Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – A Visual Guide to Changes, Fixes, and Tweaks in the Disney+ 4K Version

December 24, 2019 - 2:01 am   |   by
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Our old friend Drew Stewart—who is a longtime Digital Bits reader—is the webmaster for Star Wars Revisited and also curates the Star Wars Visual Comparisons blog.

He’s been working diligently to create a kind of visual guide to all the changes found in the new Disney+ 4K version of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

Drew’s created a set of comparison images showing all of these updates and alterations—nearly 40 of them in all—and he’s kindly allowed us to compile them here in a 6-page gallery on The Digital Bits for all of you to see.

We definitely think that Star Wars fans will find this gallery both interesting and useful, not just to compare the new Disney+ 4K version to past Blu-ray and DVD releases, but also as a baseline in the event that further changes appear in the future. [Read on here...]

With all of this in mind, here’s a look at the differences that Drew has spotted thus far...

Fox Logo

A new Fox logo without the “News Corp” banner was created.

 

Fox Logo

The Disney-era LFL logo has replaced the 1990s-00s one, even though it’s timing doesn’t really work with the Fanfare.

 

Alt Preface

The preface was replaced with the Attack of the Clones preface in 2004, and now is back to the original.

 

Early Probe Droid

The probe droid was missing in the first frame of this shot until it was restored in 2004 and again in 2019.

 

Wampa arm

The 2004 scan showed too much of the bottom leftmost part of the frame, then in 2011 a fur patch was put over the arm of the puppeteer for the moment it is accidentally seen. The 4K scan is properly framed and a new fur patch was created to cover the arm.

 

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Speeder cockpit

This shot of the Snow Speeder looking for Luke and Han wasn’t recomposited for the 97SE, but was for the 2004 DVD, and apparently again for the 4K. The element bobs differently compared to the original and no longer shows the rocks through the cockpit. (note that the shot of the speeder going between the walker’s legs that was used as the example of fixing elements like this in the original SE bonus feature still has a transparent cockpit)

 

Fleet fade

An example of a wipe that was recreated in 1997, then recreated again in 2004 due to the next shot being recomposited, then recreated again in 4K due to the shot having to be recomposited in 4K.

 

Fleet intro

This shot was recomposited again in 4K after being recomposited in 2004 to remove the transparent tower that allowed the Star Destroyer engines to show through.

 

Fleet intro

This shot was recomposited again in 4K after being recomposited in 2004. The background TIEs have been shifted the same way both times.

 

Fleet intro

This shot was recomposited again in 4K after being recomposited in 2004. The background TIEs have been shifted the same way both times.

 

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Fleet intro

This shot was recomposited again in 4K after being recomposited in 2004. The misplaced Star Destroyer engines have been eliminated.

 

Fleet intro

This shot was recomposited again in 4K after being recomposited in 2004. The bomber on the left is slightly shifted.

 

Laser blast

In 2004, this laser blast going over the foreground soldier’s hat was made to go behind it. This fix was not replicated for the 4K.

 

Shield generator

A new shield generation explosion was created for the 4K to eliminate the weird glowing remains.

 

Cockpit crop

An example of how every Falcon cockpit shot has been cropped again for the 4K after being done originally in 2004. Note how Chewie’s side of the frame is even tighter than it was in 2004. It is believed this is due to Lucas’ displeasure with how the set was built bigger in ESB because Gary Kurtz wanted the actors to be able to have more space since so much of the movie happens in there.

 

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Holograms

An example of how the holograms have been recomposited and slightly shifted for the 2004 and 4K versions. Note the right-most captain’s position.

 

Emperor

An example of how the 2004 Ian McDiarmid Emperor was recomposited for the 4K.

 

Lightsabers

An example of the 2004 lightsabers that were apparently redone in 4K.

 

Lightsaber flashes

An example of the 2004 lightsaber flashes that were apparently redone in 4K.

 

Recomposited lasers

This shot was recomposited in 2004 and again in 4K.

 

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Officers badges

The officers in this shot were recomposited in 2004 and again in 4K. The rank badge was also changed from black (either a black version used against blue screen or it became black by mistake) to blue.

 

Window frames

While the other Star Destroyer main window frames were recomposited in 1997, this one wasn’t, so it was in 2004 and in 4K.

 

Bogwings

Two bogwings weren’t recomposited in 1997, but were for 2004 and again in 4K.

 

Window reflection

A better window was added to this 97SE shot for the 2011 Blu-ray that shows a reflection of the passing Cloud Car. This was redone slightly differently for the 4K.

 

Sparks

Additional smoke and sparks were added to the furnace in Cloud City for the Blu-ray and again for the 4K.

 

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Shoulder shadows

The shadow on Harrison Ford’s shoulders which were mistaken for a jacket were replaced with what looks to be computer generated shoulders in 2004, and redone in 4K by artificially lightening them. Note that the 2004 version has cropped this shot slightly.

 

Rank badges

An example of the 2004 fix flipping the rank badges and cylinders being redone in 4K.

 

TIE lasers

The lasers in this shot were redone in 2004 so they didn’t pass through the fighters. This was redone in 4K. The yellow extra laser in this frame are the cores of the lasers in the next frame, which is a mistake.

 

The Falcon moved

The Falcon was slightly shifted when this shot was recomposited in 2004, and again in 4K.

 

So those are all the changes, fixes, and tweaks spotted so far. If Drew finds more, we’ll add them here.

Meanwhile, our thanks to Drew Stewart for all his hard work! Be sure to check out his similar guides to A New Hope and Return of the Jedi here on The Digital Bits as well.

You can find Drew online on his Star Wars Revisited and Star Wars Visual Comparisons sites, and also here and here on Twitter.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the guide to The Empire Strikes Back 4K!

As always, stay tuned....

- Bill Hunt

(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)

 

 

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