I was at the Sansweet Star Wars presentation is SDCC yesterday afternoon and saw the DVD footage. When I got home this evening I was surprised that there hadn’t been posts from others in attendance, as the statements regarding the DVD release and the image quality of the footage shown was outrageous, to put it lightly.
Sansweet began his presentation by rolling the opening credits to Star Wars with the reinstated pre-ANH crawl. White ringing, that resembled edge enhancement, could clearly be seen on the inside edges of the yellow text during the crawl, though overall the image was very clean. The footage was shown on four front projectors throughout the room.
After this footage is where Sansweet addressed the complaints about the lack of anamorphic enhancement. Alarm bells started ringing for me when he assured the audience that “the black bars are still there, but are very, very small and hardly noticeable… not even an issue” or something along those lines. It seemed as though Sansweet did not grasp the fundamentals of 16:9 encoding on DVD, contorting the complaint into meaning that a group of internet users were upset that the movies were not being presented in a 16:9 framed image, instead of the correct concern that the discs are not anamorphically enhanced versions of the films that retain their correct 2:35:1 composition.
The next statement that Sansweet made was about the versions presented as being from “the highest quality laserdisc masters made, digitally restored frame by frame,” and that, “these movies look fantastic”. Which of course is true, fine and dandy if not for the fact that video technology has made leaps and bounds beyond the intended purpose of that “restoration”. Those technicalities were obviously not explored.
The jokey bits about the NASA-esque footage and windowboxed teeny-tiny footage was intermixed with the hard sell.
Then, the real deal was shown. The cantina scene with Han shooting Greedo first was shown and received a huge round of cheers when Han, did, as they are pushing so hard and handing out buttons to state, shoot first. But, oh boy, was there something wrong with what was on screen. Please set aside the issue of the loss of image resolution that the 4:3 letterboxed discs, as what was seen on screen was far more concerning:
Deinterlacing artifacts were visible throughout the clip, showing as horizontal combing in every bit of motion and in every shot transition. Speaking with my friends that I attended with, they all saw it clear as day as well. Not good. I’m rather lousy at understanding IVTC, but what I saw on screen was not acceptable.
I was rather startled at the dismissive attitude from Steve Sansweet towards the informed concerns highlighted from forum users and industry professionals, and the calculated assurances that he made about the supposed quality of the sources used for this project. His final comments on the issue were basically along the lines of “George considers these versions dead to him, so you should be grateful you’re getting them at all.”
I was very disappointed in his stance and seeming ignorance towards the real issues with the DVD release, and to wave away legitimate quality issues as the ravings of an over-demanding fan base was frankly startling. I’m a huge Star Wars fan and am interested in the preservation of the original versions of these movies for posterity, and yesterday’s presentation left me with the impression that such a goal is not in any way shared by Lucasfilm. Unfortunate.
I’ve attempted to recount the experience as accurately as possible, but it’s been a long trip and I’m sure I’ve missed details. If there are any omissions or inaccuracies, hopefully some other members can share, correct, and confirm what they saw as well.