Thursday, March 31, 2005

So much STAR WARS, so LITTLE time (Thursday)

EDITOR'S NOTE: IT'S ALMOST PRE-SHOW NAPTIME, BUT WE MUST MUST MUST SQUEEZE IN A LITTLE BIT OF STAR WARS STUFF BEFORE THE DAY'S DWEEBING DRAWS TO A CLOSE. (AND PERCHANCE MORE MANANA, TIME PERMITTING).

AS DISCUSSED IN AN EARLIER DWEEB'BLOG, THIS WEEK'S ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY HAS 6 (COUNT EM, 6) STAR WARS COVERS. (I PICKED PRINCESS LEIA. IT WAS A CLOSE CALL BETWEEN LEIA AND HAN, BUT LEIA IS MY HEROINE AND ROLE MODEL. HAN IS JUST CUTE).
Star Wars Quiz at Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly has a quiz online about the original trilogy, prequels and Star Wars spin offs. EDITOR'S NOTE: THERE'S ACTUALLY A GOOD QUIZ INSIDE THE MAGAZINE (I GOT MOST OF THEM RIGHT, NATCH). BUT THIS ONLINE QUIZ IS FUN. (AND EASY)

Click on the link above to check it out.

http://www.ew.com/ew/article/quiz/0,6115,492380
_14586580_0_,00.html

The Force is Coming to a Target Near You

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EDITOR'S NOTE: CHECK OUT THE TARGET DOG...WITH A LIGHTSABER! GIGGLE!

On April 2nd, Target unleashes its stash of exclusive Star Wars toys and collectibles --only available for a short time.

For even more Star Wars action, fans can visit Target.com to enter the Star Wars Sweepstakes, discover their Battle Name, get Jedi Mind-Tricked and more.

There are limited quantities, and online and store items may vary.
EDITOR'S NOTE: AT THE TARGET/STAR WARS WEBSITE (SEE LINK,BELOW) THEY ALSO LET YOU CREATE A STAR WARS NAME. HERE'S MINE:

Lady Roskar Brightlittleponies (NOT THAT THIS SHOULD BE A SURPRISE. I'VE SENSED THIS WAS MY NAME, MY REAL NAME, FOR SOME TIME).

http://target.com/target_group/stores_services/starwars.jhtml
THE WORLDS OF EP3, CONTINUED
Revenge of the Sith showcases more planets than any Star Wars film that has come previously, more planets than all the previous Star Wars films combined. The scale of the Star Wars finale is so enormous that it stretches from the heart of the Republic to the wispiest reaches of the Outer Rim.
To better orient yourself in galaxy far, far away, here's a brief introduction to some of the planets to be found in Episode III.

Polis Massa. It's a sign of desperate times if a chaotic asteroid field must become a refuge. Han Solo was forced to hide in the tumbling rocks next to the ice planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. In Revenge of the Sith, it's Jedi fugitives that come to hide at the Polis Massa colony, a remote outpost based in an asteroid field.

More sedate than the deadly storm of debris seen in Episode V, the Polis Massa field serves as a backdrop, not an ingredient in an action set piece. The scenes that take place there are set within a sealed and modern facility, realized as both a practical set during principal photography and a miniature observation dome. Here, we'll meet the Polis Massans, oddly faceless aliens created as computer-generated characters.

Saleucami. During the early development of Episode III, a Clone Wars montage of alien worlds was to start the movie, as seven different battles on seven different planets dissolved from one to another. This direction was abandoned early, but the concept art that explored these planets was re-used for another part of the film.

The arid world of Saleucami, marked by scattered oases of verdant growth, has just fallen to the Republic. Jedi General Stass Allie still patrols the wilderness, looking for pockets of Separatists forces that may be in hiding. In Episode III, we'll see her leading a team of clone troopers on BARC speeder bikes.

Tatooine. No Star Wars fan should need an introduction to this world. Tatooine is at the heart of the saga, being the cradle of the Skywalker family. As is to be expected, the twin-sunned desert planet will once again appear, as will the Lars Homestead moisture farm, as the foundation of the original Star Wars trilogy is laid by the final acts of Episode III. EDITOR'S NOTE: OK. I JUST GOT GOOSEBUMPS. COME ON,FESS UP. YOU DID TOO, RIGHT?!

A trip to Tunisia was not part of the Episode III production itinerary. Plate photography of the Tunisian environment was gathered during the production of Episode II, and was combined with greenscreen footage of the actors involved to bring to saga to a close.

Utapau. The name Utapau has been lurking in the early draft scripts of Star Wars since the mid-1970s. It was first going to be the name of Tatooine in Episode IV. It was then almost the name used for Naboo in Episode I. Now, finally, Writer/Director George Lucas gets to use that name to describe a planet, a new sinkhole world in Episode III.

From the surface, Utapau looks like a flat, windswept world, but get closer, and you soon see that it is riddled with enormous sinkholes. Lining the inner edge of these huge pits are cities. It is in one of these sinkhole cities that General Grievous and the Separatist Council keep their secret headquarters. EDITOR'S NOTE: WELL I GUESS IT AIN'T A SECRET ANY MORE!
Obi-Wan Kenobi voyages to Utapau in a mission to seek out and stop the General, to bring an end to the Clone Wars. Utapau is an entirely synthetic environment. It is a mixture of huge miniatures depicting the sinkhole, walls and building-lined avenues, as well as digital matte paintings. Utapau is home to two native sentient species, as well as a host of loyal and helpful lizard creatures -- like the wall-climbing varactyls and flying dactillions that are both used as mounts.

The Princess Diaries
Carrie Fisher plans ''Star Wars'' tell-all book. She says she kept diaries while filming the original trilogy by Gary Susman

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EDITOR'S NOTE: OH MY. I AM A FAN. OF HER SURVIVAL SKILLS, HER WIT, HER ACTING AND WRITING TALENTS. BUT SHE IS SURELY A POSTER CHILD FOR THE DANGERS OF HARD LIVING AND DRUGS. (GIVEN THAT SHE'S ONLY A FEW YEARS OLDER THAN I, AND GIVEN THAT IF I LOOK LIKE THIS A FEW YEARS FROM NOW, SOMEONE SHOULD LOCK ME AWAY FROM PUBLIC VIEW).

LEIA-ING IT OUT THERE Fisher will dish on filming Lucas' ''Star Wars'' trilogy

Now that the Star Wars franchise is winding down, it's apparently safe for Carrie Fisher to dish dirt on what happened behind the scenes during the filming of the original trilogy.
In an interview timed to promote the paperback release in the U.K. of her novel The Best Awful, the actress-author told London's Sunday Telegraph that she's signed a deal to write a tell-all about her experiences shooting the Star Wars movies.
''When I was in Star Wars, I kept diaries. Big books full of what went on, what I thought, what I did,'' said the erstwhile Princess Leia. ''I am going to write them all up as a narrative.''

Fisher didn't say when she would deliver the memoir. ''It will be riveting,'' she said. ''Once I get started, that is. I'm months behind already. What I need to do is put it on my 'To do' list.''

Still, she offered one small bit of dish to the Telegraph. Talking about Leia's famous coif, which Fisher described as ''hairy donuts,'' she said,
''How stupid did I look? But I couldn't complain. They'd made me promise to drop 10 pounds for the film. I failed miserably. So when they asked how I liked the hairstyle, I said: 'Love it, I love it. Great.' Anything to distract them from the fact that I was a bit fat.'' EDITOR'S NOTE: SAD THAT EVEN SHE BUYS INTO THE SEXIST DRIVEL THAT SHE WAS 'FAT' IN ANH. (SHE WAS CURVY, BUT HARDLY FAT).
IN YEARS PAST, SHE HAS SAID NOTHING BUT GOOD...ALBEIT FUNNY/SARCASTIC...THINGS ABOUT HER STAR WARS EXPERIENCES. I WOULD HOPE (AND AM GUESSING) THAT HER DIARIES WILL BE FULL OF SNARKY SHARP OBSERVANCES, BUT STILL FAIRLY RESPECTFUL. (KNOCK WOOD).
ILM March Madness
"These meetings are getting so short now," says Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett, as he finishes explaining a rough comp of a Mustafar sequence to director George Lucas.
It's true; in the home stretch for ILM, the number of completed visual effects shots required per week has dwindled considerably from where we were just a few months ago.

"But these last few have some of the toughest shots," says John Knoll, fellow Episode III VFX Supervisor.
For Knoll's unit of effects artists, these tough shots are mostly centered on Utapau. For Guyett's team, it's Mustafar. For Animation Supervisor Rob Coleman's team... it's over.

"That's it. The animation's done," said Coleman, on March 8th, the day of his last animation review with Lucas. "Well, except for some technical issues that might come up," he clarifies. It was the final piece of animation shown to Lucas for his sign-off. "It all comes down to this," says Coleman.

A plastic-looking gray-skinned rendition of Boss Nass -- not yet painted, not yet lit, not yet fully incorporated into the scene -- walks alongside Jar Jar Binks in a single shot. Though lacking a polished finish, the performance is there, and that's what Lucas examines. He signs off with no fanfare.

Quick, simple, and painless; if anything, de-archiving the 1999 Boss Nass model and getting him ready for a 2005 animation pipeline may have taken more effort than breathing life into his brief cameo.

But back to Guyett's comment about the brevity of these meetings. "Be careful what you wish for," grins Lucas. "There's still the DVD." EDITOR'S NOTE: OH YES YES YES. WE LOOOOVVVVE YOU, UNCLE G!

* * *

Though the review meetings have gotten shorter, the one that kicked off the month of March was exceptionally long.
In February, Lucas was overseas for the ADR and scoring sessions (as reported in previous Post Notes). That didn't mean work stopped at ILM -- there were still weekly review meeting.

Lucas would connect to ILM from London, seeing HD dailies on the small screen. While he approved a lot of finished shots in this format, he was taking things on faith since the screen lacked the size to display all the details.
"I'm going to trust that you guys have put in all that distressing and water stains up on the wall," he would say, for example, examining a Jedi Temple establishing shot. Such fine detail gets lost in the overseas translation.

So, when he was back at the ILM movie theater -- the proper place to be to judge the quality of finished shots -- he re-reviewed several weeks' worth of dailies to make sure they held up on the big screen. It was a fantastic showcase of hundreds of shots.

The ten coolest of the bunch, from where I was sitting:

General Grievous' spiked wheel bike in motion, churning up a rooster tail of dust as it tears through the Utapau street, with a bounding Boga-riding Obi-Wan in hot pursuit.

A true helicopter shot of Coruscant at night -- in the past, establishing shots have been slow swoops towards the targeted building. This instead was a traveling shot, flying down one of the rivers of traffic, capturing the shifting perspective of limitless avenues -- in the animatic of the scene, this was represented with a placeholder helicopter shot of some big American city. The final version captures the feel of such a shot, but on the enormous Coruscant scale. EDITOR'S NOTE: OR AS I LIKE TO CALL IT....HOME.

In the showdown between Grievous and Obi-Wan, there's something we don't often see in Star Wars movies: extreme close-ups of eyes. Like a Sam Peckinpah movie, we get right in the character's face before the fight begins, and that's awfully close for someone as ugly as Grievous.
The crud that fringes the sclera of Grievous' reptilian eyes is intensely detailed; Rick McCallum calls it the "sun dried tomato" look.

Grievous communicating with Darth Sidious via hologram. Lit only by the hazy blue glow of the Sith Lord's hologram, the shadows deepen in the pits and angles of Grievous' death mask.

Establishing shots of the tenth level of Utapau, high near the rim of the sinkhole. There, the Separatists have landed one of their Coreships and it clings to the cliff face.

The dark and spacious Jedi war room, located in the central spire of the Temple. This is different from the smaller amphitheater-style briefing room that was constructed practically in Sydney. This room is dominated by an enormous holographic tank that lights the principal actors in a moody blue. The actor in question, Samuel L. Jackson, definitely has the facial contours to capture such lighting.

An over-the-shoulder shot of Kashyyyk scout trooper clones, wearing camouflaged armor, perched on an enormous branch sniping down at the incoming droids on the lagoon.

An overhead exterior shot of Padmé's apartment , with her standing on her balcony while Anakin leans in the doorframe. Doesn't exactly sound spectacular, but what's amazing about this shot is that only the balcony and frame are practical -- we see the interior of her apartment in the adjacent windows, and it's all miniature, seamlessly integrated with the live action actors.

The base of the Senate rotunda, as the floor irises open and Palpatine's podium extends from the center, rising upwards into the massive Senate chamber. So that's how he gets up there.

The massive rake-like collecting arms on Mustafar's industrial facility wilting under the heat and stresses of the lava sprays. To see such a large structure shudder and convulse definitely captures the volatile danger of this planet's landscape.

Total number of Shots: 2,144Finals: 2,063Final Omits: 192Shots Left to Go: 81
EDITOR'S NOTE: YEP. MORE GOOSEBUMPS.
The Star Wars M-Pire Invades Television

The M-Pire is coming soon to your galaxy, and director Jon Nowak is bringing it to a television near you. EDITOR'S NOTE: IF YOU HAVEN'T YET CHECKED OUT THE ADORABLE TV AD, GO TO THE M&M'S WEBSITE POST-HASTE!

With the debut of the new dark chocolate M&M's this spring, television stations around the world will be airing a new ad campaign that crosses the popular M&M's characters with the Star Wars universe.
Jon Nowak, a 28-year old self-taught director from Minneapolis who grew up on the Star Wars phenomenon, has been charged with cinematically capturing the fall to the dark side--M&M's fall to the dark chocolate side, that is.

To many, Nowak's story may read like the ultimate fanboy pipe dream. Growing up a huge fan of the films and books, his home-grown Star Wars smarts ultimately rewarded him the chance to direct iconic Star Wars personalities within a bona fide Star Wars setting.
Nowak says he owes much of his inspiration to his childhood love for the Star Wars saga. "I've been a fan my entire life," he explains. "I always had all the toys and all the magazines, all the books, everything. I was not only fascinated with the characters but how they created this world as well."

This behind-the-scenes fascination led Nowak to pursue a different form of enthusiasm for Star Wars early on. "I started out my career thinking that I was going to be a model builder at ILM. It wasn't until I got to the university and took my first film series class that I realized, wait a minute, I've been a director my whole life. What am I doing building models?"

Resolving to direct instead, Nowak decided to teach himself the technical aspects of the trade while pursuing an English degree in college. Why an English degree instead of film school? Nowak feels an essential aspect of filmmaking is missing from the modern day film school curriculum.
"When Lucas and his whole gang of people went to film school, it was at a time when they were teaching them to be storytellers before they were teaching them to be technically savvy. Now it's to the point where film school is almost a trade school. It's so technical that people are forgetting the fact that you need to tell stories." EDITOR'S NOTE: WE SHOULD KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR THIS GUY...HE'S GOT THE HORSE AND CART IN THE RIGHT ORDER!

Opting to engage the age-old axiom of learning by doing, Nowak began making shorts to get noticed, which earned him small promo and commercial work. Money earned from these in turn funded his own shorts and documentaries, which eventually won him a spot in last year's Sundance Film Festival.
"I've really been jumping back and forth between shorts and medium form and feature film script writing. There's been quite a variety, and my shorts tend to be a bit darker than my commercial work."

Finding Nowak's background and unabashed passion for Star Wars perfectly suited to the task, he was signed on to direct the ad that would finally turn M&M candies to the dark side. Revenge of the Sith would be the perfect backdrop to play against the launch of the dark chocolate M&M's.

Not just any backdrop would do, however. On a soundstage in Buenos Aires, the expansive interior of the soon-to-be-seen Mustafar conference room was exhaustively recreated in full, all the way down to the patterned floor tiles.
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"The set designers were just blown away by the amount of information that they had to work with as far as reconstructing this thing," explains Nowak.

For added authenticity, prequel trilogy Director of Photography David Tattersall was even on hand to shoot the footage. Nowak was excited to be working with the Star Wars veteran.
"I understand why George has done as much work with him as he has," explains Nowak. "I mean, he's one of the most charming, collaborative, down to earth guys that I've ever worked with. You look at his body of work and you'd expect a serious ego-maniac to be walking out on set, but that wasn't the case at all. He's very informative and very funny. It was a blast."

Nowak discusses the collaborative effort shared with Tattersall on the shoot.
"When I was picking angles, I would run it by David and ask if this was something in line with what Mr. Lucas would have done for the scene. He'd say, 'Yeah, this is probably the way George would have done it.' To be able to have one degree of separation to someone you've been reading about your entire life is surreal."

Fans will not only get to see an entire Star Wars interior recreated, but also the return of Star Wars' most iconic personality. Darth Vader will return in the commercial, and he wants to bring M&M's to the dark side.
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Nowak recalls first seeing the costumed character on set.
"The day before the shoot, we were doing a fitting with Darth Vader, and I had been talking to the actor who plays him beforehand and had kind of gotten to know him a little bit. I really did not anticipate the reaction I was going to have when he walked out on the set as Darth Vader. It was like my childhood immediately erupted up and I was very giddy. The first assistant director was a native Argentinian and he said to me in very broken English 'You are like a kid in a candy store.' And I said, yes, you're absolutely right."

Nowak is confident that fans will recognize the commercial as made by a fan for the fans.
"Unlike the other Star Wars commercials that have come more recently, this one pays the most faith to the language of Star Wars, the world of Star Wars. This is the only one as far as I know that exists within the Star Wars universe. It's kind of a fish-out-of-water story that has a bunch of ridiculous little characters enter this very serious environment. It's funny because there's a lot of little Star Wars inside jokes -- enough to really keep the fans salivating."

The potential for film fans to create works of their own within the medium they so admire has never been greater.
Nowak credits at least part of his success to the ability for him and others to easily access the materials and equipment needed to get their films made. Due in no small part to the digital revolution, Nowak also credits George Lucas, the leading proponent of digital cinema.
"I think that what he's done is create an environment where you can choose your mediums EDITOR'S NOTE: 50 POINTS DEDUCTED. PET PEEVE ALERT. THE PLURAL OF THE WORD MEDIUM IS MEDIA. 'MEDIUMS' (UNLESS YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT MULTIPLE PSYCHICS) IS NOT A WORD. based on your story. I mean, to quote the cliché, you now have watercolors and oils and chalk to choose from instead of just oils. Instead of learning on cruddy 8mm video, now you're learning on DV format so that if your experiment does actually succeed, it's in a legitimate format that can be seen by a wide audience. I've exploited that to no end."

"I don't know who said it," continues Nowak, "but someone said that filmmaking will never be a true art form until it's as accessible and inexpensive as a paper and pen. It's democratizing the art form. It's gotten to the point where you'd have to be fairly inept not to find free editing equipment and free video cameras, etc. There are tons of places you can go where you don't have to pay fees to get access to this equipment and be able to make films. It's on the cusp of revolutionizing the art form."

Jon Nowak represents the new generation of filmmaker who can, for the first time, conceive, shoot, and edit a movie with tools available to virtually everyone. For Star Wars fans with a cinematic glint in their eye, Nowak offers a measure of vindication for those who've been returning to the saga again and again for inspiration.
"It's just amazing that all those thousands of hours spent watching and reading about Star Wars could pay off in this way. I called my parents and said, 'See, all those summers I spent watching Star Wars...they weren't all wasted.'" EDITOR'S NOTE: OH GREAT. NOW MY PARENTS HAVE MORE TO NAG ME ABOUT!
AND CHECK OUT THE ADORABLE LITTLE JEDI M&M GUYS:
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OODLES MORE SHOPPING AND TOY INFO....LEADING INTO THE BIG RELEASE THIS SATURDAY. I'LL TRY TO POST IT ALL TOMORROW.
BUT NOW....NAPTIME!!!



1 Comments:

Anonymous Karla said...

Queen Karsus Sungoggler?? Who wrote this name generator anyway?

10:19 AM  

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