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The Story Of How One Little HANDYCAM Brought Geeks Around The World JOY!!!!

Well folks, there were betting pools as to who would get the trailer first, but the one thing we would all know for sure is whoever 'broke' it would be anonymous and thankless. Well, untrue. That slightly unlevel, bleached out cropped off trailer with crowd noise is... in my opinion a sheer thing of beauty. That mpeg version has something so real and visceral to it that I just continue to watch it over and over again. SCORPIO here is the original videographer that deftly avoided security and notice. He did this, not to sell blackmarket copies on every street corner, but to SHARE the joy of watching this film to every person in the world. Why? BECAUSE IT'S STAR WARS!!! It's worth the risks, worth the planning and the hours of work. Why? Because to people like us, it was a film... an experience that etched a moment into our minds that we cant burn away. It's a flutter of a heartbeat, a rush of adrenaline... it's why we became writers, animators, artists, model painters, film makers, actors, actresses, toy makers, t-shirt makers... etc... It's why we refuse to grow up, and why... we're all sooo damn cool. Check out Scorpio's fantastic trailer at any one of the mirror sites set up around the globe at's Trailer Mirror Locations!!!!

Harry ~

First off, I just wanted to thank you for your site. Truly one of the greatest on the net, both because of its information, as well as its sense of "net community" (good, bad, and ugly!). I first found your site in '96, when you posted the first images from Star Wars: The Special Edition. That day holds a strong place in my heart, because it was then that I realized that Lucas really wasn't shitting us when he talked to Leonard Maltin on ET back in the early 90's.... Star Wars *was* coming back. Your site has been a valuable contribution to the history of SW fandom. It's a prime example of how the net and fans and community have made SW such a shared experience. It makes me realize how fortunate we are that we *did* have to wait until the 90's. We couldn't have shared the experience like this any earlier.

So what does that have to do with the price of tea in China. Not much. But the reason I really wrote was because of something I read (that you wrote?) on your site tonight: "This trailer is not crystal clear, it isn't perfect audio.... but you know what... I think it's about 100 times cooler than the official scanned one. Why? Well this copy has... what I call, an 'AWE TRACK'! You can hear the audience, the trailer is in mpeg form, which if you have the right software... well it looks like great full screen."

Well, I'm the guy who stealthily snuck my Sony Handycam TRV65 (with Naughty NightVision™!) into the theater, taped it, ran back to the office as quickly as possible to get it digitized into MPEG, and through a great community of volunteers from your site, got it up and on and around the web for everyone to see. I'd like to share the story with everyone, and something special with you. Call me "Scorpio"....

...Here in San Francisco, we were lucky enough to be able to see the trailer at the Coronet. I'm told this is one of Lucas' favorite theaters, and the place where Lucasfilm employees first saw the original SW in '77. I live about 3 blocks away... whoo-hoo! It was looking pretty iffy on Monday (like many theaters across the nation), because those who worked there seemed either unwilling or uninformed to confirm whether or not the trailer would be showing there. But Tuesday morning brought confirmation, and I left work around 11:30 for a "Um, erm, long lunch". I went back home, checked in on the web for the latest news ("Hmmm... no one from the east coast has posted a bootleg of the trailer yet? Weird!"). Posted a quick note to AICN that I was on my way to see the trailer, and was going to try to get it on video in the hopes of getting it on the web for those not fortunate enough to see it live. Grabbed the Handycam, and walked down to the theater.

When I got there, a small line was already forming, and a newscrew from ZDTV was there to capture the moment. Also looked to be someone else, perhaps from Fox or Lucasfilm or some other press asking some questions of those in line. I tried to stay inconspicuous (black jeans, black t-shirt, black leather jacket... typical San Francisco) because in my black satchel was the Handycam, and I certainly didn't want to be caught on video (this week on Fox! "World's Stupidest Theater Goers!"). Bought my ticket, entered the theater, and went up to the balcony with about 1/2 hour to go. Ended up moving twice because of folks who sat too close to me. It wasn't that I was concerned about getting caught by them, I just knew that I had no right to ruin the experience for them, distracting them as a fellow audience member held a videocam up into the air! After all, we *all* were here to see The Trailer, not The Siege! I killed the next half hour trying to make sure that I had the focus and the exposure setting correct, guessing as I'd never done this before.

When the lights finally went down, the cheer went up. I scrambled the camera into place, and realized that it was almost perfect (because of the seat I chose) if I just let it sit on the armrest. Turns out the first trailer was for "Thin Red Line", which was gave me a chance to catch my breath, take a few paranoid glimpses around, and relax. I paused the tape, and waited...

...for the 20th Century Fox logo to appear.... hit record.... NOW! One quick glimpse down to the flipout viewfinder confirmed it was pretty clear, and I just needed to let it be from this point on. And, as you saw in the clip, the Lucasfilm logo goes up, and everyone cheers (except for your faithful videographer, sitting right next to the microphone... but I did bite the inside of my mouth!).

Well, you know all about the trailer, so I'll spare you another review. Others have written more and better than I could have. Suffice to say, the trailer ended, I wiped my tears away, threw the camera back into my bag, and headed out of the theater as quickly as possible. When I got home, I hooked the cam up to the TV, confirmed that I'd actually gotten it (and, damn, other than the flickering caused by 30fps video vs. 24 fps film, not half bad!!), and headed back to work.

Fortunately, I work in the MPEG business. And I have a T1 line. And the bosses are down at Comdex in Las Vegas.... whoo-hoo! Came back to work, checked my e-mail, and damn if I didn't have about 20 messages and a number of volunteers who wanted to host a video if I got it. Well, hell, I'm on a mission now! So I captured that badboy, took it into Premiere to crop out the blackness, saved it out as an uncompressed AVI (400 MB!), and transcoded to MPEG (7.5 MB!). Looked at it long and hard, figured there wasn't much more I could do with it to make it look or sound better and still have it downloadable. Spent the next few hours getting it out to the gracious volunteers, and all of a sudden, I see URLs with it popping up all over the place. Even set up a dummy Tripod acccount myself to get it up there. By the time I got home in the evening and checked some e-mail and websites, it had been mirrored to about 20 places. By the time I got up the next morning, it looked like it was up to about 50! Everyone downloading as quickly as they could, and if they had the bandwidth, hosting it themselves to share with others. It was really heartwarming, I mean it, and I thank all of those folks out there who made it happen.

Of course, by late evening, it appeared that Lucasfilm knew the gig was up, and they posted their own, far superior versions (though why they chose the formats and resolutions they did, I'll never know.... hey folks, get a clue: MPEG MPEG MPEG). Anyway. I grabbed the QuickTime version myself because of the great color and sound, which of course I was *not* able to capture on a Handycam!

Which reminds me, if you publish this story, a word to some of the naysayers out there: folks, it was an MPEG made from a videocamera snuck into and out of a movie theater. Don't you dare think you can look at *ANY* of these online versions and say things so stupid as "The FX look pretty sucky..." or "CGI Yoda looks sucky..." or "The sound was sucky..." and end your rant with "...and Lucas better fix it." PUH-LEAZE!! You weren't supposed to judge the quality of The Trailer or The Film or The Man from my crappy video capture! No one's fault but mine. It was only supposed to be an opportunity for those who couldn't see the trailer soon to do so. I wouldn't have even bothered if I'd known the official trailers would be posted (though I have a feeling that the MPEG clip pressed that issue!). This is to either tide you over til you could see the real thing, or allow you to re-live it. Period!

((Besides, the next person who says "CGI Yoda" is going to get a big can of whoop-ass opened all over them... it's an animatronic, not computer graphics, dolts! And he looked great on the big screen.))

But, for the most part, it seems people were really happy and grateful to have the MPEG trailer, and that makes me happy. To the folks who hosted and mirrored and struggled with it, you are true heroes... hell, we all are! And to those who said nice things about it and about those who made it happen, thank you... it was worth it. I *still* get a chill when I play the MPEG version, simply because you are almost there, with a theater full of excited fans when you see it. It will help tide me over until next May!

And for you, Harry... the biggest thank you of all. There's one thing I have that no one else has, is the actual tape. If you'd like, I'd like to send you a nice clean copy of the trailer so you can watch it on the TV, maybe add to your own collection. Sure, the real thing will be on Entertainment Tonight and Access and E! soon enough... but will it have an audience cheering?

If you'd like a copy, let me know, and send me your mailing instructions. Thanks again for your site, man. Just wanted to give a little something back. And if you decide to share this tale of crime and conspiracy with your great readers, then just call me...


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