Yeah I was referring to the 2004 DVD SE release, not the SE film release.
I hate to argue with you, Poita, but I don’t think the colors in Star Wars/A New Hope are as bad as you think. I think what you are referring to are the Technicolor prints which I have seen are quite messed up. But with the process winding down and Star Wars being the last film with commercial Technicolor prints, it isn’t a surprise that they screwed up the colors. And I don’t think you are correct about the telecines. While it is true that a telecine operator can tweak things on the fly, the overall consistency between the various transfers indicates that is not what we are seeing. Team Negative 1 and Puggo have both transferred multiple 35 mm and 16 mm prints to arrive at the Silver Screen and Puggo Grand presentations. And starting with the Moth3r bootleg transfer (apparently done from a release print not an interpositive) and going through the old pan & scan releases and the widescreen releases (multiple in each country and in at least 6 countries and from old and new interpositive prints), all the transfers show are marked similarity and a stark difference from the Technicolor prints. That many different telecine operator cannot all have done exactly the same corrections on the fly. That color timing has to be from the prints themselves. That the 35 mm and 16 mm scans agree with that says to me that the Technicolor color timing is very screwed up. The sources appear to vary between original May 1977 prints (Puggo Grand US, Moth3r, and the early US/UK telecines), later 1977 prints (all the non Technicolor 35 mm prints and early foreign telecines), and the fresh interpostives done in the mid to late 80’s. But the results are all pretty close. That body of fairly consistent color timing in all those transfers vs. what we see in the Technicolor scans to me indicates that the Technicolor prints, while low fade and high resolution, are not representative of the color timing of the optically generated prints. The scene I have taken note of is where Ben and Luke are talking in the canyon. It is so washed out in the technicolor scans while it is so vibrant in every other scan and telecine.
I have spoken to Mark Wileage who did the colour for the SE, and I have an almost unfaded Kodak print here, it isn’t very different at all to the Tech IB other than the slight green in the IB being absent.
A telecine master was created twice that I know of (and would have been done more times I’m sure), but nearly every home release comes from one of those two masters. I can assure you the LD and VHS masters were corrected on the fly, as there was no other option at the time. However the source film was already colour timed, and was done so quite differently to the release prints.
Every home release afterwards would have been influenced by those before it. If you are a colourist, you can see the decisions that were made to make it suitable for home release, which is a totally different animal to the theatrical release, and always is. The colour was boosted for telecine in a lot of shots, which was also typical of home releases of the era.
That is, the telecine operators worked hard to remove the inconsistencies that are present on the release prints, and they did a pretty good job of it. The colour grade on the original prints is much more all over the place.
I don’t see a lot of similarity though between home releases, quite the opposite there are a lot of inconsistencies when you look at the original media (rather than at captures where the person capturing has already messed with the colour, either on purpose, or the equipment used).
What is fairly consistent is the exposure, and it is, as I would expect, much more ‘balanced’ than the home releases, with less overexposure/blowouts, which again is typical of a video release.
I’m not sure anyone weighing in on the debate has watched the film projected multiple times, it looks nothing like the scans from Mike for instance, and I have watched that actual print. Scans look nothing like the projected print, until you go through and grade them to match. The Kodak print, and the re-release print (for the double bill to get people up to speed for Jedi) look the same as the Tech print, just a little warmer.
The scans are a poor reference in that regard, watching the projection is really the only way to see how the film looked. The grain is also a completely different look scanned vs projected.
It isn’t surprising that the original grade wasn’t great, or that it was changed, maybe even improved in some ways, for the home releases.
From a preservation point of view, we try to get to the look of the projected print. From a view ability standpoint, I would expect any home release, and even fan release to grade to their own preference to make the film more consistent and more watchable on televisions, that are totally different to a projected image.
Ok, to address the original issues, and clear up some misconceptions.
It is essential that if anyone is going to post colour adjustments here (e.g. boost cyan by 20% and it looks better) that their monitor is calibrated. Otherwise, it is entirely pointless. Also understand that windows colour calibration does not calibrate ‘overlay’ video, so your media player or editing software may still not be calibrated even if you calibrate your Nvidia drivers. You need to calibrate the software being used, which is why professional setups have an output card, driving a broadcast monitor that is calibrated separately, to get away from the windows colour management minefield.
Sure you can say that these two sources look different, even on an uncalibrated monitor, but suggesting adjustments when running an uncalibrated setup is completely and utterly pointless. It is the same as saying that the Star Wars sound track sounds better, and is corrected by turning the bass up on your particular home stereo system, by 15%. It is meaningless to anyone else, unless your system is calibrated to a known standard.
You can’t give out audio adjustment advice to all and sundry by listening and adjusting on your boom-box. You would only be boosting the bass to correct for the crappy bass reproduction of your speakers. It would sound way to boomy on a properly calibrated audio setup.
In the same way, you can’t give out numerical colour adjustment advice without calibrating your monitor. Saying “A 45% shift in cyan is huge” is pointless. Your monitor might be out by 30% in cyan. All you can see without calibration is relative changes between different versions. What looks grey on your monitor might look quite yellow on one that is setup correctly.
Star Wars and its colour grade.
The original movie that was released in 1977, be it on Kodak or Technicolor stock, was a bit of a mess colour-grade wise.
The film was massively rushed, particularly towards the end. It had quite a few composite shots, and was shot on varying film stock and even formats. The result is the grade is pretty awful, even shot-to-shot balancing isn’t great in some scenes. This is how the movie was, and if you want to see how it looked upon release, then you will see a lot of colour variance between scenes, black levels that are all over the place, and shots that don’t match from moment to moment. Star Wars was also changed radically in the final edit, with scenes that were meant to take place at one point in time, being shifted to a completely different time, and again, not graded to fit all that well. It was a limitation of the technology, the tight budget and the lack of time.
Looking at scans of the Tech print is also kind of pointless. A professional scan gives a very flat, logarithmic image that looks nothing like the print. You need to project the print and grade the scan to the print. If you haven’t seen the film projected, you have no idea what the colour actually looked like.
The various home editions of Star Wars
The telecine process is completely different to the release prints. The home releases were done on telecine equipment, with the main aim of keeping the exposure within legal NTSC ranges. Not a ton of work was done other than to try and get skin-tones to look right, and to get the exposure within limits. So you get quite a different experience to the cinema, some explosions have more detail in the home release, as they are less blown out, due to the telecine operator adjusting exposure on the fly. The colour and exposure of the home releases have no real correlation to the original films, or even what the intention may or may not have been for the cinematic release. It was down to the telecine operator, on the day, working in realtime, to their own experience of making it look good for VHS, Beta, CED, VHD, LD etc.
Again, just to be clear, the look on home video has no correlation to the film release, telecine is a totally different process, and done by an operator with different goals and tools.
The Special Editions on film
The film versions of the Special Editions are not far off the original film releases as far as colour goes. No lobster faces, no over saturation, but not a lot of change to the colour grade.
The Special Editions on home releases.
This is where it gets problematic. Again, people assume “STAR WARS” they will get the best in the business to do the colour grade, and spend lots of time, money and love on it.
Sadly, not so. The colour grade was rushed, and the tools used were new, and mistakes were made. This was the first time the film was fully digitally graded, and there were many problems along the way.
In trying to adjust for the faded source, they pushed the reds a bit hard, and you get lobster faces and other issues. In attempting to make the film more palatable to a 21st century audience, along with the scrubbed grain, we got crushed blacks, saturated colours and in places a weird palette. Again, due to time and money constraints, the job done was patchy, and the SE BD and DVD releases don’t resemble the original or the theatrical releases very much as far as colour goes.
So in short, yes, each release has varying colour. If you want to know what the original colours actually were, then watch it on film, and you will find that the colour is all over the place.
Looking at costumes, original artwork and set photos is interesting and informative, but ultimately gives no guide as to what was actually on-screen or intended to be on screen. The set photo might have everything looking balanced, and the neg also might be balanced, but the release print, for that particular scene might have been shifted towards blue, and may have been shifted intentionally. That is literally the job of the colourist, to change the colour in the captured scene to tell a story, so of course it is likely that set photos and costumes will look different to what is on screen in the final movie.
Where does this leave us?
Well, Star Wars was badly flawed upon release in 1977, and every release since has been badly flawed as far as colour grading goes. If you are interested in how the film actually looked, then you can watch it on film and find out.
If you are more interested in watching something that suits your own personal taste as to how a film should look to you then it will really be down to making your own grade, to suit your own expectations/enjoyment. At that point, worrying about the original colours, intentions, or why differing versions are different is completely moot. Just get on and make the version that floats your own personal boat.
Yes, I’m in the middle of moving house, I have another two weeks of packing and moving (I am moving a 6 hour drive from where I live now) so things will be quiet until I get setup again.
I’m in the middle of moving house, so will be offline for about two weeks while I get moved, and try and get unpacked and internet etc. connected.
Bobson Dugnutt said:
Damn shame about this print, any chance you could get your money back or something as I’m sure this was a big investment for you and the backers.
I’d say that if you could get the exclusive footage from the theatrical cut like the Naboo Bridge or the human senate aides then do it, but if it’s toxic and could kill you, then don’t worry about it. Your health is more important to anything to us Potia. Hopefully the Attack of the Clones print doesn’t suffer the same fate.
Let me know which reel that would be on (Reels are approx 20 minutes long) as I am not familiar with the movie itself at all.
It is quite likely a toxic mold that infected the print. It stunk like VS but it is a polyester print, so it is confusing, as they do not get VS.
Also, the print turned out to be in Russian.
Moral is, you should always wear a respirator when handling a print if it doesn’t smell right, I should not have assumed it was safe. Some molds are deadly and there is no ‘cure’, I was lucky in this case that it just made me very ill.
Let me know what you guys think of the scan, personally I wouldn’t want to continue with it even if it was safe, the print looks badly worn to me.
Sadly we are going to have to find another print. The one I have has turned out to be toxic, and damn near killed me. We are yet to ascertain what the substance is on the print, but it is very bad news.
The print is also pretty bad shape.
Here is a sample.
I’m really sorry about this, I got completely screwed by the seller, I am on the lookout for a replacement.
I’d love to get the editdroid tape and capture it on some better equipment.
I am willing to let anyone use it for projects, I just to find money to get it prepped and cleaned.
It is at the scanning facility awaiting cleaning.
I’m ponying up the $3K for the scan, but I’m hoping people will chip in for the $720 that the prep and clean costs, as I can pay for the scan after the scanning is completed, but I have to pay prep and clean up front before scanning can begin.
There was never any vagueness in the room. Everyone was an expert in their field really, and the communication was clear and concise. If there was every any question, you would clarify immediately.
On a good film, everyone is expected to know their job, and do it efficiently, and ask for clarification if needed. There is way too much money at stake for people to make assumptions or not be on their game.
It can seem brutal from the outside, but it is collaboration on a huge scale.
I’ve re-read your last post a few times, and I’m not 100% sure what you’re getting at, but I think I get the gist.
Yes, on older film, grading was problematic. As a colourist, you would sit in the screening room with the DoP and the Director and sometimes a few others, and you would make notes as the film played, depending on feedback from the two Directors.
The notes you were making were the place in the film, and the adjustments you were going to make to the film development process to adjust the colour balance the way they wanted it. You had to be able to see it in your mind, and then immediately translate it to temperatures and times, you effectively had three buttons as a colourist, plus exposure. You had to know and visualise everything in your head, make notes, then punch it all out, a new print would be struck and often the next day you would sit again with the Directors and they would ask for a few more changes or not.
Star Wars was on a very tight budget, both in money and time, there wasn’t much time for grading, plus it was shot very quickly, all over the place, and on a multitude of different stocks, and then the composites… in short, the grade is all over the place, and often varies from shot to shot.
So yeah, in the sunset scene, each shot is not correctly balanced to each other shot, this is the case in a lot of scenes in Star Wars, less so in Empire and much less so in Jedi (apart from the comps).
This is the way the film was.
When it came to home releases, the VHS release was colour timed by the telecine operator, quite possibly with no input from anyone, and their main aim would have been keeping the exposure within legal video limits, and making sure you can see what is going on. They look radically different to the film in some places.
When it came to DVD and then later Blu-ray, digital grading was possible, so isolating parts of the image to achieve a different look became possible, and the grade was completely removed from the original film.
As to what is ‘true’, well that is the original film, warts and all. It may not have been exactly what Lucas ‘wanted’, but it is what he signed off on, and what the world saw.
As for intent, that is a slippery slope. They all no doubt intended for the creatures in the Cantina to be fully articulated and way more realistic. They probably wanted everything to look a lot better than it did.
Chasing intent is impossible, the intent would have changed between shooting it and seeing it in dailies. The intent would change with hindsight, with life experience, with the changing world and society and technology.
There is no real way to gauge intent, only what was actually done, i.e. what is on the film.
Everything else is a revisionist version. Personally I would prefer to watch a better colour balanced version than what is on the original Star Wars, with consistent black levels, consistent colour shot to shot, and some of the colour glitches fixed. But I also know the need to preserve the film as it was, and the importance of that.
Which is why I personally make an archival version, then an ‘adjusted’ version that is more like the aesthetic that pleases my 2018 self, and lets me watch the film the way I remember it, without 70s glitchiness that pulls me out of the experience, and lets me enjoy the wonder again, safe in the knowledge that the original is preserved, to be studied and enjoyed in all its warty glory 😃
TLDR: Yes, the grade is all over the place, every different version will have different colour.
If you can’t calibrate your monitor, you shouldn’t be doing any color work or commenting on anyone else’s.
I have followed these instructions, and It would seem that my panel is very Bright compared to my old TV for HDR content. So I have adjusted this now.
I have copied the white balance in this but I can not change hardly anything because it’s running a PC and this will not allow you to have Movie mode because it only allows Standard or Dynamic modes.
This is something you should take up with Samsung to be honest.
Grab a calibration probe, and calibrate your screen.
Any colour discussion really is completely pointless if you are viewing on a non-calibrated setup.
If you are feeding it with a PC, the PC will handle the calibration.
Even something like the colormunki smile would do, but an X-rite I1 Display Pro would be a good place to start.
Goodbye Gary Kurtz, Without you this film would not have been the classic it has become.
Just a quick update, I am getting a reel cleaned and scanned in a week’s time, thanks to some donations from people here and at Fanres, so thank you to everyone.
In the meantime, I jokingly replied to a PM of someone who didn’t like the colour on the print, asking them to take a colour-blindness test. To my surprise they did, and found out they were partially colour blind.
For a bit of fun, here is the test site:
Take them all if you are bored, and see how you fare. Hopefully I will have some new images from the scan late next week 😃
I still feel like your monitor calibration is slightly off, or this video needs to be watched.
Great to see you back again!
Can you bounce me a PM, I’d like to invite you to another project where we could really use your expertise.
I haven’t received a PM
It’s better than the laserdisc.
It is likely going to be scanned on a 6K Arri with a 16mm gate, I’m not sure what resolution at this stage.
Thanks for the offer of subtitles etc. I’m sure they could be put to good use.
Also thanks for the plan to donate, I spent $870 just on freight this week for various Star Wars projects. Eek!
Yes thanks Bendu!
$2 would help 😃
In all seriousness, it wasn’t a dig, we have a lot of new people here who aren’t aware of the difficulty, risks and costs both financial and time in getting this stuff done.
And again, in all seriousness, $5 or less is a genuine help, if a hundred people (and going by the downloads, there are many, many hundreds of people) donated $5 or even $2 it would be a massive help in covering some of the costs, people don’t need to be on big money to help out. I earned a stupidly small amount of money last year, and I always appreciate people foregoing a coke or something to help out.