View Full Version : Great Interview on Digital Filmmaking with George Lucas!

04-08-2004, 04:36 PM
I saw this posted over at 'Home Theater Forum' and had to pass it on. I'm not putting it in the Star Wars area because it doesn't really focus on Star Wars. Just digital filmmaking in general. He has a lot to say, and it's a really informative article. I'll drop a few of my favorite quotes from him. But I really suggest the whole article be read. :)

"For me, digital effects are necessary to my craft — an enhancement to tell stories. Everything we did was driven by that goal — finding better ways to tell stories," Lucas says.

"So the reason ILM got started was because, [back during the making of the original Star Wars], I wanted to make a space opera that was very fast, very cinematic, with short cuts, lots of movement, very kinetic. I did not want it to be like 2001, which sort of carried the art form of realistic visual effects as far as anybody, even now, has carried it. I wanted to do it cinematic style, and the truth was, there was no way [technically] to do it. Therefore, we pulled a group together — especially John Dykstra — and we agreed the way to accomplish what I wanted was to do several passes on something and then match it all up, the same way you do things with an animation camera. That led to the creation of an automated animation camera, placed on its side [as an early motion control rig] and the use of models, instead of artwork, and later, digital imagery. That really revolutionized the cinematic process in terms of how you tell a story using special effects. But it was all done, on both the filmmaking side and the business side, in order to solve the problem of how to tell the stories we wanted to tell."

"A lot of the people throughout the special effects business today came through ILM," says Lucas. "A lot of people at [New Zealand's] Weta Digital came through ILM. In fact, we cooperated a lot with Peter Jackson on the picture and sound side of that project, particularly in helping him get set up. What they have going on at Weta is very similar to what we're doing in San Francisco, which is we are kind of an outpost with no resources down the street. So, in San Francisco, we had to build up our own sound and postproduction studios, our own special effects studio, and pretty much do everything on our own."

"You can barely think of a large, historical epic film that existed in the 1960s," he says. "You look and say Lawrence of Arabia, but then, what else? There was Cleopatra, but that basically killed the whole genre because it was so expensive. Yet, today, we are seeing The Lord of the Rings as a perfect example: Tens of thousands of people fighting in the battles. You could never afford to do that in real life today. Nobody could bring 10,000 extras out to a field, set up tents, feed them, and transport them back to hotels. It just can't be done with today's economics. But with digital technology, it's very accessible — almost easy, in fact."

Lucas does recognize that digital technology's proliferation does open a potential Pandora's Box for "digital mischief" to interfere with the intent and hard work of artists. In fact, the potential for such mischief angers him.

"That's what the [Director's Guild of America's] Artists' Rights Foundation [consolidated in 2002 with The Film Foundation, and now part of that larger film preservation organization] is all about,” he says. "The Artists' Rights Foundation was founded several years ago to protect filmmakers from this problem. The issue of people changing movies is a very big and important issue. It's one thing for the artist who made the film to continue to work on it until he or she dies. Most artists, painters, and filmmakers, have done that over the years when they have had the opportunity. But that is much different than having other people monkey with your work, and then put your name back on it. That is not fair, and it will happen a lot if we aren't vigilant — it's already happening, in fact.

“Part of this is a copyright issue, and part of it is just what we consider the moral rights of artists, which is, if you create something, you have the right to have it stay the way that you, the artist, wanted it, not the way some studio executive or some corporation overseas or somebody who just wants to fool around wants it. That is something I'm very concerned about."


Jar Jar Binks