Lucasfilm's Habitat Beta Blast Footage Released

Lucasfilm's Habitat Beta Blast Footage Released
Avatars gather outside Spider's Web (formerly Hamlet's Place) in downtown Populopolis, ready to head inside to celebrate the end of the Habitat beta test in May 1988

The release of the re-transferred in much better quality footage from the end of the Lucasfilm's Habitat beta is finally here!

The Lucasfilm's Habitat end of beta party footage from May 5th, 1988. Uploaded to YouTube for your viewing pleasure!

The Lucasfilm's Habitat text archive footage, also filmed on May 5th 1988. Uploaded to YouTube for easy viewing.

You can find the original files of the transfer, as well as MP4's derived from them over at the Internet Archive by heading to

Screenshots from both tapes, which include a screenshot of every single page of text are available over at the Image Archive.

Big thanks to Bill Herrin aka Wil1 for originally recording this amazing historical footage in the first place and allowing it to be shared for posterity. Another big thanks to Nick Serra for transferring these and the Club Caribe footage previously.

The previous transfer of the Habitat footage was made sometime in the last 20 years using a capture card from the 2000's with consumer grade hardware. The original tapes were also recorded using the Extended Play setting which allowed you to record for longer, at the expense of sacrificing quality. This made for a less than pleasant viewing experience which subscribers of the website have already seen.

The title screen for Lucasfilm's Habitat as taken from the previous transfer of the tapes

After seeing the magic that was done by using a good quality transfer setup, I knew that we could squeeze more out of this footage and have it preserved for posterity for everyone in much better quality. Bill dug the tapes out of storage and sent them over to us without a second thought. Thanks again Bill for trusting us with something like this!

A screenshot of the title screen for Lucasfilm's Habitat from the new transfer

As you can see by comparing the above two images, the new transfer looks so much better. There's better contrast, less banding, the color bleed is a lot less and the colors overall look a lot more representative of what the Commodore 64 was displaying.

You can notice the difference more when you compare actual in game footage, so lets take a look!

A screenshot from the original tape transfer

As you can see, the above transfer has artifacts, it's blurry and the aspect ratio seems off as if it was transferred in 16:9. It's not bad, especially if it was the only copy we had available, but I knew we could do better.

A screenshot from the new transfer of the Habitat footage

Much better! The aspect ratio is correct, the text is much clearer and the colors look better too. Although there is banding/distortion present which appears to be baked into the tape, overall it looks a LOT better. You really appreciate the upgrade during scenes where there are multiple avatars because it got really blurry in the original transfer, but you can clearly distinguish between people in the fresh transfer.

One place the new transfer really shines is with text and thankfully, Bill was able to capture many issues of the in game newspaper called "The Rant", as well as other interesting historical artifacts. Let's compare transfers.

The index page for the October 8, 1987 edition of The Rant newspaper, as taken from the original transfer
The same index page, only taken from the new transfer

Again, much better! Also, thanks to SpindleyQ who we've spoken about previously, we are now able to recreate these documents and newspapers exactly as they were in 1987/1988 and will be making them available in NeoHabitat in the future. Here's a sneak peak at how this index page would look using SpindleyQ's restoration tools.

SpindleyQ's Habitat text restoration tool in action, recreating the newspaper index you saw in the screenshots above

The documents and newspaper copies are especially interesting because they corroborate a lot of the events that were written about in the famous paper, "The Lessons of Lucasfilm's Habitat" by Chip Morningstar and Randy Farmer and "Habitat Anecdotes", also by Randy Farmer.

If you'd like to see the original transfer, I uploaded it to YouTube unlisted for subscribers of the site back in December last year. I'm leaving it unlisted because the quality is inferior now, but if you'd like to compare the video in real time here it is.

The unlisted video for the original transfer of the Habitat footage

If you've made it this far, I just want to thank you for supporting the site by subscribing or contributing donations to cover the cost of having this footage transferred. Without you, this truly wouldn't be possible.