For Star Wars prequel producer, Rick McCallum, the rest after the release of Attack of the Clones is a short one. Later this week, McCallum will be leaving for Japan to help promote that country's Episode II's release on July 13. "I can't wait to get there because there's a huge anticipation for the film," smiles McCallum. "They have about nine digital theaters, which I'm really excited about. When we went to the last fan convention in Tokyo, it was just as intense and insane as Celebration II in Indianapolis. The costumes were great and the people were very vocal about their excitement. You may think of Japanese as restrained, but they're not when in comes to Star Wars."
However, McCallum's work in Japan isn't stopping with promotion. The Producer, along with High Definition Supervisor Fred Meyers, expects to meet with both Sony and Fuji to talk about the next generation of digital cameras and lenses that may be used for Episode III.
"The Sony 24p camera that we used for Clones had a resolution of 2.2 million pixels," explains McCallum, "but Sony is developing and working on a 10 million pixel camera. We're really hoping they'll get that together in time for us, even if it's just a prototype."
"Plus, there's a whole new generation of lenses that's competing with the Panavision lenses. Isis is coming out with them, Fuji has a third generation and Canon is coming out with some interesting product. We're excited about the competition and what's going in the marketplace. With these new cameras and lenses, we're going to get a new heightened level of reality that film cannot capture."
The added detail captured with the new equipment will bring the greatest benefit to audiences watching movies projected digitally. "Even the current generation of digital projectors can interpolate anything that's given to them," says McCallum. "When we first started we had a Mark 4 Texas Instruments projector... now they're already on the Mark 8."
"For the first time, the movie industry is in the same world as the computer business. Every 18 months we're getting twice the value at half the cost."
McCallum speaks with great enthusiasm of the interest in digital projection from theater owners, studios and filmmakers that has surrounded the Episode II release. "We had a digital summit here on the Ranch with some major filmmakers who are interested in the technology -- including Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Ron Howard, Francis Ford Coppola, and Robert Rodriquez. We talked a lot about the best ways for the audience to see the movie you spend so much time and money on."
McCallum is aware of at least 20 major motion pictures this year who have committed to delivering digital versions. "That's what we need. These are going to be small incremental steps. It's an educational process. There's a lot of fear out there, a lot of politics and we have to deal with each issue as it comes up. There are standards issues and the main issue of who's going to pay for all this. It's not happening as fast as we wanted, but it's starting to happen and that's a really good feeling."