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View Full Version : OT on DVD?...something no one has mentioned yet



Darth Rend
09-10-2004, 05:34 PM
*Disclaimer: This is an argument for the improving of special effects, and the re-doing of scenes. This is not an argument for changing of content*

At the time the original trilogy was made...before computers and high definition...They were called "optical effects" This is because they relied heavily on tricking the eye. "optical illusions" as it were.

And alot of these effects were designed with the old film stock in mind. For example, an object floating across the screen might be accomplished with a simple string. But the string was thin enough that it would not show up on film. Knowing the quality of film stock as they did, using a string would work well.

Of course they weren't counting on technology 20 years later being able to clean up the image, and bring every LAST DETAIL that wasn't even veiwable before into beautiful focus. Including, unfortunatly, the STRING. Because with image quality cleaned, film grain removed, and contrast and clarity through the roof, all of a sudden the string is clearly visible.

Rubber suits that looked decent on the old film, now look painfully rubber, every flaw exposed. Miniatures that were detailed enough before, now are obviously fake. Because now the film picks up EVERYTHING.

Because the effects just weren't DESIGNED to be viewed on the level of detail that current cinema can deliver. The effects depended on the film grain and lack of focus to help hide the imperfections in the illusion. In other words, the ORIGINAL TRILOGY that everyone wants so bad...in this format, with NO new effects, and enhanced image quality...

Might look AWFULL.

Something to think about......

JediTricks
09-10-2004, 11:32 PM
Consider this though, the quality of the image projected on the Grauman's Chinese Theater screen is HUUUUUUUUGE yet still quite clear, I know, I've been there myself and seen both the original and SE versions of the films there. As far as I know, the versions that are "cleaned up" for the DVD process still won't be as clear as the original prints that were shown in the theater, you couldn't just port the DVDs over to a digital projector and get the same quality.


Also, on an intrinsic value of "practical" vs "CGI" visual effects, the human mind believes the practical far more often than the CGI because there are still random nuances that nature provides which computers do not such as light glinting off a microscopic pock on a ship's surface or a rubber mask in an unusual which gives something like this a sense of reality even when the conscious mind doesn't recognize it. And the issue of motion is still a thorn in CGI's side, ultimately CG motion doesn't look real because it's not.

Darth Rend
09-11-2004, 12:36 PM
CG motion ...doesn't look real ....because... it's not..HEY waitaminute! You were using an old JediTRICK on me! BLAST YOU!!!!


No seriously I NEVER understood what people have against CG..I almost always think it looks good in the SW movie (The only exception being the SE Jabba Scene, which now looks great IMHO)

As far as the DVD quality vs the Chines theater quality...all reports say that the trilogy looks better than it EVER has. The process they used has been utilized by NASA for god's sake. They Litterally cleaned every last speck of grain and/or dirt off the old film, and enhanced it beyond what used to be possible. I've heard over and over that these films now look like they were shot YESTURDAY, with the lastest equipment. Add the fact that is designed to be viewed on a high-def moniter....preferably plasma...There is no way even the BEST projection could be that quality. It's beyond the limits of the technology.

Now that being said, understand one thing...I'm not saying it is impossible for DVD quality original trilogy...but not to the level of these releases. Its is clear the quality is increased beyond what any 25 year old film stock is usually capable of looking like. They went all out with the image quality, more so than most other DVD releases. The problem is, Lucas is obsessed with technology..he refuses to release a DVD unless its the BEST possible picture for the medium, the BEST possible sound. If I remeber, he actually refused to send the SE to theaters that had not updated thier sound system in 1997.

So I think yes, Lucas COULD release the OT on DVD. It would however require the picture to be not QUITE as sharp or defined, not QUITE as high-definition. It would still looks great, but not pushing the limits of the DVD format. Lucas, HATES doing that. He would never allow the movies to be released unless they were the absolute best capable of the DVD format. And as said above, I don't believe film stock from the 70s, with 70s optical effects would stand up well at the resolution Lucas would find acceptable.

Also, on an aside, I wanted to just add a thought in Lucas's defense. If you did a drawing when you were 16, and it looked GREAT for a 16 year old...you'd be happy with yourself. Now lets say you did the same drawing again at 28, and now the proportions were better, more detail, more dramatic composition...how nervous would you be showing the one you did when you were 16 to people? Im an illustrator, so I personally would cringe at every imperfection, and be extremly self consious about it. As far as Lucas is concerned, we are asking him to frame a drawing he did when he was 12 and put it on display, when he has a new version he is very proud of sitting on his desk waiting to be seen.

JediTricks
09-12-2004, 09:17 PM
Er, wasn't it used by NASA 35 years ago? Not exactly the same process anymore, since the computers of that era weren't even as powerful as my cell phone.


It's art, if I were doing a drawing 13 years ago, I would present it in that context, and while I might draw a new rendition today, it would and could NOT be the same as the 13-year-old one because that one has already been done, it already exists. As an artist, when I released my original to the world it was to evoke feelings or impressions that I was trying to project from that time period in my life, if I come back now to change them I can only emulate what WAS, it can never be truly duplicated. I cannot be commissioned to make a painting, sell it to that buyer as "done", and then come back 20 years later to his house and change it because the hairstyle in the paiting is now out of style or I no longer feel that way about the beach.

rbaumhauer
09-12-2004, 10:46 PM
While your main point has some merit - everybody is commenting that the picture quality on the DVDs is FAR above any other presentation the films have had - I think your statement that the effects were originally called "optical effects" because of their basis in "optical illusion" isn't quite right.

First, I don't think many effects in the OT were accomplished by the "model on a string" method, but rather by mounting the models on pylons wrapped with bluescreen material. My main issue, though, is that I believe effects were referred to as "optical effects" because they were composited on an optical printer - effects shots were composed of many layers of film that were run through the printer, which created a new piece of film from them.

While Lowry has mentioned that the effects shots involve more cleanup because they are inherently "dirtier" and less "crisp" (because of the inevitable generational losses of the old process), this doesn't in itself require replacement of all the original effects shots. If it did, there would have been a LOT more work to make the films presentable on DVD.

In any case, I don't think many people have much problem with the replacement or enhancement of effects shots. What people are p!ssed off about is the changing of plot points and details for no good reason (ie, Jabba, Greedo, et al) or, worse, in order to make the OT, still looked back on fondly even by the general public (that is, non-Star Wars Geeks), more closely "agree" with the PT, the first two of which have been loved by some, hated by some, and seen as mediocre by just about everybody else.

Basically, hardly anybody outside of Lucas himself can understand why you would change movies that are acknowledged Classics, by any definition, in order to tie them more closely to vastly inferior works. Lucas is effectively dragging down his best work by trying to tie it more closely to the Prequels, the biggest effect of which seems to be p!ssing off people who had loved the OT without reservation (or nearly so).

Darth Rend
09-13-2004, 09:48 AM
As far as the film as "art" goes (which is a loaded subject, as art in entirely subjective anyways) your argument presents a double edged sword.

These films may be art, but they are not "Art for Art's sake"..you must take into account the PURPOSE of the art. In this case, to entertain. Lucas is not digitally altering haircuts to make the work more in style, he is altering it in a way that he believes helps tell the story better. Also by your argument, if art is meant to convey a feeling by the artist, Lucas has stated many many times that due to limits on time and technology, he was unable to convey the feelings and story in this work as he originally intended it. According to Lucas, this improved edition is closer to conveying the original message he wished to convey, because now he has the tools he did not before. And if Lucas is an artist, then the message the piece should convey is his descision to make.

Art is always up to interpretation. His job as an artist is to convey a message. Our job as an audience is to interpret it. Lucas has altered the message, and its not our job to say whether or not that is in keeping with the way we previously interpreted it....its our job to re-interpret the work based on the information we've been given. In other words, if the art is meant to envoke a certian message, Lucas tells us this version is closer to the mesaage he intended ORIGINALLY. And since art is subjective, who are we to say it isn't?

Darth Rend
09-13-2004, 12:40 PM
While your main point has some merit - everybody is commenting that the picture quality on the DVDs is FAR above any other presentation the films have had - I think your statement that the effects were originally called "optical effects" because of their basis in "optical illusion" isn't quite right.
Actually ALL effects are optical illusions..all that means is our eyes are tricked into thinking something is real that isn't. It's just as much an optical illusion to believe that a group of pixils generated by a computer is really a moving creature, as it is to belive that Han and Luke are really standing in front of a giant Star Cruiser, when it is realy a model filmed seperatly.


First, I don't think many effects in the OT were accomplished by the "model on a string" method, but rather by mounting the models on pylons wrapped with bluescreen material. My main issue, though, is that I believe effects were referred to as "optical effects" because they were composited on an optical printer - effects shots were composed of many layers of film that were run through the printer, which created a new piece of film from them..
Your 100% right. I'm actually a huge fan of the behind-the-scenes stuff, I find it all fascinating....and I'm very familiar with the process they used to do the effects (thanks to countless hours spent watching all the "making of" specials...hheheh!) I just didn't get into the technical stuff because I thought it would distract peopel from the point. I used the "Model on a string" as a generic example to illustrate my point.

A better example would be the "boxes" around the Tie fighters during the Death Star 2 attack. On VHS they are clearly noticable, on the Laserdisk they are more so. But the Grain of the film, and the relative lack of sharpness helps "sell" the effect. In this case, it minimizes the noticability of the "boxes."
However, with the new edition, all that grain is removed, and dust or particals cleaned off, and the Sharpness increased to almost high-definition clarity. That same scene, untouched...would look TERRIBLE. The same process used to sharpen and enhance the image would also enhance the flaws. You would CLEARLY be able to see sharp, crisp grey boxes around every tie fighter.




While Lowry has mentioned that the effects shots involve more cleanup because they are inherently "dirtier" and less "crisp" (because of the inevitable generational losses of the old process), this doesn't in itself require replacement of all the original effects shots. If it did, there would have been a LOT more work to make the films presentable on DVD.
Not EVERY effect shot, certianly. Most just need to be touched up a bit. Which they did.


In any case, I don't think many people have much problem with the replacement or enhancement of effects shots. What people are p!ssed off about is the changing of plot points and details for no good reason (ie, Jabba, Greedo, et al) or, worse, in order to make the OT, still looked back on fondly even by the general public (that is, non-Star Wars Geeks), more closely "agree" with the PT, the first two of which have been loved by some, hated by some, and seen as mediocre by just about everybody else..
Thats why I have a disclaimer at the top..I never meant this to be a discussion about whether or not he should change context...only updating of special effects. Actually, I have encountered more than a few people who have problems with the updating of ANY special effects, even entirly cosmic flaw fixes. To quote one of them "I don't want them to TOUCH the OT! The old effects, the cheesy costumes, and even the mistakes, thats all part of the charm! Thats the way I remeber it from the childhood, and thats that way I want it to stay!" Personally, I don't agree with that mentality, but I thought I'd offer this comentary on why it wasn't likely.


Basically, hardly anybody outside of Lucas himself can understand why you would change movies that are acknowledged Classics, by any definition, in order to tie them more closely to vastly inferior works. Lucas is effectively dragging down his best work by trying to tie it more closely to the Prequels, the biggest effect of which seems to be p!ssing off people who had loved the OT without reservation (or nearly so).
Well, that is all entirely subjective. I love the prequels. In fact I think both of the prequels are superior to Return of the Jedi. And to say "Hardly anyone outside Lucas" is making a presumption based mostly on the hardcore, internet posting fan base...an extreme minority of Movie-goers. And considering both prequels were within the top 20 domestic gross of all time (#5 and #17) that means people liked them. And they sold a TON of Dvds. So the Hardcore fans might certianly be the most vocal, and the most passionate, but are hardly the majority. And besides, a quick review of any of these boards suggests the hardcore fans are divided on this issue anyways.

Agian though, I didn't start this to argue the descision to change content,...but some people are against even the tweaking of existing effects, and I think it's unlikel;y we'll get the OT that way.

rbaumhauer
09-13-2004, 05:37 PM
I know you had a disclaimer about "content" changes, but I think making the distinction is difficult - while there are people who don't want anything touched in the OT, I think a big part of their reasoning is that, once Lucas starts changing things, he'll never stop (which may very well turn out to be true). Ever since the SEs, Lucas' judgement on these things has been suspect, and the Prequels have just driven the point home - in general, a lot of fans don't trust the "modern" George Lucas to be able to tell a good idea from a hole in the ground, and given that, it's best if he just leaves well enough alone.

I don't have a problem with "enhanced" effects shots, for the most part, but if I had to choose "enhanced effects with story changes" or "old effects and no story changes", I'd pick the latter.

Saying that TPM and AOTC are better than ROTJ is d@mning with faint praise, in my book :) . ROTJ is by far the weakest of the OT, and was the first indication of where Lucas was going to end up going in the future: "kiddie" humor, toned-down violence (lightsabers go from amputating hands to behaving like glorified baseball bats), not an original thought in the movie (Return to Tatooine, DS2, etc), and characters largely sleep-walking through the story. For me, the struggle to protect the OT is really just about protecting the integrity of ANH and ESB, which are both as close to perfect, each in their own way, as I've ever seen a movie be.

I know that the PT has been "successful", in raw dollar terms, but if they'd actually been decent movies, they'd have destroyed all box office records. The fact that TPM is only #5, with over 15 years of buildup, tells you everything you need to know, but if you need more proof, just look at all the marketing tie-ins that turned into absolute disasters when people just didn't embrace Jar-Jar, et al, the way Lucas thought they would. Even Kenner/Hasbro took an absolute bath on the toys, some of which are not doubt still languishing in dollar stores all over the country. Let's face it, nobody but the hard-core Star Wars geeks (like us) is buying the toys even now - when was the last time you saw a kid actually buying a SW action figure?

The fact that AOTC did disappointing business at the box office, for a Star Wars movie, is another hint - without the 15 years of buildup, everybody went to see it on opening weekend (like people do with EVERY big movie released these days), and then didn't go back to see it again. I'm a hardcore SW fan, and I saw it twice - once on film (by myself, opening night), once in DLP (with my girlfriend, a couple days later), and both times walked out saying,"That was one mediocre movie."

Don't even get me started on how what a picture grosses at the box office is a ridiculous way to judge its popularity - just off the top, you do realize that a current movie only has to sell about 1/4 as many tickets as ANH to gross the same amount, right?

And of course they sold a lot of DVDs - DVDs cost about $15-20, so everybody will buy them, especially with all the pent-up demand for Star Wars DVDs in the marketplace. I bought both TPM and AOTC on DVD, but they sit on the shelf, basically unwatched - I can't bear to watch them all the way through.

Okay, rant over ;) Sorry, but there are reasons why a lot of us are so vocally opposed to a lot of the changes in the OT DVDs, and trying to defuse some of that by saying that some of the changes *may* ("from a certain point of view" :) ) be justified for purely technical reasons isn't going to change that.

JediTricks
09-13-2004, 08:28 PM
One thing I forgot to mention, I believe in ANH there's only a couple uses of monofilament at all, so only these might possibly be revealed by the print clean-up:
- C-3PO's arms having "string" that connects them to his torso;
- R2-D2's computer interface arm popping out of his body and plugging into the socket by use of "string" (which Anthony Daniels devised on the spot when nothing else was working).



Lucas is not digitally altering haircuts to make the work more in style, he is altering it in a way that he believes helps tell the story better. I would disagree with this for at least some of the significant changes made to the OT, especially anything done to ESB or ROTJ where Lucas had no intention of making changes during the Special Edition project until the last minute when he realized the fans might like to see it. Originally, the Special Edition project was about saving the ANH master print which was deteriorated and was in danger of being unsalvagable if they waited any longer, but the ESB and ROTJ prints were in no danger because they weren't in the same vault; once Lucas realized he could make changes to ANH while "saving" it, he decided to go back and fix the things that haunted him personally (the vaseline hover effect on the landspeeder and the lack of the Jabba scene are the only ones I remember him talking about before '93) and then kept making changes after that seemingly on a whim.


Also by your argument, if art is meant to convey a feeling by the artist, Lucas has stated many many times that due to limits on time and technology, he was unable to convey the feelings and story in this work as he originally intended it. Art is always limited, indeed many say that art thrives on limitations. Lucas himself acknowledges this when he talks about using oil paints for a painting, that there is no blue paint that can match the color of the sea so the artist must work to accomplish his goal by creating the color or using other techniques.

Yet Lucas for the first 20 years after the film's release focused on only those small things he saw as failures with ANH rather than how the audience perceived them, he lamented the loss of the pointless Jabba the Hut (sic) scene and the use of rubber halloween masks in the Cantina while the audience felt no loss there at all, it's like he painted a beautiful landscape painting that the world loves but all he sees when he looks at it is the small tree deep in the background that has no stump or the tiny dent at the bottom of the canvas even if it's covered up by the frame.


According to Lucas, this improved edition is closer to conveying the original message he wished to convey, because now he has the tools he did not before. And if Lucas is an artist, then the message the piece should convey is his descision to make. Yes, that's what he says, but is that what he WOULD have said in '76? We'll never really know, and he himself has acknowledged that during/after ROTJ he was a significantly-changed man. So the artist that made that first film is in the past, that man has evolved and become something else to the point of even changing parts of his personal foundation. If Lucas had held onto ANH for 20 years without releasing it to the public, making changes or thinking about making changes all the while, it would be a different matter, but he did release it in '77 and that became the finished result because it had been widely shared as the finished product, the public now had taken it into their hearts. It feels a little like DaVinci coming back after hundreds of years and making the Mona Lisa a blonde.


Those garbage mattes around the TIE Fighters were designed for the theater and didn't show up there originally, it was only after the advent of the home market that this issue came up with films using composited effects. I believe some experts say it's about the differences in the way the images are compiled for the different media rather than simply an issue of clarity. These days, CGI effects are sometimes redone for the home market because what looked good on projected film gets crunched wrong by TVs and their various players.



Thats why I have a disclaimer at the top..I never meant this to be a discussion about whether or not he should change context...only updating of special effects. Actually, I have encountered more than a few people who have problems with the updating of ANY special effects, even entirly cosmic flaw fixes. To quote one of them "I don't want them to TOUCH the OT! The old effects, the cheesy costumes, and even the mistakes, thats all part of the charm! Thats the way I remeber it from the childhood, and thats that way I want it to stay!" I personally believe that the originals as-chiefly-released should be available from a historical standpoint because each film was a cinematic and technological milestone, but for Lucas to go back and fix the matte lines on Luke in the Rancor pit seems ok by me - so long as the fix is faithful to the original.

plasticfetish
09-13-2004, 08:28 PM
I don't have a problem with "enhanced" effects shots, for the most part, but if I had to choose "enhanced effects with story changes" or "old effects and no story changes", I'd pick the latter.Who the heck are you, and how did you manage to say every single thing that I wanted to say? :)

Seriously... right on!

Darth Rend
09-14-2004, 11:19 AM
I personally, would like both.

I do agree it would be great if he released the origianl trilogy on DVD (with effects clean-up, but no content changes.)

I also want my special editions.

In fact, I want a 9 hour release of the legenary "Lost Cut", with all new special effects, new scenes filmed with digital stand ins for characters....

Hell, I hope 2 months after Episode 3, they release episode 4 again with MORE changes.

In short, i want as much Star Wars as the man will give me.

I was born in 1978. I never got to see ANH in the theaters. I got into Star Wars when I was 8, and loved it every since. When the special editions were anounced, I for the first time got excitied about seeing the movies as if they were new. Then the prequels. And now the DVD. I am as excited about getting these improved editions on DVD as I would be if a new movie was coming. I get to relive that excitment all over again. And considering that episode 3 is the last movie, I will be happy with new versions as often as possible, untill they stop being positive changes (Which I feel they are.)

And for the record, I'm not saying Episodes 1 and 2 were good movies because of box office sales. I'm saying they are GREAT movies because I enjoyed them thoroughly. The box office just supports me, and indicates that other people enjoyed them too. And if you bought tickets , and bought the DVDs, your telling Lucas that you liked them, too. Hating and screaming about how terrible the movies are, but paying money to own it and see it is like saying you don't want the president re-elected, but voting for him anyways. If you hate the prequels that much, return your un-opened DVDs, stop buying the toys, and don't buy a ticket to episode 3. Until then, your telling Lucas you like them just fine.