Okay, after studying the Episode I shots are closely, assuming the shots are reliable, then yes, it's both top bottom AND both sides that were cropped smaller in the DVD release. Good call.
As for the rest, again, correct me if I'm wrong, but Episode II was the first of the series shown in digital theaters. If there was ever a "digital print" of Episode I, it was made sometime after its theatrical run.
The thing about the Episode I transfer is that not only does it include CGI elements created several years after the movie came out (Episode III Yoda model), but it's an almost sure bet that it mimics the 2001 DVD cut, and we know that material in that version was CGed after the movie came out (ie: Coruscant Taxi scene, extended Pod Race lap 2, Twilek senators).
I would call it a "preservation" only in terms of it is going to display a higher resolution than the DVD or Laserdisc, making the visual quality closer to the theater, and probably have an aspect ratio and framing closer to the theater. I'm sure the sound will be better as well.
Unless this set is goofed up (like the 2004 sets and Episode I), it's going to be the best these movies have ever looked and sounded outside of theaters. But I wouldn't call them "preservations," since they are just the latest remix, a new product, really.
Edit: Good link. The link confirms what I was saying (lots of movies contain "digital effects" but "digitally shot" films are something entirely different). When they make a blu-ray of a film (a movie released on celluloid), they can the actual physical film in high def via a scanner/printer. Digitally shot "films" (you can't really call them "films" anymore, so I just call them movies or "video") don't exist this way. They take the tape or data (on a hard drive or backup optical media) and convert that to a blu-ray readable format. Episode II and III were shot digitally and exist digitally, but most people (including myself) saw them in theaters as film since most theaters at the time were not setup for digital projection. However when making the DVDs of those movies they could convert them a lot easier. I'm told though that actually if a movie was shot on film, you can have a higher resolution end product for a blu-ray than a digital movie in these cases, because the resolution you shoot the digital movie at, is it (you can't go over the original source). Somebody can verify the exact figures but I've read somewhere that II & III were something like 2000K bit rate, while you could theoretically scan a movie as high as 8000K.
Most people have been speculating that Lucas won't do this, as he won't want the OT and Episode I to look better than II & III, so he'll just have them scanned at 2000K. I'm not an expert on this stuff, so I'm just going by what other people have written on the 'net about this stuff, mind.
I remember reading on the digitalbits how when the first blu-ray editions of the LOTR movies came out, they had to delay the "extended editions" because at the time those were made, the extra scenes and new visual effects (not shown in theaters) were only created in SD (for DVD). Hence they had to re-create or reconvert them for high def (for the blu-ray extended edition release). Lucas probably had to do something similar with the 2004 Editions and Episode I, since those effects were created for the DVDs. He may have figured as long as he was at it that he'd redo some other things. I was a little skeptical about these blu-rays at first, because I knew that high def versions of the movies already existed (having been shown in Germany and US cable some years back) but they were identical to the DVD releases other than having a higher bitrate (but still messed up colors and all the glitches of the home versions). So that made me wonder if perhaps the "digital master" of the OT created circa 2004 was itself screwed up. I wonder if Lucas had to go back and scan it again, or if they could revert the colors. But then, we still don't have solid proof that these 2011 Blu-Rays have had their colors fixed. We know the sound is fixed (those infamous "deliberate creative decisions") and we know some shots are fixed (like the lightsabers). Of course fan edits exist of these versions with the colors tweaked, so he could have had that done as well.
I get what you're saying otherwise. Lucas' hires have scanned the four films creating "digital masters" for any future versions already. Episode II and III are ready to go whenever he wants to use them.
Last edited by Kurgan; 09-05-2011 at 12:09 PM.