I wanted to announce that I’ve nearly completed upgraded versions of my HDTV preservations. All that is left to do at this point is to run final encodes of the video tracks. Here is a brief summary of the issues/improvents that it will provide.
My original impetus for this project came from the fact that the best available HDTV rips of the six films came from a German broadcast, which had a very high bitrate, but used the German crawl, and German subtitles, an more importantly, suffered from numerous broken frames, encoding issues, and glitches for lack of a better description. AOTC and ROTJ are especially bad in this regard.
My original for the project has been to make versions of the films that are frame accurate to the English versions of the films, in 1080p, in the best possible quality. This required an alternate rip of the films from an English broadcast, for the purpose of replacing the German crawl/ALTA, any burned-in German subtitles, and for patching over any damaged frames from the German broadcast versions.
Unfortunately, the best I could do at the time of the original project, was to use rips from SKYTV UK, which had been cropped and re-encoded from the original captures. These were of noticeably worse quality compared with the German versions, but since I wanted to avoid using the blu rays, they were the best I could do. Notably, it wasn’t possible to use the Blu Rays at all for TPM or AOTC, due to TPM being an entirely new transfer and AOTC using a significantly different color grade. I did use the Blu Rays as an element in creating the Crawls for episodes 2-6, as the English HDTV versions were noticeably worse in quality than the rest of the films.
I basically just used the 5.1 and stereo mixes of the films as-is from their DVD releases. Notably, the NTSC release of AOTC did not include a stereo mix, so I used the track from the Australian PAL DVD, speed corrected from 25fps to 23.976fps, for that mix. I also included the DVD commentary track and the Spanish and French dubs.
I don’t know how aware people are of this, but the original NTSC DVDs of the OT and PT films have a few sync issues when compared with the HDTV broadcasts, and the corresponding Blu Ray versions. Namely, ROTS is missing what should be frame #112670, ESB is missing frames #59815 and #123004, and TPM is missing #82926 and #150518. In my original versions, I just left those frames in the video, and this meant that the audio did not perfectly sync for those three films. You may notice or you might not, but I have come to be pretty sensitive to that kind of thing, and definitely notice it now.
I originally included a custom English track as well as a Spanish track in idx/sub format.
Updates for v2:
I was finally able to track down the original SKY TV UK rips. These still have a lower bitrate than the German Premier versions, but are a much much closer match quality-wise. The level of detail is nearly identical and the colors match exactly, which was not true in the original version of this project. I have replaced all the original edits with these rips as a source. I am also able to use these as direct sources for the English crawls, and no-longer use the Blu Rays to enhance.
I have also used some compositing to eliminate the burned in subtitles for the four films that had them. Mostly this was accomplished by masking the German and English subs and then overlaying the two films. This did require a third source for any subs that had overlap between the german and english subtitle masks. Obviously this required third source for the film, which for SW and Jedi was the Blu Ray, as the masters for those films are largely identical to the DVD/HDTV versions. For TPM and AOTC, the Blu Rays are too different for the compositing to work. I was able to use the original DVDs upscaled with Super Resolution as the source for this. This was a much bigger factor for TPM, as most of the subs in AOTC didn’t overlap at all. It’s actually not noticeable at all and looks pretty much perfect.
I have updated the audio tracks for each of the films that had sync issues. This was done losslessly, meaning without needing to re-encode the ac3 tracks, by splitting the AC3 tracks in the correct location, then encoding small patches that use the PAL DVDs as a source, and finally inserting those patches into the original ac3 stream. This fixes represent somewhere between 30 and 90 milliseconds of audio per film, but it’s very difficult to get this to work and make the patches fit seamlessly into the stream. I won’t go into the details, due to complexity, but it is seamless, and should fix all audio sync issues.
I will also include the correct 5.1 German dubs, as these were specifically requested last time.
I will include a few additional tracks here, and will be using typical PGS/SUP format rathere than IDX/SUB. I’m going to include subs for the DVD commentary, which are sourced from the Blu Rays, as well as the correct English SDH tracks ripped from the DVDs.
My main question going forward is to gauge preferences for the alien subtitles before I encode. I can make these subtitle tracks, meaning I can just leave the video clean and have it be soft-subbed. For what it’s worth, that is how the DVD versions were originally. I can also hard sub and have them encoded on the video. Remember that the English HDTV versions of AOTC actually have the theatrical subs. This is not true for SW, Jedi, or TPM.
The main benefit of hard subbing is that the TPM and AOTC actually use subtitles that fade-in and fade-out. This is not really possible to do using PGC/SUP subtitles (I mean, you can sorta do it, but it pretty much won’t work). If I hard sub, the TPM subs will look a little more authentic on playback. The other benefit is that it saves from having to include an additional subtitle track, which you’ll have to remember to turn on any time you play the movie.
The drawback is mainly that, though they look nearly perfect, they’re not technically authentic, in the cases of TPM, SW, and Jedi. I also kind of prefer to soft sub, as it leaves these versions more open to being used for other purposes.
I’m also curious if there would be anything else that anyone would like to include, within reason. I could theoretically include German and French subs if it’s desired.
Anyway, thanks for any feedback you may have. Once I decide on how to proceed with the subtitles, I should be able to share these within the week.