CGM – Hors-Série – Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition

September 23, 2019

You thought TRON was the very first movie with CGI? That morphing was first introduced with Willow? That Pixar only made shorts before Toy Story? That Disney were the first to use CGI in animated feature films? That the very first CGI animal came with Jurassic Park? Fools! Welcome to CGM! The show on the origins of computer graphics in movies 1997 The Star Wars Trilogy is back into theaters A remastered trilogy, with some newly added scenes But also some new CGI special effects A visual prelude for what the prelogy would look like Which would only debut two years later, in 1999 But with this special episode of CGM Dedicated to the creation of the Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition You’re gonna see that George Lucas doubted for a long time Before really going completely digital We’re then in 1978 In a galaxy named Information International Inc Located… in the State of California One year has already passed
since “Star Wars” took cinemas by surprise Virtually, no one escaped its wave Notably thanks to George Lucas’ incredibly thoughtful merchandising And among the vastness of available goodies A small build-it-yourself X-Wing
fighter model was on the shelves A scale plastic model that was soon
to become one man’s fascination: Art Durinski A trained designer Art Durinski had been part of a pioneer
computer aided design company since 1976 Information International Inc (Triple I) And in 1976 In the microcosm of what computer
generated imagery was back then Triple I, well, was known for that: Actor Peter Fonda’s head scanned
in 3D for the movie “Futureworld” Except that, back in the late 70s, you’ll see To scan an object in 3D was not
as simple as with the likes of a Kinect Back then In order to create a 3D model without a modeling software The only way was to input X Y Z coordinates by hand Generally with blueprints Except that in 1978 To get the X-Wing blueprints without Lucasfilm’s approval It was kind of impossible to do so Now, let me warn you, your head is going to explode… The reason why Art Durinski bought an X-Wing scale model Was in fact to redraw the blueprints according to its X Y Z axis Just like that, based on his own observations only Reverse engineering 101! The blueprints redrawn Art Durinski then proceeded to scan the model point to point With the help of a two cursors system The first one inputting the abscissas While the second would input the ordinates It was the sum of the two that would then allow
him to get the third dimension on the computer A system invented by Mr Doug MacMillan A great guy that would go on and become technical
director on movies such as “The Perfect Storm” In the year 2000 Just like that Once the 3D model was made Colors, textures and lighting had to be applied, obviously An entire ant work Then accomplished by Mr Gary Demos Notably with him writing some new dedicated software With the goal of rendering a final image of the ship That would be fit for a print Good to be sent directly to Lucasfilm Well yeah With systems worth hundreds of thousands
to millions of dollars of the time Triple I’s focus was a tiny bit commercial And fortunately, George Lucas would be impressed
enough to grant them all three an interview But He would go on and say that the 3D X-Wing fighter was not “his ship” Indeed, the 3D model was simply just Too perfect Gary Demos and Doug MacMillan Would modify their software in order to render a dirtier ship As if it would have really fought the war
against the Empire and its mighty Tie fighters And it would pay off Since within no time, in 1979 Triple I would be hired by Lucasfilm
to create an animation test sequence However, what’s about to follow would not be that joyful Indeed, in the late 70s CGI was still marginal in the movies Shown in very crude ways Only in a handful of films with the right budget Such as Disney’s “The Black Hole” And unfortunately, in that year 1979 “The Empire Strikes Back” was already
over budget by more than $10 million Which forced Lucas not to invest more in
a technology that was in its infancy back then The animation test sequence Would remain a technical demo for Triple I And its designers go on and create
Digital Productions in the early 80s In order to continue their experiments on a
small film, produced by Lorimar and Universal “The Last Starfighter”, as seen in CGM Episode 8 Insofar, George Lucas just had a glimpse of the future And he would just have to wait and see Until he’d judge the technology to be mature enough Something that would only occur some 15 years onwards With the unforgettable “Jurassic Park” Of course CGI would know some great changes in between Notably due to a few key films, such as “Star Trek II” “Young Sherlock Holmes”, “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade” “The Abyss” and “Terminator 2” But it’s really with “Jurassic Park” That producers finally were slapped in the face Steven Spielberg’s movie would indeed generate $914 million at the worldwide box office Becoming de facto the most commercially
successful movie of all times In constant dollars Yeah, but if will go with the inflation adjusted ones Nowadays, it’s still “Gone With the Wind”
and its $3.44 billion at the box office Next to that, “Avatar” only brought $3.02 billion back, with inflation adjusted From that day forth The special effect that was considered by most as Pretty much a “morphing machine” Was finally earning its credentials Done with stop motion animation CGI just became, with “Jurassic Park”,
the new must-have SFX in Hollywood A true revolution? Well, not really… If we really do the counting here, CGI
was only 4 minutes of Jurassic Park’s 2h07 So, in fact Magic mostly happens with the help of uber animatronics And, of course, the direction However George Lucas was convinced it was the proof
for which he’d been waiting so many years To get back to work on the very first “Star Wars” A movie he always considered unfinished,
despite its huge success back in 1977 And in 1985, he was already confiding On some of the shots he would have wanted to revamp George Lucas then entrusted a small group At the heart of his visual effects company,
Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) To take on a scene originally cut from the first “Star Wars” A scene that would have, if included in the final film Shown the character of Jabba The Hutt for the very
first time 6 years before “Return of the Jedi” However, in the eyes of Steve Williams A legend in the CGI field Notably credited with the T-Rex The T-1000 and “The Abyss”‘ Pseudopod That scene introduced a good number of challenges And rightly so, since it featured a fully flesh and bone actor Irish actor Declan Mulholland as Jabba An actor which, already at the time, was supposed
to be replaced by a stop motion puppet To say that it’s thanks to its budget problems That we would only be meeting this delightfully creepy creature In “Return of the Jedi” Yeah Nonetheless That design would, in turn, cause its share of problems Yes Contrarily to the slug we were all accustomed to since 1983 That Jabba would now have to play opposite to Han Solo While walking! How would one do to make such a scoop
of fat move in a believable fashion? In the audience’s mind? Simply by giving it the same gesture of a sea lion Yes, but… Since we were still in 1994 And that loads of animation technologies
simply were not available back then That CGI Jabba was completely animated by hand With a keyframe system In opposition to motion capture That one could nowadays describe as standard Considering how we got used to it along the way Benedict Cumberbatch taking the exact
same pose as Smaug the dragon For the needs of “The Hobbit II” ? Uh nope, no no! That kind of technique was yet to be invented back in the early 90s Another problem: Harrison Ford What? Reshoot the scene with a rejuvenated face Composited on another actor’s face? What madness got into you? The small crew had to take the actor out of the whole sequence Frame by frame In order to properly integrate the new CGI Jabba with him And if that wasn’t enough The original Jabba actor had to be digitally erased How? By taking bits and pieces of the background
to replace him frame by frame And when it was impossible to get
certain portions out of the background? Well, no big deal A graphic tablet touch up would naturally solve the problem! Do we continue? It’s far from over, you know! Oh no! As I was saying earlier The 3D model of the CGI Jabba had to be animated by hand Well, it was also the case for its dialog lip syncing Which required the creatures lips to be moved, as well as its tongue On an entirely invented dialect Previously recorded by a professional actor Still not over! In the original scene You could see Han Solo walking behind Jabba’s actor Before facing him again by the right Except that, with the new version of that character There was a huge bottom on the way The trick was to find a way to get Harrison Ford To walk but not go through the 3D model Like bad 3D video games would handle object collisions Which is actually still the case in most of nowadays games… The selected solution Was to make Harrison Ford walk
as if he would step on Jabba’s tail All topped with a little sight gag To distract the audience Ah yeah Stated like that, it’s obvious That looks pretty easy But in order to get Harrison Ford to walk as expected The team would have to isolate the actor’s limbs That’s the head, arms and legs In order to reanimate those during the quick transition Of only mere seconds All of that with a huge motion blur to
try and hide the choppy animation Yeah, I did say try Since when applied… That added scene would go on and cause
a certain distaste in the audience’s mind Despite some tremendous work, prorated over almost a full year Many fans would regret the original
puppet as seen in “Return of the Jedi” George Lucas himself would
never be fully satisfied Since he would replace the 3D model As early as the the 2004 DVD version A 3D model directly borrowed from “The Phantom Menace” With a few adjustments anyhow Especially the eyes, which were too lit, as if they were backlit One would also notice the presence of Boba Fett Despite him not being in the original scene Under the iconic mask was, this time, young Mark Austin Who got noticed at the Skywalker Ranch After cosplaying the character During promotional events to promote the
Special Edition of Star Wars to shareholders And Mark was that of a fan of the character That he regrets to this day not realizing during the shoot That the skull had to be on the left shoulder Not the right one But Mark Austin was first and foremost a 3D animator Who had just proved himself as a character lead on “Casper” The very first feature film in history To get a fully computer generated lead Trained with traditional arts Mark was spotted for his swiftness And ILM entrusted him with the job
of creature animation supervisor On the Special Edition In lieu of two other animators Scheduled for the job But as the Jabba scene was well in
its way, when he arrived in 1994 Mark would not work on it Well, almost Since Steve Williams would one time
try and make him take the lead Something our person of interest replied Since he already had so much to do on his plate George Lucas had indeed decided, in the meantime To gear up with the Special Edition of the very first Star Wars With the order of new shots for Tatooine’s famous spaceport Mos Eisley Mark Austin would have to manage
animations for a new bunch of creatures Made up of certain ones from the original That were never seen in motion Due to a lack of budget That was a chance to define, for the first time How Dewbacks, ridden in the desert by Stormtroopers Were supposed to move And the first clashes for Mark With one of the VFX supervisors, Alex Seiden Mark had studied several animals’ motion Such as the elephant and the giraffe In order to get an idea of movement
to mimic on Star Wars creatures But those moves had to go through approval And that meant some key or routine animation
had to be ajusted, or yet completely changed And a dispute bursted regarding the first Dewback’s animation At that exact moment, we can see the great reptile,
mounted by a Stormtrooper, move to the right of the image The ensemble using a very good example of the
joint system used back then to create animation According to Mark Austin, that motion seemed
clunky, and resembled stop motion than CGI But his views were not taken into account He then ignored the chain of command to go straight
to Tom Kennedy, one of the two VFX producers And succeeded in being promoted as sole master
aboard, on the matter of animation problems All in 3 steps: 1 – That shots would be better 2 – That it would be faster 3 – That it would be cheaper Incidentally, regarding the animal creatures
made for this 97 Special Edition Namely the Rontos and the tiny Scurriers It’s interesting to note that those were reused assets From “Jurassic Park” Yeah, the Ronto skeleton was the same as the Brachiosaurus While the tiny Scurrier used the Raptor one George Lucas’ brilliant idea to limit costs Was to reuse assets from other films Something quite ingenious Since one only had to remodel the creature’s outer shape, its skin To make a new one in another movie We would see the same thing with “Jumanji” Another film on which ILM was working While making the Star Wars Special Edition But let’s now focus on something that
has best withstood the test of time Spaceships! Gone was the Triple I 1979 technical demo Overrun were the ships from “The Last Starfighter” If there’s one thing the Special Edition
improved without outraging the audience It really is Yavin’s battle, completely
revitalized by the new CG shots And once again, the best is to compare! To the left, the original George Lucas’ movie, released in 1977 To the right, the 1997 Special Edition If nostalgia can be stronger, and bias someone’s judgment here We must acknowledge that CG brings a new
dimension, like a breath of fresh air to the fights With a virtual camera at the heart of the battle, transcending the dogfights It really an interesting mix of old and new shots here With expanded action, now really on the
edge, when compared to the 1977 original The complete film roll restoration Is no stranger to this perfect symbiosis Indeed, while all SFX shots were
put optically together back then That meant you had to combine different rolls to get
a background, a ship and an explosion all at the same time And unfortunately, that resulted in
a noise overload of the frame New peckles of dust here and there But also some ugly outlines on the explosions, due to blue screen And of course, if yet one element wasn’t well composited Everything had to be done again,
yeah, not funny otherwise! But thanks to digital, if one element to be composited Showed any glitch, once combined Not worries, you just had to re-render
the sequence again on the computer Until ultimate virtual perfection The joy of non-linear editing, for George’s sake! But back to our 3D models! Regarding the “Millennium Condor” Yeah, the French dub still has this translation
aberration after all these years… Its model was made out of none less than 185 000 polygons And wasn’t modeled by ILM But LucasArts! Yeah, LucasArts was already doing some
crazy 3D models back in the early 90s Yet again, it’s LucasArts! But in the eyes of Terrence Masson, a 3D modeler It appeared that the model had something… Odd! We all have gut feelings We say we’re right, some go straight to Wikipedia And then, there was Terrence! Well, yeah, Terrence Masson was convinced
that the Millennium Falcon 3D model Didn’t have measurements on par with the originals And made it all the way through
Lucasfilm’s Skywalker ranch archives Only to measure the ’77 blueprints by himself Radical! Fortunately, there was enough time left To correct its dimensions For “The Empire Strikes Back” Special Edition Yeah, but for “A New Hope”, no can do As the movie was considered finished, by that time So, in the few shots were we see it
in Episode IV Special Edition The digital Falcon is more squeezed
in the horizontals than in Episode V Admittedly, a difficult movie trivia to show As the 3D model is scarcely shown But it a good example of how CG
boomed in the industry in the 90s While we’re talking mistakes, this one
continues to be seen, even nowadays Particularly in the 2011 Blu-ray… To make Bespin’s cloud city
corridors less claustrophobic Than in Irvin Kershner’s 1980 original movie ILM’s crew had added windows, overlooking the city To be achieved, every single actor had to be
digitally isolated, frame by frame, on said shots Just Chewbacca’s fur, hat’s off! But hey, when Lando delivers his
rebel friends to Darth Vader You notice that, where the group was walking by,
earlier, with a beautiful added elevator, in the back Is now back to being covered in plates… It really is a shame And it was never corrected in 18 years of revisions Like this infamous… stick… Pushing the AT-AT to make it fall Magnificent, isn’t it? Nonetheless, the 2011 Blu-ray would
finally correct a long-running, small error At the movie’s beginning Namely, the prop guy’s arm, clearly visible
when Luke gets attacked by the Wampa on Hott Until then, audience could make it
that it was only a fur gauntlet Returning to 3D Apart from the digital Falcon All the CG wasn’t modeled with polygons But with NURBS curves An algorythm capable of smooth lining and modeling Avoiding an unwanted, well known
side-effect of polygon modelling The infamous disco ball effect! NURBS are derived from Bézier curves A system invented by a French engineer,
in 1962, Monsieur Pierre Bézier Those few “Empire Strikes Back” shots Was a mix of NURBS and polygons Completed with textures taken
from real models photos Used back then during the shoot Terrence Masson, who was also
animating this whole sequence Remembered how he stayed at his desk,
several weeks, just in order to finish in time And George Lucas would ask him to
add this tiny excerpt, with the flying car Only 3 days before re-release February 21st 1997 No pressure, all is well Terrence would also go and
work on “Return of the Jedi” And would be in charge of most
of the Sarlacc’s digital extensions Formerly limited to an empty hole
completed with teeth and a few tentacles As seen here, in Richard Marquand’s original movie from 1983 For the Special Edition, George
wanted a more octopus-like creature With a new beak, and added tentacles Much teasing, George! Overall Not much to say on this 3D model,
except how those poor bastards die Fed on a plate all along the scene Notably, that cheerful Boba Fett! Boba Fett? Where?! In the original, after receiving a shot on his jetpack Boba Fett was propelled on Jabba’s sail barge Before rolling in the sand, down
to the Sarlacc’s gaping jaws… An inglorious and unfitting death, for such a praised
character in the prior episode, “The Empire Strikes Back” Episode II didn’t deal so well with its father, too… And for the Special Edition… George Lucas chose not to show fall into the Sarlacc’s pit But being clearly taken in by its new digital beak But if there’s one scene that demanded time and loads of
efforts from ILM on this “Return of the Jedi” Special Edition It really is the new song… “Jedi Rocks”… Originally, there was “Lapti Nek” A funky piece, fitting perfectly
with Jabba’s dark and dirty palace Sung by a puppet, controlled from above
and below, giving it a feeling of motion Limitations were quite easy to spot With a pretty basic mouth animation, and static eyelids But the number of shots was quite low,
as you could count them on one hand Except that… George Lucas wanted the scene to be funnier A warm lyrical pause in this dark palace, allowing
us to see Jabba get some fun for the first time Building sympathy for him in the audience’s mind Right before putting a slave to death, just for fun! And that particular slave, Oola, A Twi’lek dancer
played by a real professional dancer at the time British actress Femi Taylor, only 22 years old at the time Femi Taylor would also be the only actress
to reprise her role in the Special Edition! Lucasfilm’s crew managed to locate her in 1995, and wanted to shoot a new scene with her At the condition she would fit in the
original costume, without modifications As incredible as it may sound That was still the case, and even Femi
Taylor couldn’t believe it back then Concerning “Jedi Rocks” Two new fully CG characters were created specifically But they were all based on 1983 puppets! The singer, Sy Snootles, of course But also a Yuzzum, named Joe Yowza Visible here, in this 1982 footage But was barely noticeable in the
shadows, in the final 1983 movie Suffice to say, for the 1997 audience, that was a whole new character And an extremely well animated one for the time too As there was no motion capture used for one nor the other An excellent test, and a training for Jar Jar
Binks facial animations in Star Wars Episode I There’s also two fairly new
technical features for the time Joe Yowza’s fur, a CG simulation started
in 1994’s “The Flintstones” saber-toothed cat And clothing simulation, which
required some heavy… render time Only when “Final Fantasy: The
Spirits Within” started in 1998 They needed 2 full seconds per
image to render cloth simulation Just imagine that, on 1996 equipment But there was also two big technical
issues, related to then computer graphics Jumping out even more to the audience Motion blur and video resolution! I didn’t mention it earlier But all the different Special Edition creatures Used motion blur to death A blurry effect used as a parade to
cover for the low resolution used by ILM Inferior than the 2K standard And on the Blu-ray, this cannot be unseen Considering “Jedi Rocks” tried to blend
virtual and live action elements back then That scene became more and
more crude as time passed by Never benefitting from the same
Jabba’s 3D model makeover Updated between DVD and LaserDisc releases Not to forget the new song
still really breaks the pace Apart from that, “Return of the Jedi” Special Edition
also added some new quite welcomed shots Like the joy scenes, following
the Emperor’s demise Well, after the events of Episode VII,
festivities may not have lasted very long We also note, akin to “A New Hope”, the addition of
the famous Praxis effect, during the Death Star’s destruction An effect, created in 1991, for the needs of “Star Trek VI” George Lucas would resume his
revisions with the 2004 DVD edition Starting with Sebastian Shaw’s eyebrows, Darth Vader’s
performer when Luke takes his mask off, at the end of the film Back then, we were merely a year before the
release of “Revenge of the Sith” in theaters And it’s with continuity in mind, that George wanted to add more changes to “Return of the Jedi” Considering Anakin Skywalker would suffer 28th-degree
burns, after his fight with Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar It seemed totally logical to erase those from the one
supposed to play the character in the twilight of his life In Episode VI of the franchise Totally logical! But, that leaves us with a small issue in Episode IV Because, in Episode IV, Darth Vader’s mask had different opticals
than what would be visible, starting from “Empire Strikes Back” Not the least, since those were red… clear red You know it’s coming Because of this, numerous shots allows us to see a good
portion of the actor’s face, David Prowse, pretty well And, more particularly, his eyes and… eyebrows! As I said, pretty logical for “Return of the Jedi” But why not go all the way, and do it for “A New Hope”? Come on, let’s go through another one… Still for reasons of continuity, George Lucas had
taken advantage of the new 2004 DVD release To change something else on actor Sebastian
Shaw, at the end of “Return of the Jedi” His head! Well hello Hayden Christensen… We’ll not delve into crazy theories, like “what makes a Jedi a Sith?” Or “what brings redemption to a sinful soul
after 30 years of massacre of all types?” Nope. We’ll talk about the technical side of this “addition” Well, not really, we’ll go directly to what’s
been added to the 2011 Blu-ray edition Hum, well? I think we’re gonna go and conclude Yeah, concluding is the right thing to do, I suppose Overall, the 1997 Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition Cost $15 million in total $10 million for “A New Hope” $2.5 million for “Empire Strikes Back” And another $2.5 million for “Return of the Jedi” $10 million, by the way, that’s what
cost the first “Star Wars” in 1977 And in a March 1996 interview for Cinefex George Lucas was asked if he feared some resentment
from the fans, after dared touching up a classic To this, the father of the saga simply
answered that it was “his classic” And that he never got to go where he wanted to, back then The Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition would finally be his way of showing the world what exactly he had in mind at the time The true visual achievement he expected With that answer, dated back 20 years
prior to this CGM episode upload We can easily understand why
George never gave fans a chance To watch the movies exactly how the oldest had seen
seen it for the first time, between 1977 and 1983 There would indeed be the 2006 limited DVD
edition to try and answer these expectations But those were from the same master
as the 1993 LaserDisc versions And the problem, was that the format used big
black bars to simulate a Cinemascope framing The likes of which was OK for 4/3 ratio
televisions, but not really on 16/9 sets… Not to mention video quality, quite the opposite of the
THX standards, yet so important to George Lucas himself But if we delve in the matter, the original Star Wars Trilogy Isn’t the only film to have experienced a revision No Sir! Let’s mention, with a good heart, “Blade Runner”,
the “Alien” quadrilogy, “Terminator 2” “Lawrence of Arabia”, but also “Heaven’s Gate”,
“Apocalypse Now Redux”, “Superman II” Both the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” trilogies E.T. in 2002, for its 20th anniversary, as well So, The Star Wars Trilogy is not
an isolated case in the matter But its hugely popular success made it so
that fans slowly erected it to a cult status A saga now even highlighted as “sacred” Even “Star Wars” religions now exist! Thus, definitely, satisfying every single “Star Wars” fan nowadays is more of a real puzzle Something that will clearly not get better
with the releases of Episode VII, VIII & IX Disney, now aiming Lucasfilm Chose to continue without following the Extended
Universe, nor even George Lucas’ advices for the sequels Remains a saga without which special effects,
and especially CGI, the heart of this show Would have certainly never reached
such a level of mastery, nowadays Just realize: in more than 40 years of “Star Wars”, we got
from 3D wireframe to realistic looking fully CG characters From ship tests to epic X-Wings, and intense air combat
leaving us breathless for years and years to come… Voilà! Now, Disney Let’s put out the most complete “Star Wars” set ever imagined,
akin to “Blade Runner”, with every version released ever And we can put this behind, for real! And in the meantime, in the next CGM… We’ll talk about the first French movies to use CGI With Jérôme Diamant-Berger’s “L’Unique”,
mentioned in CGM Episode 4 And Pierre-William Glenn’s “Terminus” Respectively released in 1986 and 1987 To conclude, as always, you can check CGM On Facebook, Twitter, and And become a CGM Patron on Don’t hesitate to share this video around and,
more importantly, to leave a comment below Because, after all…

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