This Friday and Saturday you can watch the replay on YouTube of the Galactic Innovations: Star Wars and Rogue One presentation by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as part of its summer programming lineup of talks.
The presenters assembled for the presentation were an incredible array of ILM and Lucasfilm artists, visual effects supervisors, editors, and producers. The talks spanned two hours and covered the work of both the original Star Wars and the much more recent Rogue One.
The Oscar-winning, Oscar-nominated and Scientific and Technical Award-honored speakers at the event, including Ben Burtt, John Dykstra, Richard Edlund, Harrison Ellenshaw, Bill George, John Knoll, Marcia Lucas, Dennis Muren, Bruce Nicholson, and Rachel Rose. The event was hosted very well by Rogue One co-producer Kiri Hart.
The night was one to celebrate the artistry and invention of the various ILM teams and thus appropriately did not include actors or directors, just the artists behind the remarkable visual effects. While some of the material may be familiar to some readers, there were plenty of fresh perspectives and new clips to enjoy.
Richard Edlund, John Dykstra, and Dennis Muren all spoke very well about the early days of visual effects. Their talks about the invention of the technology and both the limitations and innovations that they worked with were remarkable. For all the talk about decades of innovation and technical invention, the night was dedicated to the people of ILM. It was Edlund who delivered the quote of the night when he remarked that it was, “the people who put the magic into Industrial Light and Magic.”
fxguide’s vfxshow co-host Jason Diamond attended the event. “As both a rabid Star Wars fan and also someone who grew up researching and digging into how the films were made and by who, it was amazing to hear first hand from this groundbreaking team” he commented. “A basically ragtag group of hippies and craftspeople from disparate work experiences coming together to innovate and set a new bar for what’s possible. Dykstra, Muren, Burtt, Edlund, Ellenshaw, Knoll, Marcia Lucas and more gave a personal visual and anecdotal review to their efforts across not only Star Wars but the history of ILM and Rogue One. It was also awesome to run into a friend of the VFXShow and FXGuide, Gareth Edwards and celebrate his awesome work on Rogue One”.
Each of the speakers was extremely interesting and most of them will forever be linked in our minds with Star Wars, but one of the nicest aspects of the night was hearing from some of the less famous but still key ILM team.
For example, Bill George gave an excellent talk, and R&D supervisor Rachel Rose spoke about VFX technology both past and present, including alluding to the new techniques ILM is developing in virtual production and ILM’s ‘Stage craft’ program.
Rose is a 2018 Sci-Tech winner for her work with BlockParty procedural rigging system. She brought the old and new technological worlds together nicely. She discussed the moves at ILM to using approaches such as advanced projection and new forms of rear projection technologies to the Star Wars universe in such films as Rogue One and Solo. “This rare projection not only produced a reflection of hyperspace in the eyes of the actors but also provided final pixels that actually ended up in the film as captured by the principal camera,” she commented. “This is an idea of the technology coming full circle.”
She quoted Sylvaine Dufaux, who was the 1st camera operator on Solo, “It changes our relationship with actors, the body language of the actors and the body language of the actors has changed the camera movement and the way we all feel. I Love it.” Thus, Rose made the point that virtual production leads to more engagement of crews, directors, gaffers, and actors.
The night ended with a panel discussion including several, but not all, of the speakers from earlier in the night.