the prequels. Rather than, “Your father wanted you to have this when you were old enough,” it now reads, “I wanted you to have this when you were old enough.”

Hal9000’s Custom Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Special Edition

(This is Version 2 of this project. It has been remastered with much better source material, though no changes to the content have been made compared to Version 1.)

If the following strikes you as esoteric, I invite you to peruse the forums of Originaltrilogy.com.

First and foremost, credit is due to DrDre and Sir Ridley for providing color correction LUTs; Adywan for producing his ‘Revisited’ project; CapableMetal, Jetrell1969, and SilverWook for their combined efforts at making the theatrical DTS audio from the 1997 Special Edition available; ChainsawAsh for encoding a DTS mix; and MalàStrana for assisting with subtitles.

Having satiated my restlessness with the Star Wars prequels, I wanted to put together a custom ‘Special Edition’ of the original trilogy to place on my shelf alongside the original, theatrical versions (currently represented by Harmy’s Despecialized Editions). I thought about calling them the “So You’ve Decided To Watch The Special Edition” version, because they wouldn’t be intended as one’s sole version of the films. Rather, a companion piece to the original versions, as a Special Edition should be.

I do not consider this a full-blown fan edit, as I am primarily hybridizing existing official versions of the film, keeping changes I can appreciate and excluding those I feel hinder the film. Of course, this is highly subjective, and everyone’s perfect blend would be slightly different.

I utilized three video sources for this project: The 2011 BluRay transfer, Adywan’s ESB: Revisited, and KK650’s Semi-Specialized Edition. The primary audio source is the 1997 Special Edition theatrical DTS audio, though audio from Revisited was used for a few scenes, and 2011 BluRay audio for one scene.

This project is presented in 1080p BluRay-compliant video, with DTS and AC3 audio tracks, and English and French subtitles.

Available as a 1080p BR-compliant mkv, 720p mp4, and a DVD5.

Here follows a list of changes made to the 2011 BluRay starting point for this project.

***Video Changes

  • BluRay footage has been color corrected on a scene-by-scene (and shot-by-shot, as needed) basis using LUTs generated by DrDre and Sir Ridley, applied somewhat creatively at times
  • Used wampa escape scene from Adywan’s Revisited, which brings enhancements while retaining the pacing (and, indeed, sync) of the original version.
  • Used the conversation between Vader and the Emperor from Adywan’s Revisited, as he essentially honored the content of the original version of the scene while realizing the potential the 2004 DVD version presents.
  • Used Adywan’s Revisited to avoid a continuity error posed by the Special Edition as an expanded cityscape out a Cloud City window disappears a few shots later.
  • Recreated the original pacing of the escape from Cloud City, removing Vader departing for and arriving on his star destroyer, though leaving two brief shots of the shuttle ascending.

***Audio Changes, beginning from the 1997 Special Edition theatrical DTS audio mix:

  • Reinstated Luke’s line to R2 of, “You’re lucky you don’t taste very good.”
  • Used 2011 BluRay audio to include updated sound design for Slave I during its first appearance to match Episode II.
  • Removed Luke’s scream from the 1997 mix as he falls down the Cloud City shaft after his confrontation with Vader.

(I have included an alternative audio track that omits the following audio change.)

  • Altered Ben Kenobi’s description of Yoda from “The Jedi Master who instructed me” to “A Jedi Master who instructed me” for better continuity with the prequels.

ROTJ

Return Of The Jedi is still a work in progress, but once Adywan eventually releases his color corrected BluRay transfer, that will serve as the primary source.

  • 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. (Or not, if it’s not doable.)

  • 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. (EDIT: Not really possible, but “we’d agree” line removed.)

  • 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).

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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 ?)