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The Ultimate Introductory Guide to Harmy's Star Wars Trilogy Despecialized Editions
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The Ultimate Introductory Guide

to
Harmy’s Star Wars Trilogy
Despecialized Editions

How to Download, View, and Stay Informed

THE DESPECIALIZED EDITION IS AN UNOFFICIAL FAN PROJECT AND MUST NEVER BE BOUGHT OR SOLD.

IT MAY BE OBTAINED FOR FREE BY LEGAL OWNERS OF THE SOURCE MATERIAL WITH THE INSTRUCTIONS IN THIS GUIDE (See Introduction for more info).

006 - VITck5L.jpg

She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid. (Original concept art by Ralph McQuarrie)

Authored by HanDuet

Latest revision: 2020-07-14 (v6.2.1)

Share this guide directly with the following link: https://goo.gl/1WGHBA

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.



Guide Contents

Section 1: Introduction

Section 2: About the Despecialized Editions

Section 3: Multipart RAR Download

Section 4: Other Download Methods

Section 5: File Verification (Optional)

Section 6: Playback

Software Playback

Disc Playback

USB Playback

Section 7: Staying Informed & Helpful Links

Section 8: Closing

Section 9: Feedback

Section 10: Change Log



Section 1: Introduction

Greetings!

Thanks for your interest in the Star Wars Trilogy Despecialized Editions. As the author of this guide, allow me to emphasize that I'm simply a fellow Star Wars fan helping others discover this amazing project. Credit for its creation goes to Harmy along with countless others who have dedicated their time, skills, and resources toward this restoration. Getting copies of the Despecialized Editions (“DEED”) can be a hurdle, so I'm here to help.

As with any fan edit, YOU MAY ONLY DOWNLOAD THIS PROJECT IF YOU ARE A LEGAL OWNER OF THE OFFICIAL SOURCE. For Harmy’s DEED project, this means YOU MUST OWN AN OFFICIAL HD RELEASE for each respective film (i.e. Star Wars Episodes IV, V, & VI), such as the official Blu-ray Discs or digital collection.

This Star Wars fan community is built on the honor system with the understanding that if people who don't own legal copies of the Star Wars Original Trilogy obtain the DEED, it's possible that the entire project will be shut down due to piracy allegations. So please encourage people to support the Star Wars franchise and purchase the official releases!

This guide is meant to introduce people to the DEED project, outline methods of obtaining copies, and explain various ways to view the media.

For convenience, I encourage people to refer to this document as “TUIG” (short for “The Ultimate Introductory Guide”).

Special thanks to Harmy himself for reviewing this guide and approving its content for publication.

TUIG featured by Harmy at the following links:

http://originaltrilogy.com/post/id/488639#TopicPost488639 (links to “The Ultimate Introductory Guide”)

https://www.facebook.com/despecialized/posts/1619445311665007 (pinned on official Facebook page)



Section 2: About the Despecialized Editions

Born out of frustrated fans’ failed attempts to convince George Lucas to release the unaltered theatrical versions of the Star Wars Original Trilogy films (Episodes IV, V, & VI), the online forum community built around a popular petition hosted at OriginalTrilogy.com turned to discussion of fan edits as a means to obtain their shared goal without Lucas’ help. Eventually, a fan restoration project led by Harmy as the primary video editor resulted in the Despecialized Edition (abbreviated as “DEED” or “DE”).

Since the initial release of the Despecialized Edition of Star Wars [“Episode IV: A New Hope”] in 2011, Harmy has since published DEED versions of The Empire Strike Back [Episode V, “ESB”] and Return of the Jedi [Episode VI, “ROTJ”], and continues to release landmark updates to each of these restored films.

As of December 2016, the Despecialized Edition of Star Wars was remastered then recolorized at version 2.7, ESB stands at v2.0 with additional improvements in development, and v2.5 of ROTJ saw the implementation of highly superior source material. If you plan to enjoy Star Wars DEED to the fullest, check for the most current versions (Section 5), and learn how to stay informed (Section 7) so that you’ll know of future updates when they’re available!

Each of the DEED films includes a combination of three projects: video, audio, and subtitles.

The video itself was painstakingly restored from various sources, including the official Blu-rays, bonus DVDs, Digital TV broadcasts, film scans, and more. All these were gathered from fans around the world, then compiled and underwent massive fine-tuning by Harmy and others.

The audio features availability in numerous streams. From 5.1 DTS-HD-MA surround, to 1.0 mono mix to reproduce the feel of the original theatrical showing, to various dubs in a multitude of languages, the sound choices bundled with Harmy’s DEED allows the films’ sound to accommodate any preference. Most audio work was contributed by hairy_hen and Belbucus.

Finally, Harmy’s DEED also includes and supports subtitles courtesy of Project Threepio led by CatBus. This ongoing fan project provides high-quality subtitles for Star Wars films in their unaltered forms in order to broaden the appeal of fan preservation efforts beyond the English-speaking world.

HELPFUL TIP:

Be aware that official releases Star Wars DEED are provided in multiple formats:

  1. MKV (.mkv) - the full, complete release with all features
  2. AVCHD (.iso, BDMV folder) - full video with limited extras formatted for Blu-ray Disc
  3. NTSC DVD5 (VIDEO_TS folder) - compressed content to fit on a DVD

(see Section 6 for more info)

Many view Harmy’s Star Wars Trilogy Despecialized Edition as the quintessential version of the Original Trilogy and a testament to the unwavering dedication of fans inspired by the films. You can learn more about the project’s origin, development, and goals by reading this news article or searching for other online articles, as knowledge of the project has made its way into mainstream media on more than one occasion.

The rest of this guide explains how to obtain and enjoy Harmy’s DEED.

FAQ:
Why don’t you distribute this release with an official public torrent / upload to my favorite download site / post on YouTube / etc.?

Answers:

  1. The file hosting site is selected based on convenience to the uploader, who is either Harmy or a volunteer. Upload ability and file uptime must take priority.
  2. Highly public methods may be too easy to access, and would greatly increase the chance of illegal downloads by people who don’t own the source material.
  3. If people aren’t willing to follow step-by-step instructions to obtain a free copy of a project created with countless hours of volunteer effort, that’s their loss. We’d rather take these steps to keep the project alive long-term.


Section 3: Multipart RAR Download

Method Summary:

Install download manager. Add list of URL links to initiate automated downloads of a multipart RAR file.

Advantages:

Preferred method for official releases. No account creation.

Disadvantages:

Download speed may vary. Installation of a program (optional).

Preface

Steps 1 - 9 describe how to install and use the download manager FreeRapid Downloader, which is highly recommended to speed up the download process. However, the provided download links (Step 7) can be used with any capable download manager, or even accessed directly to manually download each multipart RAR file, and then continue with Step 10.

(One successfully-tested alternative is MEGA Link Downloader, though this manager will only work with downloads from MEGA and may only be available on Windows.)

Step 1

Java Runtime Environment version 7 (“JRE 7”) or newer is required to run the recommended download manager. You probably already have this, but be sure to install or update to the newest version of Java as needed:

https://www.java.com/

Step 2

Download the program FreeRapid Downloader (“FRD”). For convenience, use the following Dropbox direct download (no login required):

FreeRapid-0.9u4.ZIP (Windows/Mac/Linux/Others)

MD5: A067ECBD37AC7C83A795C34A3DC6388F (official source & alternate download links)

Step 3

Extract the downloaded .ZIP file. Move the extracted folder to a location on your computer where you want to save the program.

Windows users: It is recommended that you not save the FRD program under “Program Files” as this can prevent plugin updates. It may also be necessary to run the program “as administrator”.

Step 4

Within the extracted folder, open the file named “frd.jar” as shown in the image below. This will launch FreeRapid Downloader.

FRD01.jpg

Mac users: Since the file is unsigned, the first time you launch this program you will need to locate this app through Finder (not Launchpad), click “frd.jar” while holding the Control key, and then choose “Open” from the shortcut menu.

For more information, see: https://support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/open-a-mac-app-from-an-unidentified-developer-mh40616/mac

Step 5

Once the program loads, go to the Help menu to check for and install any updates for the program and plugins.

FRD02.jpg

FRD02_mac.jpg

Step 6

Take a minute to open and view the Preferences window under the Options tab and configure settings as you want.

FRD03.jpg

Step 7

Visit the Download Sources supplemental guide with the link below:

https://goo.gl/5Sif60

Follow the guide’s instructions to find the film, release version, and format you want of Harmy’s DEED. Use the relevant link, then select and copy all download URLs you need from the Pastebin post as shown in the example image below.

Step 8

Open FRD. If “Clipboard monitoring” is enabled, all the URLs you copied will be automatically shown. Otherwise, click the “Add URL(s)” icon and paste all the copied URLs copied from Step 7. Choose a “Save To” location where the files will be downloaded onto your computer, then select Start to begin downloading.

FRD05.jpg

Step 9

FRD will analyze, queue, and begin downloading the files automatically. If you encounter errors, close and restart FRD. If some download links are offline, recheck those links later by right-clicking and selecting “Validate” in FRD.


Once started, FRD will run multiple downloads simultaneously and start the next queued items once a download is completed. At any time, you may pause the downloads and later resume them, even if you close FRD or restart your computer.

FRD06.jpg

NOTICE: It’s very common to encounter “ERROR - Error starting download” or “Connection reset”, which is caused by the file host site imposing a bandwidth limit. This can be resolved by waiting (4 to 24 hours) then restarting the download, or by using a VPN to change your IP address.

Step 10

While waiting for your download(s) to finish, install a free RAR archive extractor that works with multipart RARs such as 7-Zip (Windows / Linux) or The Unarchiver (Mac).

Step 11

After you’ve downloaded ALL files of the multipart RAR archive, use your installed RAR extractor to extract the first part of the RAR archive (will say something like “...part01.rar” at the end of the file). The first part of the multipart RAR archive contains information about how many parts are in the complete file, so the RAR extractor will automatically combine all parts into the complete, original file.

[How-to article for more help.]

The password for extraction is provided in the Download Sources supplemental guide (https://goo.gl/5Sif60).

That’s it! See Sections 5-7 for additional helpful information.



Section 4: Other Download Methods

The download method described in Section 3 is the most efficient known ways to obtain official releases of the Despecialized Editions as provided by Harmy. However, it is worth noting that a number of alternative download methods are available if you know where to look. While detailed guides will not be provided, here are a few more summaries to get you started if you want to consider other options.

Method Summary:

Obtain the files through Usenet.

Advantages:

Usenet files are good at staying online and accessible. With a paid Usenet subscription, downloads are very fast. Good source of other fan projects.

Disadvantages:

Free access to download from Usenet is possible, but very slow. Availability of files may expire after a given amount of time.

To start...

Follow Bluto’s Guide to Downloading Projects from Usenet

Method Summary:

Get an alternative release or different format of Harmy’s DEED.
(As independent projects, other fans have compiled Harmy’s DEED into different formats, which may or may not be edited.)

Advantages:

Other project’s releases of DEED may provide alternative formats, additional features, or edits that interest you. These files may be available even if the official DEED release is temporarily offline.

Disadvantages:

These alternative releases are different files than those originally provided by Harmy, and may be built from older versions of DEED.

To start...

Search online forums (such as OriginalTrilogy.com). For example, a custom Blu-ray Set by NJVC is provided by a guide from solkap.

Method Summary:

Download through a torrent tracker.

Advantages:

Potentially faster downloads. Different formats and versions may be available (smaller file sizes, BD25 format with menus, etc.)

Disadvantages:

No guide. Obtained files may be not be official versions provided by Harmy (see Section 6), and are likely lower quality.

To start...

Search your favorite public or private torrent trackers.



Section 5: File Verification (Optional)

This is an optional step you can utilize to ensure you find and successfully download the official current versions of Harmy’s Star Wars Despecialized Edition. File names, sizes, checksums, and instructions to accomplish this are provided at the link below:

Supplementary Guide: File Verification (https://goo.gl/mI0qtC)



Section 6: Playback

OK, so you've made it this far and finally obtained a copy of the Despecialized Editions. Now, how do you watch them? Depending on which version you downloaded, the official files will be in one of three possible formats: MKV, AVCHD, or NTSC DVD5.

The MKV (.mkv) releases are the highest-quality, most comprehensive versions, with all the available soundtracks and subtitles included. This version can most easily be converted into other formats with the right programs.

AVCHD is formatted for burning onto a Blu-ray Disc (BD) or even a dual-layer DVD (DVD-DL). This version usually downloads as a .ISO file (often with a .MDS file included), or may be a BDMV folder. Not all soundtracks and subtitles are included in this version due to BD limitations. See this article to learn how to “mount” an .ISO file on Windows, Mac, or Linux.

NTSC DVD5 is for burning onto a compatible DVD. This version often has a compressed video stream, and may only include a single soundtrack and possibly no subtitles in order to make the files small enough to load onto a DVD.

Software Playback

For viewing directly on your computer (my preferred method), the MKV version is best. If you don't already have a program installed that can play MKV files, here are some recommendations:

VLC (Windows / Mac / Ubuntu / others) is a very popular free media player that's compatible with almost all media file types.

MPC-HC (Windows) is a minimalist player and my personal favorite.

I recommend downloading and installing codec pack such as K-Lite Codec Pack, which includes MPC-HC bundled with powerful playback options.

Both VLC and MPC-HC can also be used to view the AVCHD / NTSC DVD5 versions on your computer by opening the BDMV or VIDEO_TS folder with the media player.

Disc Playback

To store the videos on a disc to playback with a hardware player, you can obtain the AVCHD format (for BD) or the NTSC DVD5 format (for DVD). Then, use a program like ImgBurn (Windows) to write the files onto an appropriate disc (ImgBurn guide for AVCHD files).

As independent projects, other fans have provided Harmy’s DEED in formats designed for disc playback, sometimes with menus and added features. For a definitive Blu-ray Disc collection, the BD set created by NJVC is highly recommended (release info / download instructions).

USB Playback

If you're wanting to watch on a TV screen but don't want to burn on a disc, some modern TVs and Blu-ray players can play files from a USB drive. Some of them can even play MKV files directly.

Otherwise, you could try converting the MKV file to the widely-compatible .MP4 format with a program like HandBrake (Windows / Mac / Ubuntu / others). Research online as needed to learn about file converting programs.



Section 7: Staying Informed & Helpful Links

Staying Informed

As stated in Section 2, Harmy and others are constantly working on new versions of the DEED Trilogy as better sources, technology, and skills become available. To stay informed about the ongoing work and updated releases, you’ll want to connect and/or get involved with the project through one or more of the following ways.

First, I highly encourage you to visit the official forum threads on OriginalTrilogy.com for each film of the Star Wars Original Trilogy, found at the links listed below. The first post of each thread will tell you about the most current version of that film along with detailed specifications. In addition, it's a great place to communicate with Harmy and the other contributors of this project!

Official OriginalTrilogy.com Project Threads:

Star Wars: https://originaltrilogy.com/topic/id/12713/

Empire Strikes Back: https://originaltrilogy.com/topic/id/12511/

Return of the Jedi: https://originaltrilogy.com/topic/id/12905/

Other good ways to connect with Harmy about the Despecialized Editions are through his official project social media pages:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/despecialized

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/HarmyDespecialized

Twitter: @despecialized and @HarmyP

Follow my Facebook page to be informed of updates to this guide and other helpful/interesting information related to the Despecialized Editions:

https://www.facebook.com/HanDuet.SWDE/

Other Helpful Links

Finally, here is a collection of links that might be of help or interest to you. Directly relevant links are already incorporated into this guide.

Video Sources Documentary for Star Wars DE v2.5 (11 min version)

Extended Video Sources Documentary for Star Wars DE v2.5 (20 min version)

Other Star Wars Projects by Harmy:

The “Machete Order”

IFDb - The Internet Fanedit Database

L8wrtr’s Star Wars Prequel Trilogy:

Episode I: Shadow of the Sith

Episode II: The Republic Divided

Episode III: Dawn of the Empire

VideoHelp.com

Other Star Wars Preservations and Fan Projects on OrigialTrilogy.com Forums



Section 8: Closing

Thank you very much for referencing this guide! While admittedly lengthy, I strived balance between comprehensive and concise for this summary to provide detailed answers to the most frequently asked questions by those who discover the Despecialized Editions.

As long as you credit “HanDuet” as the source and provide a link back to this document, feel free to download, share, and reference this guide in part or in whole (see license for more info).

Please use this link when sharing TUIG: https://goo.gl/1WGHBA

   May the Force be with you,

   -HanDuet

   youtube_profile.jpg



Section 9: Feedback

I’m working hard to keep this guide up-to-date and constantly improving. See the Change Log for past updates made so far.

How to Give Feedback

If you find any errors, have feedback, need support, or can think of ideas for improving this guide, please send me a message through my Facebook page. I will also post on that page when a new version of this guide is published, so please “like” the page to be informed of future updates!

https://www.facebook.com/HanDuet.SWDE/



Section 10: Change Log

2014-01-05, v1.0:

2015-12-10, v2.0:

2015-12-11, v2.0.1:

2015-12-11, v2.0.2:

2015-12-11, v2.0.3:

2015-12-12, v2.1:

2015-12-14, v2.2:

2015-12-14, v3.0:

2015-12-14, v.3.1:

2015-12-15, v3.2:

2015-12-16, v3.2.1

2015-12-23, v3.2.2

2015-12-24, v3.2.3

2015-12-27, v3.2.4

2016-01-08, v3.3

2016-01-17, v3.4

2016-01-24, v4.0

2016-02-07, v4.5

2016-02-07, v4.5.1

2016-02-07, v4.5.2

2016-02-10, v4.5.3

2016-02-11, v4.5.4

2016-02-13, v4.6

2016-05-04, v4.6.1

2016-10-21, v4.7

2017-01-02, v4.8

2017-01-03, v4.8.1

2017-09-27, v5.0

2018-01-03, v5.0.1

2018-10-10, v5.0.2

2019-08-26, v5.1

2019-10-20, v6.0

2019-11-26, v6.1

2020-07-07, v6.2

2020-07-14, v6.2.1