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HARMY's Despecialized Disappointment

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Hello! First time post here. I love this site and it’s dedication to the cult/religion/wonderfulness that is Star Wars.

Like many, I grew up with the Original VHS of the Original Trilogy (With some minor differences than the Theatrical versions of course). When the Special Edition came out I was 13. At first I loved it, but as time went by I realized it just wasn’t the same and in some cases was embarassing (Jabba in Ep. IV, Jedi Rock in VI). So naturally when I heard about the Holy Grail that is Harmy’s Despecialized, I lept for joy.

I love and respect George as he is “the maker”, but I have never agreed with his decision to ultimately change history and go so far as to try and present the '97 Special Edition cut of Star Wars to the National Registry as the original. In the words of Yoda, “How embarassing…”

Now when I read how Harmy put together his cut I was a little skeptical because I read he uses the Blu-Ray as one of the main sources among many others. While this looks amazing, it does change things quite a bit to where it’s not completely the original theatrical cut. For example, the opening shot in Ep. IV of the Tatooine planet is obviously touched up. And it was a little distracting for me as incredible as it is, because I could definitely tell there were multiple versions that the film was cut into. The GOUT DVD tatooine planet for example looks way different than the Harmy Despecialized. It was noticeable to me and distracting. Also in Ep. VI the speeder bike scene looked awful. I’m sure it’s because the original “Jedi” has never been in HD before and the effects were not very good to begin with, but it felt like something was off all of the sudden.

I guess in some ways I prefer a cleaned up GOUT because it doesn’t have any touched up scenery or changes from the Blu-Ray. I know HARMY removed all that he could and used many other sources, but sometimes it’s pretty noticable. Another example is Mos Eisley. One of the most changed scenes in the whole Special Edition Trilogy. For most of it, it looks great, but then in one scene all of the sudden it looks more grainy and you can see the orange force thing underneath the speeder. I’m sure there was no other way as the Blu-Ray probably had too much crap to erase, but again I was distracted. Empire was probably the least distracting and least notciable. But Jedi had moments that felt wonky to me as well. Especially the ending. I can’t put my finger on it but something… like the timing or something seemed weird. And that is probably the only change that I actually prefer in the Special Edition. The ending of Jedi. Because of the song. The Original song is classic, but it is very cheesy and hardly seems epic to me. However, Jedi has a lot of problems so it’s not surprising.

Anyways, I am rambling. Sorry. I just was surprised to see that no one else had commented on being able to notice the different versions in the HARMY despecialized. Now… they are BEAUTIFULLY spliced together. Don’t get me wrong! It’s a masterpiece! And GOD BLESS HARMY for doing this much needed work!

However, I think I would prefer a cleaned up GOUT that is closer to the VHS. Does anyone know what versions those would be as there are so so so many now?

Thank you for your time. Thank you for reading and being patient with me. God Bless Star Wars and may the force be with you… ALWAYS.

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 (Edited)

peacefrog35 said:

However, I think I would prefer a cleaned up GOUT that is closer to the VHS. Does anyone know what versions those would be as there are so so so many now?

The project that literally fits this requirement is dark_jedi’s “V3” trilogy:

https://originaltrilogy.com/topic/Star-Wars-OT-and-1997-Special-Edition-Various-Projects-Info-Released/id/10550/page/1

But there are better options.

I don’t disagree that Star Wars Despecialized, even v2.7, has lots of visible seams, especially in Mos Eisley. IIRC those shots were upscaled from the GOUT, and, well, since the GOUT really isn’t even proper DVD resolution, mixing that with Blu-ray footage (even a low-quality Blu-ray like the 2011 set) isn’t ever going to be perfect. If the seams are the biggest issue, you may want to look into the DVD5 downscales of Despecialized. By capping the video quality at 480i, the Blu-ray and GOUT-sourced footage blend much better.

I do see a couple seams in Empire (nothing that bothers me, but bothering is relative), but Jedi for me seems smoothest of the bunch. Jedi is exactly frame-matched to the GOUT, so if you see any timing issues, you’ll see the same in the GOUT. You may be seeing something wonky with the VFX that’s part of the source that we’ve all gotten used to (or revealed in HD), or maybe it’s a judder/interpolation thing on your display. But if you prefer the SE ending, just go with the SE and don’t worry about it.

I’d also look into the 4K77 & 4K83 projects (the Destiny Editions seem to be a promising branch from these sources as well). They’re from scans of film prints, so while they don’t have all of the fine detail of Despecialized, they still generally have a lot more than the GOUT – and they’re all from one source, so it’s a consistent level of detail. I am personally not a huge fan of 4K77 (there’s something to complain about with every Star Wars preservation), but 4K83 is very nice and worth a look and the only gripe I have is the lack of fine detail compared to Despecialized. Since you’ve already indicated you’re willing to sacrifice some fine detail for a more consistent image, 4K83 may be a perfect fit for you, assuming you can grow to love Yub Nub 😉

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)

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Hmm, perhaps you’d be interested in D+77, D+80 and OTD83 (or alternatively the “Destiny Edition” of ROTJ). These combine footage from the newer 4K masters of the special editions, which look much more natural and less oversharpened than the old blurays, with scans of theatrical film prints of the original trilogy. They’re not completely unspecial, but the things they do keep from the SEs are the more objective improvements like the better compositing, which makes the Endor speeder bike chase look a lot better.

Despecialised is quite outdated at the moment. There’s been a few big breakthroughs in recent years (4K film scans of the OOT, and the new Special Edition masters) and Harmy is currently working on a version of Despecialised which will take advantage of these.

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I second sade’s recommendation. The D+xx projects are your best option currently if you want a polished version of the trilogy that cuts out the most distracting changes while leaving in some of the subtle improvements (like the removal of the orange blob under the speeder, for example, or the cleaning up of matte lines and fixing of effects gaffes). They use the highest quality sources currently available,so while they’re not the pure authentic experience like Project 4Kxx is, and have been touched up visually, the editing seams should be much less noticeable compared to Despecialized.

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Awesome. Thanks so much for the detailed responses. A lot of cool stuff to check out. It amazes me how big of a community these fan restorations are. I love it.