Rogue One: A Star Wars Legacy

You won’t hear the “Star Wars” theme in “Rogue One,” but the newest movie’s score does pack a bunch of other little musical references to the original saga. And if you reeeaaally strain your ears, you might actually hear that main theme after all. (via digg)

See also: Lord Of The Rings: How Music Elevates Story — Evan Puschak talks about Howard Shore’s use of leitmotifs.

The Plinkett Test
Use your words

The Plinkett Test: How to sort characters from cut-outs

Game critic and writer Andy Kelly uses a clever test to identify if characters in video games he plays actually qualify as characters. This test is taken from Red Letter Media’s famous ‘Plinkett’ reviews, specifically the long-form review of The Phantom Menace:

Qui-Gon Jinn

Andy Kelly: I call it the Plinkett Test. To prove just how forgettable the characters in the prequels are, he asks a group of friends to complete the following mental exercise.

Describe the following Star Wars character WITHOUT saying what they look like, what kind of costume they wore, or what their profession or role in the movie was.

It’s a test that can be applied to video game characters too. It’s far from scientific, but it’s a good way to determine if a character is, in fact, a character, and not just someone defined by their appearance or actions. To be clear, the Plinkett Test isn’t a method for determining if a character is a good character—just that they are one.

See also: Other Places — A video series by Andy Kelly celebrating beautiful video game worlds.

Standard
BB8 concept sketch

BB8 concept sketch

Industrial Light and Magic’s visual development portfolio for The Force Awakens has some fascinating pre-production artwork I hadn’t seen yet.

Some of the images are quite familiar while others show variations of events we saw in the finished film.

Some of the most interesting images are of places or events that I can’t quite identify…

“Each artist began to explore his individual response, and collectively, we began to answer, with our words and art. Out of our brainstorming sessions emerged visual imagery of where we might want to go and what it would look like when we got there. We were not merely illustrating scenes that already existed: we were initiating storytelling concepts through the visual images themselves.” Rick Carter, co-production designer, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Portraits of our old heroes, and new villains…

Early concept art for Kylo Ren, and a dramatic artist’s impression of his finished design as it would appear in the first trailer.

Kylo Ren’s ship, the Finalizer.

While there are undeniable similarities to Tatooine, Jakku is a world with its own history and industry, explored in these location concepts.

Various other scenes from The Force Awakens, as imagined by the art department.

See also

Light-based media

ILM’s concept art for ‘The Force Awakens’

“The ILM Art Department continues to revolutionize film design today, coupling classical technique with the very bleeding edge of technology. Acclaimed directors like Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and J.J. Abrams work hand-in-hand with the best art directors and artists in the film industry, exploring ideas and iterating on those ideas until their vision is realized, making the unreal real and the impossible possible.”

Gallery
fxguide talks to the visual effects artists who worked on Star Wars: The Force Awakens

fxguide’s John Montgomery sits down with Industrial Light + Magic in San Francisco to discuss their stellar work on The Force Awakens. Hear from senior visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett, visual effects supervisor Patrick Tubach, animation supervisor Paul Kavanagh, environments supervisor Susumu Yukihiro, compositing supervisor Jay Cooper and asset build supervisor Dave Fogler as they run through key scenes from the film.

The Force Awakens has been heavily marketed as a move away from the synthetic CG-fest that the prequels were and as a return to the spirit of the originals with practical effects work being used whenever possible. However it is pretty clear watching the VFX breakdowns in this video that computer generated effects were used extensively throughout the film.

“I’m very happy if people honestly believe that a lot of this stuff is done in-camera and they believe all of those things are really happening, but the truth is it’s just a massive amount of work.”

TFA-Maz-skeleton

Update: ILM just posted these VFX breakdowns onto their YouTube channel.

See also

Light-based media

The visual effects magic of ‘The Force Awakens’

fxguide’s John Montgomery sits down with Industrial Light + Magic in San Francisco to discuss their stellar work on The Force Awakens.

Gallery
Star Wars souvenir program 1977
Use your words

Samuel R. Delany’s 1977 review of the original Star Wars

This contemporary review of the first Star Wars movie for Cosmos Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine by Samuel R. Delany is fascinating.

Samuel R. Delaney (1969) I’m posting this about five hours before I go to see The Force Awakens, which if nothing else I expect to be a blisteringly fast film based on director J.J. Abrams previous two Star Trek films. So it’s really interesting to me how Delaney describes the original Star Wars as “about the fastest two-hour film I’ve ever seen”. By modern standards — and even by the standards of the other Star Wars films — the first installment seems quite slow.

It’s also assuring to see that from the very outset critics like Delaney were calling Star Wars out for it’s lack of human racial diversity and gender equality.


Star Wars:
A consideration of the great new S.F. film

by Samuel R. Delany

My first reactions as the final credits rose on the screen? “Now what happens?” – which is to say George (American Grafitti and THX-1138) Lucas’s Star Wars is about the fastest two-hour film I’ve ever seen: I thought I’d been in the theater maybe twenty-five minutes.

THX, if you’ll recall, looked like it was sired by Godard’s Contempt out of the space station sequence in Kubrick’s 2001i.e. it was basically white, white-on-white, and then more white. What is the visual texture of Star Wars?

Two moons shimmer in the heat above the horizon, and the desert evening fades to purple rather than blue; into the starry black, huge and/or hopelessly complex artifacts flicker, flash, spin, turn, or merely progress with ponderous motion; indoors is all machinery, some old, some new; while plastic storm troopers and dull grey generals meet and march; circus-putty aliens drink in a bar where what appears to be an automatic still gleams in the background with tarnished copper tubing; some of the spaceships are new and shiny, some are old and battered (and you get pretty good at telling the difference between the two).

Continue reading Delaney’s Star Wars review →

Standard

Star Wars: Recording Session Audio from 1977

Several early takes of the Star Wars opening theme recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra in 1977.

YouTube video removed

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Music from the Official Trailer

The soundtrack from the latest official trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (aka trailer #3), composed by John Williams with contributions from Ursine Vulpine and at least one other artist. I found a music-only clip, there were dips to make room for dialogue, like a 5.1 mix, so I did my best to normalize the volume fluctuations.

See also

How the BB-8 Sphero Toy Works

Tested: We recently visited the workshop of Mike Senna, a droid builder who has made his own R2-D2 and Wall-E robots. Mike’s next project is recreating the BB-8 droid featured in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens! We discuss what’s known so far about how BB-8 was built for the film, how a remote-controlled model could be built, and take apart a BB-8 Sphero to see if we can learn anything from the small-scale toy!

See also