I would assume there is a master film negative of Arabian Knight somewhere, probably Princess and the Cobbler as well, probably with clean credits. Paramount is currently holding the rights, apparently, which may be a step up from rights being owned by those who wanted the material suppressed. We've missed the boom era of physical media, though, and the digital release on Youtube is worse than ever.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) holds Richard Williams' workprint as a digital transfer, "A Moment In Time," as well as certain scenes on paper in pencil test form. That edit and transfer of the film has a lot of problems but would be ideal source material for a hybrid restoration. (I attended a screening of this in 2013 with Richard Williams present. Although he wouldn't have admitted it, the screening was also prompted by the minor success of the Recobbled Cut, as was the donation of a collection of artwork formerly held by Miramax to the Academy.)
Anyone on Youtube reposting Thief clips -that I restored- as their own work ... is poisoning the water supply on purpose. People like that don't deserve less blocky transfers (which don't exist anyway). It took me years of hard work, over the past 25 years, to rehabilitate the reputation of this film. If people can't find the right edit, that ruins the film all over again for them. Little Billy's "Better Uncobbeled Edition (with Thomas the Tank Engine)" on Youtube isn't helping matters. (Which would be something like, just the Recobbled Cut in 144p with the unsynced Miramax audio running under it. There are something like twelve Youtube channels like this.)
(Just in general it bothers me when people make "their" version of the Recobbled which is entirely my version with one shot changed, or something like that. I try to ignore it but it bothers me. Like, you know I spent many years on the actual Recobbled Cut, right? It didn't just happen.)
I've spent the last couple days trying to see if I can deal with some PC to Mac to PC issues that caused the material to render darker than it should have back in the day, and see what can be done with it now.
An early version of the Mark 5 is screening in Seattle in about a half hour. It's a very early version. I wasn't able to reedit the standard def master in time, so only the HD material is updated, including some material which isn't really ready for the public yet. This is the only audience who will see this particular version.
Upscaling has been a touchy subject, for both me and the audience. I may look into Real-ESRGAN upscaling. I've used Topaz to a certain extent on certain stills but it's slow and there's no upscaler that doesn't destroy some detail, especially on troubled sources like ours. Also, people doing tests tend to have problems with the color space rendering too dark. Lot of things to be careful about. So far it's been mixing different methods of upscaling and being careful in Photoshop.
One big problem is the quality of the widescreen source, with its greyed-out highlights and relatively low resolution. I did a simple upscale of one shot for the "Call for artists" trailer, and there were complaints about it. I agree that just upscaling the Arabian Knight widescreen source is not good enough. I ended up rebuilding the shot entirely from other sources. The cropped DVDs of the Miramax and Majestic cuts have their own picture problems, and it's tough to reconcile them with the widescreen source, but there are a few shots in this version which I rebuilt in this manner, using both a cropped source and the widescreen source, and they really do stand out as much better. It's a lot of work though, and works best on shots where the cropped version contains all the action. And would be unnecessary if we had a high quality source for the Miramax/Majestic versions.
I will be reediting the entire standard-def master pretty soon.
It has taken several days of rendering, but I've been able to get the HD (and presumably SD) scenes looking brighter without the darkening that was caused by a format change previously. In many cases a darker image is preferable so it's going to be further work experimenting, but I feel I have more control over the product now.