Work on removing as much of the static grain as possible on the 2020 blu-ray version of ROTJ is coming along nicely. I was surprised at just how bad the problems are on this latest release. Not only do you have the static grain, but also the over use of Digital noise reduction has caused so many shots throughout the film to have less detail than even the old 2011 versions. On top of that you have Temporal noise reduction halo blurring ( where an object/ person moves on screen and the background around it becomes blurry as it passes) and some very bad digital noise reduction motion smearing. As you can see in the image below, Yoda’s face is just a smeared mess in the 2020 Blu-Ray, yet it is fine on the 2011 version.
So many shots in the Yoda Hut scene have had so much of the detail scrubbed away. So i have replaced the worse shots with cleaned up footage from the 2011 blu-ray
There is so much to fix on ROTJ before i can start work on the edit.
But i’m taking a short break from the restoration until after Christmas. So far i have completed up to the arrival on Endor. But it’s a very tedious task and i just need a short break.
Now, onto some news… While taking a break from ROTJ, i decided to try out upscaling ESB:R using Topaz Video AI. I’d seen so many people raving about this software so i tried some shots from the 720p lossless master to see if it would be worth releasing a 1080p version. Well i was shocked at how good this software is. Now, it does have its problems. You can’t just stick the file in and let in render away and end up with an amazing looking result. Doing some tests i found out that , while one setting is perfect for some shots and gives the best results, its horrendous on others. Starfields especially suffer when they are moving using one setting. You get a strange ghosting effect or they just smear across the screen. You also get sections of them disappear for a frame or two. So doing it several times, using different settings, is the only way to do it. Then its a case of combining the best elements by rotoscoping to give the best result.
One of the major drawbacks though is the time it takes to process. a 3 minute clip took over 12 hours to render. You get about 5 seconds processing/ rendering time per frame. Then there is the fact that it renders to uncompressed png format ( the MP4 option is horrendous quality). The hard drive space it takes up is astounding, so i’m going to have to look into investing in several external drives and larger internal ones.
So, is the quality of the resulting upscale even worth all the effort, just to have ESB:R in 1080p? Well, here are 10 screen shot comparisons showing the finished upscale 1080p version against the 2011 source blu-ray. No sharpening filters have been used on the Revisited upscales, this is just purely the result from the Topaz Video AI software.
(Just click on each tab to see the different shots. To compare each shot just hover your mouse over the image)
Well, i think the results speak for themselves. It looks better in clarity for the most part than the original 1080p blu-ray. But why don’t i just use the new 2020 blu-ray of ESB to replace the unaltered footage from the 2011 blu-ray? Well, sadly, then latest version of ESB is crap, to put it mildly. It may have better clarity overall in detail, but it is heavily cropped and horizontally stretched, making everyone gain about 20 pounds. I have no idea why this was such a botched release and why it was stretched and cropped as bad as it is, because the other two films don’t suffer with that. You can see just how much of the picture is lost due to the cropping and horizontal stretching. Some shots are worse than others but this gives you an example of the problem.
But then there is all the work needed to be done to match the grading of ESB:R for it to match up. It would be like starting from scratch. So , while there may be some shots that i will use the 2020 blu-ray, i shall be sticking with the upscales.
So i have come to a decision…
THE REVISITED SAGA WILL NOW ALL BE RELEASED IN 1080P INSTEAD OF JUST 720P
Upscaling ESB:R should only take a month or two. Luckily i still have all of the project files so, if needed, i can replace a shot that isn’t working in the upscale with a newly rendered version. Then i can move onto ANH:R. All the work i have done so far on ROTJ has all been in 1080p, so no need to do any upscaling there. ROTJ:R will be native 1080p.
And there you have it. Guaranteed someone will say “well why don’t you upscale then to 4k?”. 😉 Sorry, but that is not going to happen.