And learn why you should hang on to your old VHS copies!
Star Wars was made for the big screen, but it owes most of its continued life and legacy to home video. Join us for a delightful discussion with NATHAN P. BUTLER, author of A Saga on Home Video: A Fan's Guide to U.S. Star Wars Home Video Releases to learn about how Star Wars has been kept alive for new generations through the evolution of home video!
Visit Nathan's website: starwarsfanworks.com
Buy Nathan's book: https://www.amazon.com/Saga-Home-Video-Vol-Releases-ebook/dp/B09MQV913J/
Check out Nathan's YouTube Channel: youtube.com/chronoradio
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[00:00:00] JOSH: Welcome to Trash Compactor. I'm Josh. You know, one of the taglines we use for this show is perspectives on Star Wars from the VHS generation. Because for me, and my cohort, that's mostly how we experienced Star Wars as kids. Not at a movie theater, but on home video. And joining me today is someone who literally wrote the book on Star Wars on home video.
[00:00:24] I'm very pleased to welcome the author of Saga on Home Video, A Fans Guide to Star Wars, US Home video releases, and the webmaster of Star Wars fan works.com. Nathan P. Butler. Nathan, welcome to Trash Compactor.
[00:00:38] NATHAN: Hey, great to be here. Thank you.
[00:00:40] JOSH: so before we get to the home video stuff, um, if you could just give us a little bit of background. What are the other fan works that your website name refers to? Star Wars fan works.
[00:00:52] NATHAN: So, um, so Star Wars fan works.com, which is very different now than it was when it launched in 2003. Right now is sort of a hub for just my stuff at this point. Um, the stuff that I have written, um, I've done so by my profession. I'm an educator. I teach, I taught for about, uh, 12, 13 years in a brick and mortar school and then in the same county.
[00:01:11] Now I head up the social studies department for the online program. So I'm full-time online. Um, but on the side I've been able to write from time to time. Um, so on that site is, for instance, Ass On Home Video is linked. Um, the one story that I did for, uh, Star Wars Tales way back in the day for dark horses on there.
[00:01:29] Um, uh, I've also contributed to some universes, like a 10,000 Dawns and war songs slash wars. Um, a couple of my own original fiction work. So all that stuff is. It sort of collapsed down into primarily being my site. Um, but for the first probably 10 years, give or take of its life. Um, the fan works referred to the fact that it was sort of a home for fan audio.
[00:01:52] Um, there was a time when Star Wars fan audio, like the, what before the word podcasting when we just called ourself internet radio shows. Um, just didn't really have a home. Uh, it tended to be, we're sort of the black sheep in the corner of like the four.net fan films, message boards and stuff like that for a long time.
[00:02:08] Uh, and then there was a separate message board that got created but not very well traveled. And there just wasn't sort of a home, kind of like TFN fan films had been for fan films, for fan audio. Uh, so I set. Creating that. I had done my first podcast, um, in 2002, which is Chrono Radio, which was the third English language show.
[00:02:28] Um, and then my team and I put out the first serious Star Wars fan made audio drama second strike in, uh, late 2002 at Christmas Day, 2002. Um, so within about a year since we were sort of on that ground floor, and it was a very tight knit community at the time, we were able to sort of create this hub for it with the message board and kind of an IMDB style database, um, and a listing of all the different shows I was even tracking total run time.
[00:02:52] It was ridiculous, but it was because the, the genre was teeny tiny. Um, but eventually as podcasting became more of its own thing, not sort of a, a small little niche thing, now it's very broad. Um, and you saw new shows appearing that just sort of appeared out of, uh, kind of spontaneously as opposed to being spinoffs or other members of that same small community.
[00:03:11] Um, it, the need for that was less and less so slowly but surely I sort of paired that down to my stuff. Um, also on there, I guess, Uh, and so, so I did podcasting for about 10 years. The other fan project I did for 20 years, almost 21, was a Star Wars Timeline Gold, um, which is this 3000 page massive Star Wars chronology document.
[00:03:31] And that is actually still on there. That's, uh, Star Wars fan wars.com/timeline, but that is still there. Um, but for the most part, I've paired it down to sort of, uh, what used to be Nathan p butler.com and desa on home video.com and Star Wars fan wars.com now kind of point to the same place. Um, but it's almost like I've had three tracks of, of fan, fan works of my own.
[00:03:51] There's been the, the, there's been the timeline stuff, there's been the podcasting stuff and now the home video stuff has sort of taken hold big time. Um, that is now sort of my primary, um, focus. These.
[00:04:02] JOSH: No, that's, a lot of stuff you have contributed to, , fandom over the years. Uh, the timeline, if I'm not mistaken, I believe I read somewhere that, the Lucas Film Story Group used that to refer to for some of the stuff that they actually, put out officially, or at least
[00:04:17] NATHAN: know there was a, there was a couple of times that there was, um, they brought me on to do dated battle maps and stuff like that. The, the dates themselves, not the maps, uh, for the Essential Atlas. Um, Leland Chi, at one point when they were doing those, they did like a vi like video timeline things for the old Republic mmo.
[00:04:33] When it was starting out, he, he shot me an email, Do these dates look right to you? They look right to me. Look at them , uh, kind of stuff. Um, Uh, and there's a couple times where I got mentioned as like a, a, a thanks and a resource that was, uh, used for, I, I know, I think it was the Essential Reader's Companion and the New Essential Guide to Characters, Um, when they were doing that stuff, um, it was, it was massive and took many, many years.
[00:04:58] Much time. Uh, I'm kind of glad to have retired from it, but now I kind of feel like I'm the old man. Right. Aside from the home video stuff, I've kind of retired from, I retired from the timeline thing around 2018. I have retired from the podcasting thing except for commentaries I do for my Patreon, um, around 2020.
[00:05:14] And then, The Patreon, even the commentaries are wrapping up. I just finished recording the last commentaries for the Clone War's entirety of that series. Um, and I'll be shutting that down, uh, middle of next year now that that kind of project is done. So it's almost like as, as I'm getting older, I mentioned before we, we start, I turn 43 tomorrow, uh, actually in a few, in like a couple of hours as of us recording this.
[00:05:36] Um, it's like as I'm getting in my old age and fatherhood now, uh, I got a four year old. Um, that's definitely sort of narrowed the focus. Uh, it's kind of one of those you need to actually choose what you wanna do. You can't be the busy body always keeping yourself busy writing stuff or online. You focus on something.
[00:05:52] Uh, and home. Home video wound up becoming that focus more recently. So that's the one that wins. I.
[00:05:58] JOSH: Yeah, you know, uh, just hearing you talk. So last week I actually spoke to, otherwise known as a z the, person who ran, TFN fan films. And, through doing this podcast, I've tried to cover a lot of the, the fan created works that.
[00:06:16] Sort of exist in fandom. And something that I'm noticing, I'm noticing that in a lot, of ways, Star Wars fans were inspired to do something or create something. It was sort of ahead of the curve from where, the rest of of culture is. you know, fan films sort of created the whole concept of, you know, web video, user generated web video, years before YouTube even existed.
[00:06:39] And, um, were solving problems and encountering issues that were, that, you know, no one had figured out yet. And you, um, you were part of the fan audio community that, in recent years has, become a real huge industry. and, I think home video is also though not a fan generated work.
[00:06:58] one of the things that was so fascinating, to me reading your volume one about Star Wars on Home video is that it's sort of not just the story of Star Wars on home video, it's also the story of home video, right?
[00:07:10] NATHAN: Mm-hmm. . Yeah, to an extent. Yeah. It's, um, it's kind of, so to me, you're probably familiar with, um, Lucas's line from, I think it was from Star Wars to Jedi, the making of a saga where he says a special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing. Um, I tend to think that a product guide without a history behind it is a pretty boring thing.
[00:07:28] Like, I, I've got a lot of collectors books. Most of them touch on home video, just barely. They don't, they're not very comprehensive at all. Um, but, you know, it's kind of nice to have those, I like flipping through them. Like I never gonna own that. Never gonna own that, never gonna own that. That's cool. But I would never buy that because where would I put it?
[00:07:42] Kind of stuff, looking at volumes of Star Wars memorabilia. Um, but most of those tend to be just like, here's the item, here's the name, here's the year. Maybe a price. When that even meant anything in the ear, in like the era of eBay. and that's really kind of, it was all that they really did. And I felt like what I really enjoyed about, uh, so I, in 2013, I started a, a series on YouTube called From the Star Wars Home Video Library, um, to talk about the home video stuff, which eventually spurred Saga a Home Video's first edition in 2017.
[00:08:15] Then this three volume second edition in 2021. Um, but what fascinated me was the story. Like the development of it. Why, what has changed between these releases? Why was this release different? Um, which now is kind of frustrating cuz the more nuance, you know, you're like, that's wrong. When you see things like, when you see an auction that says they're auctioning off a 1984 copy of a New Hope and it's not.
[00:08:36] That's at least a 1986 copy cuz you could tell by this thing that someone grading it in, knocking it should know. Um, but as you, as you sort of get, get lost in the nuances of it and the development of it, I thought that's probably a really interesting story. So to me, narrative history has always been the most interesting thing.
[00:08:51] I said I teach social studies stuff, so, um, I wanted to write it
[00:08:54] like, yeah, I wanted to write it as a narrative history. And I think to a large degree, Star Wars wasn't always ahead of the curve on media types. Like it came a while later. For instance, for DVD and blu-ray,
[00:09:07] JOSH: I remember that. There was a long, long time, like for years like, so, so I don't think, um, Star Wars was released on DVD until 2004,
[00:09:15] NATHAN: Uh, yeah, the, the original trilogy didn't hit until 2004. The first, um, of the films to get released on
[00:09:21] JOSH: was episode
[00:09:21] NATHAN: Medicine oh one. Um, but that, that was a while after DVD was already there. Um, you know, Clone Wars gets blu-ray in 2008. Uh, the other films, a live action films don't get any until 2011. Um, in fact, Clone Wars came out right, basically right as the, uh, blu-ray HD DVD format war, second format war was kind of ending with hd DVD kind of limping off to die.
[00:09:45] Um, but, but it's kinda looking at all that, that was what I found fascinating, like that development. And, but it hasn't been necessarily ahead of the curve much of the time. But in order to kind of understand why certain events were important, I felt like the context was needed of the formats themselves.
[00:10:02] Like I'm understanding the great format, or as I call it, between, you know, VHS, Beta laser disc and ced and some other. You know, in, in other regions like Video 8 and V 2000 and Vhd and stuff like that. Um, being able to understand that, also understand like why it was such a big deal to have the leap between DVD and blu-ray and then blu-ray and 4k, um, the sound innovation, just stuff that would make it easier to appreciate.
[00:10:27] Cuz I realize, especially now like I'm having students do assignments where they're interviewing someone about how life was when they were young adults and make the comparison of American culture. When I teach sociology and I'm realizing many of their parents that they interview are now my age. I'm no longer the young cool teacher anymore.
[00:10:46] Right. Um, and I realize, I mean, most of my students, for instance, in fact, I guess all of my students now, uh, none of them were alive for nine 11 for. And it, it's hard to explain the feel of that time, but it's something that I kind of feel like you need that context to understand the years that followed.
[00:11:03] I think it's kind of the same thing to a much lesser, less tragic, certainly extent with home video. If you understand the context, then why certain releases mattered so much or were such a big deal at the time and, and are so beloved in some cases, um, that makes a lot more sense, you know, to know that as opposed to just being, here's the product, here's a picture, isn't this cute , you know, you, you really gotta tell the story.
[00:11:24] Or it's not inter it wouldn't be something I personally would want to read, I guess is the way I'm putting it. I, it, it, I'm very much, I, I look at these books and I referenced them myself at times to look for information that I've forgotten. Um, it all falls under that same heading of a Henry Jones senior.
[00:11:40] Right. I wrote it down so I wouldn't have to remember. It's kinda my thing.
[00:11:45] JOSH: Yes. I, No, I, I totally understand. So, um, uh, so you and I are about the same age. We just start a few years apart, I think. And you know, one thing that I find very interesting along the lines of what you just described is, um, I think in a lot of ways we are the last generation to, for example, know what it's like to hear your, your favorite song on the radio and , hold a tape recorder up to the speaker so that you could have it to listen to later at your leisure, right?
[00:12:14] or you get the TV guide and you flip through and you see when your favorite, , movie is on, or when that episode of Star Trek that you've never seen is on, and you circle it and you, make sure that you're awake to hit, record on the vcr if you, if you had a VCR or a blank tape, to go from that to.
[00:12:29] Living in a world where we can watch anything and, um, the highest quality wherever you are on whatever device at your leisure, so, that fundamental shift in our relationship to, you know, media, and to movies in particular, I find very interesting. The idea that, you know, once upon a time, if you wanted to see Star Wars, it either had to be playing in a movie theater or, you know, you had to have HBO and it had to be playing on HBO or some, some pay cable, or it like had to have a network TV debut.
[00:13:02] It, it, it wasn't something that you could just throw on whenever the urge struck. So if you're a kid in 1977 or 78 and you're going nuts for this movie called Star Wars, the idea that you could have a piece of Star Wars that you could experience in your own home was wild.
[00:13:21] NATHAN: Mm-hmm. , they and they didn't, They. Were, were pretty limited, right? I mean, if, if it's 77, 78, we're talking selected scenes on Super 8. If you had a film projector in your home, or it was the little TD kids handheld, crank driven, you know, one minute worth of scenes, Star Wars Kenner movie viewer.
[00:13:42] There just was not. Um, yeah, I mean, it was, it was, it had to be magical, right? Because it, the options barely existed.
[00:13:51] JOSH: Yeah. So the idea, So I mean, yeah. So, so you describe initially at the very, beginning of your first volume. You know, you're talking about these, um, I forget the name of the company. Ken Films, Right. No relation to.
[00:14:02] NATHAN: no, no relation to Ken that I know of.
[00:14:04] Just Ken filmed
[00:14:05] JOSH: Yeah. they had these, what, like six to eight minute long Super 8 reels, Some with sound, some without, of just selected exciting scenes from, from Star War.
[00:14:18] And, , you know, I think to someone, certainly to someone who wasn't alive when 9/11 happened, but like to someone who, um, who isn't used to, this scarcity of home media, that sounds kind of wild. Like, who would want six disembodied minutes of a movie without the context contacts are without sound even, But having, that was something, you know, unique and special.
[00:14:42] It was a piece of the movie. You could take home and you could experience whenever you wanted and sort of remind yourself of that experience of watching Star Wars in a theater.
[00:14:53] NATHAN: Yep. And that, and I will say, you're talking about how much it has changed. I mean, it's, it's wild to think that most of the, I mean, we're talking a change in a single life.
[00:15:03] JOSH: Yeah.
[00:15:04] NATHAN: now, Right? I mean, I mean obviously Star Wars itself only being around for, uh, for our lifetimes, you know, you know, heading towards the 50th anniversary where hopefully they will do something special.
[00:15:12] but. We're talking about, you know, it's 77, we're talking Super 8 reels by, uh, you know, by 75 you've got Beta being introduced, 76, and then in the US and 77 VHS being introduced. Um, 78 with, um, with laserdisc 81 for ced, which didn't last very, the last like five years. Um, but these home media types sort of beginning right around the same time that Star Wars is beginning.
[00:15:38] Um, and you know, the first Star Wars release of any kind was making of Star Wars, uh, on VHS and Beta in 79. You get a behind the scenes, uh, or you get a reissue of that in 80, uh, with a new trailer on it, a behind the scenes pairing of that with a, a special about the Empire strikes back in 81. But we don't actually see any full versions of any of the films at all until 82, right when, when a new Hope makes its debut on multiple format.
[00:16:05] So that's like the VHS and so on era. That's a SD era, and yet we've leaped past that into DVD and then very quickly to blu-ray and blu-ray 3D and 4K and digital, digital 4k. And, and the filmmaking itself has been massively, primarily through especially industrial Latin Magic and, and Lucas film itself to the point where you go from how on earth are we going to make this with a model and control the camera with a computer to get the right motion to, Hey, we've got these LCD screens and a video game engine with a virtual reality based camera positioning system so we can have the volume to create these massive backgrounds.
[00:16:44] We don't even need green screen anymore kind of stuff. And it's all been within basically the lifetime of Star Wars and the lifetime of many of the, of the Star Wars fans. I, I am definitely of that. I'm of what you might call like the, the quasi VHS generation. The, the VHS was VHS was how I. Experienced it for years.
[00:17:01] Um, usually Empire Jedi and making a saga cuz that's what we were able to tape off of. I think it was hbo. Um, no one knew hope until I actually owned copies in 93. Um, but, you know, I was old enough technically for my mom to take me in 1980 as a baby. And, and please don't ever do that. Please don't take a boom baby to a movie theater.
[00:17:22] Um, taken a, I was apparently taken as a baby to see Empire and as a little kid to see, I guess, younger than my son is now about my son's age, um, to go see Jedi, but I don't really have many clear memories of it. Of either I wouldn't expect to have em of empire, but even of Jedi really. Um, so for me it is sort of a VHS generation thing.
[00:17:41] I think that's one of the fascinating things when you look at the way Home Video has developed and Star Wars in general. Um, they talk about how every generation kind of has the Star Wars they latch onto, that's theirs. So there's the original trilogy generation, there's the prepl generation that appreciates it more than the previous generation.
[00:17:56] Did the clone wars the same way. Uh, now the Disney fans era and so on. Um, I think to some degree you see that reflected in things like which home video version someone prefers to watch or what their favorite home media type is and things like that. And it's, it's easy. It's both fascinating, but also kind of easy to find yourself pigeonholed if you're not willing to take a broader view.
[00:18:21] Um, I know a lot of, but, but at the same time, that also is where a lot of fans find their focus. Cuz there's so much out there, it's hard to collect everything. So if you're going to collect something, a lot of times it's leaning towards, you know, I grew up with vhs, I'm gonna collect vhs. I'm, I grew up with dvd, I'm gonna collect DVD and maybe blu-ray.
[00:18:36] Um, but it's interesting, just the, I it's, it's weird. I mean, they talk about how technology advances so quickly now doubling every however many years as far as know, human knowledge and all that. Um, but just looking at it from a home video standpoint, just being able to see that, um, to me was very, was, was fascinating, you know, to, to imagine where we are now versus where we are in, we're in 77
[00:18:57] JOSH: completely. And you know, you're talking about, the way that that technology has advanced in the span of one lifetime. And it is interesting, because when talking about Star Wars on home video, most of that time we're talking about physical media. And we're living in a time where, while physical media still exists, certainly on the wane, um, what was the advent of streaming.
[00:19:21] And what's really fascinating is that the, product and the home video format are almost converging because now, especially, hastened during the pandemic, theatrical films are going straight to streaming services. Now, like home video and the product are kind of indistinguishable.
[00:19:38] It's all for streaming. I mean, Right now Star Wars exists as a direct to streaming thing that you experience in your home.
[00:19:47] NATHAN: Yep. And imagine, and imagine if you had told somebody that 20 years ago
[00:19:50] when the
[00:19:51] JOSH: wouldn't
[00:19:51] NATHAN: there, my direct to video, direct to video means crap. It means horrible production qualities. It means it's it's time cop two, not time cop one. Why are you telling me direct to video? And yet that that is what it is now?
[00:20:03] It's essentially, I mean, it's direct to streaming, but the production values, um, that they can put behind it are, are huge. And I think that, uh, a lot of that is the waning of home video, but also the fact that they, they're finally finding a, a way to monetize, successfully monetize streaming to that extent.
[00:20:20] Um, and broadband, uh, permeation, which isn't. Complete, but, but bigger certainly and, and growing over time. Um, but yeah, you're right. It's like the product itself. It's not go see it in theaters and wait to see it at home. It's seeing at home is the first way. And, and for, for a lot of franchise, like Tick Star Trek, Star Trek fans, like, yeah, duh, we've been doing that for years.
[00:20:43] It's called TV shows,
[00:20:45] But Star Wars, I mean, what were our TV shows? You know, it was, it was the E walk tele movies. It was droids and e walks. It was the holiday freaking special. Um, I mean, Star Wars hadn't really come into its own as the idea of a television series until animation, um, became more effective with, you know, like Clone Wars and so on.
[00:21:02] But live action even then, you know, not until Mandalorian. So it's,
[00:21:06] it's a different.
[00:21:07] JOSH: think it speak. No, absolutely. And I even think it speaks to something larger, a whole different phenomenon, that, is a little outside the subject that, I intended to talk about. But it also has to do with sort of the disappearing line between, you know, a theatrical feature film and a TV show.
[00:21:23] Uh, you know, it, it used to be, TV was sort of disposable and sort of ephemeral and sort of not as prestigious as feature films. And then somewhere along the line, the quality of TV was sort of increasing and increasing, to the point where, you know, now, separating the economics of it for a second, and the incentives, the quality of storytelling, that you see on quote unquote, you know, prestige tv.
[00:21:48] It's like the, the baseline is so high that, TV is sort of unrecognizable from even say the nineties. just in terms of the kinds of storytelling and the, the quality in terms of the, the performances and the complexity of the writing and, you know, it's really sort of a whole different animal, which is, I think part of why Star Wars can exist as a direct to video, a direct to tv, a.
[00:22:14] um, you know, week to week, uh, TV show. It's sort of the, dominant medium now,
[00:22:19] NATHAN: Yeah. Yeah. And a lot of that I think, you know, whether we're talking Babylon 5 or anything else around that era, just the idea of you can do epic serialized storytelling on tv. Right. Uh, but a lot of that I think for Star Wars does come down to. The, the economic aspect of just being able to get high production values on television.
[00:22:38] But I, I was just speaking about this, the other, I forget where it was, I can't remember if it was on, uh, uh, it may have been been doing a, a, a YouTube video or something. Um, but the idea that we're at the point now where it is relatively cost effective, relatively, I mean, still expensive, um, but less so than it was before, to get really good effects work.
[00:22:59] Um, whether it's backgrounds or characters or whatever it might be. So we're at the point where, you know, the spectacle we used to go to the movies for can be seen at home and we're so used to assuming it. Yeah. Hulks are gonna look like, Oh, look, nobody would've griped about she hawk 15 years ago. Right.
[00:23:15] Uh, and yet now it's like, like look at the CG on her face. I'm not sure that worked kind of stuff. Um, where now the effects and the spectacle, the, the, uh, uh, Brook Highness, the Michael Badness of your film is no longer going to. Cut it anymore, right? Everybody has to up their storytelling game. And when you've got two hours to tell a story versus you've got a season to tell a story, even if the season is like eight episodes or six episodes, um, there's a strength there.
[00:23:42] I think that, um, that's kind of been harnessed in a way that it really, uh, it hadn't before. Um, but again, I think a, a lot of that comes down to the streaming side because the, the budget can be there for these big event type shows. Like I, we just, my wife and I just, uh, uh, before recording this, we had just finished watching the season finale of Rings of Power.
[00:24:01] You wouldn't have been able to see something with those production values had it not been for Amazon basically being the mountain of gold, right? That smog is, is climbing a top of,
[00:24:10] um, um, but yeah, it's, it's definitely a different beast, but it's leading, no pun intended, was small, I guess, with Beast. Um, it's definitely leading to kind of a different thing now though, in that we are seeing a waning of the physical media, um, sort of as a response to this.
[00:24:26] Um, Uh, it was already probably going to happen. You see that in waves, kind of like it, like, um, you know, the, the US gave up on Beta before some other parts of the world. Like you would still see Beta Star Wars releases in Mexico in 95, but in the US pretty much done by the late eighties. Um, laserdisc, nothing here after 97 for Star Wars, but Phantom got one in Japan.
[00:24:52] Um, now blu-ray 3D is going that direction. blu-ray 3D for Disney based releases you won't find here for a while. You could find it in the uk. Even the UK has stopped now. Now you gotta really turn to Japan to import that stuff. And we're seeing that with the Marvel stuff, for instance, right now, um, we just, actually it's this, this year is the 40th anniversary of the original Star Wars film.
[00:25:12] A New Hope hitting home video for the very first time. And there's no harrah about it. There's nothing special about it. Um, we didn't in the US even get new releases of the films. In Europe. They did in parts of Europe, in the uk, in parts of Europe. In Australia they did. We didn't even get those releases over here at all.
[00:25:29] Um, it's like to Disney's mind to some degree, a lot of the physical release market for the US has sort of faded, whereas it's still vibrant enough in other regions to keep producing stuff like blue, a 3D discs and stuff like that. Um, but it comes in waves. It just feels like this wave is like, usually it's one wave ends because another one is beginning now.
[00:25:49] It just
[00:25:49] JOSH: Right, because another
[00:25:50] NATHAN: a wave, right? Like a wave is fading, but the format that's taking its place isn't a physical one, which opens up a whole new, new realm, both in terms of streaming, you know, and ownership. I mean, if you bought the original trilogy, uh, or well, the original trilogy and the Precal trilogy back in 2015 when his first released digitally, except for a new Hope which had its rights tied up in perpetuity with 20th Century Fox at the time.
[00:26:13] Uh, Disney didn't own it at the time. Um, every single one of the films, aside from a new Hope, got a new fanfare that removed 20th Century Fox. It was an awful fanfare that just played over the Lucas Film logo 4 20 15. But then Disney comes in, Disney purchases, etcetera, et cetera. And when the time comes to do new releases of the, uh, the Disney plus cuss, the Malink editions, um, that wind up, uh, being on the streaming service, they replaced the 2015 copies on all of the digital media services with the Disney plus cuts, unless you downloaded on a platform that let you download at all.
[00:26:52] Essentially the 2015 digital cuts of episodes 1, 2, 3, 5, and six no longer exist
[00:27:00] JOSH: Right.
[00:27:01] NATHAN: like you paid for them. And now they're like, Oh, but this is better. Okay, but you didn't ask. But that's where, of course, the, the, you know, the terms of service and stuff like that come in. You're not really owning this stuff.
[00:27:12] You're licensing this stuff to a degree or somewhere in there. It's say you own this file, you can use this file. You can't transfer to someone else, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Oh, and we reserve the right to replace, remove or alter at any time kind of stuff. Um, there's so much.
[00:27:26] JOSH: which happened, which happened very recently with, the Warner Brothers acquisition. Or merging of hb. I'm not exactly clear on who merged with who the point is, there were a bunch of shows that, removed from HBO Max and as last week, if you purchased a digital copy on Amazon or wherever, they deleted it from your digital library. Uh, because you don't actually own these things.
[00:27:50] As you said. you own a license that allows you to. Watch it for as long as they choose to allow you to do that. Um, something that was very interesting actually, that I didn't realize is, for the very first home video releases of Star Wars, the rental only releases that you were talking about in volume one, uh, they actually had some, some similar, legalese on the box.
[00:28:14] that, made it clear that, while you were able to, have this in your possession and watch it, that this video was still a property of 20th Century Fox
[00:28:22] NATHAN: Yes, as you were saying that, I'm like, I know where this is on my shelf. It's one of the things I actually know where it is. Yeah, so, in May of, 1982, they did the video rental library edition of, a new Hope on, uh, VHS and Beta, uh, in the US at least. It was, it in similar form in places like the uk, but basically they were rental only. They were meant to be things that you could watch, uh, you could rent and, and, and bring back.
[00:28:47] You weren't allowed to keep it. They actually had serial numbers on stickers, on the cassettes and on the cases, cuz they were supposed to be able to be tracked that way, Of course, in, in a pre-internet world of tracking these things. So most of 'em didn't ever get tracked. Um, but uh, this was before in June seeing the release on, uh, laserdisc and then in August on CED and then in actual retail purchasable, VHS and Beta in September of that year.
[00:29:11] Um, but all the ones. From May to make sure that everybody knew this was rental only the, the packaging says video rental library really, really big. Um, it has the same kind of warning on it, but even the cassette label itself in teeny tiny print, uh, I'm looking at the Beta one right now. Uh, says this video cassette and its container are the property of 20th Century Fox Video Incorporated.
[00:29:32] And the material recorded on is a property of 20 Search Fox Video Incorporated, or its licenses rental of this video cassette does not confer upon the user or any other person any rights to copy, sell, rent, barter, or publicly exhibit this video cassette or the material recorded on it for a fee or for free.
[00:29:48] And the user and every other person is specifically prohibited from engaging in any such. Any such copying, sale, rental, barter, or public exhibition without express written permission from the copyright owner violates federal copyright law and may result in criminal and or civil penalties. This video cassette or the video cassette, and this container must be returned to the dealer from whom they were rented at the end of the rental term, which is why you saw a lot of places doing what they called lifetime rentals.
[00:30:15] You know, pay us a buttload, like 80 bucks plus, which back then was quite a bit. Um, and you're renting it, but you don't ever have to bring it back.
[00:30:25] JOSH: So in other words, to translate that it's, it's, don't get it twisted. You don't actually own this video. We technically still own this video, so don't, so don't . But, um, uh, you know, which reminded me of the same issues that, we're dealing with now.
[00:30:37] Where you pay for, for a digital copy of something and you're not actually, paying to own a copy. You are paying for the right or the privilege to view this copy for as long as they're willing to let you.
[00:30:51] NATHAN: Right. And it's definitely, it is something that is, it's a, it's a digital media thing, not even necessarily just home video, for example. Um, and Star Wars fans dealt with this. There was a point, so, and this, and this was bizarre. It's probably the most egregious example that I noticed. Um, there was a point early in the run of, uh, one of the Darth Vader series from Marvel comic since Marvel got the license.
[00:31:13] During the, the reboot and everything, um, where basically an issue of Darth Vader came out that called Tarkin Mo before it should have, and basically said that a significant time jump had taken place in that series. We were quite a bit further along than the Series's last issue was. Um, but there's a character in the background who should have been dead because they died in a different story.
[00:31:35] And the solution was to, in future printings, fix those and change when the story supposedly took place to a much earlier time period. But if you owned a digital copy, the next time you logged in and synced it or if you ever like, like removed it and downloaded it again, it was replaced with the updated version.
[00:31:55] You no longer could get access to the original print version. And that was kind of like the presaging cause that happened a bit before what happened with the Disney Plus Cuts. Um, but I still don't know that the community really saw the Disney Plus thing. Disney plus, Plus replacing the ones that were purchased in 2015 coming.
[00:32:11] But I think it was because we expected, as much as they had hyped it, that until they were actually on 4k, you know, physical releases, that that was like Disney Plus was gonna use that as a selling point, as an exclusive thing. We've got the 4K updated versions, but they didn't, they, they within, you know, a matter of a week or two, they had pushed it out to all the digital platforms.
[00:32:31] JOSH: Right, yeah, and you know, like, you could imagine, you know, setting aside my personal feelings about the merits of, say, the Special Editions of the original trilogy, versus the original releases of the original trilogy. But, you know, given how George Lucas has spoken about the original cuts of those films from 19 77, 80 and 83 as being rough cuts that in his mind no longer exist, you could imagine that if he had made those changes like 20 years later, or if the home video ecosystem were, a little more advanced in 1997, that something could have happened where you would log in to your digital library to watch Star Wars and all of a sudden, , your original version is replaced with the Special Edition.
[00:33:14] So I mean it's that sort of thing that, we're talking about here. We're sort of, um, It is a bit, you know, concerning for me as someone who's, a fan of, the history of film and the history of the medium and having that, that record, which you, so and so adroitly, chart, in your work.
[00:33:33] so let me, let's go back for a second. let's, talk about the first great format war, which in my mind, up until, reading volume, one of A Saga on Home Video was a format war between VHS and Beta, but I hadn't really considered the role laser disc and CED played. Could you sort of explain the pros and cons of each of those formats, like what they were and what they did well, and what they did not so well.
[00:33:59] NATHAN: So the big two that most people remember or most people think about, uh, VHS and Beta, um, and even, even to this day, I still sometimes slip and say Beta Max. Beta Max was a Sony branded version of it, but Beta, the,
[00:34:11] JOSH: Uh, which I wanna point out, that was something that I had never known, that I learned from, , your volume. So thank you
[00:34:16] NATHAN: Well,
[00:34:17] JOSH: uh, for
[00:34:17] NATHAN: it helps, I learned it cuz I said it as Betamax enough times on the YouTube channel that I was corrected and that I made sure to make sure that was in the book. Um, I would say that the, the key thing with Beta and VHS was the fact that it was recordable media, right? The fact that if you had the players, uh, oftentimes, especially after the first generation of the players, you had the ability to record on them so you could capture stuff.
[00:34:38] And there were people who back then said, you know, the ability to record media at all is gonna be the death of theaters and the death of television. And, you know, just like the, the ability to download music was gonna be the death of all music and stuff like that.
[00:34:50] JOSH: I believe referring to, Jack Valenti making the comparison to the Boston Strangler,
[00:34:54] NATHAN: So yeah, something like that.
[00:34:56] That it was
[00:34:56] gonna be
[00:34:56] JOSH: that famous, Yeah. Right.
[00:34:58] NATHAN: Um, but I mean, those, those kind of had that advantage, but they also had the advantage that if you were watching a movie that's like two hours long, you just sat and watched. Um, because you didn't have to change cassettes or anything. You didn't have to change VHS cassettes unless you were watching like Titanic later and stuff like that.
[00:35:14] The, the long films, um, with laserdisc you had and, and, and, and the argument could be made that Beta was a better picture quality than vhs slightly. I don't know that my eyes, especially on current equipment, could see enough of the difference to be able to tell you either way. Um, but, but that is sort of like the, the, the, the way the common wisdom tends to go.
[00:35:35] Um, but they were bol surpassed from a visual standpoint by laserdisc, uh, which is an optical media, um, gigantic and freaking heavy. So that's another downside of that compared to VHS and Beta cuz they were very portable. Whereas laser disc really were not, uh, I think LP sized but heavier. But they, there were two different actual versions of it.
[00:35:56] Kinda like you'd have different speeds on a VHS or a Beta. You had a standard and extended play laser discs. And the extended play could fit basically an hour on each side of a disc. But you did have to flip it in the middle of the movie. And in the case of a new Hope, uh, actually a new Hope and Empire, they split it across two different discs.
[00:36:13] For Jedi to fit it on one disc meant removing certain frames within the, the process to time compress the film. So it would actually fit within two hours. Cause it was actually a little bit bigger than what the, the medium could hold. Um, so really nice picture quality. And you could even do things like, um, freeze frames and stuff like that when you had the, the standard play version as opposed to extended play.
[00:36:33] But standard play was even worse, half an hour per side. So you're looking at four sides just to watch a two hour movie and you're constant, you're either flipping it or you have a, a player that automatically flips, but the automatic flipping still takes time. , it still takes a bit to kinda, load isn't the right word, but basically to find the right spot on the disc and, and, and change the position at all.
[00:36:53] Um, CED just kind of doomed from the start. Um, C Eed, a capacitance electronic disc is basically a vinyl record essentially that uses a special kind of stylist to create a circuit, uh, I believe it is, that allows for holding movies on vinyl, essentially. But they were crazy fragile, like any vinyl disc tended to be.
[00:37:16] Um, so to watch it, you had these enormous caddies, which were basically, if you're of my generation, uh, or our generation, you probably think back to the b the, uh, three and a half inch, uh, floppy discs and what those looked like young kids. It's what the save icon was made to look like. Um, but just huge but enormous.
[00:37:36] Because the discs themselves were basically the size of a laser disc, except now they're housed inside these big plastic things. And you'd stick the big plastic thing into the player, remove it, which kept like a little, uh, frame and the, the disc itself to play, and they'd have to stick the plastic frame back in afterwards to remove the disc.
[00:37:51] Again. They were just very cumbersome. Um, vi visual wise, not as good as laser disc. Um, and also not recordable. There were a couple of variants of recordable laser disc, but they were pretty niche. Um, but not recordable at all for CED, which RCA was putting out. That only really lasted like five years, like I mentioned, like, I think 81 to 86.
[00:38:11] Um, so it's kinda like for video files, uh, Phi ls for video files, laser disc, particularly standard play laser disc is like the, the, the gold standard of that era. Uh, it's what the definitive collection laser disc set in 93 was on, which is the, the, so the genesis of the th x remastered issue was actually remastered for that.
[00:38:32] And then, Two years later became the ths remastered edition. Um, that's kind of the gold standard video quality wise. Um, but you couldn't record on it. It was cumbersome. The players were large. Um, so vhs, it was really more VHS and Beta battling out who, who would dominate the home. And it wound up being VHS that came out on top in that one.
[00:38:53] And you would see there were more op more chances to like, dive into that. They had, um, Vhd, which was another format that Japan used. It was a little bit smaller, but it was also vinyl. Um, that didn't last for very long, at least didn't catch on as much. Um, some markets, uh, had Video 2000, which is kind of like an, an answer to VHS and Beta, slightly, uh, wider, basically didn't really catch on.
[00:39:17] Um, even, uh, some regions and the United States just not for Star Wars took, um, uh, there was a, a format called Video 8, which basically eight millimeter, um, but not like eight millimeter film reels. Basically the size of almost like a audio cassette. Which kids are like, I don't know what that is either, um, that you would use for a cam quarter, but some companies actually put out prerecorded movies on it.
[00:39:39] In fact, some of
[00:39:39] JOSH: So, yeah,
[00:39:39] NATHAN: rarest Star Wars stuff, some of the rarest Star Wars stuff out there is Video 8 stuff from like the UK and, and Japan at this point. Um, but nothing ever really just beat the versatility of vhs despite it not being like the best looking of the formats. It was the one that had the most utility and spread far and wide.
[00:39:58] It's kinda like right now where 4K has utility outside of watching, say 3D movies like a 3D TV would so that the TVs with 3D capability essentially have died, whereas 4K is everywhere now. Um, is is that versatility utility factor that drives the market. And, you know, VHS managed to pull it off, uh, as we were all recording stuff at home and dubbing stuff and, and doing things that I'm sure that Valenti would've pulled his hair out about.
[00:40:27] JOSH: Yes, exactly. Um, so, the original trilogy, received, VHS releases each one of. films was released individually, not all at the same time, in the early 1980s, and it wasn't until 1987, I believe, that, , they were sold all together as a trilogy, or is that a little later?
[00:40:47] NATHAN: It depends on how you're looking at it. The, the first, what we think of as a boxed set, an actual box to hold each film together, um, would've been in 1990, but before that, in 88, they actually sold that. Current eras, iteration of the films, which was basically, um, it was the same theatrical version of Empire that we had seen and Jedi that we had seen.
[00:41:08] But it was an updated version of a new Hope that had been audio remastered in 85. Um, kind of together with like a little paper band around it that said Star Wars trilogy on it. Um, it was really the first sort of boxed set, if you wanna call it, It's not even a box, but a first set of those that were sold.
[00:41:24] Um, but that's actually not, I mean, these days you would expect it to come out right alongside Return to The Jedi, you know, the third one comes out, put out the box set with all of them. Um, there's only two years and you figure it took five years for, uh, for a new hope to hit home video, four years for Empire, three years for Jedi, two years after that, you get the first time they're actually being sold together, not just advertised together.
[00:41:45] So that's, you know, I guess it kind of felt like a quantum leap at the time. Maybe , but, but,
[00:41:50] definitely weird to us today for.
[00:41:52] JOSH: for sure. But like with the maturation of the media and the adoption of the format and sort of the relationship people have with films and the expectations of having a video of a film available and stuff. I mean, yeah. I mean, I guess that's sort of understandable when you think about it that way.
[00:42:07] I wanna go back a second. Um, you were talking about the 1985, remaster of a New Hope. You know, I remember when the Special Editions came out, some friends of mine, like there were certain lines that are in, the special edition versions that were not the same as what we remembered from our old VHS copies.
[00:42:26] And I remember a lot of people were sort of like, Yeah, and they changed all these lines and stuff, blah, blah, blah. But, but that's actually not quite, correct. it's that there were multiple mixes made in 1977 that had changes as they were creating new soundtracks for new formats. so the 1985 remaster of A New Hope, had some changes on the soundtrack that you mentioned from what was, previously available.
[00:42:54] If you could explain a little what those, um, those changes were and how it came about.
[00:42:59] NATHAN: Uh, so primarily, uh, it was some missing lines essentially. So it originally, and they actually fixed it in theaters, I wanna say, for the second run. Um, but for the first run in theaters, the original stereo soundtrack was missing some lines from C-3P0. Um, like they're, so, they're in, you know, they're in the Death Star little control room and they're, you know, they've, R2 is plugged in.
[00:43:20] They've got the Death Star, uh, schematics coming up so they can see how the tractor beam works. And3P0 talks about how, you know, you have power loss at one of the terminals who allow the ship to leave, et cetera, et cetera. He, everybody's kinda looking at the screen and he's explaining as they're looking at the screen.
[00:43:33] But of course, nobody's mouth is moving cuz it's C-3P0. Well, in the original theatrical stereo mix, the lines are, Everybody's kinda looking dumbly at the screen and you hope that, you know, whenever Obi-Wan leaves, he knows what's going on from just looking at the screen cuz nobody's explained it to the audience.
[00:43:48] Um, and that was fixed in theaters and for whatever reason. Uh, and, and we know the, the video version that we got in 82 had to have come from the newest theatrical video part, at least from 81 because it had the New Hope subtitle. There's never been a version of A New Hope released on home video, um, that was missing the subtitle until they sort of recreated one for DVD in 2006 and then reissued that in 2008 because the subtitle was in place as of 81. And so we know, Oh, that's the version with the subtitle in 82 on home video.
[00:44:39] And yet the soundtrack mastering whatever they used came from I guess that original stereo version. And it was missing 3P0's line, just like it had been in theaters. It was present on like the mono version in theaters, which is really cool. If we ever get this chance to see like anything that's, that has captured, like Puggo did a, a capture of the, uh, the, the mono cuz it's got a very different voice for Beru.
[00:45:00] It's not blasted Biggs where are you? It's blast Wedge, where are you? And there's just little changes. But 3P0's line was there and in 85, um, Ben Burtt came in and digitally remastered the audio, um, to be crisper. Just, it's a better general mix. And one thing that he did was fix the omission of the 3P0 line.
[00:45:22] Um, so that's actually where that, I think I mentioned the auction house earlier. , uh, sometimes you run into issues because there's a lot of issue. There's a lot of releases from 84 up to about 88, 89 that all look pretty much the same for A New Hope. But the 84 one that is identical to the previous ones, just in new packaging, has no digitally mastered in the little red triangle on the front or on the spine because it hadn't gone through that process in 85 yet all the subsequent ones starting in 86, that's when you've got that line added back in.
[00:45:51] But ironically, in 95 when they did the THX Remastered edition, they left it out again. They tweaked some things, but they left it out again, only to come back into Special Editions and then keep it after. It was like you had one job, you know, and you knew this was an issue before. You've now made the problem return.
[00:46:08] JOSH: there was also a line that was missing, , from my memory, watching it on VHS in the early nineties, I believe, before the 1995, thx, remastered, faces, release as I believe it's referred to
[00:46:20] sometimes. Um, my version, the version I grew up with as I learned from you was, I think the, um, 1992, VHS release with the titles on the box were all in yellow.
[00:46:31] It was sort of the original logos on the three boxes.
[00:46:34] NATHAN: Those are my first, Those are actually my first
[00:46:36] as well,
[00:46:37] The, the wide screen and full screen versions from
[00:46:39] 92 that I got in
[00:46:40] JOSH: for me.
[00:46:41] NATHAN: the
[00:46:41] full screen. The brick.
[00:46:42] JOSH: Yes. Right, right. Uh, the first time that I ever saw Star Wars in wide screen, I think was when it aired on the sci-fi Channel.
[00:46:49] And it was like a revelation to me cuz
[00:46:50] I had
[00:46:51] no idea that I had only been seeing. Yeah. Like, I was
[00:46:54] Wait a minute, what? Like there's a Gamorrean guard on that frame when Luke goes down the thing. Like, Oh my God. Like, there's so much stuff I've never seen. Um, so for the, THX remastered edition, I made damn sure that I got the wide screen version when that was released, which I believe, uh, came in like a flat,
[00:47:12] NATHAN: Mm-hmm. .Yeah, like there are two, two versions. There were kind of flat boxes. One was like a shoebox that opened from the top and one opened from the side. But it was basically like a big flat set where the, the cassettes were laying flat on their backs next to each other to take up as much space on your shelf as.
[00:47:26] JOSH: As much space as possible. Yeah. I remember that ad campaign very well the, one last time.
[00:47:33] NATHAN: Mm-hmm.
[00:47:34] JOSH: and, I remember the THX Faces edition came out in August, 1995, I wanna say. but the wide screen was not released until about, November, December for the holidays.
[00:47:45] because I remember that, uh, there was a Sun Coast video in my local mall, and I kept going in there and asking if they had the wide screen, they kept telling me, No, no, no, we'll let you know when it's in. , I'm sure I was driving them crazy.
[00:47:55] But, um, one thing I'm curious about, because obviously the big selling feature, aside from it, being the last time that the original trilogy would, be made available in that form. And I don't think we quite understood the implications of what that actually meant at the time. But, the big selling feature was the enhanced sound and picture quality.
[00:48:14] Even though the capability of the format VHS, it was still VHS. Um, what, why was the sound and the picture superior to the previous VHS release?
[00:48:27] NATHAN: So, yeah, I mean, the big thing, and you're right, one, the one selling point was it would be the original one last time, right? One last time. Uh, although what's interesting about that was that they, they marketed as it was your last chance to get A New Hope. You know, the original Star Wars one last time, cuz remember they, they had not yet announced
[00:48:46] that Empire and Jedi were getting Special Editions too.
[00:48:49] They just had said so for, for A New Hope. So it was kind of like, wait, you know, maybe if, maybe we would've made a different decision if we knew there were all three. Um, but, but yeah, it was, So the idea was that THX was, it's, it's basically like a certification standard. It's going, it's going to meet this standard if you're going to produce this at all, or if you're going to show it in our theaters at all, it must meet this certain standard.
[00:49:14] Um, so they went in and they, they did a lot of cleanup, uh, on, on the film, uh, with a remastering process to just kind of clean up the sound, clean up the video. So it's about as good as it could have looked.
[00:49:26] JOSH: So using, digital tools?
[00:49:28] NATHAN: Uh, I would have to go back and look. I,
[00:49:30] JOSH: or was it just like a better transfer
[00:49:32] NATHAN: I know it was a better trend. I think there was some digital cleanup as well, or at least digital mastering, digital, um, uh, putting, putting the elements together, um, hence some of the, the weird sound differences and stuff like that. Like did, like, cuz they, they had, they, I mean Lucas film had sort of pioneered Edit Droid and Sound Droid, the digital editing, non-linear stuff.
[00:49:51] Uh, and they really kinda had a chance to showcase it there. But a lot of it came down to just, We're going. And it was kind of a weird story that in 93 it's, we're going to remaster this for a better picture quality, a better sound quality, even though you may not be able to notice it on a home system unless you had some really high end stuff.
[00:50:08] Um, but it was put out on laserdisc, uh, for the definitive collection. And then there was sort of an experiment over in the UK saying, Well, these films keep being on these top lists of sellers, not at the very top, these top lists of sellers. And it's, they, they've been out for years and years and years.
[00:50:26] Why not put a marketing campaign behind this? And let's push them out again. And they did that in 94 in the uk, um, for wide screen and full screen versions that were basically the thx remastered masters, um, without the, the big, uh, without the certification officially behind it. Um, uh, and also without the big marketing push that we would see globally.
[00:50:48] And then once that was successful in 94 in the UK in 95, it was like a global push for the same kind of thing. Um, but it was really sort of something that was created for laserdisc. Uh, but there was sort of the rec, the, the experiment in the UK of let's do something on other media, particularly vhs. And then there, then when that was successful, uh, there was a global push for kind of a similar thing.
[00:51:11] Um, but it was really, it was something more, most noticeable at the, I'd say at the time, most notable through laser disc. It, it did look better on VHS two, a degree did sound better, less his, but. Um, it's one of those things that these days it's hard to appreciate because you almost have to have that era's tech to watch it on.
[00:51:32] Um, to really get that, that, that feeling out of it. It definitely was not the kind of leap that we would see later. But of course, those leaps came with their own baggage with the, you know, subsequent changes. But it's when people ask, you know, what's, you know, what's the best way to watch the original?
[00:51:48] Usually they mean just pre-Special Edition. That's probably it. It's probably the THX Remastered edition, unless you can find yourself a techni disc special wide screen edition of a New Hope out there, which are kind of like unicorns.
[00:52:00] JOSH: What is that? What is a technique?
[00:52:01] NATHAN: yeah, so, so the first time they did releases in the US of, uh, wide screen versions at all was based on some Japanese laser disc that had come out earlier that were wide screen for the first time.
[00:52:13] Um, the special collection, they called them, so over here was called the special wide screen edition, But what they had essentially done was they based those. on the Japanese masters that had had the position of the picture moved a little bit to make room for subtitles to be burned in and stuff like that.
[00:52:27] Cause subtitles wasn't something you could turn on. It had to be built into the image. Um, and when, when first released, uh, A New Hope got released actually had an issue where basically the matting on it, the black matting on it, keeps squeezing the picture vertically as the film goes along. So there's a significant difference in the height of the, of the image, as the film goes along.
[00:52:50] Um, Technidisc comes in we're talking About like 93, 94 ish. and is the one then mastering them, and they use a different master and it's gorgeous. It's, it's really nice looking. That aspect ratio issue is gone. The problem is they were, they were pretty and fairly low numbers. And it's
[00:53:08] super hard to find.
[00:53:10] JOSH: So this is, so the format is still
[00:53:13] NATHAN: It's still laser dis. Yeah, this is a laser dis release in the us. You didn't see a wide screen VHS release until 93. which was that the special letter box collect edition, which is actually the first one that I bought alongside the 1992 Brick, uh, in 93. And, I was doing something similar to what you were doing at Suncoast, except that was doing it by phone to the Lucasfilm Company Store.
[00:53:31] Because I had, when their catalogs from the, uh, one of the video games, I would call them almost every day. When is it shipping? When is it shipping? When, And I had ordered those alongside Sega CD's version of Rebel Assault that was heavily delayed. So they heard from me like a couple times a week and they were like, Yes, we know, we know.
[00:53:47] My mom's sitting there regretting that she let me order it with my allowance by going through her credit card. She's like, I, I know you can call 'em again if you want. It's an 800 number kind thing. Um, but yeah, so you, you had those in 90, um, in 92. And, and a lot of times those are confused with, it's kind of like, you know, with, with the release, uh, in September of 82, um, of VHS and Beta thinking, Well, those were the, the first, Well even for the films, you know, there were, they hit CED and laserdisc first.
[00:54:13] It was the rental version that preceded those. Same kind of thing. Here. There were laser disc versions of wide screen, , a few years before we saw wide screen versions on VHS. It's just that the VHS set, it sort of well remembered because it had that holographic cover and all that kind of stuff. It, it got the attention.
[00:54:27] Uh, and then it just became commonplace to have wide screens starting with those, uh, those 95 ones or I guess 94 in the UK really kind of picked that one up.
[00:54:34] JOSH: So after the 95 THX remastered release on vhs, um, you sort of had the VHS release of the Special Editions, right? Which I guess was, 97, 98, right. Somewhere
[00:54:48] NATHAN: Yeah. Uh, 97, it was shortly after the theatrical premiere. So they premiered fairly early in the year in theaters, so they were able to actually come out the same year.
[00:54:55] And it was, and they actually got over here at least, um, VHS and laser disc. It was the last hurrah for laser disc here for Star Wars.
[00:55:03] JOSH: yeah, cuz I remember that in that era, laser disc was still what the serious videophiles had. Of course. Um, at, my age, I was still at the mercy of whatever, um, you know, player my parents had in the house. We did not have a laserdisc player. They saw no need for a laserdisc player. And in retrospect, I, I agree, I agree with them, especially knowing that DVD was, about to become the dominant format.
[00:55:27] the first DVDs, I think, are released in 19 97, 98. But Star
[00:55:33] NATHAN: You said, uh, Oh, the first DVDs. Yeah. On the market?
[00:55:36] JOSH: Yeah,
[00:55:36] NATHAN: yeah. Like late
[00:55:37] JOSH: on the market? yeah, I think like late 97 and 1998, DVD becomes the dominant format very quickly. But Star Wars, The original Star Wars films aren't released on DVD until, uh, 2004, somewhere, thereabouts. Right. Um, do you have any insight why it took so long for Star Wars to be released on dvd? Because I remember a website, um, they had a list of the, most wanted titles on DVD and Star Wars was always at the top. And for years and years, it was always like the holy Grail of dvd. Why isn't Star Wars on dvd? Do you have any idea why they waited so long?
[00:56:14] NATHAN: , I mean, I think part of it was just sort of testing the waters to some degree with, um, with Phantom Menace. Uh, and you could actually see a little bit of the testing of the waters in, in between 2001, 2002. Because with 2001, you only get a wide screen release of Phantom Menace. Uh, it's not until 2002 when they realize, Oh, we're gonna do wide screen and full screen.
[00:56:33] you know, to, to quote Marty McFly, You know, some of you guys aren't ready for that yet, but your kids are gonna love it. Um, with wide screen. Uh, okay, so some of you don't want wide screen, here's full screen here, Have less picture. Yeah, let's do that. Um, and they, they sort of corrected their quote unquote oversight and released a full screen version of p alongside, um, Attack of the Clones in 02 as far as DVD went.
[00:56:53] Um, so they're kind of testing the ground to that degree, but I think a lot of it came down to they're heavily at work on prequel stuff and they didn't, They, as we've eventually saw it, this was not just going to be the special additions getting a re-release. They were going to go back and do sort of a, a repo of certain things, swap out certain things, uh, they actually did.
[00:57:13] Uh, and this is something that a lot of times gets, gets overlooked, um, what we think of as the blu-ray resolution. The high definition was actually a scan done for the DVDs. They were just put on the DVDs that were lower resolution, but the scan was done for those, um, which is why some of the color issues, um, and I, I'm not super conversed in, in color correction, but some of the color issues on DVD carried over to the blu-ray and weren't actually fixed until the 4K releases the next time.
[00:57:44] They did a massive, um, like remastering process on them, uh, and, and re compositing and everything. Um, but it was just the fact that, you know, they, they had to go back and they were doing a whole new scan and then tweaking all this stuff. I think it was, to some degree it was a matter of time, um, in that regard.
[00:58:01] But again, at the same time, Star Wars to some degree has been late to the party, you know, a few times. Again, the original films not hitting blu-ray until three years after Clone Wars had, I mean, to have the saga's debut debut on blu-ray be the Clone Wars film, I mean, not knocking the Clone Wars film too much. was the Club Wars film. Um,
[00:58:24] JOSH: I think even among Clone Wars fans, I think that there's some, some general agreement that, that that film wasn't, its its strongest outing.
[00:58:31] NATHAN: Yeah. That, that very much When when you got a character, you're gonna call Stinky. No, Just let it go. Um, but, and it's kinda the same thing. It took a while for 4k. It took until Last Jedi for 4k.
[00:58:42] JOSH: that's true. Right, right. No, you're right about that. Before I move on from, the 2004 DVD release, I just have a couple questions there So, one of the things that that release is famous for is that they, um, they kind of made a compromise and sort of acquiesced to fan demand to have a version of the original non-special edition trilogy as sort of a, bonus feature on that set.
[00:59:06] But they're not wide screen anamorphic, so in other words, the black bars at the top and the bottom of the screen, , are baked into the picture. So even if you play it on a wide screen tv, it's still, gonna show that and it's gonna be small, much, to the chagrin of a lot of fans. Uh, so two things about that. number one, those were the 1993 remasters for the laser disc release. Is that correct? Is that where they
[00:59:30] NATHAN: Yeah. Yeah. So the, the bonus discs from 2006 that were reissued in 2008 were basically just a scan or just from the masters of the Definitive collection in 93, except on the opening of A New Hope since it was gonna have the subtitle if they did it that way. They sort of chopped that opening off and had a pretty decent film version that they scanned from before.
[00:59:50] There was a subtitle and sort of slapped it on there. So in essence, it was kind of a new cut entirely.
[00:59:54] JOSH: yeah. So that's what I wanted to ask you about, because you've mentioned it earlier. So you said that they recreated the original crawl without the subtitle Episode specifically for that.
[01:00:08] NATHAN: Yeah. Well, oh, it wasn't that they recreated it per se. They had a, an old, they had a film copy that was in decent condition and just essentially scanned that piece and splice them
[01:00:16] JOSH: Right.
[01:00:16] NATHAN: essentially. But yeah, just for that because, because they were advertising as it's the original theatrical version.
[01:00:22] And, and, and the way they advertised it, depending on where you looked, it was the, it recreates the theatrical experience and all, there's all different ways of, of phrasing it that made it sound like what we were supposed to be getting was what was originally in theaters. It was close, but it wasn't. that would've been, I guess the dead giveaway would've been if the opening of a New Hope had the subtitle and they really wanted to, It was like they wanted to give you the original theatrical experience, but they wanted to do it in the least, uh, expensive.
[01:00:50] The, the, the path of least resistant sort of way to do it. Right.
[01:00:55] JOSH: though because, because it seems to me that if they wanted to do the path of least resistance, they wouldn't have bothered to restore the original, original crawl without the subtitle.
[01:01:04] NATHAN: I, I feel like that's, it's, I think that was a, I would love to say that that was them lovingly wanting to recreate it cuz they really wanted to give us what they've been saying they were going to give us, I feel like it was more of a, this is the trip wire that could cause it to explode. So let's avoid this trap and then everything else is fine to, to some degree.
[01:01:24] But I, I mean really it, it takes a lot of, I mean, it, you have to be kind of like nerd, right? Like me,
[01:01:31] um, to be sitting back saying, Well, wait a second. No, this
[01:01:33] is, Yeah, exactly. This is that, This is the third version. This, this is the third home video version of A New Hope. And this is the second home video version of Empire and Jedi.
[01:01:44] Because a New Hope got that remastering in 85 and then they all got the remastering, uh, for 93. put out with that little change to the beginning of a, of A New Hope. But, but to, to, you'd have to really be able to say like, I know this was 90, I know this is from this mind, like you were saying before, Like, here's this line that changed.
[01:02:02] I know that's the thing that changed. So I know this is not that
[01:02:06] kind of stuff, and I
[01:02:07] know that they cared enough.
[01:02:09] JOSH: No, no, but that's what's fascinating, they obviously didn't really care, because otherwise they would've, released it at anamorphic wide screen, which is I think the real trip wire
[01:02:18] NATHAN: and isn't and, and, isn't there. What? And, and correct me if I'm wrong, I, I don't remember. But, but a long time I remember hearing that part of, let's put it out as a bonus and not do a lot of work on it was also a, if you put out the original version as opposed to anything from 97 and onward, A cut goes to, to Lucas's ex-wife. There was some talk of that. I don't know that there was ever any actual substance to that or not.
[01:02:44] JOSH: No, yeah, that's something that, that, um, I think, pops up a lot as sort of hearsay.
[01:02:48] NATHAN: urban legendary type stuff. Yeah.
[01:02:50] JOSH: Yeah. I mean, I mean, I don't actually know that to be true, but, I think, that just speaks to, you know, I think for a lot of fans, it's just very inexplicable and very frustrating why those versions aren't available.
[01:03:03] And I think it's, it's just sort of reaching for any kind of rationale as to why. Beyond, you know, what I just think is the simple fact that, these are George Lucas's movies and he genuinely would rather they not be viewed in that, in that, uh,
[01:03:18] NATHAN: Yep. And that's, and that's, that's, why I worry, I would hope if there's any. and, and, you know, home video collections are built on hope and all that. Um, if there's any time when we would see
[01:03:31] the Yeah, I mean when the, if there, if there's any time I, I, I think I, I think I just say that one in the, in the afterward to volume three, because I'm trying to give some measure of hope to those who are seeing things dwindle.
[01:03:43] Um, and so the fact that the community is still there, um, but it seems like, if there's any point at which we would see the originals in their original form, it would be the 50th anniversary of A New Hope because they passed, you know, 45 nothing. 40 nothing. They're not really good at taking advantage of anniversaries.
[01:04:03] I'm finding with, with home video releases most of the time. Um, there's like a 10th anniversary like advertising campaign. There was of course a 20th anniversary with the Special Editions, but for the most part anniversary just haven't been that something they've cared about. But it kind of falls back on that whole, know, because of what Lucas with the films apparently. and the fact that when you're talking about Lucasfilm, not necessarily with Disney, but Lucasfilm specifically, a lot of the leadership is still very personally loyal and close to Lucas. That if there was a time for that to happen, I almost feel like Lucas would have to be entirely outta the picture.
[01:04:40] The people who were so, uh, locked into his vision would have to be outta the picture. But if you wait that long, who knows where physical media will even be if it's even a thing anymore, you know? So there's a part of me that's, that feels like the only way we're gonna get them is these fan recreations out there, de specialized issues and things like that, which I don't really follow a ton because my focus is, it tends to be on the, the stuff that is released.
[01:05:03] Um, But yeah, it's just, it's one of those almost inexplicable things. That's actually why a lot of collectors, you know, they, they fight tooth and nail to make sure they have a working VCR still to play VHS. . Uh, it's, it's why some like me years after laser disc is defunct finally by their first laser disc players.
[01:05:19] Like, I bought my first laser disc player probably like less than five years ago, to, to be able to watch those because the further and further it goes along the, the ni just don't get me wrong, the 4K versions are gorgeous and they sound fantastic, but it's not the original version. So as time goes on and we don't see those, there is more of a clinging back to that.
[01:05:40] And it's, and it's also in the, in the cusp of, you know, the, the speculation craze with VHS right now. That's kind of driving back towards sort of an earlier media But yeah,
[01:05:49] JOSH: really? Is that happening? There's like a, there's like a, a
[01:05:52] NATHAN: it's so kind. So VHS has become the new speculative market basically. Um, at, at one time it was comics like in the nineties.
[01:06:02] Now it's VHS. Um, and you
[01:06:05] JOSH: back to my, I should get on the phone and call, my parents and, make sure they haven't
[01:06:09] NATHAN: yeah, dig, dig it, dig it all back out. There's a pretty big specul speculative market. Some of it was originally gamed a little bit, we think, by some of the grading companies, but there are now companies that grade VHS the way and Beta the way they would grade comics or cards. Unfortunately, most of the time these grading companies have no idea what the hell they're looking at.
[01:06:27] For example, on the same, like within a week of seeing an auction company and grading company trying to advertise a 1986 or up through 89 copy of A New Hope as if it was 84. They also were, were touting this, this nice sealed cuz they were originally sealed inside the sealed package, um, 1992 wide screen version of Return of the Jedi Pristine Condition.
[01:06:51] Look at this. It's less than a quarter of the product because it wasn't sold separately. That's part of the big box set with the hologram on the front. Why are you, you claiming this is a full product? so there, there's kind of an issue with what's happening essentially is there's a speculative kind of push where prices in some cases go through the roof because people think this is the next big thing they're gonna be able to sell later and make money on some of it being manipulated early.
[01:07:14] Um, but now it's kind of, it's, it's almost like become a self perpetuating thing. Like you had some companies that were sort of like, like selling to their friends who didn't actually buy it. So there was an actual auction that said on eBay, this sold for a thousand dollars.
[01:07:27] JOSH: I
[01:07:27] NATHAN: And then, you know, people would say, Oh, well let's sold for a thousand.
[01:07:30] eBays suggesting this. I'm gonna put this. And as you see those numbers rise. Uh, it sort of builds this speculative environment. And I'm, I'm an Econ teacher. I am all for the idea. You know, if there's someone who is willing to only sell for that amount and there is someone who's willing to buy for that amount, have at it, that's supply and demand.
[01:07:45] And that is your little corner of the graph. But it, it, if it works for you, that's fine. Uh, but unfortunately it is catching a lot of smaller collectors kind of in the crunch right now where they're looking for something that, you know, five years ago when prices weren't really driven by speculation, it was more just what the market would bear in terms of people actually just buying and selling these things.
[01:08:06] Second hand might cost like 50 to a hundred bucks. Or now going, or maybe not going for certainly being asked to pay two grand for something that used to be much small. Um, so that's kind of been the crunch now. But I think between the surge of interest in earlier versions of the Star Wars films, cuz they don't seem to be coming and that happening right now.
[01:08:25] Star Wars in particular is in kind of ahead of the curve, unfortunately, being crushed in between those two forces to be some of the, the ones that are spiking the highest on the, speculative and and auction type market right now. Um, but yeah, VHS is becoming a thing and laserdisc not as much, but there are dedicated like laser disc collecting communities, um, that you'll find online and places like that.
[01:08:43] But, but VHS is kind of the new speculate thing. Beta to a smaller degree. And, and I figure, you know, give it 10 years, 15 years and all of a sudden it'll be DVD. And I just, it just a continuous role of this is nostalgic, you know, like, like when my students refer to something happened in 1999, like the Phantom Menace came out in theaters in the late 1900s.
[01:09:01] Oh God.
[01:09:02] You know.
[01:09:03] Oh God. I mean it, That's true. But oh God. , you know,
[01:09:06] JOSH: I mean, that's strictly true, but I'm not
[01:09:09] NATHAN: you understand for me 20 years ago is 1980. What are you talking about?
[01:09:13] JOSH: yeah. Right. Um, two other things I just wanna ask you real quick so Episode III Revenge of the Sith.
[01:09:21] Was that the only Star Wars film to not receive a US VHS release?
[01:09:26] NATHAN: Uh, Yeah. Of the long, of the live action films. Yeah. Uh, at least of, of Lucas's films. Although for, Attack of the Clones, there wasn't a wide screen version, but there was a full
[01:09:35] screen. But yeah. Revenge of the Sith over here didn't get one. Uh, in other markets it did. I've got some, like Japan, the uk, Finland, um,
[01:09:43] JOSH: So, but the box art isn't the same, right?
[01:09:45] NATHAN: The box art is designed to be similar to the other releases.
[01:09:50] JOSH: Yeah. But because, um, I remember, when Episode I was released on home video, was it simultaneously released on DVD and VHS?
[01:09:58] NATHAN: So Phantom Meance got released uh, on VHS in 2000 and on laser disc in Japan in 2000. Didn't hit DVD wide screen until 2001. Didn't hit DVD full screen until 2002, so there was still a little bit of a lag.
[01:10:13] JOSH: Because I remember, , putting my VHS copy up on the shelf next to, my original tri. Yes, exactly. Exactly. Yes. Uh, right. Oh, okay. Uh, so that's a UK uh, uh, release.
[01:10:27] NATHAN: I figured you'd edit this out, but yeah, I just wanna show you. Yeah, so there's.
[01:10:30] And if you look actually in the book, there's a side by side shot of most of the ones that I've got. I've gotten one from France since then, but all the, the few that I have of VHS revenge of the set are actually, they're laying on a side by side picture.
[01:10:43] JOSH: Well as a collector. so by 2005, 2006, I had abandoned vhs, long ago for, DVD as my home video format of, choice. but as a collector, my heart did go out to person who was collecting the entire saga on VHS and was never able to complete it, with that Episode III spine on their shelf.
[01:11:02] It pains me, even though I wasn't directly affected, cuz I was, happy with my DVDs, but the idea that, you only could have one, two, 4, 5, 6 is
[01:11:12] sort of infuriating to me the
[01:11:13] thought of it.
[01:11:14] NATHAN: You know, you would've loved to see at least a limited release of a VHS of Revenge of the Sith in the US just to finish out those sets. You could have at least made some money, maybe on boxed sets. I mean, how, for the pre the, for the prequels, they did a box set of episodes one and two in 2002.
[01:11:29] That's not a whole trilogy, but they still did a box set on DVD and vhs and yet, although it's full screen DVDs, so I'm not sure if that should count because that's, um, but yeah, there's just some weird decisions that, that get made. But I think there, there decisions that mostly are driven by the market more so than being driven by anything with a mind towards what's out there.
[01:11:50] It, it's funny, as much as Lucas film is concerned with legacy, the home video arms usually aren't, I guess is what I, I would say, unless it is, we're gonna put out some kind of big box set to commemorate something like the 20th century Fox 75th anniversary set that has a new hope in it. Um, or the giant, uh, afi, hundred years, a hundred movies, um, uh, VHS set from Blockbuster that I have just freaking ignore, like a hundred pounds of VHS tapes.
[01:12:18] they just, they just don't really put that kind of thought into it a lot of time, which is unfortunate.
[01:12:22] JOSH: Which is unfortunate and is also interesting because if you're talking about legacy home video is the way these films are going to live on
[01:12:31] for most people.
[01:12:32] NATHAN: Yeah.
[01:12:33] JOSH: Um, so that's an interesting sort of a contradiction there. uh, two questions. One self-serving and one, to sort of. tie everything up together.
[01:12:41] Um, so I, very similar to you, in 2001, I walked into a used record store and I saw the original trilogy, definitive laser disc collection, sort of in like the black, , sleeve, like with like the, um,
[01:12:52] NATHAN: little flap that opens you
[01:12:54] JOSH: uh, yeah, the flap that opens. Um, and I, like you, I did not have a laser disc player in 2001.
[01:12:59] I never had a laser disc player, but I bought it because it was only like 20 bucks. It was like a fire sale on, on, on laser disc cuz in 2001 who
[01:13:06] wanted, who wanted a laser disc of anything. so I have it, it's, proudly displayed on my shelf, but I read somewhere that that release specifically, suffers from what is called disc rot or laser rot or something like I guess they're what, like almost 30 years old.
[01:13:22] They're not, uh, playable.
[01:13:24] Is that correct?
[01:13:25] NATHAN: it's gonna depend on the, on the disc itself, like the condition it's been in. But yeah, you can see what, you can see, like visible patches, um, where the material inside the disc itself is, is starting to, to get bad. Uh, kinda like seeing mold on VHS cassettes these days. Now the, these older media don't really hold up.
[01:13:42] They weren't, they weren't designed, you know, to hold up for decades. You know, they were designed for like that immediate use. Um, And it's got the same thing with like VHS, where you play it so much that even if it is a, in pristine condition, otherwise it slowly wears over time. Um, but yeah, and you just, you just gotta keep an eye out for 'em.
[01:13:58] I know that there's, some fans don't really worry too much about it when they're collecting because they're not gonna watch them, they're just gonna display them. Um, some are concerned about it, um, from a value standpoint, but not as much with laser just right now. , it just kind of varies. You can find them.
[01:14:12] I don't think mine at this point have I, I've been lucky. Most of the stuff that I've run into has not run into much in the way of laser rot, but it just really depends on, you know, who manufactured it when, um, the conditions it's been
[01:14:23] held in and stuff like that. Yeah.
[01:14:26] Yeah. And it's, but, but it's one of those things that most these days, because of not having laser disc players don't pay as much attention to kinda like the, like VHS with the mold sometimes, although it's a little more visible on the cassette, um, they know, well, I'm not gonna ever play it so,
[01:14:41] JOSH: you just reminded me. Um, something that drove me crazy at the time. My THX remastered wide screen set. The tapes themselves, the third one, Return of the Jedi, was from a different manufacturer. So the case on the outside was like, I don't know, it was like vertical slats.
[01:15:00] whereas for Empire and A New Hope, the pattern on the outside of like the plastic cover was, something entirely different. And that, used to drive me absolutely crazy because the three of them didn't match. And I was wondering how that could have happened. I guess like they, they switched either manufacturers or the manufacturer had a certain amount of this kind and a certain amount of that kind.
[01:15:18] And somewhere in, the changeover, like my specific set got two of one and one of the other
[01:15:24] NATHAN: probably it's, I mean, it, it depends on, you know, where it's being manufactured, who's assembling it, how it's being assembled. Um, I will say you run into a lot of issues, for instance, early on where you'll see labels carry over from one sort of generation of, of VHS cassette into the packaging of the next.
[01:15:39] Even though most of that production runs gonna have a different label in it, like the transition from the, uh, sort of grayish black with red letters into the, uh, white background with black letters type labels. You start to see that, um, you see that with CED especially cuz CED is exactly the kind of thing you were talking about of it.
[01:15:57] It had to do with the manufacturing process with CED, they eventually reach a point where, They, uh, so, um, you've got blue typically for stereo release as far as the caddy's little disc looking thing that goes around the, the actual disc, uh, the floppy disc looking thing, save icon looking thing, uh, that goes around the actual disc.
[01:16:16] Um, typically it was blue for stereo, white for mono. By the time you get to one of the reissues of, uh, a new hope, uh, it's out there with a blue caddy. But the actual thing that you can see in a sort of a bar along the top that actually holds the disc when you stick it into the player is white. And then there are two different versions, uh, that you could find of Jedi, which is a two disk set, nice and bulky, nice and freaking heavy, um, where there's a blue version and a white version.
[01:16:42] Cuz during the process it was just like, Oh, we don't have any other blue caddies for this stereo. Just stick them in a, a white one. The format's dying anyway, kind of thing, you know, like, cuz it was, that was the year in which the format was gonna die. Um, but yeah, you see, you see oddball manufacturing, stuff like that.
[01:16:59] At times, I, it's sort of the equivalent to where you see issues like, um, you know, like with, with action figures or there's an error or something where they've, they've uh, put the wrong blaster in with something or whatever. Um, and then what happens after that on the secondary market depends on whether someone looks at that and says that's a valuable thing.
[01:17:14] Or they, they say that's just a mistake, right? Is it a variant, is it an error variant or is it just an error? You know, that's again in the eye of the beholder a thing I guess for
[01:17:25] JOSH: Indeed, indeed. Do you have a release that's sort of a white whale that you're trying to track down, that you have been, been able to get your hands on yet?
[01:17:33] NATHAN: Um, yeah, I would say that. Um, so two things. I guess one non-retail, which would just be, it'd be great to someday get my hands on a screener copy of, uh, Force Awaken. Because those were not very widely distributed. I've seen the scr, a bunch of Disney screeners of that era and what they look like for like the Marvel stuff, uh, haven't run across one yet.
[01:17:54] For a, for a Force Awakens, that'd be kind of a cool thing to find. Um, but I would say that probably the thing that that frustrates me now is, uh, actually going back to the beginning, going back to the Super 8 reels. Um, back in the day there was a, there were two larger case versions of a new Hope reels, one of which had the, the poster art as the cover.
[01:18:19] That particular one, which was offered there, there were reels offered in that version in pan and scans. What we think of now is full screen four by three or well, Super 8, but, but that we think of it as full screen in relation to that, that era. Um, but there was a wide screen version that essentially required a special scope, um, lens to view properly.
[01:18:42] And I know it was released by Ken Films in the US and there were releases in other places. That is definitely one of my white whales. I've yet to ever come across one of those. I would also say, um, oh gosh, my, uh, finding the other Video 8 releases or other Video 2000 releases that I don't have out of the uk.
[01:19:04] Um, cause, you know, Video 8, incredibly rare. In general. I was lucky, uh, I was lucky enough, uh, to get my hands on the Japanese ones, the three Japanese ones, and one from the uk. Actually, oddly enough, I, I had watched a video by a tech mom on YouTube. Video 8 and what the format even was. And they used a copy of Return to The Jedi as one of their example products.
[01:19:27] And eventually I reached out to the guy and wound up buying his from him.
[01:19:31] Uh, so it's the one that's in the video. Um, it's the only one I've managed to ever come across from the UK on Video 8 and v V 2000 is, uh, almost as rare, uh, VCC slash video, 2000 slash v 2000, all names for the same thing. so yeah, stuff like that tends to stand out.
[01:19:46] Um, these days I'm tending to pick up kind of oddball stuff, um, but it's not white whale type stuff at this point. Most of the stuff that I was like, I, I don't think I would ever get my hands on this over the years of hunting and hunting and hunting, finally getting my hands on them. Now it's kinda like, whew.
[01:20:02] Because, because one of the big things for the book was not only did I want the second edition to be super comprehensive with all kinds of different variants and a little bit more narrative than the first edition was. By comparison, the first edition was about 300 pages, about 300 gray scale pictures.
[01:20:14] The. The second edition across the three volumes is like a thousand pages and about 1500 color pictures. One of the things was, I want complete control over this. So every picture has to be something I took and it has to be of an item from my collection. So it was, just a massive hunt for several years.
[01:20:31] So that most of what I was really hunting for I've been able to, to find, but there's still those few things that linger just oddball little variant items. ,But thankfully since the core of my collection is U.S. , and I have pretty much all the US stuff at this point. I can sit back and if it's from another region, just say, That'd be nice if I could have it. But I don't
[01:20:54] need it. You know, like to fight it, you have to fight it, but, but technically it's not a need technically, so,
[01:21:03] JOSH: So in closing. , you know, it's very common for, for people to collect, say comics or collect action figures. What is it about home video releases? That that is your, particular thing. What, what is it that, draws you to it? What is so fascinating to you about it? Why home video releases?
[01:21:21] NATHAN: Um, well, I mean, I got into it kind of on a lark almost. So I did that Star Wars timeline projects last Star Wars timeline goal for about 20 years. 20, 21 years, which meant, keeping up with all the stories. So I had been collecting the books and comics to have at least one copy of every single story.
[01:21:37] And aside from the RPG stuff, pretty much had a complete collection. But it's because I started in like 93. was doing it for, for years and years and years. And I got to a point where all I was really doing, aside from picking up new releases, was I would pick up something I already owned, but I would replace it with a signed copy or something.
[01:21:54] You know, there just wasn't the thrill of the hunt really as much anymore. I kind of just had it, it was, it was a library in the sense of I could reference it if I needed it for the timeline, but just kind of sitting there and I got to a point where I was sort of waning an interest on that. I wanted to look at something else to collect, so I started thinking home video might be something to pick up because I, I felt like I already had quite a few not compared to what I realized later was out there. I call it my Wile E. Coyote moment, right, where you're already off the cliff and you have the choice of either scrambling back or looking down and falling.
[01:22:24] And I just was like, Ah, fall, why not? Um, but around the same time was when they did the reboot and they had announced the reboot, of continu. So the legends continuity became legends as opposed to the continuity for Star Wars and then the canon and I had been doing a video series on YouTube off from the Star Wars library about the books and comics and publication order.
[01:22:42] And at that point, anything of that type of discussion became an absolute lightning rod for trolls. It was just, it, it would've been untenable to keep pushing that series. But alongside it, I had started from the Star Wars Home Video Library. I was collecting a bit of stuff, showing it on the channel. I was having fun collecting it, but I wasn't like as head first into it.
[01:23:01] But when the collecting of the books became like new releases only kind of stuff, pretty much, and that was happening. So my focus on the channel really started to lean towards the home video stuff That kind of got me, it got me kind of heavily towards it, but then the teacher instinct kicked in, I would say, because I realized that from a resource standpoint, there really isn't a lot out there.
[01:23:20] Like the reason I wrote A Saga on Home Video eventually the first edition, and now the second edition is because the resources almost are non-existent for Star Wars Home video collectors. There's price guides and collecting guides that are woefully incomplete most of the time. Um, there's SWonvideo.com, which is actually one of the places I learned a lot early on.
[01:23:37] Davis DVD at one point had an article, but they were all kind of, in one case it was like one person's collection, which was pretty heavy, but didn't hit everything, but didn't try to hit everything. Another one that was sort of like a text listing. The resources just really weren't there. So since I was getting passionate about collecting it and liking to do the show and the interaction with it on YouTube, that sort of just, it was like the adrenaline boost, I guess you could say to the collecting.
[01:23:59] And then when someone said, Well, why don't you write a book on this stuff? And I actually started considering it that again kicked it up and then the, hey, if a second edition is gonna be out, it's gonna be full color and it's gonna cover as much as I can cram in there like a massive thing. It's, it's like, it was sort of a self perpetuating thing once that happened.
[01:24:14] As to what I find, just that, that keeps me interested. It, I found the most fascinating is I, I thought I would've told you when I started it was just the fact that there were different like bonus features across releases and seeing st those types of differences. I think now it's more the broader stuff that you see with patterns within other countries versus the US patterns within the US market, the minor variations of stuff.
[01:24:37] Um, and the fact that because it's still such a niche thing. I am able to kind of help share information about it. I get to, to have that sort of service mentality like I did with the timeline for so long. It's still kind of that, that I wanna be a resource to the community type of thing. Um, and it helps that in this era in which most Star Wars fan groups, many, um, particularly if they're just generalized Star Wars, are pretty toxic or have a pretty toxic side to them where I don't, just don't enjoy that interaction as much.
[01:25:04] The Star Wars home video community outside of a small niche based around that speculative market right now, for the most part, the Star Wars Home video community has been very positive overall and has a very welcoming atmosphere to it. Maybe because it is so niche and in particular, uh, there's a home video group on Facebook, run by Justin Berger that I also moderate.
[01:25:22] That has just been a fantastic place to, you know, to crowdsource things, to share ideas, to share new acquisitions, to encourage each other. Um, it's part of why. I definitely feel, and this is again where kinda the afterward of, of volume three comes in, it's just even if the, the physical releases dwindle down to nothingness, there will still be stuff out there to find from previous releases and still a community based around it.
[01:25:43] And that community doesn't seem to be daunted by this at all, tends to be a community that's very positive and very welcoming about it. And in this fandom climate, especially with social media, that's kind of a rare thing. So I almost feel like right now where I am in the collecting, it's not even as much the thrill of the hunt type stuff anymore.
[01:26:01] It's the sharing the knowledge aspect and having a place, having a community to participate in that cares about something I care about with Star Wars that is just almost like a safe haven and the craziness of what is social media these days. Um, so it's weird. I almost feel like it may not even as much be the products themselves at this point in my collecting.
[01:26:24] The products drew me in. The products were what I seeped myself in. But the community is kind of what keeps me here. The community is what caused me to spend, you know, I don't even know how many years, day after day, hurting my backs, kneeling on the floor here in my office with a photo box taking, you know, thousands of pictures of products to eventually go through the, the painstaking process of editing and correcting and inserting and everything.
[01:26:49] Um, I don't think if it was just about the products, I would've done it. I really do feel like it's the community that, is wrapped up around these things that do it. And maybe that exists elsewhere. Maybe action figure collectors feel the same way I was for years. I did segments on a, on Star Wars Action News, which is a collecting podcast.
[01:27:03] I did segments for them. And I know that there are similar communities about other things. Um, but this one just kind of captured me and it's, it's. I have faith that it's a community that will continue going, even if the next live action Star Wars films like the Disney Plus stuff, just never see a physical release.
[01:27:19] I think the community will still be there. find the Star Wars Home Video group on Facebook. That's the name of it. Find us there. Find other like-minded people to commiserate about the stuff that you care about with Star Wars, and try to find a, a non-toxic place to do that.
[01:27:31] I cannot tell you how much of a boon that has been with this community. So even if you don't collect home video, find a place like that. Um, it can do wonders for your fandom and for just your state of mind when you need an escape. I would say, especially in, in times, Times that are crazy.
[01:27:46] JOSH: That's a wonderful answer. I'm, I'm glad. that exists and that, that you found that. And, I really wanna thank you , for putting this resource together as someone who, you know, I clearly enjoy, learning about the minutia of all sorts of niche subjects in particular when it's a, uh, a subset under the broader Star Wars umbrella.
[01:28:05] So, so as soon as I discovered, a saga on home video, it was a no brainer purchase for me. I, clicked, "buy now" immediately, and I devoured it, pretty quickly. And I, I'm looking forward to diving into volume 2 and volume 3. So, , for our listeners, if someone is interested in, learning more, purchasing a copy of your book or taking a look at your YouTube show, where should, people go , to buy the book and to find you on YouTube?
[01:28:31] NATHAN: Sure. Uh, so on YouTube, what you'd be looking for is a search from the Star Wars Home Video Library. It's the name of the series. Um, the channel is youtube.com/chronoradio. It's the name of my original podcast from back in 02. Uh, chrono like chronology radio.
[01:28:44] I never changed that. And then if you're looking for the book, it is essentially an Amazon exclusive. I did it as a self-publishing thing cause I, like I said, I wanted full control.
[01:28:51] Um, so you can find it on Amazon there. It's three volumes. It's A Saga on Home Video: Second Edition. You don't need to worry about running into the first edition because it is not available. First volume is basically the live action films through.
[01:29:03] 2015 as far as home video releases go. The second is live action films in the Disney era, essentially 2016 onward. And then the third volume is basically everything else, Droids, Ewoks, behind the scenes, Clone Wars, et cetera. They're all available as a, paperback version. There is a sort of a deluxe hardback version of each, uh, paperback version's.
[01:29:23] Regular paper hardback is on sort of a premium glossy paper. and then for the budget conscious, because self-publishing means the printing costs make the cost a little high. There is also a Kindle version that works on the Kindle app. It does not work on e-ink readers, so don't try to use your Kindle Paper White like I have.
[01:29:39] You'd need an app or the e-ink reader, but t's a print replica, which is basically as if you'd taken pictures of every single page. Uh, and I actually am very fond of the Kindle version. You can zoom in on the pictures, and they are crystal clear so I mean, you can get really close in on those images with those. Um, but yeah, all three different volumes are up there, uh, on Amazon at this point. Um, uh, so yeah, those are the, those are the, those are the big ones.
[01:30:03] despite everything else kind of getting going into retirement as I get older and, and more father time, uh, those are the two places to look.
[01:30:09] JOSH: Indeed, indeed. And, we didn't even, , cover, your experiences, creating the audio dramas, so I'll have to have you back on at some point. Thank you very much for creating this resource. I know it was a lot of work, but I'm very glad that this exists and like I said, I really enjoyed, reading volume one and, thank you for being so gracious with your time and happy birthday
[01:30:30] NATHAN: Oh, thank you. Thank you from both counts,
[01:30:32] JOSH: I wanna thank my guest Nathan Butler for the work that he's done and for his time. And if you liked what you heard, please visit us at trashcompod.com where you can find transcripts of this episode and all of our other episodes. We are also trashcompod across all social media, and we will see you on the next one.