Well, they're out. I haven't seen them in person yet (maybe next time I am at the mall they'll be playing on those TV displays), but here's an exerpt from digitalbits.com's
It's fairly common knowledge that the Blu-rays were mastered from the same HD scans that were used for the DVD release back in 2004. That means these transfers are at least 8 years old - very far from state of the art. To make matters worse, those scans were done at near HD resolution - not the 4K, 6K, or even 8K of current negative scans for film restoration and BD release purposes, but essentially 2K (something like1828x1556 for a scope film image), which was eventually exported to 480p for DVD (and later 1080p for Blu-ray). As most of you know, those DVD presentations were rife with visual problems, so the prospects for any quality BD release using these transfers seemed dim. Surprisingly, however, Lucasfilm and Lowry Digital have gone to a great deal of trouble to correct those problems. For one thing, many of the worst color-timing issues of the DVDs have been fixed - not all of them to be sure and not completely, but at least to the point where they're not so egregious. Some of the inconsistencies of the lightsaber coloring have been adjusted too. More of the obvious "garbage" mattes have been removed. Most of the Snow Speeder cockpits in Empire are less see-through. Visual errors large and small in all of the original trilogy films have been corrected. To be fair, there are still flaws in these transfers due to the fact that they're nearly a decade old and were made at such low resolution. These include occasional edge halos, crushed blacks and somewhat oversaturated colors. (For the record, I'm not convinced that the crushed blacks and oversaturated colors are a defect so much as a deliberate choice on Lucas' part. They've been visible in these films since at least 1997, so it's hard to say.) There are also artifacts due to all the digital manipulation work that's been done, including filtering, static grain in select shots, etc. A New Hope is the most "crisp" looking of the three films, as Empire and Jedi were both shot with a deliberately softer look, using atmospheric smoke and fog and more subtle, elaborate lighting than the original film. All three films occasionally look soft in various scenes - or around the edges of the frame - owing to the use of anamorphic lenses. Jedi also has what appears to be a registration problem about halfway through the film (from 54:30 to 58:33, from the Rebels' arrival on Endor to the start of the Speeder Bike chase). It manifests itself as a slight loss of resolution in the image. This is visible in the HD master for cable and satellite broadcasts as well, so it's definitely a problem with the original master - something that might have happened when the films were being scanned. HOWEVER... all that said, there's still plenty of detail in the images, the colors pop and the blacks are nicely dark. I have a strong suspicion that the vast majority of Star Wars fans are going to be pleased with what they see. The fixes to the masters, the greater HD resolution and the high data rates Blu-ray offers combine to really deliver a massive improvement in video quality here from the DVDs. Regardless of the issues that remain, this is BY FAR the best these films have ever looked at home.
Without a doubt, the MAJOR treats here are the deleted and extended scenes from the original trilogy - some 23 in all. These are all shot on film and presented in HD. The quality is a bit rough. Some of the footage appears in color and some in B&W, but it all still looks fairly good - far better than a few of these scenes looked on the Star Wars: Behind the Magic CD-ROM to be sure. EVERYTHING you've ever wanted to see is here. From A New Hope, you'll see Luke watching the battle in space, racing to Toshi Station to tell his friends, seeing Biggs and having a long conversation with him; a rough-cut of the entire cantina scene featuring more creatures and Han Solo's girlfriend (notable here is that you get to see the ORIGINAL Greedo death); and more of the reunion of Biggs and Luke at the Rebel base. From Empire, all of the Wampa attack scenes are included; there's a longer conversation between Han and Leia in the Rebel base hallway; there's more of Luke being treated in the Med Center; you see Luke and Leia nearly kissing during his recovery; there's an alternate Han/Leia kiss on the Falcon; another scene of Yoda training Luke and more. And from Jedi, you'll see Luke making his lightsaber; the heroes returning to their ships in a sandstorm on Tatooine; more of the Rebel attack on the Endor bunker; the Death Star commander's conflict when ordered by the Emperor to destroy Endor; and a bunch of unused footage of Rebel fighter pilots from the final battle, including one that could be someone's grandmother!
, which was a great help documenting the changes in the 2004 editions, has the following links with some information on the Blu-Ray changes:[/b]
Changes noted (won't mirror the images just now, please visit DVDactive for the pics):
-The "escape pod lid" that was blue all these years (seen when R2 and Threepio are heading out into the Tatooine desert) is now suddenly gray in a few shots (but bright blue in the rest).
-There are additional big CGI rocks obscuring R2D2 on the left side of the screen when he's hiding in that little "cavern" during the Tusken Raider attack, before Obi-Wan's first scene). This creates a continuity error later on as its not shown how he was able to get out of that tight squeeze and the rocks are gone. Did he use some kind of silent jackhammer attachment to blast his way out? Maybe he has a more realistic holographic projector capability than we ever knew?
-DVDactive's take is that the Han/Greedo scene simply has 10 frames removed (from the 2004 version), making it look like they shoot at the same time.
-They report that although the one "far shot" of Luke's lightsaber whilst training on the Falcon has been made to look turqoise (light blue/green) instead of neon green like in 2004, that most of the other shots remain unchanged (greenish instead of bluish).
So Luke's inconsistent saber colors remain, with one major shot being fixed only.
Overall while it appears a few of the color oddities from the 2004 versions were fixed, many of them still remain, in all the films.
-A "humdinger" glitch (but of white/gray graphical garbage lining the bottom of the screen) appeared (for the first time) in the 2004 version in a frame of Vader's TIE and his wingmen flying towards the left side of the screen. This was corrected in the Blu-Ray release.
-The Death Star explosion is still oddly colorless as it was in the 2004 version, but the "blue screen artifacting" glitch on the right side of the screen has been removed.
All of the initial reported changes have been confirmed by their article. They report that many audio glitches (like the "deliberate creative" decision to drown out the fanfare when they X-wings make their attack on the Death Star) have been corrected, but not all of them...
-A few more subtle reflections appear on the window during the "outside view" of Leia at Cloud City (Cloud Car flyby).
-The end of the conveyor belt (in the scene where Chewie is recovering Threepio's parts from the Ughnaughts at cloud city) previuosly had a blue fiery interior, now the furnace has an orange glow, with smoke and some yellow sparks instead.
-Again, not every lightsaber gaffe from 2004 has been fixed (Vader pushing Luke towards the carbon freeze pit is unchanged for example). DVDActive reports that actually NONE of the gaffes of this type present in ESB have been fixed.
As before, the previous reported ("rumored") changes have been confirmed in their reporting (though it looks like they missed the "carbonite unfreezing" change, which is
being reported on other sites). The "expanded door size" creates a continuity gaffe later as we see the inside of the door doesn't look as big as the new expanded exterior shot.
-After R2D2 is shot by a stormtrooper and he "freaks out" the effect has been tweaked for example by having more CGI appendages have been added and his domes and other appliances open and close more rapidly, and a cable that was in the background has been CGIed out.
-Many lightsaber shots are tweaked to look better than they did in 2004 (but not necessarily as good as they looked in 1997). Vader's lightsaber still inconsistently goes from deep red at times to light pink.
(Prequel changes) Note: this thread is for OT changes, but I put it there just for completeness sake. Again, DVDActive did a great job of showing the various changes in the home digital home releases.